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Football Business and Politics

England

Project: Football Business and Politics
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The midfielder George Eastham leaves Newcastle United and takes work outside football. Eastham has made several transfer requests, but they have been rejected by the club and his contract with it has expired. However, due to the retain-and-transfer system currently in operation, Eastham cannot simply sign for another club, as Newscastle holds his registration. Newcastle will relent and sell Eastham to Arsenal for £47,000 in November. However, at the urging of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Eastham will launch a legal action against Newcastle alleging the retain-and-transfer system is unlawful (see Summer 1963). [McArdle, 2000]

Entity Tags: George Eastham, Newcastle United F.C.

Category Tags: England

Following pressure from players and the threat of a strike, the English Football League agrees to abolish the maximum wage that players can be paid. The wage is substantially below what the market rate would be, and in recent years there have been numerous cases of under-the-table payments being made to players. Immediately after the abolition, Fulham announces it intends to pay its star player, Johnny Haynes, £100 per week. This is five times more than the previous maximum wage and seven times more than the current average manual wage. [McArdle, 2000]

Entity Tags: Football League, Johnny Haynes, Fulham F.C.

Category Tags: England

George Eastham.George Eastham. [Source: BBC]Former Newcastle United midfielder George Eastham wins the Eastham v Newcastle United court case against the club (see June 1960). The case significantly changes the “retain-and-transfer” system that bound footballers to their clubs even when there was no contract between them. Essentially, the judge, Mr. Justice Wilberforce, finds that the system is an unreasonable restraint of trade and goes far beyond what is necessary to ensure clubs are able to protect their legitimate interests. The Football League argues that the retention provisions are necessary to stop the richer clubs signing all the best players, which helps maintain interest in the spectator sport. However, Wilberforce finds that this argument does not justify the mechanisms used by clubs to retain players and that it is unfair that players cannot get a job with a different club at a time when they are no longer employees of their old club and are not being paid by it. “The system is an employers’ system,” Wilberforce comments, “set up in an industry where the employers have succeeded in establishing a united monolithic front all over the world, and where it is clear that for the purpose of negotiation the employers are vastly more strongly organised than the employees. No doubt the employers all over the world consider this system to be a good system, but this does not prevent the court from considering whether it goes further than is reasonably necessary to protect their legitimate interest.” Despite Eastham’s victory, only the “retain” element of the retain-and-transfer system is abolished and a new transfer system is constructed. Every player’s contract is now a matter of free negotiation between him and the club, without the binds of the maximum wage (see 1961). Once a contract has expired, the club can only renew it on terms that are no less advantageous to the player than the old ones had been, and the new contract has to last for at least the same time period (unless both parties agree otherwise). If the club is unwilling to do this, the player is entitled to a free transfer; if the club decides to get rid of the player, the original contract will continue to run until he is transferred. Disputes will be referred to the League Management Committee and then to an independent tribunal incorporating league and players’ union representatives. [McArdle, 2000]

Entity Tags: Richard Orme Wilberforce, George Eastham, Newcastle United F.C.

Category Tags: England

Thirty-nine people die at the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool, played at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium. [Independent, 4/5/2005] The deaths occur as a group of Liverpool supporters break through a thin line of police at the aging stadium and advance towards the Juventus section. As the Italians try to escape, a retaining wall in one of their sectors collapses and many fans are crushed or trampled to death. [BBC, 5/29/2000] The game is won by Juventus, after playmaker Michel Platini scores from a wrongly awarded penalty. Platini will later say that when he discovered the number of Juventus fans who had lost their lives, “Something inside me died,” but add that despite the deaths, the game, which gave Juventus its first European Cup triumph, “was not meaningless.” He will also say that the referee’s mistake in awarding the penalty was understandable: “If I’d been the referee I’d have given it too. [Juventus striker Zbigniew] Boniek was 60 meters away and he was going too quickly.” [Independent, 4/5/2005]

Entity Tags: Juventus, Michel Platini, Zbigniew Boniek, Liverpool F.C.

Category Tags: England, Italy

Arsenal pays £7.5m to sign Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp from Internazionale. The fee is three times the club’s previous record and the move ends Bergkamp’s unhappy time in Italy, where he scored just 11 goals in 54 Serie A games. Bergkamp is reportedly to be paid £25,000 a week, making him the highest paid player in Britain. [Independent, 6/21/1995] Bergkamp’s contract is apparently the first for a British footballer to include a provision that part of the money Arsenal pays him is for image rights. This money is paid into an account in an offshore tax haven and taxed at a lower rate than the salary for playing football. David Platt, also signed by Arsenal around this time (see July 10, 1995), has a similar provision in his contract. [SportsPro, 2/25/2011] The Inland Revenue will challenge the image rights payments, but will be unsuccesful (see April 2000). However, it will later win a significant settlement from British football clubs (see (March 2011)).

Entity Tags: Internazionale, Arsenal F.C., Dennis Bergkamp

Category Tags: England

Arsenal pays £4.75m to sign veteran England international David Platt from the Italian club Sampdoria. [Independent, 7/11/1995] Platt’s contract is reportedly the second for a British footballer to include a provision that part of the money Arsenal pays him is for image rights. This money is paid into an account in an offshore tax haven and taxed at a lower rate than the salary for playing football. Dennis Bergkamp, also signed by Arsenal around this time (see June 20, 1995), has a similar provision in his contract. [SportsPro, 2/25/2011] The Inland Revenue will challenge the image rights payments, but will be unsuccesful (see April 2000). However, it will later win a significant settlement from British football clubs (see (March 2011)).

