The greatest football league in the world returns tomorrow as the Premier League kicks off with Manchester City’s trip to Burnley – or a UAE-China-US conglomerate’s journey up the M66 to United States majority owned Turf Moor.
The Premier League is a multicultural cauldron of ownership nationalities and structures, with some clubs owned largely by one individual – such as British-Iranian Farhad Moshiri’s rocky relationship with his Merseyside club Everton – while others are a mixture of investment funds and groups – such as Newcastle United, which is 80 per cent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (represented by Yasir Al-Rumayyan), and 10 per cent each by RB Sports & Media (David and Simon Reuben) and PCP Capital Partners (Amanda Staveley).
Interest in the Premier League
There are 11 different nationalities with major, but not necessarily controlling, stakes (upwards of 10 per cent) if you take into account that Moshiri and Shahid Khan (Fulham, Pakistani-American) are dual nationals.
The United States has an interest somewhere along the line in 10 clubs, including Arsenal (Stan Kroenke), Bournemouth, Chelsea (Todd Boehly (pictured), Mark Walter and Clearlake Capital) and Manchester United, through the Glazer family.
But there remains European interest, too, both from these shores and the continent.
The likes of Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford have controlling stakes through Brits Tony Bloom and Matthew Benham respectively.
Nottingham Forest is Greek-owned, through Evangelos Marinakis, and West Ham United is a mix of Welshman David Sullivan and the “Czech Sphinx” Daniel Kretinsky, among others; Chelsea’s consortium includes Swiss businessman Hansjorg Wyss.
And though there is Chinese interest in the Premier League, it is minimal – parties related to the state owns Wolverhampton while there’s a small investment in champions Manchester City by China Media Capital and CITIC Group alongside the UAE Abu Dhabi United Group and US private equity firm Silver Lake.
Saudi wealth x2
But, interestingly, for the first time in the English top flight’s history there are two Saudi Arabian majority clubs.
The first is Newcastle but the second is the newly-promoted Sheffield United, who are reportedly looking for a new buyer.
Prince Abdullah bin Musaid Al Saud is running the Blades show but could be offloaded for upwards of £170m in the coming year.
And they might not be the only club changing hands before the year is out as Manchester United’s owners the Glazers remain in talks with a number of parties over the sale of the club, including Ineos’ Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Qatari Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
In a deal that could fetch £4.9bn all in, New York listed United could dramatically increase the collective deal making value of clubs in the Premier League – Chelsea’s sale reached £2.5bn in comparison.
So there you have it, the cash is running into the top flight from all over the globe in amounts many of us couldn’t even fathom. But that’s modern football, so let’s get on with it.