UK-Based Supporters of Premier League Clubs Deserve More Respect From Foreign Owners

Every time the subject of foreign ownership comes up in the Premier League, the term xenophobia comes up. As an Indian-American who has spent much time in the UK, I have used the term myself, something I now am ashamed of. I am not against foreign ownership in the Football League and Premier League unlike some who have advocated the implementation of a “German” model where all majority owners must be German nationals and the vast majority of clubs are community based. However, many in the United States and Asia who have blindly praised the majority of foreign owners for the positive financial impact they have made on the English game are as excessive and skewed in their view as those supporting the German model being implemented in England.

In the wake of the mistreatment of Malky Mackay at Cardiff, some realizations need to dawn on foreign fans of the Premier League. While many Americans or those in the Far East may think they are bonded to the club they support, in almost every case they are not as invested emotionally, financially or personally as those British fans living and working in the towns of the clubs they support. These fans are not spending the bulk of their disposable income each year to buy tickets, merchandise and travel with the club to away matches. The foreign supporters can escape to other pursuits such as American football, basketball, local community events, etc. For supporters based in England and Wales, no such escape exists. You live and work in the communities impacted.

In short, in many cases foreign ownership rips the soul out of local clubs and local supporters. This isn’t the case everywhere as the big money takeover of Manchester City and Chelsea demonstrate that sometimes foreign ownership can be more community oriented than the predecessors even if the new owners are not local. But in many cases, critical decisions about football clubs are being made by eccentric Malaysian money men and in American board rooms far removed from the people impacted by these decisions.

Cardiff City, specifically, was a club preyed upon by irresponsible British businessmen and rescued from potential liquidation by Vincent Tan. However, in hindsight, given Tan’s lack of respect for the club’s history or institutional value to the Welsh capital, it can be argued Cardiff City Football Club going out of business and restarted as a supporters run club attempting to make its way up the football ladder from the bottom would have been a better move. Sure Tan saved Cardiff City, but he also ripped the soul out of the club, a soul which may never return.

Certainly some Cardiff supporters must feel Tan saved them as beginning a new life in the tenth flight of English football and working the way up may not be something that appeals to everyone. However as organic clubs like FC United and AFC Wimbledon demonstrate, lots of fans in English football are willing to forgo the glories of foreign induced spending to support a locally run and oriented football club that honors traditions.

All too often foreign fans of the English game feel the sport should cater to them. Again, I do not believe this is a way one-way conversation and do not advocate the elimination of foreign ownership.  However, I have seen true football supporters derided by newer fans to the sport who have less at stake in these matters on social media, message boards and in blog comments sections.

Local supporters did not ask for English football to be a global business. They asked to be able to support their clubs the way they have for generations in peace. This globalization of the league was forced upon them. Perhaps in the bigger picture it was a boon to the league, but those hurt locally by globalization must be respected and the authorities in the game must consider their views and feelings when making decisions about ownership.

The Premier League and the Football League are still English/Welsh leagues even though many have represented them as global products. While fans of the sport continue to grow abroad, being a localized supporter involves more than simply buying a kit of a top club at a store and going to the pub on Saturday to cheer on a club thousands of miles away.

This is not to belittle foreign supporters of large clubs. Clearly they have a role in what should transpire going forward as the television and commercial revenues for England’s top clubs have been raised largely on the backs of these fans. But local supporters matter a great deal and the sooner balance is returned to the way the game is governed, the better.

17 thoughts on “UK-Based Supporters of Premier League Clubs Deserve More Respect From Foreign Owners”

  1. 1. No changes to club’s home colours.

    2. No changes to the club name.

    3. The club stays in the local community. No relocations.

    It’s that simple.

      1. Agree with the first three, but four isn’t that big a deal. The Emirates, Eithad, Stadium of Light, etc.. Are all recently new names. Sure Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, White Heart Lane, and Anfield should be untouchable. If Craven Cottage or Hillsborough with all their tradition gave way to a new stadium with 50-60k seating with big dollar naming rights and they actually spent the money from that one new players, I think most supporters would be ok with it.

        1. The Stadium of Light isn’t just a new name, it opened in 1997 to replace Roker Park, where Sunderland had played since 1897.

          1. Yea, I know. Roker was one of the ’66 WC stadiums also. That one also pays homage to the area’s main occupation vice sponsorship dollars. So there are some differences there vice the other two. But my point remains the same.

    1. Mike Ashley respect tradition and history of club, you dont see Mike change club color or change club name.

      But what peole dont like about Mike is, he is running club really bad.

      So dont make confusion about, “non respect of tradition or history” and ” a very bad running of club ” those two things are different things.

      Again sorry for my English.


  2. Without foreign money propping up the BPL, the other European Leagues would buy all their very best players.
    Take foreign money away and then English owners and fans can control their teams in what would be a 2nd or 3rd level league.
    You can’t have the money from foreign owners, fans, and TV rights without accepting they are the bulk of your club’s financial support and with that have control.