Entity Tags: Unione Calcio Sampdoria, SpA, Arsenal F.C., David Platt

Category Tags: England

The Inland Revenue loses a test case against Arsenal and two of its players, Dennis Bergkamp and David Platt, over the use of image rights provisions in playing contracts to avoid tax. Bergkamp (see June 20, 1995) and Platt (see July 10, 1995) receive a portion of the money Arsenal pays them not as salary, but as compensation for the use of their image rights. The Inland Revenue claims to the Tax Special Commissioners hearing the case that this is a “smokescreen” for paying them money offshore to avoid tax, and that Arsenal, Platt, and Bergkamp should be subjected to income tax and national insurance contributions via Arsenal’s payroll. However, the commissioners decide that the payments are legitimately made in return for allowing Arsenal to exploit the players’ images, a purpose different to playing football. [SportsPro, 2/25/2011] The making of payments to footballers for image rights will grow in future years, although the British tax authorities will win a settlement for the scheme’s over-use in 2011 (see (March 2011)).

Entity Tags: Arsenal F.C., David Platt, Dennis Bergkamp

Category Tags: England

After months of negotiations, David Beckham signs a new three-year contract with Manchester United. Beckham is to receive £70,000 a week in basic pay and £20,000 for use of his image rights, representing a 300 percent salary increase. It is the image rights issue that caused the negotiations to go on for so long. “The process of every player contract negotiation is different,” says United chief executive Peter Kenyon, “and one of the unique aspects of David’s was understanding how his global image could best be utilized to the mutual benefit of Manchester United and David himself.” [BBC, 5/12/2002] Clubs and players are keen to agree that a portion of compensation be paid for image rights, because it is taxed at a lower rate. [SportsPro, 2/25/2011] The new contract should take Beckham’s total earnings to around £11m a year. Although Beckham’s deal is not the highest in world football, Beckham receives so much from endorsements that he may overtake French midfielder Zinedine Zidane as football’s top earner. [BBC, 5/12/2002]

Entity Tags: Peter Kenyon, David Beckham, Manchester United F.C.

Category Tags: England

Chelsea and Australia goalkeeper Mark Bosnich tests positive for cocaine. He is subsequently charged by the Football Association with breaching doping regulations and bringing the game into disrepute. Chelsea also sacks him over the offense. Bosnich appeals to the Premier League, asking for reinstatement, but the league will find he has not been unfairly dismissed. He will receive a nine-month ban, and the incident ends his football career. [Daily Mail, 1/17/2005]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Football Association, Mark Bosnich, Premier League

Category Tags: England

Chelsea FC owner Ken Bates agrees to sell the club to Russian oil and aluminum mogul Roman Abramovich for £140m. £80m of the money will be spent paying down debts Chelsea has recently accrued. £59.3m will be used to buy shares in the parent company, Chelsea Village, which are valued at a mere 35p each. Bates bought the club for £1 in 1982. The deal is the biggest in British football history. A statement issued for Abramovich pledges that he will invest in the team. [BBC, 7/2/2003]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Roman Abramovich, Ken Bates

Category Tags: England, Club Ownership

Cesc Fabregas, who will go on to captain Arsenal for a number of years, joins the club from Barcelona’s youth team. He is 16 years old. [Arsenal, 2010] Fabregas is one of several Spanish players who leave their native country to join English football clubs at a young age; the moves are because English employment law allows 16-year-olds to sign contracts, whereas in Spain players can only sign when they are older (see October 10, 2007 and February 23, 2011).

Entity Tags: Arsenal F.C., FC Barcelona, Francesc Fabregas i Soler

Category Tags: England, Transfers of Young Players, Spain

The BBC current affairs program Panorama runs a documentary entitled “Father and Son” about Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his son Jason, a football players’ agent. The documentary alleges that Jason has exploited his father’s position to set up transfer deals and make financial gain from them. Jason will not be found guilty of any wrongdoing, but Sir Alex will refuse to speak to the BBC for a number of years. [Guardian, 11/30/2010]

Entity Tags: Jason Ferguson, Sir Alex Ferguson

Category Tags: England

Serbian-American businessman Milan Mandaric sells Portsmouth FC to Franco-Russian businessman Alexandre Gaydamak for £32 million. [London Times, 9/15/2008; Daily Mail, 9/23/2008] The sale will later become controversial as speculation appears suggesting that Gaydamak’s father Arkadi, wanted for questioning in France over gunrunning during the Angolan Civil War, is the real owner. [Daily Mail, 9/23/2008]

Entity Tags: Milan Mandaric, Alexandre Gaydamak, Portsmouth F.C., Arkadi Gaydamak

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Real Madrid logo.Real Madrid logo. [Source: SoccerFiesta (.net)]Deloitte publishes its Football Money League rankings for the 2004-2005 season. The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€275.7m)
(2) Manchester United (€246.4m)
(3) Milan (€234.0m)
(4) Juventus (€229.4m)
(5) Chelsea (€220.8m)
(6) Barcelona (€207.9m)
(7) Bayern Munich (€189.5m)
(8) Liverpool (€181.2m)
(9) Internazionale (€177.2m)
(10) Arsenal (€171.3m)
(11) Roma (€131.8m)
(12) Newcastle United (€128.9m)
(13) Tottenham Hotspur (€104.5m)
(14) Schalke (€97.4m)
(15) Lyon (€92.9m)
(16) Celtic (€92.7m)
(17) Manchester City (€90.1m)
(18) Everton (€88.8m)
(19) Valencia (€84.6m)
(20) Lazio (€83.1m) [Deloitte, 2/2006 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Celtic F.C., Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Valencia, FC Barcelona, Newcastle United F.C., Bayern Munich, Arsenal F.C., Milan, Roma, Manchester City F.C., Everton F.C., Manchester United F.C., Chelsea F.C., Internazionale, Deloitte, Lazio, Juventus, Olympique Lyonnais, Liverpool F.C.

