Euro 2020 Special

UEFA Set to Relax Multi-Ownership Club Rule

European football’s governing body is set to relax their current rule which prevents clubs which have the same owner from playing in the same competition. Their president Aleksander Ceferin has admitted that the whole issue of multi-club ownership needs a rethink.

That is potentially good news for Manchester United, who are the subject of takeover talks, with the main bidders already having links to clubs in France. However, it goes wider than that, with UEFA reporting that there are at least five or six owners of current clubs who are interested in acquiring another.

However, at the same time, the rules need to be strict enough to ensure that there is no scope for the manipulation of results. Competition must always remain on an arm’s length basis.


Multi-club ownership

Multi-club ownership is becoming increasingly common, with the City group and the Red Bull stable of clubs among the best known examples. From the point of view of the owners, this model offers certain synergies, enabling them to combine organisational and logistical expertise, and also exchange ideas and coaching systems. It also opens up significant commercial opportunities, with cross branding and marketing.

For young players it offers an ideal conduit for loan moves, and expensive transfer fees can be avoided when players move clubs within the system.

At the same time, there are obvious drawbacks in a competitive situation. If the two clubs were to play each other in the same competition, the “lesser” side could be encouraged (or even explicitly told) to lose, or not to field their best players for the game.

Football, though, is big business and is getting bigger. With lucrative TV rights, massive sponsorship deals and wall to wall exposure, owning a football club is not just a vanity project, but, in some cases, the same as owning any other multi-million pound basis.

And, within that, the Champions League remains the “Holy Land” the one club competition that attracts a global audience like no other. It is no wonder that the super wealthy are queuing up in their bid to grab their share of an ever increasing pie.


Manchester United

One of the potential beneficiaries of any rule change could be Manchester United.

They are currently in takeover talks, with the two preferred bidders both with links to existing clubs.

One of them is the British billionaire, who, through his Ineos Group already owns Ligue 1 side Nice. They are currently seventh in the French league, but could be ready to challenge for European football in the coming years with more financial backing from Ratcliffe.

The other preferred bidder is Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, who not only owns a major bank but is also associated with the owners of Ligue 1 perennial champions PSG. As things stand, both PSG and Manchester United looks like they will both be in the Champions League next season.

Although both the preferred bidders have now been given access to United’s books, there is no guarantee at this stage that any sale will actually proceed.

That is because the current owners, the Glazer family, are looking for at least £6 billion to sell their shares in the club, and both bids are believed to have come in some way short of that valuation.

That is will come as some concern to those many United fans who were hoping to see the back of the widely derided Glazers.


Tottenham Hotspur

Another Premier League club that has been the subject of recent takeover speculation has been Tottenham Hotspur, and there have been talks that the owners of PSG have also been in talks worth them. They would be buying not only a football club but a state of the art stadium, that has become a multi-use venue. Not only has it staged high profile boxing matches, NFL games and pop concerts, but Spurs have just entered into a 15 year deal with Formula One to build a carting track under their south stand.

They have qualified for the Champions League for the past few seasons – they were the beaten finalists in 2019 – and, like United, are currently favourites to do so again.

Undoubtedly there will be others, with both Milan clubs, for example, the subject of takeover rumours.




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