Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dallas Cowboys sold to UAE Consortium

Did we get your attention with that headline? We used it in jest to otherwise illustrate an issue that continues to plague the English Premier League and could someday reach the shores of America and the hallowed grounds of the NFL and MLB. We are talking about foreign owners and ownership groups for domestic sports leagues; in this case the EPL. Could you imagine Jerry Jones selling the Cowboys to a group from the Middle East or the Steinbrenner brothers selling the Yankees to a Japanese owner? George would be rolling over in his grave not to mention probably sending thousands of Yankee fans to an early demise. This may come as a shock to some, but almost half of the clubs in the EPL this season are majority or entirely owned by foreign interests.

Arsenal – 30%, Stan Kroenke (Sam Walton kin moocher turned sports mogul) and 26% Alisher Usmanov (Russian industry tycoon)
Aston Villa – 100% Randy Lerner (American entrepreneur)
Birmingham City – 100% Carson Yeung (Hong Kong businessman)
Chelsea – 100% Roman Abramovich (Russian oil tycoon)
Fulham – 100% Mohamed Al-Fayed (Saudi businessman with British residence)
Liverpool – 50% Tom Hicks (American investor) and 50% George Gillett (American industrialist)
Manchester City – 100% Monsour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (UAE ruling family member)
Manchester United – 100% Malcolm Glazer (American businessman/sports owner)
Sunderland – 100% Ellis Short (American investor)

It’s true, the “Big 4” clubs are owned almost entirely by Americans and Russians. Add to the mix news today that Indian entrepreneur, Ahsan Ali Syed, is planning a takeover of Blackburn in the next month and the EPL has turned into a soccer version of the United Nations.

Where would the EPL without foreign investors? As the league floundered in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with ownership squabbles and league realignment foreign investors realized the new structure was ripe for growth. The Glazer’s strategic buy-out of the former Manchester United owners led to an influx of foreign money not just by owners but television and sponsors. This single reason is what has brought the best talent back from La Liga and Serie A and made the EPL into the most successful soccer league on the planet. Then again, foreign investors are also the single reason British fans are quickly despising the league. Championships come at a price; however that price is more commonly dollars, rubles, and dirham instead of pounds.

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