Category Tags: England, Italy, Spain, Deloitte Money League

Deloitte publishes its Football Money League rankings for the 2005-6 season. The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€292.1m)
(2) Barcelona (€259.1m)
(3) Juventus (€251.2m)
(4) Manchester United (€242.6m)
(5) AC Milan (€238.7m)
(6) Chelsea (€221.0m)
(7) Internazionale (€206.6m)
(8) Bayern Munich (€204.7m)
(9) Arsenal (€192.4m)
(10) Liverpool (€176.0m)
(11) Lyon (€127.7m)
(12) Roma (€127.0m)
(13) Newcastle United (€124.3m)
(14) Schalke (€122.9m)
(15) Tottenham Hotspur (€107.2m)
(16) Hamburg (€101.8m)
(17) Manchester City (€89.4m)
(18) Rangers (€88.5m)
(19) West Ham United (€86.9m)
(20) Benfica (€85.1m) [Deloitte, 2/2007 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Benfica, Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., West Ham United, FC Barcelona, Rangers, Bayern Munich, Arsenal F.C., Newcastle United F.C., Roma, Manchester United F.C., Hamburg SV, Milan, Chelsea F.C., Internazionale, Deloitte, Liverpool F.C., Juventus, Manchester City F.C., Olympique Lyonnais

Category Tags: England, Italy, Spain, Deloitte Money League

Chelsea announces the club lost £80.2m in the 2005-06 season. The loss is far less than the season before, when it was around £140m, but is still the third largest loss in the history of English football. Total losses over the three years since Roman Abramovich bought the club now exceed £300m. [Reuters, 2/19/2007] Chelsea turned over €221m in the 2005-06 season (see February 2007).

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

David Dein leaves Arsenal’s board of directors over a dispute on the football club’s future direction. Dein, who owns 14.5 percent of shares, wants US investor Stanley Kroenke to take control of the club, but this proposal does not find sufficient support among the other board members, and Dein departs. [BBC, 8/31/2007]

Entity Tags: Arsenal F.C., Stanley Kroenke, David Dein

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Leeds United enters administration due to debts of £35m that it cannot pay. In return, the Football League imposes a 10-point penalty on the club. Before the points deduction, it was all but mathematically certain that Leeds would be relegated from the Championship to the third tier of English football, as the club required a series of freak results on the last day of the season to stay up. However, relegation to League One is now a mathematical certainty. Had Leeds gone into administration after the last game of the season, the penalty would have been applied at the start of the next term. The auditing firm KPMG is appointed Leeds’ administrators and immediately agrees to sell the club back to chairman Ken Bates without the debt burden. The Independent writes of the administration and sale, “in effect Leeds could wipe out most of their £35m debt at a stroke, and suffer no meaningful penalty.” [Independent, 5/5/2007] However, due to a breach of league rules governing the conduct of the administration, the club will be deducted a further 15 points at the start of next season (see August 3, 2007).

Entity Tags: KPMG, Ken Bates, Leeds United F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra loges a £81.6m formal takeover bid for football club Manchester City. The offer is made through a company called UK Sports Investments, a vehicle indirectly controlled by Shinawatra, his son, and his daughter. [BBC, 6/21/2007] Since he was overthrown by a military coup last September, Shinawatra has been dogged by allegations covering assorted instances of corruption, human rights abuses, and running death squads as a part of his government’s war on drugs. [Daily Mail, 6/22/2007] Thai prosecutors have already filed corruption charges and frozen some of his assets. [BBC, 6/21/2007]

Entity Tags: Manchester City F.C., Thaksin Shinawatra, UK Sports Investments

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra completes his takeover of Manchester City. Shinawatra, who was allegedly involved in corruption, human rights abuses, and death squads in his native Thailand, made a formal offer the previous month (see June 21, 2007). Shinawatra now owns 74.03 percent of shares through his UK Sports Investments vehicle, very close to the 75 percent he needs to take the football club off the stock market. The previous shareholders, including former chairman Francis Lee and the Rupert Murdoch-controlled BSkyB, were wary of selling to Shinawatra because of the allegations against him, but have been reassured. The only bar to Shinawatra assuming full control of the club is that he now has to pass the Premier League’s “fit and proper person” test (see Shortly After July 6, 2007). [BBC, 7/6/2007]

Entity Tags: Francis Lee, British Sky Broadcasting Group, Thaksin Shinawatra, UK Sports Investments, Manchester City F.C.

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra passes the Premier League’s “fit and proper person” test and receives the green light to take full control of football club Manchester City. Shinawatra has already purchased a majority of shares (see July 6, 2007) and this is the last hurdle his takeover has to cross. Allegations that Shinawatra was involved in various instances of corruption, human rights abuses, and death squads (see June 21, 2007) apparently do not prevent him from passing the test. On July 11, one civil servant at the Foreign Office (FCO) will send an e-mail, later obtained by the Telegraph by Freedom of Information Act request, saying that the Premier League thinks that Shinawatra would probably pass the test on that day, and asking if the FCO has any information it could share on him. The FCO also says that the League never follows up on the request, although the League comments: “What we were told by the government was, as these were only allegations, they could offer no comment or advice that was not already in the public domain. Had they offered any form of briefing we would, of course, have accepted.” [Daily Telegraph, 3/13/2008]

Entity Tags: Thaksin Shinawatra, Manchester City F.C., Premier League, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Category Tags: England, Club Ownership

The Football League imposes a 15-point penalty on Leeds United due to irregularities in its administration. However, Leeds will be allowed to play in League One, the third tier of English football, in the coming season. The club had entered administration at the end of last year, incurring a 10-point penalty that was meaningless because the club was virtually certain of relegation at that time (see May 4, 2007). [BBC, 8/3/2007]

Entity Tags: Football League, Leeds United F.C.

