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Foreign Invasion Continues in the EPL

An American firm, General Sports and Entertainment, has acquired Derby County Football Club of the English Premier League. Derby have looked pitiful on the pitch this year and are anchored at the bottom of the league table, but GSE apparently see a future in the top flight for Derby.

The number of foreign-owned clubs is now at about half the league total, with four clubs in American hands (Aston Villa, Derby, Liverpool, and Man U). This is bizarre - is there any other prominent league like this? Of recent transactions that I recall, only Newcastle have been transferred to an English owner. Why the foreign invasion in the EPL?

Some possible factors:

1) England provides political and financial stability for wealthy individuals of questionable character: Chelsea (Abramovich, a Russian oligarch), Fulham (al Fayed, the "phoney pharoah", Man City (Thaksin, Thailand's billionaire but exiled prime minister), and others. One understands why these types would locate a significant chunk of their wealth in England, but why in such a visible place as a football club?

2) Foreigners have a greater appreciation than the English of the growing global appeal of the English Premier League and the potential for continued capital gains.

3) The English have a greater appreciation than foreigners of the dog-eat-dog nature of the competition, and the historical need for "capital injections" to a) lift a club clear of the threat of relegation, or b) give a boost to its title chances. Historically, owning a football club has been a means to piss away a fortune, not to make one, and the English have this in their DNA.

4) The foreigners have a plot: to transfer the franchise structure of American sport to England. The plan is to ditch the promotion and relegation system and impose a salary cap and other labor market restrictions, making moot #3, above. This would yield, if successful, a massive increase in the value of EPL clubs. Ironically, UEFA's Platini is an ally on the latter point, which would require cooperation across Europe. But only a European Super-League could withstand the uproar that would follow the abandonment of promotion possibilities for the Leicesters, Nottinghams, and Southamptons of the lower divisions.

Derby County has no chance of joining a Super-League. Their chances of coming back up from the Championship next season aren't even that good if history is a guide (see the list of teams in the paragraph above, who were once solid teams in England's top division).

Point # 3 -- buttressed by the continuous flow of lower division clubs into administration (bankruptcy) these days -- is the compelling one. Thus GSE's investment in Derby looks puzzling to me.

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