Ten Premier League clubs are at least part-owned by Americans. That’s half the top-flight roster.

It’s an emphatic demonstration of how English top-flight clubs are ceding control to foreign owners.

But the trend is also a ringing endorsement of the Premier League as a coveted investment opportunity and a  money-spinning brand with global appeal.

A Premier League club has become an investment of choice, a sought-after must-have in billionaire investors’ suites of sports assets.

After completing his takeover of Bournemouth in December 2022, American businessman Bill Folley revealed to the BBC: “I have been looking at different investment situations in the Premier League for several years…”

Seven months earlier, in May 2022, Todd Boehly’s American consortium had seen off fierce competition to complete the record takeover of Chelsea following Roman Abramovich’s departure from Stamford Bridge.

American sports tycoons

The idendikit American owner of a Premier League club is typically a billionaire who already owns an American sports outfit.

Malcolm Glazer provided the blueprint for his American compatriots.

When the late businessman purchased a stake in Man United in 2003, his investment vehicle, First Allied Corporation, already owned NFL franchise Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A complete takeover of United followed two years later in 2005, the year the Old Trafford club was rated the most valuable sports brand in the world. The Glazers had struck gold.

United fans’ well-documented antipathy towards the owners is because the Glazers regime has gained notoriety as extractive – owners taking out profits while the club is sliding into debt. The Glazers have resisted persistent, vociferous and sometimes violent calls by angry fans to sell the club because they realize the value of their investment.

No doubt inspired by the Glazers’ pioneering excursion into a new sports market, more Americans started exploring opportunities in the Premier League, beating the path to the UK to claim their own slice of the pie.

Today, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds United, Liverpool, Man United and West Ham, are all either wholly or part-owned by Americans, who now control almost half the Premier League.

Owners and their sports assets

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s portfolio of sports assets includes the Denver Nuggets (basketball), Colorado Avalanche (ice hockey), Colorado Rapids (Major League Soccer) and St. Louis Rams (American football).

Aston Villa co-owner Wes Edens is part-owner of NBA outfit Milwaukee Bucks, whileBournemouth owner Bill Folley’s Black Knight Football Club group also owns NHL franchise the Vegas Golden Knights.

Boehly, who fronted the consortium that took over Chelsea, is a part-owner of Los Angeles Dodgers.

John Textor, who co-owns Crystal Palace with fellow Americans Josh Harris and David Blitzer and English businessman Steve Parish, also owns a majority stake in Brazilian football side Botafogo, co-owns French top-flight football club Olympique Lyonnais and RWD Molenbeek of Belgium.

Harris is the principal owner and managing partner of NHL side New Jersey Devils and NBA outfit  Philadelphia 76ers, in which Palace co-owner Blitzer also holds a stake.

Blitzer also has shareholdings in a raft of other sporting entities, among them Cleveland Guardians (Major League Baseball) German Bundesliga outfit Augsburg, Brondby (Danish football), Real Salt Lake (MLS) etc.

Fulham owner Shahid Khan’s portfolio also contains National Football League side the Jacksonville Jaguars. Khan also dabbles in wrestling promotion via All Elite Wresting.

The 49ers Enterprises, owners of San Francisco 49ers, have a minority but significant shareholding in Leeds United (44%). In fact, it has been suggested that they brought pressure to bear on the board resulting in the appointment of American Jesse Marsch as Marcelo Bielsa’s successor. The 49ers are reported to be angling for a complete takeover of the club.

Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group Holdings, LLC (FSG) have Boston Red Rox (Major League Baseball) and Pittsburgh Penguins (National Hockey League) in their stable.

West Ham investor Albert Tripp Smith, who has a 10% shareholding in the club, is the only American part-owner of a Premier League club who doesn’t have a sports portfolio in the USA. He however has been credited with designs for a complete takeover of the Hammers.

Checking American influence

American owners now control almost half of the Premier League. But that could all change with both Liverpool and Manchester United owners indicating their willingness to sell, if not their entire stakes then portions.

Will they sell to fellow Americans?

Not necessarily, despite reports claiming that Crystal Palace’s American shareholders Blitzer and Harris are interested in acquiring a stake in Liverpool. FSG will most likely sell to the highest bidder as they seek top dollar for their investments. That highest bidder could be a Middle Eastern buyer.

Already reports have suggested John W. Henry and the Glazers have been talking to potential buyers in the Middle East, with some Qatari investors reported to be keen.

With the Abu Dhabi United Group Ltd firmly ensconced at Manchester City since 2008 and the Saudis’ taking over Newcastle in October 2021, an acquisition of both Liverpool and Manchester United by “Arab capital” would significantly peg back the Americans, dilute their influence and loosen their grip on the Premier League.

In the event Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who has thrown his hat in the ring, pulls off a major coup and takes over Manchester United, the development would not be without significance. It would be hailed, especially by the traditionalists, as a major step in the English’s bid to reclaim their beloved game.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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