Premier League Perspectives: The Problem With American Owners
The problem with American owners is….. greed. That’s right, I said greed. For American ownership in the English Premier Leauge the bottom line is just that, the bottom line. They want to see profits.
The English Premier League is the new thing for American’s to want, including insanely rich sports moguls. For most of these American owners the rich history and traditions of a club come second to the profits. While this can certainly be a good thing for some clubs, it also becomes a problem for others.
While having a Premiership club purchased by a foreign group/owner can be a good thing (Chelsea – Roman Abramovich or Man City – Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan), that only ever really works out for the super, insanely, multi-billionaire rich.
For all the others, the purchase of a club is about making an investment. To make an investment this usually means that the owner is using the company to be able to get something out of it that benefits them.
In the case of American ownership this investment is to make the owners money. To make money these owners have been putting increasing pressure on the club to spend less and less money. The latest mantra has been “cut the wage bill.”
Arsenal fans have been complaining for years (and getting louder and louder) that they want more players bought instead of constant selling. Arsenal’s wage structure is often set up to make this difficult since they refuse to pay their players above a certain amount which leads to players leaving the club for greener pastures as well as making it so other players do not want to sign.
This has become the most recent trend for teams owned by Americans. Here is a list of teams with American ownership.
So, why is this bad? Isn’t cutting the wage bill a good thing?
Yes, it is a good thing. I would say that this part of it is certainly good and that every team in the Premier League should be looking at their finances. A team that goes under cannot be successful and kills the history that it once had (see Portsmouth).
With that said, having American ownership is not what a club should want. Most American owners do not understand what it means to be the owner of an English club (Premier League or otherwise).
They don’t seem to understand how the transfer seasons run, how to utilize their scouts, how to buy and sell, how to keep players happy, and most of all, how to keep the supporters happy.
They don’t quite grasp what it takes to run a successful club. A club that relies on winning to drive them forward. Most of these owners want to expand the brand, but a losing club is not going to expand. Most people outside of England do not want to support a club that is not winning trophies. Trophies get the team money and to get trophies you need to have a team that plays well, which often means going out and buying the player that the manager wants.
In American sports there is always the possibility of making a club successful through monetary gains. In some leagues it is even possible to gain money through the success of other teams, in a way (MLB profit-sharing).
Most American leagues also have some sort of salary cap in place that limits the amount of spending that a team can do and reduces the chances that they will fail. In short, American sports are set up MUCH differently than the English Premier League or any other European sports franchise.
In Europe many clubs are being run with large amounts of debt. American owners come in seeing this as a massive problem (which it surely is) and attempt to make their club more successful in terms of their budget.
This can often lead to supporters turning on the manager and/or the owners. When managers are not given what they want to be able to run the club it becomes a problem.
Traditions and histories are destroyed because another American wants to own something and make lots of money off of it instead of doing what is best for the club itself. They might come out and make statements about what is best for the club, but in the end all they really care about is whether they are making money or not.
In my opinion the biggest problem with European football is the money. Transfers fees are outrageous. Wages are outrageous. The demands of players, managers and owners are outrageous.
Something needs to be done by the governing bodies to cut down on the excess and curb the over-spending.
Till then American owners are going to continue to come in to the Premier League and try to make money off your favorite club.
What do you think, are American owners bad for English soccer? Is there a problem with American’s owning English soccer clubs? Do there need to be changes made to the way transfers are done?