    1. Did you ask yourself why these foreigns come to BPL, before Roman A comes to BPL was already big. Tell me how many top star of BPL were taken, dont tell me David or Anelka or even Overmas because these stars were sell obsene price or club did not want them anymore.

      Maybe you start to follow BPL now but, most people started pre foreign.

      Anothor thing you need to know is, BPL teams own their stadias even team like Crital Palace fc, you wont see this in any country in Europe, and BPL teams are not sposoring by the gouverma like some teams in Europe,

      Before you come here telling us “Without foreign money propping up the BPL, the other European Leagues would buy all their very best players.
      Take foreign money away and then English owners and fans can control their teams in what would be a 2nd or 3rd level league.” did you know Roman Abramonvich before Chelsea takeover ?

      Sorry for my English, English is not my first language


      1. Just out of current players? Just some small guys like Ronaldo, Bale, Robben, Fabegras, Xabi, Modric…

        The EPL’s biggest asset is that English is the primary language. There are plenty of people that speak French, German, and Italian as a second language, but over half of Europeans speak English. Media contracts are one of the ways the EPL has been able to keep up with other league because of this, despite having the LOWEST GDP per capita in Europe.

        1. “Just out of current players? Just some small guys like Ronaldo, Bale, Robben, Fabegras, Xabi, Modric…
          ” I dont if you read what KK says or you just want to say something. KK says this “Without foreign money propping up the BPL, the other European Leagues would buy all their very best players” what you say is post foreign, that mean with all this foreigns its not stoped other europeen teams to buy BPL players and dont forget they buy these plays from RA and Blazer. What I was trying to say is before foreign it was difficulty to buy BPL players.

          If I choose to defend this for the sake of it I would say this, for Ronaldo and Bale Real were doubling breaking transfer record to get them, for Robben Chelsea didnt want him anymore for his injuries record but they still got £23 millions from Real, I will give you Cesc and Modric

          Sorry for my English if you are not understanding it.


        2. “The EPL’s biggest asset is that English is the primary language.” how can you say something like this who stop Germany or French to promoted their languages, in the beginning of last century French was the language most people like to speak but today is not even in top five, go to france today most people learning English like never before. The English people did well to promoted their language with a huge help from American people and Hollywood.

          Your excuse for language is just laughable, for your info Argentina and Brezil did pay more for BPL than what they did for La Liga, Serie A and French league combine.

          Just last month I was watching French TV they try to compare BPL foreign TV right and L1, when L1 were receiving 76 million Euro for four year Bundes 86 million and Liga 112 million par year, BPL is getting near 1 billion Euro par year.
          French League chef executif, he says it woould be almost imposible to much BPL, but he would do everything to come near Bundesliga or to much them which is 86 million par year.

          I think you hear two year ago when Florentino Pérez says they need to change they timeslot to follew BPL, they need to start to play early like 11 or 12h, when did you La Liga team play a game at 11h or 12h, Liga know it now but BPL knew this decade ago.

          I cant believe you think people follew BPL for language (English)

          Again sorry for English.


  3. I agree that foreign money has definitely improved the quality of the league and it’s reputation. However, English football has always been very local and a about local rivalries. You would think that if you have money to buy a football club, then you’d have the same money to get proper advice on how to “make it”. Clearly some get it and some don’t. Don’t try to change the nature of the club, keep the colors, keep the location (unless you need a huge stadium), keep the crest but MOST IMPORTANTLY keep the fans!

  4. vincent tan is cheap. you fire mackay and eat his contract, that is how it is done. wishing that he resign instead to save money is not gonna happen.

    tan still can buy himself some time if cardiff can escape relegation this season. winning does placate the fantards.

  5. Great article.

    “World Soccer Talk” writes a lot of rubbish focusing on the top few clubs and only on the English league. Most of the writing and much of the forced analysis on this site is pure drivel designed to maximize hits particularly in America and Asia I surmise. As an ex-pat stuck here in America and dealing with front-running recently minted fans it makes me sick and even sicker when websites cater to these so-called fans.

    That is why I was stunned when this article popped up on my feed. It is thoughtful and on the mark and what is even more surprising it is from a usually reactionary writer and podcaster, whose opinions I must admit have become more tolerable lately, after years of being an a******.

    Those new fans to the sport who think somehow things should be the way they are need to read this posting. I am emailing it all around. It is even more credible since it was written by a Yank.

    Kartik Krishnaiyer you have said a lot of stupid s**** in the years you’ve been doing this but you redeemed yourself recently and especially with this one. Thank you so much for redeeming yourself and understanding what support is all about. I would be curious what brought about your conversion and why you are now on the right side of things after being such a wind-up criterion for so long?

    Hope you educate Morgan as he needs to make the same transition.

    1. I wouldn’t agree with much of what you’ve said but having re-read the last 4 paragraphs of Kartik’s article there is no way on earth that I would have got away with expressing the same sentiments, despite being one of the ‘local’ fans he’s talking about.

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