Thursday, 17 May 2012

Football's foreign legion

The news that Kenny Dalglish has been sacked as Liverpool manager by the Boston-based Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Red Sox baseball team, got me thinking about the ownership of Premier League football clubs. As far as I can see, only three top-flight English clubs - Bolton, Everton and Stoke - are now owned by people who have been lifelong fans of the teams.

Some people argue that businessmen have already owned football teams and don't see it as a problem that the new generation of owners live in Abu Dhabi, Miami or Missouri as long as the money keeps rolling in. The difference though is that the people who owned football clubs in the past - the Edwards at Manchester United, the Hill-Woods at Arsenal - were businessmen AND fans. They were susceptible to pressure from fans over ticket prices, player transfers and managerial appointments in a way that people in boardrooms thousands of miles away for whom the club is just one part of a sports empire will never be.

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