As of today American owners now have a significant stake in the Premier League’s top teams thanks to Stan Kroenke completing the takeover of Arsenal. He joins Manchester United owner Malcolm Glazer, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) that own Liverpool, and Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner as the North Americans now populating the Premier League.
Kroenke, who was already a major shareholder in the club, has taken his controlling stake to 62.89% and means that exactly half the Premier League’s clubs are now under foreign ownership. How will Kroenke get on though?
As far as US owners go, Premier League clubs really haven’t had a good time of it. Glazer and co at Manchester United are continually criticized for the amount of debt they load onto the club. Then you have the former-owners at Liverpool, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who similarly burdened the club with debt. They were since chased out by the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) that has been in charge for too small a time to gauge any success. The other US-based owner is Aston Villa’s Lerner who runs a tight and steady ship; the money involved is nowhere near the astronomical amounts at the other three though.
Although Kroenke Sports Enterprises own franchises in American sport leagues so do the other three ownership groups that became involved in the Premier League and they would be the first to admit that the experience is a very different one to America.
Another foreign owner will also trigger the debate as to whether the Premier League will open up proposals for a 39th game abroad. It’s inevitable that this could end up happening at some point in the future as the product already works worldwide and knowing the league’s thirst for money it’s likely to be hard to resist if half the owners want it.
It will be interesting to see what direction Arsenal take after the Kroenke takeover and equally as fascinating to see what effect it also has on the rest of the league, its global growth and whether the sport is renamed “soccer”.