The Beautiful Game, known as football in half the world and Soccer in the other half, is a massive money making machine.
Top players earn top dollars. Sponsorship and TV rights bring the cash in, fans keep the dream alive, but who owns the teams?
Once upon a time it might have been a local businessman who loved the sport so much that he was more than happy to carry the cost and gather the credit when his team entered the field.
Today, however, most British and European teams are owned by outsiders with huge bank balances and home countries far, far away. Why invest? Well, for most owners it’s about prestige. But for many, it’s also about advertising their own success and even occasionally fulfilling a childhood fantasy. If you can’t BE a top player, at least you can buy one.
Arsenal is owned by an American Sporting Goods entrepreneur and a Russian mining giant (who said those two couldn’t get along?) Leicester City is owned by The Srivaddhanaprabha Family, a Thai family that sell Duty Free….and obviously quite a lot of it. Sheffield Wednesday, and Reading are also owned by Thai nationals.
Manchester City was given a huge financial boost last year when the Chinese Government invested £265m to take up a 13% stake in the team.
Birmingham City are also partly owned by a Chinese investor, Mr Liu Xingcheng boasting over 11% in ownership.
Katharina Liebherr, a Swiss heiress owns Southampton.
Owning a bit of sporting history is available to anyone with the cash.
So huge are the profits garnered by the universal love of this sport that hoarding advertising may be taken by firms not even trading within the UK. SBO betting, Mansion and 188Bet are all firms that purchase and advertise their gambling websites at the ground, but none of these firms is registered in the UK, so the ads are aimed at people watching the game overseas…. predominantly Chinese gamblers.
It is obviously worth it, Deloittes declared last year The Premier League reached a massive £3 billion profit in revenue.
That’s five thousand pounds back on everyone who entered a gate to watch a game. But those punters are mere mortals. It’s those who are watching all over the world that make the difference, and with football, everyone is watching.
With additional input from our expert Andrew H.