The Growth of the Middle East as a Power in English Football

July 30, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Sports News
In the first part of a two part announcement by the Sports Marketer Nick Stuart (from the innovative sports marketing agency AGH Worldwide) he discusses the current explosion of the Middle East as a power in English Football.

The 21st Century has seen a huge change in the ownership structure of English football clubs. Nine of the Premier League teams are currently foreign owned and at least half of the remaining 11 have been linked with buy outs in the last year. North America is well represented in these figures however it is the recent takeovers of Portsmouth and Notts County that have highlighted the growing importance of the Middle East in English football.

Over the last twenty years the UAE has changed dramatically with companies diversifying and looking increasingly to the West for continued commercial success. Many companies are now using football advertising as a way of building their brand. Fly Emirates can be seen in nearly every sport including their naming rights and shirt sponsorship deal with Arsenal Football Club. These commercial deals have recently increased with Saudi Telecom, Etihad and Gulf Air all signing up to English clubs.

This has recently gone one step further with three English football clubs now having Middle Eastern owners looking to invest in their latest must-have. Manchester City have already benefited enormously from the Abu Dhabi United Group's investment whilst League Two Notts County have seen former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson appointed as Director of Football following their takeover by QADBAK (fronted by Munto Finance). Perhaps stranger still Portsmouth fans have been alerted to rumours that Diego Maradona is interested in becoming a global ambassador for the club on the back of "Dr" Sulaiman Al-Fahim's takeover. These three owners all know that their involvement as owners will require a lot of courage and deep pockets.

When once Jack Walker was able to build a stadium and buy a Premier League title with as little as £100m the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) at Manchester City have invested over £500m in transfer fees and wages in order to hopefully challenge for the title. Roman Abramovic spent over £700m in trying to turn Chelsea into "Barcelona in blue shirts". This footballing inflation has led to only the incredibly rich being able to compete for silverware. Investors such as Mohammed Al Fayed at Fulham and Dave Whelan at Wigan must be cursing their luck at the timing as their clubs look to survive in the billionaires' playground.

With several clubs in England openly for sale to the highest bidder we can safely assume these recent investors will not be the last. Everton, Liverpool, Newcastle and West Ham have all been strongly linked with potential buyouts in the last year whilst many other clubs are actively courting foreign investors. Some of the big fixers in the Middle East have stated on record that they believe there are several more potential deals in the pipeline.

Fans up and down the country will be keeping an eye on the horizon for signs of their own sheikh in shining armour.