Friday, September 22, 2006

New investors linked to West Ham United...

I have always been led to believe that owning a football club is the road to financial ruin. Yet over the last couple of years Roman Abramovich acquired Chelsea, the Glazer family purchased Manchester United, Randy Lerner has bought a controlling interest in Aston Villa, Russian businessman Alexandre Gaydamak captured Portsmouth and there's strong speculation linking West Ham to MSI, the London based media and sports group.

The latest news on this front concerns Israeli businessman Eli Papoushado, who has confirmed he is willing to help fund a £100m takeover of West Ham United. Financial experts believe that new television football deal, which kicks-in next season is the main driving force behind some of the latest moves.

Many fans and people in the media have concerns about foreign ownership of so many clubs. The fans want to know what is the driving force behind this sudden surge in interest in our national game. Abramovich has wealth which is almost beyond belief and so he's not looking to cash-in financially, quite the reverse. I doubt there'd be too many complaints if the rest ploughed similar amounts into the clubs mentioned here.

Personally, I have grave reservations about Glazer at United, much of the money he used to buy United was borrowed money and now he's transferred much of the debt to Manchester United. The debt is now some £675m with annual interest payments alone of around £62m. Quite simply United cannot afford to service this debt and at the same time keep pace with Chelsea and others in the transfer market.

United has the biggest supporter base, the biggest ground capacity by far, and the biggest turnover financially, yet this summer Manchester United were the Premier League's lowest net spenders in the transfer market. This has left United with a squad that is too thin and therefore the reds wont be able to mount a serious title challenge this season. Watch this space.

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