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Foreign Investment Into Football Clubs

By Andrew Ross

What do you need to have to be  successful at the highest level of world football? The answer… An extremely wealthy investor willing to throw millions of pounds towards the un-guaranteed success of the football club. Or so the case has been in recent years.

The English Premier League is one of, if not arguably the best league in the world for the overall standard of football played, and the competitiveness the teams create. This makes it extremely attractive to foreign investors.

 The promise of millions of pounds for managers to spend in transfer markets and the assurance of financial security makes foreign takeovers almost a no-brainer for football clubs. The great speed in which takeovers can be completed, if complications don’t arise,  means the club can gain access to the large sums of money in a relatively short space of time, allowing the club to bring new talent in that was not accessible before hand.

 In the past when foreign investment was not so prominent, smaller teams relied heavily on nurturing talent from the youth development systems within the club. This involved scouting talent from their early teenage years and helping them progress their ability. This however took years of hard work and did not guarantee producing players at the required ability, and those that were good enough were usually snapped up by a larger team offering far greater wages and the opportunity of European football and trophies. Something you do not have to worry about when buckets of cash are at your disposal, allowing the minnows to compete more regularly with the bigger teams for players.

Instant access to money does not always guarantee immediate success, however. Manchester City owner Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan purchased the club in late 2008 and immediately made millions of pounds accessible to the club, highlighted by their purchase of Brazilian starlet Robinho for a British record transfer fee of £32.5 million. This was followed in 2009 by the spending of over £100 million as the entire squad was revamped. This however didn’t lead to instant success, with City only finishing fifth in the league that season, meaning they missed out on a Champions League spot. Although this had been a major improvement on previous seasons, as Manchester City had established themselves as a real threat in the race for the title rather than struggling with mid-table finishes, it showed money did not guarantee immediate success as they had not managed to break in to any of the top 4 positions, something that had been expected of them. The money allowed Man City to attempt to sign bigger and better players though, allowing them to progress as a team.

However, Manchester City are showing signs that they are indeed planning for the future as well. In the summer they released plans to renovate an unused plot of land next to the Etihad Stadium to build a £100 million training complex for the development of youth football and to benefit the community. This will enable the continued growth of the football club, perhaps into a world giant of football, and shows the undoubted benefits of having a foreign investor willing to fuel the club with heaps of money towards the success of the football club.

 

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