Time to cap overseas investors buying clubs?


Family-inherited Russian billionaire Anton’s Zingarevich’s first meeting at Reading was pure showmanship; a private jet to land near the stadium (Reading doesn’t have an airport!). His formal 51% buyout from Thames Sport Investment in January 2012 was his own dream come true. Sir John Madejski will remain as chairman until 2014. Watch The Royals closely because if they do go down, which is now looking inevitable, there could be some dramatic management changes, player-sales and transfers or the opposite like further investment and more spending could happen.

70% of Paris Saint-Germain’s shares are currently owned by Qatar Investment Authority who probably will be prominent advertising faces at the 2022 World Cup. The company specialises in domestic and foreign investment. The intention behind the take-over was to develop PSG’s presence in European football. PSG is now the richest club in France and are also well-positioned at the top of French Ligue with 38 points, as well looking to have a strong chance of entering the Champions League quarter finals, if they can beat Valencia on 12th February. The two most noticeable additions this year season under Qatar are Ibrahimovic and captain Thiago Silva from AC Milan.

Two other clubs worth mentioning are Manchester City and Queen’s Park Rangers.

City is owned by UAE Deputy Premier Minister, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He has not only invested in the club, taking it to win the Premier League last season and for the club’s third time, he has signed 2011 record transfer Sergio Agüero for £38 million and has also had parts of Manchester’s city centre gentrified.

QPR, is 66% owned by Tony Fernandes, Malaysian airline entrenpeur and Lakshmi Mittal, Indian steelmaking guru who is one of the wealthiest men in Britain and Asia alike. QPR are currently bottom of the League and set to go down, proving that sometimes even with overseas investment if you don’t have a well-oiled machine your club won’t succeed. Will Harry Redknapp be on the lookout for yet another job?

In hindsight, such benefits of baron-investment include planned expansions, contacts, financial stability (look at Portsmouth as a counter-model), sustainability, prolonging the club’s life. In the other half, clubs become dependent by goodwill and ruled by their investors as we have seen far too often. There is more pressure on clubs to stay up, you could become owner-less if you are a yo-yo. Local people like Chelsea fans are turned away from their clubs, clubs then find it difficult to re-engage with their communities. If anything what Wrexham supporters did to bring their club back from the brink is commendable.

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