“Our owner is neither a country nor an oligarch,” Klopp said. What has football become?
Earlier in the week, in that football-business paradise called the Premier League, the maker of the best Liverpool in years, Jurgen Klopp, dropped that the rules of the game were adulterated in this transfer market. While austerity reigns, logical in light of the pandemic, Chelsea throws the house out the window with an investment of 230 million euros: 80 in Havertz, 56 in Childwall, 55 in Werner, 40 in Ziyech … «We cannot sign as Chelsea – said Klopp – because our owner is not a country or an oligarch.
Lampard, Chelsea manager, stirred and replied immediately (“Liverpool’s history is a great story … with a lot of money spent”), but beyond the dialectical discussion, there is a great theme: the brutal mutation of football and its new owners.
The Premier League: a paradise for great fortunes. A very desirable market with the highest television revenues on the planet, the largest investments in marketing, huge real estate transactions in luxurious stadiums, almost immediate repercussion, and notoriety. With this recipe, the English competition is five years ahead of its immediate pursuers.
Organizers and promoters of the Premier (an association of clubs in the LFP style) have wasted no time in the debate about local and international: the product must be universal. In fact, only five of the 20 clubs that dispute 2020-21 are in English hands, and no, Liverpool is not one of them. They include Brighton, Burnley, Newcastle, Crystal Palace, and Tottenham, the only high-ranking club with majority British capital behind it (85.5 percent belongs to the ENIC investment group). Note: the data is tricky, as ENIC is a subsidiary registered in the Bahamas, a so-called tax haven.
From this point on, another five clubs come out of that denomination of «countries and oligarchs» that Jurgen Klopp gave … and his team is in this drawer: the Anfield club has been in the hands of the American Fenway Sports Group since 2010, which also controls the Boston Red Sox of the Baseball League. Note: the data is tricky, as Fenway is based in Delaware, a tax haven.
This subgroup also includes West Ham (51% US capital), United (the Glazer brothers, also natives of the USA, own 98%), Leeds (in the hands of two business groups: one Italian and one the other, yes, American) and Arsenal, in the hands of the group (also American!) KSE. Note: the data is tricky since it would be in the hands of a tycoon (Stan Kroenke) and the influence of Dubai (Emirates Stadium) is enormous.
From trap to trap, we come to the 10 teams that do fall under the denomination-complaint of Jurgen Klopp. Alphabetically: the Aston Villa belongs to the Egyptian Nassef Sawiris, the fourth largest African fortune; Chelsea, the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich (with an estimated fortune of 12,000 million dollars); Everton, to the Iranian Farhad Moshiri (2,000 million with the steel and energy industries); Fulham, Pakistani Shahid Khan (his fortune, according to Forbes, is in the ‘top-150’ of the planet); Leicester, to the Thai group King Power, a duty-free company with a turnover of more than 2,000 million annually; Manchester City is practically a ‘branch’ of Abu Dhabi in the British Isles (they control 78 percent of the shares); Sheffield is in the hands of the son of the Prince of Saudi Arabia (Abdullah bin Musa’ed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in case you were wondering); while Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and the Wolves belong to Chinese tycoons or groups.