The “average” owner of a NFL team is a 68 year old white male. His net worth stands at about 1.74 billion dollars.
The “average” owner of the richest football clubs in European football is a lot richer (net worth stands at about 8 billion dollars – mostly because of Sheikh Mansour and Roman Abramovich) and he is also older than 60. He is usually a white male.
They are classic “One percenters”.
“Owners” of football clubs are a fairly new concept – an evolution of the “custodians” or “chairmen”, who ran and sometimes “protected” clubs. In Europe, up until the early 90′s, a lot of the teams were just “clubs” – not brands or PLCs. They had social purpose and collective benefit. They were there for the fans and communities and not as a status symbol for an Oligarch or a part of business plan for a hedge fund manager.
The main difference in the ownership structure of clubs in the NFL and European football is that the American Football League has only one team, out of 32, that is owned by its fans (Green Bay Packers) while in Europe, 6 out of the 20 most valuable clubs are owned by their supporters.
I believe that in the next list of valuable European football clubs, we’ll see even less clubs that are owned by their fans – and that’s because the “free market” always favors the old white man with the big wallet.
I always see Green Bay Packers as a representative of the 99% in a league which is owned by the 1%. A defiant pillar of the proletariat, a cooperative that shows that a collective of fans can compete against oil barons, nouveau riche entrepreneurs and hedge funds billionaires. It doesn’t mean that the Lambeau Field’s loyalists know that they are a poke in the eye of the capitalists but the form of a their club’s ownership model embeds itself in that message.
It is funny that even though the USA is a lot more capitalist than Europe, the NFL’s regulations (Salary cap, revenue sharing etc) help Green Bay compete against other clubs, who are owned by a billionaires.
Uefa, on the other hand, are making it harder and harder for clubs without a sugar daddy to compete.
Uefa is supporting the idea of clubs being owned by their fans but are they doing enough to make it a reality?
In Germany every club, by law, must be owned by its supporters. Uefa can adopt that idea and as part of their Financial Fair Play regulation and make clubs sell shares to their fans (from 10% to 100%).
This measure should be implemented not just to make football a fairer, more transparent market, but also to protect football from the 68 year old with a billion dollars in his bank account that wants to buy the people’s passion.
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