Investors Buying European Soccer Teams

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“The English Premier League (EPL) is the world’s most lucrative soccer league, with a TV deal worth more than $5 billion and huge marketing potential reaching an ever-growing audience in the developing world.”

It used to be the Italian league, the Serie A that had all the great players from South America, Europe and Africa. Now, it’s the EPL, with all the stars and the snatching up of young, future stars from other countries. Thus, more and more investors and business men are realizing that rather than push for expansion of a professional sports team they already own, like American football or an NBA team, they see taking over an EPL club or top flight European team as a great business opportunity. They can sell an existing brand via jerseys and other gear and take a piece of the TV rights pie.

The list I think will keep growing.

Foreign Ownership of European Teams

  • Chelsea (Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich)
  • Portsmouth (French-Russian)
  • West Ham (Iceland:  Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson financier )
  • Fulham (Egyptian: Mohamed Al Fayed who owns Harrods)
  • Olympique Marseille (Canadian businessman Jack Kachkar)
  • Manchester United (United States:  Malcolm Glazer’s $1.8-billion buyout)
  • Celtic (United States: $997,115 – John Fisher, son of Gap Inc. founder Donald Fisher, bought a 3.24 percent stake)
  • Liverpool (United States:  George Gillett and Tom Hicks)
  • Arsenal (United States- Stan Kroenke bought a 9.99 percent stake in London’s Arsenal)
  • Aston Villa (United States:  Randy Lerner)
  • Derby (United States:  General Sports and Entertainment for $99.1 million)

“EPL revenue makes it the fourth-highest for any sports league worldwide, behind the three most popular North American leagues, the NFL, MLB and the NBA.

The American charge began two years ago when two-time European champion Manchester United, which according to Deloitte, had revenue of $315.4 million (242.6 million euros) last season, was purchased for $1.49 billion by Malcolm Glazer, owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Randy Lerner, who owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns bought Aston Villa last year for $119 million, and last week the $428.5 million sale of five-time European champion Liverpool was completed. The new owners are George Gillett, who owns the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens, and Tom Hicks, owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and baseball’s Texas Rangers.“

NEW Colorado businessman Stan Kroenke bought a 9.99 percent stake in London’s Arsenal soccer team from the British television network ITV.

Kroenke, a real estate developer who owns the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, said Thursday that he also entered into "conditional arrangements" with ITV involving the sale of ITV’s 50 percent share in Arsenal Broadband Limited.

The total value of the deals would be approximately $128.1 million, Kroenke’s company said in a statement.

The Rapids will open the MLS season Saturday against D.C. United in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a new 18,000-seat soccer complex in the Denver area that includes 24 lighted fields and is one of the largest soccer parks in the world. According to the Denver Business Journal this is a 20 year deal with Kroenke Sports Enterprise, and sources say the deal is worth 2 million per year and includes signage, media, hospitality and retail rights around the stadium. When Beckham comes to town and the stadium sells out this might look like a good deal Dick’s brokered. I’m sure more deals and naming rights are sure to come around Major League Soccer.

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