Category Tags: England

Alisher Usmanov, a Uzbek-Russian businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007), becomes a leading shareholder in Arsenal. Together with his associate Farhad Moshiri, a London-based Iranian, Usmanov purchases a 14.5 percent interest in the football club through the company Red & White Holdings for £75m. The stake is purchased from David Dein, who left the club’s board in April when he fell out with other directors over the lack of foreign investment in Arsenal (see April 2007). Dein was previously close to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now reported to approve of the transaction. The deal makes Red & White Holdings the third largest shareholder in Arsenal, behind Danny Fiszman (24.11 percent) and Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9 percent). The US businessman Stan Kroenke holds 12.9 percent; nobody else has more than 5 percent. [BBC, 8/31/2007]

Entity Tags: David Dein, Danny Fiszman, Stanley Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov, Farhad Moshiri, Nina Bracewell-Smith, Red & White Holdings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray accuses new Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007) of a string of crimes in a piece posted to his blog. [Craig Murray, 9/2/2007] Murray learned of Uzbek affairs during his time as ambassador in 2002-2004, but was removed from his position under a cloud after he complained too loudly about the use of torture in the “war on terror.” [Grey, 2007, pp. 152-169] In a no-holds-barred post entitled “Alisher Usmanov, Potential Arsenal Chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker, and Accused Rapist,” Murray sets out Usmanov’s many alleged sins, including his activities as an underworld boss, influence peddling with Uzbekistan’s ruling clan, bribery, and a “particularly atrocious rape.” [Craig Murray, 9/2/2007]

Entity Tags: Craig Murray, Alisher Usmanov

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek-Russian businessman who has just purchased an interest in the London football club Arsenal (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), uses the law firm Schillings to shut down discussion of his controversial past on the Internet. Shortly after Usmanov became an Arsenal shareholder, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray published a blog post saying that Usmanov had committed numerous crimes (see September 2, 2007). Schillings now contacts several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs to make them remove postings referencing Murray’s allegations. The law firm tells them that repeating the allegations is “false, indefensible, and grossly defamatory.” Most sites comply. Although Schillings forces Murray’s webhost to remove the post, it does not contact Murray himself. [Guardian, 9/13/2007]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal F.C., Craig Murray, Schillings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov temporarily shuts down the website of Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate for major of London, in a dispute between Usmanov and former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray. Usmanov has numerous other websites shut down as well. Following the purchase of an interest in Arsenal by Usmanov, an Uzbek-Russian businessman (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), Murray made numerous allegations against him (see September 2, 2007), and Usmanov used the law firm Schillings in an attempt to shut down discussion of them on the Internet (see Shortly After September 2, 2007). Schillings now pressures Murray’s webhost, Fasthosts Internet, to act against Murray, and it responds by cutting off services to Murray and numerous other bloggers who simply share some technical services with him, even though they had not written about Usmanov or been the subject of a complaint by him. Johnson calls the action “a serious erosion of free speech,” adding: “This is London, not Uzbekistan.… It is unbelievable that a website can be wiped out on the say-so of some tycoon. We live in a world where Internet communication is increasingly vital, and this is a serious erosion of free speech.” Bob Piper, another affected blogger and local Labour Party politician in Birmingham, calls the situation “outrageous.” [Guardian, 9/20/2007]

Entity Tags: Craig Murray, Alisher Usmanov, Boris Johnson, Fasthosts Internet Ltd, Arsenal F.C., Robert Piper, Schillings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

FC Barcelona wins a £2.1 million lawsuit against Fran Merida, a player who left the football club when he was 16, later joining Arsenal FC. Merida is found not to have honored a pre-contractual agreement he had with the Catalan giants. Spanish clubs cannot sign youth players until they are 18, whereas clubs in England can sign 16-year-olds under British law, meaning that some Spanish players sign for English clubs on turning 16. [Daily Telegraph, 10/11/2007] Arsenal will decide not to appeal the ruling and pay the fine for Merida. Reportedly, this decision is taken to improve relations between the two clubs, which have been poor since a similar problem with Cesc Fabregas’s move to London in 2003. [Daily Mail, 10/31/2009]

Entity Tags: FC Barcelona, Arsenal F.C., Fran Merida

Category Tags: Transfers of Young Players, England, Spain

Deloitte publishes its Football Money League rankings for the 2006-2007 season. The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€351.0m)
(2) Manchester United (€315.2m)
(3) FC Barcelona (€290.1m)
(4) Chelsea (€283.0m)
(5) Arsenal (€263.9m)
(6) AC Milan (€227.2m)
(7) Bayern Munich (€223.3m)
(8) Liverpool (€198.9m)
(9) Internazionale (€195.0m)
(10) AS Roma (€157.6m)
(11) Tottenham Hotspur (€153.1m)
(12) Juventus (€145.2m)
(13) Olympique Lyonnais (€140.6m)
(14) Newcastle United (€129.4m)
(15) Hamburg SV (€120.4m)
(16) Schalke 04 (€114.3m)
(17) Celtic (€111.8m)
(18) Valencia (€107.6m)
(19) Olympique de Marseille (€99.0m)
(20) Werder Bremen (€97.3m) [Deloitte, 2/14/2008 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Roma, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Valencia, Celtic F.C., FC Barcelona, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Bayern Munich, Arsenal F.C., Olympique de Marseille, Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, Milan, Hamburg SV, Newcastle United F.C., Chelsea F.C., Internazionale, Deloitte, Liverpool F.C., Manchester United F.C., Olympique Lyonnais, Juventus

Category Tags: England, Italy, Spain, Deloitte Money League

Chelsea announces a loss of £74.8m for the 2007-08 football season. The figures show a 25 percent increase in turnover, to £190.5m, making the club second only to Manchester United in the Premier League, but the loss fell by only 7 percent compared to the previous season (see February 19, 2007). Chief executive Peter Kenyon allows that the club’s aim of breaking even by 2010 is “ambitious,” but adds: “I don’t think it’s something we are postponing, but it’s always been ambitious. We are determined to meet it, or get as close as we can.” [Guardian, 2/22/2008] The club will actually make a loss of over £70m in the 2009-10 season (see January 31, 2011).

