Foreign Ownership: A Blight on the EPL

Simon MartinSenior Writer IMarch 28, 2008

This week Queen's Park Rangers of the championship became the latest club to be owned by a foreign national - namely, Flavio Briatore, the new chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd (the company behind the club).

Liverpool's American owners have declared their partnership "untenable" this week, and despite investing £300millio, Roman Abramovich of Chelsea still hasn't won his champions league trophy.

So my question is, given the success of Manchester United and Arsenal - which are owned by mainly British sharholders - is the foreign ownership bubble going to burst?

Fans are finding it increasingly difficult to even understand the wages of the players they worship - how can a man, on £32,000 a year understand or even like the lifestyle of a player being payed £55,000 - a weeK?! Today Liverpool fans came out in force to register their disgust at their co-owners, and I wonder how long it will be until we get a very real uprising.

Even my own team, Charlton Athletic, were rumoured to be the subject of a middle-eastern take over. I was horrified - and this is why.

I have watched Chelsea football club rise through the ranks of the Premier League in such a short time, and spend ludicrous amounts of money on players who seem to spend two years "settling in" to life in the capital. This normally means buying a house (then building a fence round it, with ensuite hot tub, gym, racecourse, space station...I ma be exaggerating slightly here...)

The players are out of touch with their fans, and their club. I can think of only one player who gives his all for Chelsea, the club, and it sure as hell ain't Frank Lampard! His name is John Terry, and while I may not agree with his methods, you cannot doubt his enthusiasm and love for his club. Can you say, with certainty, the same of the rest? I thought not. 

The club itself? It may well be flushed with money, but it is still commanding large amounts of debt. Debt that doesn't seem to have been paid off in any way, shape or form for several years now. Ticket prices at Stamford Bridge? Too high for the real fans, though it doesn't seem to matter anymore - only businessmen get the best seats, and the rest fight for the scraps.

The majority of the players are shallow, self opinionated and out of touch with reality. I hate to use a cliche but - Ashley Cole? Case closed.

All this because a Russian Billionaire bought the club.

And don't get me started on Manchester City. Of course that's perfectly okay - your football club has been taken off by a mass murdering dictator who is wanted for several counts of breaking human rights legislation. Since when was it acceptable for clubs to degrade themselves in this manner, and all for a few million wads of cash?

The clubs I've mentioned range from the barely recognisable (Chelsea) to being on the tip of the proverbial iceberg (Liverpool). All have been changed, none (in my opinion) for the better by their new owners.

And that's the crux of the matter. Is Chelsea actually Chelsea anymore? Is it not just the plaything of a Russian Oil Baron? Do the fans of Chelsea matter? In Liverpool you see the power of a fanbase that wasn't by any means diminished by the new owners, and yet at the Bridge - you have to ask the question.

So, why wouldn't I want a foreign owner in charge of Charlton? Lots of money, maybe rebuild the Valley a little more, top players...

The answer is simple. It wouldn't be Charlton Athletic, the little club from south east London that refused to die. Where would the real fans be? With foreign ownership you must take the good with the bad. Okay, you've millions at your disposal, but then again, you have no soul.

And I can't see the point in supporting a club with no soul.