Many were shocked at the recent Saudi-led Newcastle United purchase. How could the Premier League allow a regime with such a spotty human rights record to own a Premier League team? Has the Premier League – and professional soccer, in general – simply become a “game of money”? To know more, let’s take a quick look at who will be welcoming the Saudi-led consortium to the Premier League owners’ table.
*Courtois speaking in reference to FIFA and UEFA, but the message is still relevant to PL.
Who Are The Premier League Owners?
20. Brentford- Matthew Benham ($4.1 million)
19. Norwich- Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones ($31.3 million)
18. Burnley- Mike Garlick ($84 million)
17. Watford- Gino Pozza ($126.5 million)
16. Leeds United- Andrea Radrizzani ($454.5 million)
15. Brighton- Tony Bloom ($1.04 billion)
14. West Ham United- David Sullivan and David Gold ($2.2 billion)
13. Everton- Farhad Moshiri ($2.6 billion)
12. Liverpool- John Henry ($3 billion)
11. Southampton- Gao Jisheng ($3.13 billion)
10. Leicester- Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha ($4 billion)
9. Crystal Palace- Joshua Harris ($4.6 billion)
8- Manchester United- The Glazers (£3.5 billion)
7- Tottenham Hotspur- Joe Lewis ($4.8 billion)
6- Wolves- Guo Guangchang ($6.12 billion)
5- Aston Villa- Nassef Sawiris ($7.2 billion)
4- Arsenal- Stan Kroenke ($8.6 billion)
3- Chelsea- Roman Abramovich ($13 billion)
2- Manchester City- Sheikh Mansour ($31 billion)
1- Newcastle United- Saudi Public Investment Fund ($435 billion)
What Does The List of Premier League Owners Tell Us?
When 15 of the 20 Premier League teams are owned by billionaires, one has to question the integrity of the competition. Is there still any hope for teams to grow and achieve success “organically”? That is to say, without the funds of an oligarch, nation-state or multi-billionaire. If not, then can we really blame the Newcastle fans for celebrating their newfound pot of gold?
When a few of the richest clubs are able to offer exorbitant salaries to players, the choice of where to play is essentially taken out of the players’ hands. With a relatively short career timeframe, a good soccer player will simply never choose to play for Norwich City on $50,000/week when Manchester City are dangling $400,000/week. Which begs the question, what about a “salary cap” to level the playing field? Well, that idea was broached within the last decade, but given the stiff competition for top players from other European leagues, the Premier League decided against the proposed system.
Instead, the Premier League adheres to Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, theoretically ensuring that clubs only spend as much as they earn and that they can fulfill all transfer and salary payments. Sounds reasonable, right? But many criticize the regulations as a way for the gatekeeper “big clubs” – i.e. Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, etc. – to simply keep the little guys from crashing their party.
Is The Premier League Changing For The Better?
The beautiful thing about the Premier League and the other European Leagues is jeopardy. Any team can earn promotion and any team can suffer relegation. However, these days it feels as though teams are essentially able to buy their position in the table – not directly, but by scooping up all the talent.
Maybe the arrival of the newest Premier League owners will give the British government and FA pause for thought when it comes to the direction the league is headed. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though.