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Bungling foreign owners serve up more competitive Premier League — at either end of the table

How many words does it take to point out that foreign owners at the top and bottom of the Premier League have given hope to the rest of the competition? Err… quite a few apparently. Nevertheless, the likes of Tom Hicks and George Gillett have somehow managed to make the league far more interesting this season…

George Gillett and Tom Hicks: Hampering Liverpool's ambitions since 2007?

When the influx first looked like coming, foreign ownership of clubs was rallied against as the beginning of the end for English football — with dire warnings that fans would lose the connection with their local club as the sport became more about making money than providing entertainment.

The same was said of foreign players, of course, when they suddenly began descending on their Premier League around 15 years earlier.

The likes of Eric Cantona and Dennis Bergkamp would obstruct English talent from shining, it was widely believed. In fact, the opposite has been proven to be true, as the many others who followed those legendary players to English shores have helped improved the native technique and ability beyond almost all recognition.

Few predicted the Premier League would get stronger with foreign players but, having contributed Champions League finalists in each of the last five seasons, that has proven to be the case.

Few predicted foreign ownership would lead to a more competitive league but, perhaps belatedly, even unexpectedly, that is suddenly becoming the case.

After all, some of the traditional powerhouses of English football have seemingly been handicapped by their foreign owners in recent times, while others from the middle of the English pack have been able to burst forward under the ambitious direction of new men in charge.

In the former corner, unfortunately for their long-suffering fans, is Liverpool. Just this week Rafa Benitez, the club’s beleaguered manager, attempted to deflect attention away from his own troubles by admitting publicly what everyone already suspected about the way the club is now run:

“One of the priorities this year was to reduce the debt so the club is working very hard to do this and I think that our position will be much better,” the Spaniard said. Continue reading

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Portsmouth and Newcastle Find Short-Term Prospects Hampered by Takeover Talks

Both clubs are hoping new owners will revive their fortunes. But while negotiations continue to eat into the summer transfer window, the short-term impact could be more negative than positive…

Uncertainty at both clubs is beginning to affect the players (Photo: Getty)

Uncertainty at both clubs is beginning to affect the players (Photo: Getty)

In general, a takeover brings positive results to the football club involved.

Transfer budgets and ambitions are increased, as a new chairman comes in and approves the purchase of expensive new signings who invariably help the team to dramatically improved league positions.

But, by the same token, a takeover can bring many problems to a previously stable club. If a takeover drags on and takes a while to complete — particularly during the vitally important summer months, where fresh talent must be recruited for the new campaign — it can spell disaster for a club’s short-term prospects.

That is the fear that currently grips Premiership club Portsmouth, and recently relegated Championship outfit Newcastle United.

While Newcastle seemed to be paralysed by owner Mike Ashley’s failure to sell the club this summer, Dr. Sulaiman Al-Fahim’s protracted negotiations over the purchase of Portsmouth have resulted in the South Coast club losing a lot of ground in the transfer window.    

Star player Glen Johnson has already moved to Liverpool in the transfer window, with the £17 million fee helping to alleviate the club’s existing financial concerns — concerns held over by the outgoing regime.

The right-back’s move has also gone some way to assuaging Al-Fahim’s fears about the economic integrity of the club he proposes to buy, as the Middle East-based businessman finally completed due diligence of the club yesterday.

“The formal application for the fit and proper person test has been submitted to the Premier League and it is with them now,” said Ivo Ilic Gabara, Al-Fahim’s spokesman, after announcing due diligence had been completed. “The buying party, Fahim Associates, are now doing the final commercial assessment following the due diligence process.” Continue reading

July 14, 2009 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , | Leave a comment

The Impending Transfer Saga of the Summer: Glen Johnson?

The rumours have already begun in earnest. Once the World Cup Qualifiers are finished, expect Portsmouth’s right-back Glen Johnson to quickly become one of the transfer stories of the summer… 

Glen Johnson: Joining Defoe at Spurs, or giving Malouda hairstyle tips at Chelsea?

Glen Johnson: Joining Defoe at Spurs, or giving Malouda hairstyle tips at Chelsea?

With Gareth Barry having already made the leap up North to join Manchester City and Kaka apparently close to signing an agreement with Real Madrid, the newspapers are fast running out of high-profile transfers to write about. The never-ending Cristiano Ronaldo-Real Madrid saga is still alive, but it is looking increasingly likely that the Portuguese winger will stay at Old Trafford for another season, at least.

In summary then, there appears a shortage of column-fodder for the traditional media. A new target must be found, to keep readers interested for the majority of the summer.

That man could be Glen Johnson.

The Portsmouth right-back has long been coveted by the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool, and now Chelsea are believed to be in the race to sign a player they sold to the Fratton Park club in 2007 for £4m.

Continue reading

June 6, 2009 Posted by | Sport, World Football | , , , , | Leave a comment