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Peter Kenyon

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Alisher Usmanov, a Uzbek-Russian businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007) who now owns a 24 percent stake in Arsenal (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), says he only plans to increase his interest by a small amount. According to Usmanov, the investment vehicle Red & White Holdings, of which he is a co-owner, wants a blocking stake in the football club, which would be 25 percent plus one share. This would give it a veto on major club issues. [Reuters, 2/27/2008]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Red & White Holdings, Arsenal F.C.

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

An Israeli newspaper publishes a list of the assets of fugitive gun runner Arkadi Gaydamak indicating that they include Portsmouth FC. The claim is made in an article called “Look What I’ve Got,” published by the tabloid Yedioth Ahronot. [London Times, 9/15/2008] The asset listing includes “Soccer Abroad: Portsmouth FC, in England’s top league… managed by Gaydamak’s son, Sacha [Alexandre].” [Guardian, 9/23/2008] The article’s publication follows claims that Arkadi is in financial difficulties and is to show that his position remains strong. Previously, the football club reported it was owned by Arkadi’s son, Alexandre. The difference is significant because Arkadi may not pass the Premier League’s “fit and proper persons” test due to the warrant for his arrest on gunrunning charges. [London Times, 9/15/2008] The league will commence an investigation into the claims (see September 22, 2008), but drop it when Portsmouth assures it Alexandre is the real owner (see September 23, 2008).

Entity Tags: Portsmouth F.C., Alexandre Gaydamak, Arkadi Gaydamak

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

The Premier League launches an investigation into the ownership of Portsmouth FC. The investigation is spurred by an Israeli newspaper article that lists the assets of fugitive Russian-Israeli arms dealer Arkadi Gaydamak, which the paper says include Portsmouth (see (September 8, 2008)). Portsmouth says it is owned by Arkadi’s son Alexandre. The difference is important because Arkadi is wanted in France on gunrunning charges, meaning he may not pass the league’s “fit and proper persons” test for football club owners. [Guardian, 9/23/2008] Portsmouth will soon repeat that Alexandre is the real owner, satisfying the league (see September 23, 2008).

Entity Tags: Portsmouth F.C., Arkadi Gaydamak, Premier League, Alexandre Gaydamak

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

The Premier League announces it is satisfied that Portsmouth FC is not owned by fugitive gun runner Arkadi Gaydamak, but by his son Alexandre. The league had launched an inquiry into the ownership of Portsmouth after a list of Arkadi’s assets—including Portsmouth—appeared in the Israeli press (see (September 8, 2008) and September 22, 2008). As Arkadi is a fugitive from French authorities over gun running charges, he may not pass the Premier League’s “fit and proper persons” test for football club owners. Following the list’s publication, the league contacted Portsmouth to ask who really owned it, and Portsmouth said it was owned by Alexandre, satisfying the league. [Daily Mail, 9/23/2008]

Entity Tags: Alexandre Gaydamak, Arkadi Gaydamak, Portsmouth F.C., Premier League

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Leeds United chairman Ken Bates falsely claims to the Royal Court of Jersey that he jointly owns Forward Sports Fund, the company that owns Leeds. According to Bates, there are two “management shares” in Forward; he has one, whereas the other is held by his financial advisor Patrick Murrin, who is based in the offshore tax haven of Guernsey. Forward is registered in the Cayman Islands, another tax haven. However, it will later emerge that the two “management shares” do not entail ownership of Forward, and Bates does not hold either of them (Murrin has one, and Peter Boatman, a Geneva-based administrator, has the other). Forward is actually owned by the holders of 10,000 shares in it. Bates will correct this statement later in the year, calling it an “error.” It is unclear how Bates, an experienced businessman, came to believe he was the part-owner of a business worth several million pounds, when he apparently has no interest in it. [Guardian, 9/30/2009]

Entity Tags: Leeds United F.C., Ken Bates, Patrick Murrin, Forward Sports Fund, Peter Boatman

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Deloitte publishes its Football Money League rankings for the 2007-2008 season. The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€365.8m)
(2) Manchester United (€324.8m)
(3) FC Barcelona (€308.8m)
(4) Bayern Munich (€295.3m)
(5) Chelsea (€268.9m)
(6) Arsenal (€264.4m)
(7) Liverpool (€210.9m)
(8) AC Milan (€209.5m)
(9) AS Roma (€175.4m)
(10) Internazionale (€172.9m)
(11) Juventus (€167.5m)
(12) Olympique Lyonnais (€155.7m)
(13) Schalke 04 (€148.4m)
(14) Tottenham Hotspur (€145.0m)
(15) Hamburger SV (€127.9m)
(16) Olympique de Marseille (€126.8m)
(17) Newcastle United (€125.6m)
(18) VfB Stuttgart (€111.5m)
(19) Fenerbahce (€111.3m)
(20) Manchester City (€104.0m) [Deloitte, 2/13/2009]

