Football clubs that found new entrepreneurial owners or majority stakeholders in 2016

Deloitte’s “Annual Review of Football Finance” has let it slip that the UK’s 20 PL clubs generated an awe-inspiring £3.3bn in 2015, with a combined operating profit of £546m – said to be the second-highest figure on record.

According to Deloitte partner Dan Jones, this is a turning point for such clubs. He said: “After 20 years of being good at revenue but poor at bottom line, this is a new era for PL finances. Teams had always been attractive to overseas investors, but they were traditionally bought more for emotional reasons or as trophy assets. The fact they are now making consistent profits means they will be seen as viable financial assets from now on.”

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Similarly, David Bick, chairman of Square1 consulting, claimed PL clubs were now more reasonable investments – “the money produced by broadcasts has put all 20 teams on a level playing field, and it will now be difficult for clubs not to make an operating profit.”

That being said, we took a look at the football clubs this year that had looked too good for investors to pass up.

(1) Aston Villa

China’s growing interest in football has been of great debate as of late, with the latest headlines featuring Recon Group buying Aston Villa. In May 2016, Chinese businessman and head of Recon Tony Xia agreed to buy the club for £60m from billionaire Randy Lerner.

A club statement said Lerner “sought the right owner to take care of the club and restore fortunes” and believed Xia was an “excellent choice”.

It further claimed Xia had played football as a striker until he finished at college and “decided to buy an iconic club in England as the cornerstone of his firm’s sports, leisure and tourism division.”

As the owner of Recon Group – a holding company – he controls the interests of five companies listed on the Hong Kong and Chinese stock exchanges. And the deal, which is still subject to Football League approval, would see Xia take 100 per cent ownership and become chairman.

He already has a few plans up his sleeves for the club – the first being Villa’s return to the PL and to make it “the most famous football club in China with a huge fan base.” There has also been news that Xia, alongside two directors of Recon Sports, set up a holding company on Companies House.

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(2) Arsenal

Stan Kroenke, who also owns the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, has been Arsenal’s majority shareholder since 2011.

And while it may not be what fans wanted – they’ve been calling for his removal – the American businessman is refusing to step down.

In fact, he recently increased his stake in the club, paying £368,000 to buy a further 23 shares and thus raising his stake to 67 per cent.

Earlier in May, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed that Kroenke was prepared to invest “as much money as the team wanted” in efforts to rebuild the club and bring with it trophies.

He added: “Stan Kroenke is completely behind myself and the board in terms of investment. It has to be in respect of a balanced budget, we have resources but the problem is finding players.”

Read on to find out who the new owners of Inter Milan and Everton are.

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