SBD/January 13, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Glazers Among U.S. Owners Of EPL Clubs Bringing Profit-Seeking Approach To League

Six EPL clubs are owned by Americans, including Manchester United's Glazer family
The Glazer family, which owns EPL club Manchester United, represents "a new kind of football club owner to have emerged in recent years: the profit-driven investor, usually American," according to Kuper & Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. There now are six U.S. majority owners of EPL clubs, including Liverpool's John Henry and Arsenal's Stan Kroenke, who "seek to earn money from their clubs rather than winning at all costs." That "makes them different from the 'sugar daddies' -- the sheikhs and oligarchs who treat their clubs as playthings and throw money at them." A "conflict between the two kinds of owner now looms." The "chief culprits" for ManU's recent "slide are probably the Glazers themselves." But the Glazers were aware that British soccer clubs have "traditionally kept ticket prices down, and seeing that foreign interest in the Premier League was rising, they bet correctly that revenues would grow." ManU now is "worth at least double what they paid for it." But with Alex Ferguson gone as manager, the family’s "pursuit of profits is now likely to impede United’s pursuit of trophies." The business plan is "predicated on" finishing at least third in the EPL and reaching the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. The Glazers will give new manager David Moyes money for transfer windows, as the club has US$130.9M available in cash, "while pursuing profits." U.S. investors who have "bought English soccer clubs in recent years have aimed" to make profits like U.S. sports franchises, or "at least to make a large capital gain when selling." These owners "hope European football’s new rules on 'financial fair play' will stop the sugar daddies’ clubs from spending more than their revenues." There are "signs that 'FFP' is already modestly slowing growth in players’ wages" (FT.com, 1/10).
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