Entity Tags: Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Bayern Munich, Olympique de Marseille, Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., VfB Stuttgart, Newcastle United F.C., FC Barcelona, Arsenal F.C., Milan, Roma, Manchester City F.C., Fenerbahce S.K., Deloitte, Manchester United F.C., Hamburg SV, Chelsea F.C., Juventus, Liverpool F.C., Olympique Lyonnais, Internazionale

Category Tags: England, Spain, Italy, Deloitte Money League

Chelsea announces that the club lost £65.7m in the 2007-08 football season, down from the £74m lost the previous season. The club generated revenues of €268.9m in the 2007-2008 season (see February 2009). Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon says, “There is no doubt that the positive upward trends of turnover and the continued reduction in losses shows that Chelsea is building a strong business base to build on in what will be challenging times.” [BBC, 2/13/2009]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Peter Kenyon

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007), increases his interest in Arsenal, an English Premier League football club in North London. Red & White Holdings, of which Usmanov is a co-owner, raises its shareholding to 25 percent, which gives it a veto over major decisions. The company, run by former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein, first bought an interest in Arsenal in 2007 (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007). Red & White Holdings is now the largest shareholder in Arsenal, followed by Danny Fiszman (24.11 percent), Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9 percent), and Stan Kroenke (12.4 percent). Shares in Arsenal are currently changing hands for around £7,500, down from their peak of around £10,500 a year and a half ago. If Usmanov’s interest reaches 30 percent, he will be mandated to launch a takeover bid under Stock Exchange rules. [Times (London), 2/17/2009]

Entity Tags: Danny Fiszman, Arsenal F.C., Stanley Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov, David Dein, Nina Bracewell-Smith, Red & White Holdings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Arsenal’s board of directors turns down a proposal that the football club raise capital by means of a rights issue. The suggestion was put forward by Red & White Holdings, an investment vehicle co-owned by the controversial Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov (see September 2, 2007). Under the plan, all shareholders would be invited to subscribe new shares, but if one or more did not exercise this right, the additional shares would be offered to the other shareholders. Red & White Holdings says that the extra money would be used to repay some of the club’s debt and to finance additional signings of established players. However, club officials suspect this is a ploy to allow Usmanov to increase his stake. In addition, they say the debt is manageable and that they prefer to sign young players, who are cheaper. [Guardian, 7/8/2009]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Red & White Holdings, Arsenal F.C.

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Leeds United bans all Guardian reporters from its stadium, Elland Road. The ban is in response to a series of articles written by Guardian columnist David Conn about the mystery of who actually owns Leeds. [Guardian, 10/19/2009] For example, three weeks previously Conn published an article highlighting the fact that the club’s chairman, the controversial Ken Bates, had falsely claimed to own the club (see January 2009). Leeds is owned by Forward Sports Fund, a company registered in the Cayman Islands and administered by the Geneva-based Chateau Fiduciaire. However, the public does not know who owns Forward Sports Fund. According to Conn, the question of Forward’s ownership is important because of the role it played in the club’s insolvency in 2007. [Guardian, 9/30/2009]

Entity Tags: Leeds United F.C., Ken Bates, Forward Sports Fund, Chateau Fiduciaire, The Guardian, David Conn

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

The controversial Russian-Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov (see September 2, 2007) increases his stake in English football club Arsenal. The shareholding is held by the investment vehicle Red & White Holdings, of which Usmanov is co-owner, and is now just over 26 percent. This makes Usmanov’s company the second largest shareholder in Arsenal, behind US businessman Stan Kroenke, who now has 29.9 percent. [BBC, 12/11/2009]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal F.C., Red & White Holdings, Stanley Kroenke

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Chelsea announces that the club made a loss of £44m the previous season. This is the smallest loss since the football club was taken over by Roman Abramovich in 2003 and was achieved despite a fall in turnover from £213.1m to £206.4m. Chief executive Ron Gourlay comments, “It is still our aim to be self-sufficient and we will achieve this by increasing our revenues as we continue to leverage off our brand.” [Guardian, 12/30/2009]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Ron Gourlay

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Andy Anson, chief executive of the English bid team for the 2018 World Cup says that of the 24 members of FIFA’s executive committee who will vote on the World Cup’s allocation, “at least 13 are buyable.” The comments are made to a closed gathering of senior civil servants, including a Downing Street representative, a few journalists, and other members of the bid team at a dinner party in a private room of the InterContinental hotel in Mayfair, London. Anson makes the statement in response to a question about corruption at FIFA, adding that he and his team had come to this conclusion after much thought. According to Patrick Collins, a Daily Mail journalist present: “[Anson’s] colleagues coughed loudly and fixed him with incinerating glares. Somebody explained that the notion of ‘buying’ delegates had never crossed English minds. Anson realised the import of his remark and started to retract. Later, we were spun the line that things had been said which could easily be taken the wrong way.” Following the World Cup’s allocation to Russia, Collins will publish details of the conversation, despite the fact that it was conducted on an off-the-record basis. He will say he is doing so because by its reaction to the numerous corruption allegations made against FIFA during the bidding process the bid team “so lightly shed integrity and self-respect.” [Daily Mail, 12/5/2010]

Entity Tags: Andy Anson, Patrick Collins, International Federation of Association Football

