The Choppy Waters of Foreign Ownership

The Football Column explores the foreign owned clubs within English football, who we either love or loath, they can be a club’s saviour or public enemy number one. Supporters appear to want billionaires, who can buy the best players in the world, but this can be a negative take, as Liverpool and Portsmouth have experienced, with the unsteady hand of the foreign owner. The well documented debt problem at Manchester United with the American ownership of the players, highlights the downside.

Will Chealsea and Manchester City experience the same problems in the future? Anything is possible in football. Portsmouth unbelievably crashed out of the Premiership courtesy of their four different owners in one season. As for Chealsea, they have experienced huge success under Roman Abramovich, however they are not self-sufficient with a minus revenue of 200 million pounds a season, likewise, Manchester City are in the same boat.

The clubs of Everton and recently relegated Stoke City have taken the opposite course, maintaining English ownership, with the owners being lifetime supporters, which results in these clubs holding onto the moral fibre of the club. In Peter Ridsdale (not an owner) we trust, was the mantle that the chief exec at Leeds United was afforded, but what followed proved to be a catastrophe, with two fast track relegations, as they crash landed into League Two. Ridsdale’s plan was based on Champion’s League qualification, but there are no guarantees in football.

Ridsdale is English and his plan was a disaster. In his book ‘United We Fell, Truths About the Beautiful Game’, he made claims about who was responsible for the downfall of the club. Ridsdale was culpable for the crash of Leeds United in the mid 2000’s. Are the stakes higher for clubs owned by foreigners? Ridsdale to the shame of the Football Association has been previously involved with Cardiff City, where a 1 million pound unpaid tax bill reared its ugly head, and then returned to his Yorkshire nightmare with Barnsley.

Should Ridsdale have been allowed back into football? Of course not – the FA’s checks on the unsavoury, remains a mystery. All the English leagues have a process to vet prospective owners called the fit and proper persons test. How do those destructive owners who desecrate clubs like Portsmouth manage to pass? During the mid 90’s, Chester City (now Chester FC) was led to the gutter by chairman Mark Guterman, who hit the road (with no car tax) leaving the Cheshire club with a huge debt.

Unbelievably, the Guterman moved to Chester’s arch rivals Wrexham where he endeavoured to build a Redrow, houses that is, on Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. Guterman’s card was marked, as he rode out of town, to leave Wrexham with sweet FA, with not a Football Association representative in sight! The football authorities failed to attend (on invite), the Football Column HQ for the fit and proper persons test, they have failed!