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Colonisation of the Premier League – Gary Neville Fears the Worst!

The Premier League, being one of the most popular leagues in the world, has been a common interest for foreign investors with owners ranging from across borders and oceans. This is because of the growth of the League as it has proven to benefit shareholders generating millions of pounds in profit, especially in recent years with big-name players and managers, record-breaking viewership, successful European performances and victories, and unique collaborations with industries outside of sport and exercise. The Premier League currently features over 55% foreign ownership with nine clubs fully or partially owned by investors from the United States.

The nationality of a club owner should not matter; in fact, it only emphasises and embraces diversity and inclusion at the highest level, however, recent involvement by American Chelsea owner, Tedd Boehly, has raised a few eyebrows with fans concerned about the ‘Americanisation of Football’. Boehly’s proposition of an ‘All-Star’ football game of North vs South was an idea appreciated by some but also frowned upon by others. Despite a mixture of responses, most people were against the idea, but some were also against the idea of an owner interfering with the game; trying to ‘fix what’s not broken’.

The latest club to be linked with a US-led takeover are Bournemouth FC, who are in discussions with the majority owner of the NHL team Vegas Golden Knights, Bill Foley. The American businessman is leading the bid to buy out The Cherries in a deal which would make him the sole owner of the club and the tenth American owner in the Premier League. Should the deal go through, half of the teams in England’s top league would be American-led. So what is the big deal?

Well, there is no big deal in billionaire investors, especially now that there are governments involved, in fact, it will only become a fairground again if every club is owned by a billionaire businessman. The concern arises from the power shift in football where owners will dictate the game instead of fans. As for US owners, the biggest concern among fans and ex-players is that football will become Americanised. As one fan said, “football is at risk of becoming soccer”. The American-based sport is very popular in the States and has a magnificent audience nationally; however, it is undeniable that the sport derives its entertainment from endorsements and shows instead of ‘soccer’ being the main focus. Football fans have always had pride in their sport as it is self-sufficient for entertainment and does not need ‘cheerleaders’ and ‘half-time shows’ to get people’s attention.   

Gary Neville publicly raised his concerns on the issue stating “I keep saying it but the quicker we get the regulator in the better. US investment into English football is a clear and present danger to the pyramid and fabric of the game. They just don’t get it and think differently. They also don’t stop till they get what they want!”

His concerns were supported when part owner of League Two club Salford retweeted a reply saying, “Four more American owners and they can change the constitution to stop relegation”.  Surely this couldn’t happen?

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