The European Super League: The story of 6 very different owners

One thing has been bugging me throughout the European Super League fiasco and that is the spotlight put on the owners.

Without appearing to stand up for Stan Kroenke, I want to ask the question “would a different owner have made a different decision?” And to get to that answer you have to look at the owners of other clubs.

Manchester City

Manchester City are set to win the Premier League this season. They are also in the final of the Champions League.

Owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group, City have been bank rolled to 5 league titles In 10 years, if you include this.

No City fan will have anything bad to say about Sheikh Mansour, Khaldoon Al Mubarak or anyone else running the club.

Not only have they bought success to a club who playing in the 3rd tier in the late 90s, their owners have overseen stadium improvements, training ground improvements, and turned the club into a global force both on and off the pitch.

And yet they still signed up to the European Super League.

Chelsea

Before Manchester City there was Chelsea.

Roman Abramovich changed football forever when he arrived at Chelsea in 2003 and “parked his Russian tanks on the lawn and is firing £50 notes at” every other club in the Premier League.

Chelsea have won 16 major honours since he took over the club, and it has only been someone richer coming along with Manchester City that has seen that rise even more.

Roman has given Chelsea over £1bn wrapped in loans since he took over. £500m of which has been in the last 6 years. He shows very little interest in getting Chelsea to repay those loans.

Like Manchester City, he has pumped in a huge amount of his own personal wealth with no intention of a return.

And yet they still signed up to the European Super League.

Tottenham

“You are not going to get someone that grew up on the Cally become a billionaire and buy Arsenal” is often said; pointing out the fact the days of life long local fan buying a club are gone.

But Tottenham have a life long fan owning the club, and another running it.

Spurs are owned by ENIC, who themselves are owned by Joe Lewis.

Lewis was born above a pub in Bow, left school at 15 to help out his fathers fledging business.  Roll on 42-years and he is now one of Britain’s richest men, although he now lives in tax exile in the Bahamas.

Chairman of Tottenham is Daniel Levy, a boyhood Tottenham fan who was first taken to a game as a 6-year-old by his uncle.

When talking about his ownership of Tottenham, Levy said “it is simply our turn to look after it, grow it and support it.”

On paper, Levy and Lewis should be perfect owners.

Boyhood fans who have made their money and have the best interests of Tottenham at heart.

And yet they still signed up to the European Super League.

Liverpool

Despite being American, Fenway Sports Group founded by John W. Henry and Thomas C. Werner were often talked about in different terms to Arsenal and Manchester United’s owners.

They seemed to have a passion for sport, and winning.

Unlike Stan Kroenke and the Glazers, they drove Liverpool towards success, not just sit their and watched their share price increase.

Whilst they did not bank roll success, nor claim to be boyhood fans, they made a lot of right moves and, perhaps most importantly, put the right people in charge of running the club.

One reason for Arsenal and Manchester United’s fall in recent years is they have had the wrong people running the club.

In 2017 they appointed Peter Moore, a Merseyside born businessman, as CEO. He oversaw Champions League and Premier League success.

Moore stepped down from the role in August 2020, replaced by American Billy Hogan. And it was Hogan who was involved in the European Super League talks.

So up until 2020, FSG had worked in the best interest of Liverpool and its fans, with a Liverpool lad running the show. And then from 2020 Hogan took over from Moore.

Would Liverpool have joined the ESL under Peter Moore’s? Who knows. But it perhaps shows that whilst the owners are the ultimate decision makers at the club, those they put in charge of running the thing day to day – Hogan, Ed Woodward, Ivan Gazidis, etc are perhaps even more influential.

Liverpool’s owners seem to have very good intentions, and are focused on winning.

And yet they still signed up to the European Super League.

Arsenal and Manchester United

Finally we come onto Arsenal and Manchester United.

It is easy to talk about both together as both are similar.

Neither are overly concerned with success on the pitch, they are motivated by the finances off it. The increasing share price of both clubs is most important.

Whilst FSG at Liverpool seem to understand that the quickest way to increase the share price is through on-pitch success, Kroenke and the Glazers seem happy not driving their businesses along aggressively. Seeing the share prices of their assets grow because of how big their brands are rather than on-pitch success.

The saying goes a high-tide rises all ships, and Arsenal and Manchester United certainly fall under that category.

Both have seen their share price increase due to the overall market cap of football increasing, rather than anything special they are doing,

It is no surprise they were the two English clubs leading the way in the ESL talks.

So in summary, there have been a lot of protests against owners in the last 7 days – most noticeably at Arsenal and Manchester United. But would a different owner have made a different decision to join the ESL?

Owners of Everton, Leeds United and Aston Villa all came out and spoke out against the ESL, but it is a very easy thing to do when you were not invited.

I bet had they been invited their tone would have been very different.

Sheikh Mansoor is a very different type of owner to Stan Kroenke, Joe Lewis very different to the Glazers, Abramovich different to John Henry. Yet all 6 owners came to the same decision (or the people they install to run the clubs came to the decision).

That decision was to join the European Super League.

Would a change of owner lead to a different decision in 10 years time when a European Super League rears its ugly head again? My feeling is no. It will not.

Keenos

2 thoughts on “The European Super League: The story of 6 very different owners

  1. Mike

    No billionaire is going to send 2+ Billion to not make money. That is the point and that for me is OK, but bring the club forward not backward we have a brilliant stadium and we have a very good young talent coming. Buy the big players to assist these young players. Kronke seem very short sited if he thinks you can’t spend and challenge City, Chelski, etc. I am all for a project but not a never ending one.

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  2. Gareth

    Was Kroenke leading the other clubs into ESL? I cannot seem to find evidence? All I see online is the comments from one talksport pundit? Indeed I heard that it was Liverpool & Man United leading the way. Possibly because of the proposals they made in October 2020 about Premier League reforms.

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