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Are American Owners Changing the Nature of Football Leagues?

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The recent interview of Todd Boehly has created a buzz among football fans and viewers. During the interview, the new Chelsea owner spoke out regarding the multi-club model (Ex: The City Group, The Red Bull Group), the future of Chelsea, the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea academy, etc.

Of all the talks it was his suggestion of an “All-Star game” in the Premier League that caught the attention of fans along.

In the interview, Todd Boehly said:

Why isn’t there an All-Star game? People are talking about more money for the pyramid. MLB did their All-Star game in LA this year and we made $200 million (£173m) from a Monday and a Tuesday. You could do a North vs South All-Star game in the Premier League and fund the pyramid easily

(Via: The Athletic)

Number of American owners in PL

The percentage of American owners in the English Premier League has risen over the years. They account for 35% of the Premier League club owners (majority stakes) and have minority stakes in two clubs (Leeds United and Manchester City). The owner demographics look as below:

The United Kingdom – 10% (2 clubs)

England – 15% (3 clubs)

Rest of the World – 40%

Number of American Owners in Top 5 European Leagues

Amongst the top five European leagues, the Spanish and German clubs are owned by the fans whereas the English, French and Italian leagues are owned by a consortium and billionaires.

Out of the 60 clubs, 31.66% (19 clubs across England, France, and Italy) are owned by Americans. Of the rest 41 clubs, 22 clubs are owned by the natives (English owners -3, French owners -9, Italian owners -10), and 19 clubs are owned by the rest of the world countries.

The American Approach to the Game: Is It Harming European Football?

During the interview, Todd Boehly mentioned the reference to the MLB All-Star Game. In the typical American model, it is normal to have a conglomerate-like structure. The above model shows that the conglomerates control the franchises and share the profits as dividends. They made the games played by the franchises regularly to maximize their earnings.

There is no promotion or relegation in the U.S format of tournaments because of the franchise model. There is a reason for the lack of a promotion-relegation pattern. If the club goes down after a season of investment, the huge investment would go to waste. European football is beautiful because of relegation and promotion. The excitement, passion, and love for the club would die if relegation and promotion were to be quelled.

The proposed European Super League (ESL) was a brainchild developed in the United States of America. The ESL was a tournament aimed at having popular clubs instead of meritocracy. It invited fury from the fans because of its virtually closed nature, where the over-achieving clubs could not be part of the competition.

In a nutshell, billionaires are looking for a way to maximize their investments within the existing structures. The clubs have stopped depending on matchday revenues. Phase one of maximizing the revenues was the TV and commercial deals.  Maximizing revenues through the different forms of competitions (ESL) and games (proposed All-Star game) can form the second phase.

The Final Take

One cannot completely blame the Americans for pumping huge investments and slowly raising their demands to change the nature of the tournaments. The Blues won domestic and continental awards after Roman Abramovich (a billionaire and an oligarch) bought them. It gave rise to a race to sign the players by splashing the cash. The American owners are an extended part of this phenomenon.

It would be difficult for the players to play throughout the year. If the plans of having different tournaments in the format of the Super Bowl start to take place in summer, either the domestic league or the international games have to make compromises. It is high time for everyone to unite and save the game.

The top five European leagues are the La Liga, Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1. Each top flight consists of 20 clubs.

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