Category Tags: England, FIFA

Deloitte publishes its Football Money League rankings for the 2008-2009 season, in which Real Madrid was the first European club to earn more than €400m. The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€401.4m)
(2) FC Barcelona (€365.9m)
(3) Manchester United (€327.0m)
(4) Bayern Munich (€289.5m)
(5) Arsenal (€263.0m)
(6) Chelsea (€242.3m)
(7) Liverpool (€217.0m)
(8) Juventus (€203.2m)
(9) Internazionale (€196.5m)
(10) AC Milan (€196.5m)
(11) Hamburger SV (€146.7m)
(12) AS Roma (€146.4m)
(13) Olympique Lyonnais (€139.6m)
(14) Olympique de Marseille (€133.2m)
(15) Tottenham Hotspur (€132.7m)
(16) Schalke 04 (€124.5m)
(17) Werder Bremen (€114.7m)
(18) Borussia Dortmund (€103.5m)
(19) Manchester City (€102.2m)
(20) Newcastle United (€101.0m) [Deloitte, 3/2010 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Olympique de Marseille, Bayern Munich, Olympique Lyonnais, Roma, SV Werder Bremen, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Newcastle United F.C., Ballspiel-Verein Borussia 1909 e. V. Dortmund, Arsenal F.C., Milan, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Manchester City F.C., FC Barcelona, Deloitte, Manchester United F.C., Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, Chelsea F.C., Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool F.C., Hamburg SV

Category Tags: England, Italy, Spain, Deloitte Money League

The Premier League deducts nine points from Portsmouth because the club, which is insolvent, is to go into administration. Portsmouth previously had 19 points, but now has only 10, 14 less than 19th-placed Hull. The deduction therefore virtually guarantees that Portsmouth will be one of the three teams relegated to the second tier of English football when the season ends in two months’ time. A Premier League statement says, “Following the High Court’s decision that Portsmouth FC’s administration is valid, the Premier League board convened today to apply the League’s rules and policies in relation to a member club suffering an event of insolvency.” Portsmouth’s debts are said to be around £65m. [Daily Telegraph, 3/17/2010]

Entity Tags: Portsmouth F.C., Premier League

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Lord Triesman resigns from his positions as chairman of the Football Association and the 2018 England World Cup bid following the publication by the Mail on Sunday of allegations of corruption he made privately (see (May 2, 2010)). The allegations were made over lunch with a former lover, Melissa Jacobs, who recorded the conversation and then provided it to the Mail. Most explosively, Triesman suggested Spain might drop its bid to host the 2018 World Cup if Russia helped ensure referees were favorable to it at the 2010 World Cup. This would leave the way clearer for Russia to host the 2018 event. “A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper,” says Triesman in a statement. “That same friend has also chosen to greatly exaggerate the extent of our friendship. In that conversation I commentated on speculation circulating about conspiracies around the world. Those comments were never intended to be taken seriously, as indeed is the case with many private conversations. Entrapment, especially by a friend, is an unpleasant experience both for my family and me but it leaves me with no alternative but to resign.” [BBC, 5/16/2010]

Entity Tags: David Triesman, Football Association

Category Tags: FIFA, England

Manchester United announces a record operating profit of over £100m for the 2009-2010 football season, but it is more than offset by loans taken on when the club was purchased by the Glazer family. The record profit was helped by increases in commercial, broadcasting, and matchday revenues, the later boosted by increased ticket prices. Nevertheless, the club made a huge overall loss due to interest repayments and one-off costs related to a £509m bond issue. In addition to the bonds, the club also has to service £225m in payment in kind loans, currently bearing interest at 16.25 per cent. The overall result was also harmed by a £40.6m write-down on an interest rate swap that had to be paid when the club launched its bond offer at the beginning of the year, as well as £19m lost on fluctuating exchange rates. [Guardian, 10/8/2010]

Entity Tags: Manchester United F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Chelsea announces a huge loss of £70.9m for the 2009-2010 football season, in which the club won the league and cup double. In the previous season the loss had been £44.4m (see December 30, 2009), although in the two years before that it was around £70m. Chelsea blames the loss on the amortization of player transfer fees, which means how much a player’s value in the accounts decreases over the length of his contract. Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck describes the results as “significant progress,” and cites what the club calls a “net cash inflow of £3.8m” as evidence. Buck says, “That the club was cash generative in the year when we recorded a historic Premier League and FA Cup double is a great encouragement and demonstrates significant progress as regards our financial results.” The same day as the loss is announced, Chelsea pays Liverpool a record £48m for Spanish striker Fernando Torres. [Independent, 2/1/2011]

Entity Tags: Bruce Buck, Chelsea F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Deloitte publishes its Football Money League rankings for the 2009-2010 season, in which the top 10 clubs are exactly the same, although in a slightly different order, as they were the previous year (see March 2010). The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€438.6m)
(2) FC Barcelona (€398.1m)
(3) Manchester United (€349.8m)
(4) Bayern Munich (€323.0m)
(5) Arsenal (€274.1m)
(6) Chelsea (€255.9m)
(7) AC Milan (€235.8m)
(8) Liverpool (€225.3m)
(9) Internazionale (€224.8m)
(10) Juventus (€205.0m)
(11) Manchester City (€152.8m)
(12) Tottenham Hotspur (€146.3m)
(13) Hamburger SV (€146.2m)
(14) Olympique Lyonnais (€146.1m)
(15) Olympique de Marseille (€141.1m)
(16) Schalke 04 (€139.8m)
(17) Atletico Madrid (€124.5m)
(18) AS Roma (€122.7m)
(18) Vfb Stuttgart (€114.8m)
(20) Aston Villa (€109.4m) [Deloitte, 2/2011 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Olympique de Marseille, Bayern Munich, Olympique Lyonnais, Roma, Tottenham Hotspur F.C., VfB Stuttgart, Milan, Aston Villa, Arsenal F.C., Manchester United F.C., Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Liverpool F.C., Deloitte, Club Atlético de Madrid, S.A.D., Manchester City F.C., FC Barcelona, Chelsea F.C., Hamburg SV, Internazionale, Juventus, Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04

