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Investors Enter Feeding Frenzy for Premiership Clubs

Love it or hate it, the success of the Premier League in recent years is created a feeding frenzy among investors as they attempt to snap up the remaining clubs that aren’t already owned by foreign investors.

While the purchases of Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Portsmouth and Aston Villa are well documented, the question is what clubs are next that are ripe for a takeover? Arsenal’s buy-out by Stan Kroenke, to me, is inevitable. In fact, The Observer newspaper is reporting that a £650 million takeover is in the works.

Manchester City, meanwhile, is in the midst of a tussle between the former Thai prime minister and former player Ray Ranson who has tabled a £90 million bid for City. However, there have been strong rumors of an American investor interested in purchasing the club, so Ranson’s offer to City may force the hand of the mystery American so he can be revealed to us all.

Last weekend, I posted a poll and asked you which clubs you thought would be the next ones to be purchased by American investors. I made an educated guess and offered you the choice of Newcastle, Spurs, Reading, Everton and Fulham.

Little did I know that financial experts in London are predicting that between now and the end of the year, Newcastle, Reading and Fulham could be in the hands of American investors. The Observer didn’t mention Spurs or Everton. However, the second largest shareholder in Everton FC is English-born Florida resident (and Planet Hollywood founder) Robert Earl.

In January, US hedge fund Polygon called off talks with Newcastle United. Reading chairman John Madjeski has stated publicly that he’s seeking a buyer. With a passionate and affluent fan base, Reading could be purchased for a lot less than Manchester City, I believe. However, outside of Berkshire, Reading has a small loyal fan base. Sure, they have many admirers of their attacking style of play (myself included), but would you swear your allegiance and buy a Reading shirt?

By the end of 2007, what clubs will be left that haven’t been purchased by foreign investors? Middlesbrough, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan… all clubs that aren’t as attractive as the high flyers in the league.

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  1. Charlie

    April 26, 2007 at 1:15 am

    It kinda cracks me up listening to the garbage coming out of the mouths of some members of Arsenal’s Board of Directors and some Arsenal supporters about Stan Kroenke.

    I live in Colorado and I’m a fan of two teams Kroenke owns, the Avalanche of the NHL and the Rapids of MLS, so I know a little bit about him. He’s a quiet guy who prefers to stay out of the spotlight and let the team management run the show.

    He also owns the Nuggets, the Mammoth (a lacrosse team) the Pepsi Center (where the Avs, Nuggets and Mammoth play), just built a brand new state-of-the-art soccer complex for the Rapids, and is a part owner of the St. Louis Rams. They’re all successful operations. In short, the man knows what he’s doing.

    Peter Hill-Wood will regret the day he made those nasty comments about Kroenke. If those comments did anything, they strengthened Kroenke’s resolve to buy the team. And When… Not If, but When… Kroenke does acquire Arsenal, it will be interesting to count how many times Hill-Wood’s butt bounces off the pavement after Kroenke personally throws him out the door of the Arsenal offices.

    The debt factor… Arsenal already is in debt as a result of building that new stadium. Granted they aren’t in the hole as deep as my beloved Man United, but it’s still a pretty big hole and it’s true a Kroenke takeover would likely put the Gunners even deeper in it. But Kroenke simply doesn’t strike me as the kind of businessman who would be doing this if he truly didn’t think it would work.

    Arsenal is this close to putting it all together and becoming a power house on the pitch. I can see these young Gunners winning a lot of silverware the next few years. That, along with that sweet new Premier League TV contract, would only generate even more income and help get Arsenal pointed back in the right direction financially.

    Give Kroenke a chance. You might be surprised.

  2. olivert

    April 24, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Currently, only 4 clubs have any value outside the UK as TV entertainment products: Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal.

    The TV rights fees commanded by the EPL in many TV markets outside the UK are perceived as “undervalued”.

    The one particular market where the valuation is artificially low is mainland China, where GuangDong TV’s WinTV all-soccer pay TV channel (owned by the government of GuangDong province) was able to outbid NewsCorp/Rupert Murdoch-managed ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) at a price of only $50 million for 3 seasons.

    Compared that to the $200 million for 3 seasons of EPL TV paid by PCCW’s NOW Broadband TV in Hong Kong, and you can see the disparity.

    One trend is for certain: rights fee will go UP, and up significantly, in mainland China for the next TV contract cycle (2010/11 to 2012/13 seasons).

  3. patrick

    April 24, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Oh dear, all these clubs getting saddled with debt is not good, the glazers may have got away with it thanks to rooney, ronaldo and vidic but one of the lesser clubs will go to the wall, spectacularly.

    PS Fulham is already foreign owned

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