First the Russian arrived, then the Americans followed in quick pursuit. Now the Icelander has a got a foot on the stage, with the Thai doing his utmost to get his finger in the pie that is Premier League football in England.
Where once the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker had control of their local football club, now major foreign investment is the order of the day.
Local businessmen who supported their home town team no longer have the financial strength to run a football club – it needs multi-millionaire businessmen with massive financial backing to run a Premier League club if they are to break into the big time and compete for the trophies at the end of the season.
Abramovich at Chelsea:
Chelsea were an ordinary mid-table team, struggling with crippling debts, when Roman Abramovich bought the club and financed major signings from his own financial strength. Claudio Ranieri and then Jose Mourinho have been provided with unlimited finances to buy the best players available, and so have bought success. For Abramovich it has been worth it with Chelsea winning consecutive Premiership titles and the Cup ‘double’ this season. However, his holy grail of the Champions League continues to pass him by – much to his irritation and hence the constant media hype of conflict between the owner and the manager.
The Glazers and Manchester United:
Manchester United were delighted to welcome the Galzer family to Old Trafford with their vast experience of sports club ownership in America. They have provided finances and have the knowledge to ensure they make the most of the Manchester United brand. Their enterprise has been rewarded as United have broken the hold that Abramovich’s billions and Chelsea seemed to have taken on the Premier League title.
Randy Lerner at Aston Villa:
Aston Villa have yet to benefit from the arrival of Randy Lerner at Villa Park. His takeover at the end of last summer was too late to enable manager Martin O’Neill to speculate in the transfer market to strengthen his side. However, with plans to develop Villa Park and funds available, much is expected in the current transfer window as Villa strive to close the gap from mid-table to UEFA Cup or Champions League qualification.
A year ago it appeared that Liverpool would come under the control of the former Thai Prime Minister but after long negotiations, doubts about his financial credibility saw the deal flounder. However, again the Americans moved in, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Manager Rafa Benitez, in spite of reaching the Champions League Final, has been making strong protestations about needing finance to ensure a challenge on next season’s League title. To date he has been frustrated as new signings have been slow to materialize but with plans to move to a new ground, Liverpool must challenge Chelsea and United at the top of the League.
West Ham United:
During a tempestuous season, Icelander Eggert Magnusson took control at West Ham United as owner and Chairman. Financial and transfer irregularities from the previous regime threatened their presence in the Premier League but having survived that, a last day win at Old Trafford secured their position for next season.
Stan Kroenke Wants Arsenal:
Arsenal have been under threat of an American takeover with Stan Kroenke buying a stake in the club. Such was the reception of this move that his supporter, the influential David Dein, was forced out of Arsenal. However, the threat has not gone away and the Arsenal Chairman has been in talks with the American.
Thai Interest in Manchester City:
Manchester City are also in detailed takeover discussions with the former Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra,and negotiations appear to be at an advanced stage with speculation that the former England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, will be appointed as manager once the deal has been completed.
English Takeover at Newcastle:
The one exception to the foreign takeover has been at Newcastle United where English billionaire Mike Ashley continues to increase his share holding to take control of the club. It is expected that he will provide additional funds for new manager Sam Allardyce to strengthen the team.
Concerns surround the continuous takeover of Premier League clubs by foreign investors because many fear that they are there, not for the good of the club, but as speculators for their own financial rewards.