Gold as an investment | It’s just not British, probably

Sep 23, 2022

Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich poses with captain César Azpilicueta. Photo: Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images

Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich poses with captain César Azpilicueta. Photo: Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images


Some things are decidedly British. The Queen. Tea and biscuits. Scones with jam and clotted cream. Fish and chips.

And some things are no longer as British as they once were: the English Premier League.

With only six of the 20 clubs currently in the Premier League owned by British investors, the question arises: Are British investors being priced out of the league?

Chelsea are still waiting to discover who will purchase the club following their owner Roman Abramovich’s somewhat forced decision to put the club up for sale, with Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team co-owner Todd Boehly’s takeover probably imminent.

Todd Boehly is a prospective buyer of Chelsea. Pho

Todd Boehly is a prospective buyer of Chelsea. Photo: Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

The Russia-born billionaire recently had his assets frozen by the British government due to his close ties with Vladimir Putin. That has prevented Abramovich from investing money in the club he bought back in 2003, prompting him to put it up for sale.

Last week, the consortium, fronted by Boehly, was informed by Chelsea’s bankers in the US that they had been given a five-day period as the preferred bidders.

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However, he was not the only person to table an offer to buy the current European champions.

A consortium led by British businessperson and former Liverpool chairperson Sir Martin Broughton, and boasting celebrity names Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams among its members, had proposed a bid that now looks unlikely to be accepted.

Another Englishman, Jim Ratcliffe, launched a late bid to purchase the club, with his company Ineos proposing a £4 billion (R78 billion) bid to take the club off Abramovich’s hands.

While British billionaires have expressed an interest in one of the country’s most successful teams, that does not seem to be the case elsewhere in the league.

There was the recent £300 million takeover of Newcastle United by the Saudi Arabia-backed Public Investment Fund, which is believed to be worth more than £400 billion.

Ironically, it was Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp, whose club is owned by a consortium headed by American billionaires, who criticised the Newcastle takeover.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has questioned Newc

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has questioned Newcastle United’s takeover. Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

“What will it mean for football? A few months ago, we had an issue with clubs building a Super League [Liverpool included] – and rightly so. But this is building a superteam guaranteed places in the Champions League in a few years.

He said:

Newcastle fans will love it, but money doesn’t buy success. They have money to make mistakes, but they’ll be where they want to be eventually.

The Newcastle takeover leaves just six Premier League clubs in the hands of British owners.

Brighton Hove Albion are owned by local man Tony Bloom, who made his fortune in the gambling industry, while his former business partner Matthew Benham owns Brentford.

Norwich City is run by long-term owners Delia Smith, her husband Michael Wynn-Jones and Michael Fougler, while Tottenham has been controlled by Daniel Levy and billionaire Joe Lewis for more than a decade. West Ham is also majority owned by British businesspeople, with the duo of David Gold and Andy Sullivan owning a combined 63.9%, having sold 27% to Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinský in November.

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Brit Steve Parish is one of many co-owners at Crystal Palace. The Eagles are also backed by US investors.

In August, Crystal Palace sold an £87.5 million stake to US businessperson John Textor, who joined fellow Americans Joshua Harris and David Blitzer as a Palace co-owner.


It was the arrival of Abramovich at Chelsea in 2003 that started the trend of foreign investment in the league. And with the Russian looking to sell the club, it is no surprise that the leading contender is an American-led consortium. Since the Glazer family began investing in Manchester United back in 2005, American investment has caught up with British investors, with six Premier League clubs now boasting Americans as their majority owners.

US-based Velocity Sports Partners purchased an 84% stake in Burnley in 2020.

National Football League team San Francisco 49ers assumed 46% of Leeds United in January last year and are expected to take over the club fully by 2024.

Arsenal, Aston Villa and Liverpool are also controlled by Americans, with West Ham also being part-owned by American billionaire Albert Smith.

While foreign ownership does exist across the other top European leagues, it does not come close to the scale of the Premier League.

The majority of Serie A clubs are still owned by Italians, while French businesspeople still control Ligue 1.

The situation is different across Germany and Spain, where traditions mean clubs are essentially controlled by club members.


Why are American-led consortiums so eager to add Chelsea to their business portfolios?

The Premier League is the most lucrative football league in the world. Chelsea are one of the league’s most decorated teams and purchasing the club would provide the new owners with a seat at a league that draws worldwide media attention and gains billions in television rights and sponsorship revenue.

So, a potential buyer or investor will see it just as that – an investment; an opportunity to make money. However, as any gambler will tell you, big profits can also mean big losses, which is why, if you want to experience that British feeling, you might want to stick to scones with jam and clotted cream.

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