Wednesday 25 May 2022 05:31 PM US investors now own nearly half the English Premier League after $5 billion ... trends now
America's takeover of English soccer runs much deeper than Ted Lasso and the billionaires behind it bear no resemblance to the plucky underdog and fictional football manager.
With the British government's approval of Todd Boehly's record-breaking $5.3 billion Chelsea purchase, Americans now control eight of 20 English Premier League teams, including recently promoted Fulham. Meanwhile other wealthy US investors own various stakes across all levels of British soccer, like Burnley of the EFL Championship, the country's second division.
Sanctions against outgoing Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich necessitated Wednesday's sale - the most expensive in sports history - but Boehly, co-owner of Los Angeles Dodgers, was one of many American billionaires lining up for their share of the EPL.
The Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs, as well as Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca and Woody Johnson, the New York Jets boss and Donald Trump's hand-picked UK ambassador, all made their own doomed runs at the Blues, as Chelsea is known.
Instead the winning bid was submitted by Boehly, who now joins the growing cabal of wealthy Yanks wading into England's prized domain. The following is Mail Online's look at American investors' impact and influence within English soccer clubs:
New Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has become the latest US tycoon in Premier League football
Owner/Investor: Stan Kroenke
Net worth: $10.7 billion
Other clubs/franchises: Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Colorado Rapids (MLS), Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
Style: Not afraid to upset supporters in order to benefit a club or franchise, as proven by his controversial decision to move the Rams out of St Louis and back to Los Angeles in 2016..
The relocation, which included forking out $5 billion on a new state-of-the-art stadium, broke hearts in his hometown of St Louis, yet six years on the Rams stand as the reigning Super Bowl champions and the third most-valuable franchise in the NFL.
Kroenke's Colorado Rapids outfit finished second in the overall MLS standings last year before suffering defeat in the playoff quarterfinals, while the Colorado Avalanche have produced top-two finishes in their last three NHL campaigns and are currently threatening to advance to the Western Conference Finals with a 3-1 series lead over the St. Louis Blues.
The Denver Nuggets, meanwhile, have yet to advance to the NBA Finals since Kroenke purchased the team in 2000.
Stan Kroenke has drawn plenty of criticism from Arsenal supporters in his time as owner
His LA Rams franchise, however, have enjoyed great success, winning last season's Super Bowl
However, Arsenal has collected four FA Cups since he took the reins, although the club has not qualified for the Champions League since 2017. A lack of spending has cost the Gunners over the past decade, with research from Swiss Ramble in 2020 showing that Kroenke had not put a single penny into the club in five years.
Influence: Kroenke's son, Josh, is a non-executive director at the Emirates and is understood to have spelled the end for both Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery in north London. Vinai Venkatesham is the current CEO, but major decisions lie with Kroenke.
Popularity: The tycoon was already a deeply unpopular figure amongst Arsenal fans due to his thriftiness, and resentment from the club's supporters only intensified during last year's European Super League fiasco.
The Gunners were one of six Premier League teams who originally agreed to join the controversial breakaway league, which sparked mass protests throughout the country.
Like the rest of their English colleagues, Kroenke and Co. were forced to make an embarrassing U-turn on the decision to sign up, but Arsenal supporters remain desperate for him to cash in on the club and make way for a more free-spending owner.
Kroenke's son, Josh (left), is a non-executive director with significant influence at the Emirates
Owner/Investor: Wesley Edens
Net worth: $4.2 billion
Other clubs/franchises: Milwaukee Bucks (NBA)
Style: Edens has a solid track record in his only other sporting venture as co-owner of the NBA's Bucks. Since Edens and partner Marc Lasry bought the team for $550 million in 2014, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. enjoyed a rapid rise to claim their first title in a half century last season.
Upon purchasing the Bucks he pledged to keep them in Wisconsin as well as build a new 18,000-capacity arena, a promise he delivered on when the Fiserv Forum opened its doors in 2018.
The 60-year-old has spent the last four years with Villa after acquiring a 55 percent stake alongside co-chairman Nassef Sawiris, and during that time they have managed to relieve the club of all debt through significant investment.
A net spend of $313 million in the last four seasons has helped transform Villa from a Championship side into a mid-table Premier League team, while attracting the likes of Brazil's Philippe Coutinho, England's Ollie Watkins and manager Steven Gerrard to the Birmingham-based club.
Wesley Edens (left) took the Aston Villa reins in 2018 alongside co-chairman Nassef Sawiris
The pair have reduced Villa's debt and guided them back to the Premier League in that time
Influence: Both Edens and Sawiris work alongside chief executive Christian Purslow, who was credited with bringing Gerrard to Villa Park at the end of last year. Purslow and sporting director Johan Lange are tasked with devising the club's transfer strategy along with Gerrard, while any major decisions fall to the ownership.
Popularity: The decision to sell Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100m initially went down badly with supporters, but Edens and Sawiris have used that fee to reinvest in the squad. Overall, the new ownership has brought Villa forward over the past four years and supporters are optimistic about their future under the duo.
Owner/Investor: ALK Capital
Net worth: Unknown
Other clubs/franchises: N/A
Style: While the purchase of Burnley represents the US investment firm's first foray into football, managing partner Alan Pace has significant experience as CEO and President of MLS outfit Real Salt Lake.
Pace spent close to two years with the franchise before departing in August 2008, although his work did play a pivotal role in the club's 2009 MLS Championship triumph - the only title in team history.
Burnley's new ownership group have only been in place since the end of 2020, yet it is already clear they are prepared to make the tough choices when required.
