Takeovers that changed football history


London (AFP) – Newcastle United’s sale to a Saudi-backed consortium appears to be close to completion — a deal that could turn the long-time underachievers into a major Premier League power.

AFP Sport looks at other clubs who enjoyed a meteoric rise after takeovers by rich owners:

PSG dine at Europe’s top table

Paris Saint-Germain had only won two French league titles before Qatar Sports Investments took over in 2011.

Since then, they have become French football’s undisputed kings, winning seven of the past nine Ligue 1 titles and hoovering up domestic cups.

David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel Di Maria were among a flurry of high-profile signings as PSG reshaped French football in their image.

The club stunningly subverted Europe’s established hierarchy by prising Brazilian star Neymar from traditional aristocrats Barcelona for a world-record fee of 222 million euros ($257 million) in 2017.

Yet the holy grail of Champions League success remains elusive as managers Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery and Thomas Tuchel failed to satisfy the owners with domestic domination alone.

PSG showed they are established in the new elite by signing six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi this year as their Qatari owners continue their quest to conquer world football.

Man City become ‘noisy neighbours’

When Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group completed their £210 million ($286 million) takeover of Manchester City in 2008, Mark Hughes was manager, Brazilian Jo was City’s leading striker and Stephen Ireland was touted as the team’s future star.

Stuck in the shadow of Manchester United for decades, City were so hard up that Vincent Kompany said the dressing room toilet at their training ground did not even have a door.

But the turnaround from also-rans to the “noisy neighbours” of Alex Ferguson’s nightmares began just hours after the takeover with the shock signing of Brazilian star Robinho.

City won the 2011 FA Cup and a year later Sergio Aguero snatched the title from United with his stoppage-time winner against QPR on the last day of the season.

They secured another Premier League title in 2014 as big spending on stars including Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling ensured City remained the team to beat.

Pep Guardiola’s appointment in 2016 raised them to an even higher level and they have won three of the past four Premier League titles, including an unprecedented domestic treble in 2019.

Chelsea’s Russian revolution

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s £140 million Chelsea takeover in 2003 triggered a seismic shift in power in the Premier League.

Manchester United and Arsenal were England’s pre-eminent forces but that changed when, as Gunners vice-chairman David Dein regretfully recalled, Abramovich “parked his Russian tanks on our lawn and fired £50 notes at us”.

Abramovich’s cash landed Jose Mourinho in 2004 and funded his wunderkind manager’s assault on the Premier League establishment.

Mourinho won the title in his first season, ending Chelsea’s 50-year wait to be crowned kings of English football. They retained the trophy 12 months later.

Carlo Ancelotti delivered more Premier League glory in 2010 and Mourinho returned to win his third title in 2015 before Antonio Conte landed the fifth English title of the Abramovich era in 2017.

Abramovich’s holy grail was to lead Chelsea to their first Champions League triumph and his wish came true in 2012 when Chelsea defied the odds to beat Bayern Munich.

The Blues claimed a second continental crown in 2021 by beating fellow big spenders Manchester City in the final.

Blackburn dream

Fulfilling a childhood dream, Jack Walker’s vast investment transformed unglamourous Blackburn from a relic of the past into English champions.

The club were in the lower reaches of the second tier when local millionnaire Walker became the majority owner of his boyhood club after selling his steel business.

Blackburn had not won a major trophy since the 1928 FA Cup, but Walker lured Kenny Dalglish as manager in 1991 and together they put Ewood Park back on the map.

Rovers were promoted in 1992 and Walker’s lavish spending made them a Premier League force.

They splashed a then English-record £3.6 million to beat Manchester United to Southampton striker Alan Shearer’s signature and in 1995, Shearer’s goals helped Blackburn win the title for the first time in 81 years.

It was the culmination of Walker’s ambitious dream, but they could not sustain that success and were relegated in 1999, a year before their benefactor’s death.

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