Category Tags: England, Italy, Spain, Deloitte Money League

Sunderland announces that the club lost £27.9m for the 2009-10 football season, £1.4m more than it lost the previous term. The club turned over £65.4m, compared to £64.6m the previous season, so the loss is equivalent to almost 40 percent of turnover. The main cost item was player wages, which were £46.63m, having increased by £2.5m from the previous season. Matchday revenue fell by over a million pounds to £12.6m, whereas television and media payments increased by almost £4m. [Press Association (London), 2/15/2011]

Entity Tags: Sunderland A.F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

HM Revenue and Customs comes to an agreement with Premier League clubs that they will pay it £100m for overusing image rights clauses in players’ contracts. In addition to salary for paying football, clubs have increasingly been paying players compensation for use of their image rights, which is taxed at a lower rate. However, Revenue and Customs now successfully argues that a portion of the image rights payments were disguised salary, and the clubs pay around £100m to avoid legal proceedings. [SportsPro, 2/25/2011] The exact date of the agreement is unknown, although the agreement is reported as being imminent in February 2011 and to have been signed by 2012. [SportsPro, 2/25/2011; Guardian, 2/8/2012] The exact amounts paid by all clubs are unknown. However, Chelsea will later reveal their portion of the bill is £6.4m. [Guardian, 2/8/2012]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs

Category Tags: England

Manchester United’s parent company, Red Football Joint Venture Ltd, announces a record pre-tax loss of £109m for the financial year ending June 2010. This means the company lost an additional £29m on top of the £80m pre-tax loss posted for the same period by Red Football Limited, the football club’s immediate holding company, in October. Most of the additional £29m is interest on the club’s payment-in-kind loans, which were £233m in June, although this form of debt has since been cleared in murky circumstances. The business is not concerned by the loss, saying that the club itself is making more money, in particular due to increased commercial revenue. The total borrowings of Red Football Joint Venture Ltd at June 2010 stood at £522m, up from the 2009 figure of £514m. [Guardian, 3/22/2011]

Entity Tags: Manchester United F.C., Red Football Limited, Red Football Joint Venture Ltd.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Owners of English Premier League teams from the US and Asia want to end promotion to and relegation from the English Premier League, according to League Managers’ Association chief executive Richard Bevan. Five English clubs are owned by Americans (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa, and Sunderland), and Manchester City, Chelsea, and Blackburn are also owned by foreigners. “There are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League. If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen,” says Bevan, speaking at the Professional Players Federation conference in London. “You’ll find that with American owners and you’ll find that with some of the Asian owners as well. If you look at sport all around the world and you look at sport owners trying to work out how to invest and make money, you’ll find that most of them like the idea of franchises. If you take, particularly, American owners, without doubt there have been a number of them looking at possibly having more of a franchise situation. That would mean no promotion or relegation. That would obviously not be good news for English football.” According to Bevan the solution is, “You need to make sure that the FA is strong enough to ensure that the principles on which our clubs are run, if I’m an owner coming in, I must recognise and embrace the history, the tradition, the supporters, the community, the philosophy of actually how this club should be operating and not deciding my club should be taken abroad or whatever.” According to the Press Association, such an outcome is unlikely, because, “Even if a two-thirds majority of Premier League clubs voted in favour of abolishing relegation, the move would still be unlikely to come about as the league’s own rules dictate it would also require approval from the FA, which would expect to hear widespread opposition from the rest of the game.” [Press Association (London), 10/17/2011]

Entity Tags: League Managers’ Association, Richard Bevan

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Chelsea announce a loss of £67.7m for the 2010-2011 season, slightly less than the previous one (see January 31, 2011). There was a modest increase in revenues to £222.3m from £205.8m, thanks to Champions League and television income. Wages were down by £4.4m on last year and operating expenses down by £7m. The accounts contain an extraordinary item of £28m relating to the replacement of manager Carlo Ancelotti with André Villas-Boas in the summer. This means that Chelsea’s manager replacement costs have been around £64m in the last four years. In addition, the accounts reveal Chelsea paid £6.4m to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to settle claims arising from a failed tax avoidance scheme that involved paying players not salary, but compensation for use of their image rights. The size and repeated nature of the loss means that Chelsea may have difficulty complying with UEFA’s financial fair play regulations, although the consequences of this are unclear. [Guardian, 2/8/2012]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Deloitte publishes its annual rankings of the richest clubs in European football. There is little change to the top 10, and the top seven clubs are in exactly the same positions as they were last year (see February 2011). The rankings of the top 20 European clubs and their football earnings are:
(1) Real Madrid (€479.5m)
(2) FC Barcelona (€450.7m)
(3) Manchester United (€367m)
(4) Bayern Munich (€321.4m)
(5) Arsenal (€251.1m)
(6) Chelsea (€249.8m)
(7) AC Milan (€235.1m)
(8) Internazionale (€211.4m)
(9) Liverpool (€203.3m)
(10) Schalke 04 (€202.4m)
(11) Tottenham Hotspur (€181m)
(12) Manchester City (€169.6m)
(13) Juventus (€153.9m)
(14) Olympique de Marseille (€150.4m)
(15) AS Roma (€143.5m)
(16) Borussia Dortmund (€138.5m)
(17) Olympique Lyonnais (€132.8m)
(18) Hamburger SV (€128.8m)
(19) Valencia (€116.8)
(20) Napoli (€114.9). [Deloitte, 2/2012; Press Association (London), 2/9/2012]

Entity Tags: Bayern Munich, Olympique de Marseille, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, Roma, Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli S.p.A., Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Olympique Lyonnais, Ballspiel-Verein Borussia 1909 e. V. Dortmund, Arsenal F.C., Milan, Valencia, Manchester City F.C., Chelsea F.C., Manchester United F.C., Deloitte, Fussball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, FC Barcelona, Juventus, Hamburg SV, Liverpool F.C., Internazionale

Category Tags: Deloitte Money League, England, Italy, Spain

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