Alan Pace and US investment firm ALK Capital took control at Burnley back in December 2020
With their Premier League status under threat, ALK made the controversial call to fire longtime Clarets boss Sean Dyche in April after 10 years with the team. It initially appeared a masterstroke when interim manager Mike Jackson picked up 10 points in his first four matches, but a subsequent run of three defeats in four games resulted in a demotion.
Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane felt ALK paid the price for pulling the trigger on Dyche too soon, insisting he had 'no sympathy' after their risky sacking proved a failure.
Influence: Pace took on the role of chairman after ALK's takeover in December 2020 and has been the driving force behind on and off-pitch decisions ever since, including the call to part company with Dyche.
Popularity: Dyche's dismissal sparked outrage amongst the Burnley faithful back in April. Many felt Pace had signed the club's death warrant by handing their beloved boss a pink slip, and in the end their worst fears were confirmed when Jackson's team was relegated on the final day of the season.
After bolstering the squad with just $50 million worth of signings in their relegation campaign and offloading striker Chris Wood to rivals Newcastle, ALK has got off to a miserable start at Turf Moor and need to secure an instant return to the top flight to get fans on board.
Pace's decision to part company with Sean Dyche back in April was a highly controversial one
The Clarets were ultimately relegated to the Championship in the first season of his ownership
Owner/Investor: Todd Boehly
Net worth: $4.5 billion
Other clubs/franchises: Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB), Lakers (NBA) and Sparks (WNBA)
Style: A savvy businessman with a track record of success.
Boehly and a group of investors inherited one of the most badly mismanaged teams in North American sports when they bought the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. The club had not reached the playoffs in three years and had failed to win a World Series since 1988. Since then, a series of owners, including Rupert Murdoch, squandered the team's abundant resources, such as local cable revenue and a productive farm system.
A decade on from their $2.1 billion takeover, the Dodgers are now a franchise revived after ending their 32-year title drought in 2020 and progressing to the playoffs in each of the last nine seasons.
Much of their success of the past decade is due to Boehly, who booked an $8.7 billion deal between Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers in 2013 to create regional network SportsNet LAto broadcast all team games.
The cash generated from that deal flowed back into the insurance funds used to buy the Dodgers, before it was reinvested into the team's payroll. Their dramatic resurrection under Boehly is certainly encouraging for Chelsea fans.
He is also part of the ownership groups with the LA Lakers and LA Sparks, the city's men and women basketball teams which have enjoyed great success before and after his arrival.
Although Jeanie Buss remains the Lakers principal owner, Boehly's tenure with the team is coming off a rocky season, in which Los Angeles missed the playoffs as both LeBron James and Anthony Davis struggled with injuries. Coach Frank Vogel has since been fired and the team is hoping to hire his replacement in the coming days.
In Boehly Chelsea are getting a businessman with a solid track record in the sporting world
The LA Dodgers co-owner has impressed Blues fans with his apparent desire to claim titles
Influence: Boehly's consortium, Clearlake Capital Group, L.P, also consists of Swiss businessman Hansjörg Wyss and Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter. Current Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia are expected to remain on board despite their previous relationship with Abramovich. Nevertheless, as controlling owner Boehly's voice will be the most significant upstairs.
Popularity: While he is yet to officially start work in west London, Boehly has impressed Chelsea supporters with his strong comments on the value of winning titles.
He told Bloomberg in 2019: 'The opportunity we had with the Dodgers was really about part-ownership with Los Angeles, how are we going to win, how are we going to drive championships and how are we going to build passion. If you look at what the Premier League offers, it's all of those things.'
Owner/Investor: Joshua Harris, David S. Blitzer and John Textor
Net worth: Harris $7.1 billion, Blitzer $1.6 billion, Textor unknown
Other clubs/franchises: New Jersey Devils (NHL), Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), Real Salt Lake (MLS), Botafogo (Brazilian Serie A)
Style: Harris and Blitzer partnered to buy the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011 and the New Jersey Devils in 2013, but the duo have yet to claim a title with either franchise and have failed to qualify for the NHL playoffs in eight of their nine seasons with the Devils.
Since matching co-owner Steve Parish's stake at London's Selhurst Park, they have overseen mid to low-table finishes in the Premier League, largely a result of their mediocre spending of $200 million over the past five years.
Last year the trio was joined on the board by Textor, who forked out $109 million for a 40 percent stake in the club.
The Missouri-born businessman also purchased 90 percent of top Brazilian team Botafogo back in January, meaning he now has two new football ventures on his CV.
Joshua Harris (left) and David S. Blitzer (right) have been Crystal Palace co-owners since 2015
US businessman John Textor also acquired a 40 percent stake in the Eagles last year
Influence: Parish remains Palace chairman despite the influx of investors in recent years, with Harris and Blitzer enjoying the same share, yet it is Textor who now has significant influence over board-level decision after taking 40 percent of the club.
Popularity: The 2021/22 campaign saw Palace make the greatest leap of their new US ownership, with a young team spearheaded by Patrick Vieira securing a 12th-place Premier League finish and reaching the FA Cup semifinals. After spending $100 million on reinforcements last summer, Textor, Harris and Blitzer have helped breathe new life into Palace and they have the backing of supporters to progress even further next season.
Owner/Investor: Shahid Khan
Net worth: $7 billion
Other clubs/franchises: Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL)
Style: A wealthy sports mogul with big ambition. Khan, who began his path to becoming the 291st richest man on the planet by selling car bumpers, took on his first sports project when he acquired the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012 - becoming the first member of an ethnic minority to own an NFL franchise.