Why do owners from non-democratic backgrounds want to change English football?


By Tony Attwood

I was tipped off by one of my colleagues on the site about this, and I have to admit it wasn’t something that had struck me – but now the matter has been brought up, it seems important.

The people running Manchester City come from an autocratic state where power and wealth is inherited, equality is unknown at all levels, and what you can do depends totally on who your parents were.

The owner of Aston Villa is Egyptian, another country not known for its dep long-term democratic roots.  Indeed although the power of the Parliament has increased since the 1980 Amendments of the Constitution, the Parliament continues to lack the powers to balance the extensive powers of the President.

And yet club owners from these two countries are attacking the system of football in England because it doesn’t allow them to do what they want.   For example, the New York Times recently reported that “Aston Villa owner Nassef Sawiris says he is considering taking legal action against the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules”.

This is Egypt’s richest man who, in an interview with the Financial Times, said the regulations, which place a limit on the amount clubs are able to lose across a three-year period, “are not good for football”.

So what if I say that the power of the President of Egypt is not good for Egypt, would anyone take any notice?  No of course not.

And when speaking of an absolute lack of democracy let us also consider Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who is both president and deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, the minister of the presidential court and a member of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the brother of the president of the United Arab Emirates and is married to the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

Now this is the man who is accusing the Premier League of not having fair and reasonable rules (or perhaps put another way, rules which allow him to throw as much money at football as he wishes).

And maybe it is not something that worries everyone, or maybe not many people, but I do get a bit taken aback when a person who has benefitted beyond imagination from being born into the right family, and thus having access to unimaginable wealth, starts talking about the rules in another country not being reasonable (because they don’t suit him).

Of course there is the fact that I support Arsenal, and in this regard I am following my family tradition: my father and grandfather were Arsenal supporters too, and the family on my mother’s side were also totally Arsenal, the two families living near Highbury.

So I don’t deny the power of the family to influence one’s life – but what I do find myself deeply unhappy with is the fact that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who has bought Manchester City FC through being in the right family which happens to own much of the wealth of one country, then claims that the rules of another country are not right.

Of course in an open country such as the UK, which has a long-term history of receiving people from all over the world – and which of course it must be admitted in the days of Empire exploited countries all over the world, we now allow foreign investors to take over companies based here.

That of course has happened to Arsenal as to many other clubs.   But as far as I know, Arsenal’s American owners are not seeking to change the very fabric of the rules of how football operates in this country, as Manchester City’s owners are now doing.

And what if the owners of Man C get away with it and do change the rules so that they can run their club/s as they want, not as been established by agreement between the clubs in the past?  I can’t see football benefitting.

Perhaps I am particularly aware of that today since I am just in the process of putting the final touches to an article which Arsenal Independent Supporters Association (of which I am a member) will publish, as we approach the anniversary of 100 consecutive seasons in the top division of football in England.

Arsenal, as far as I have been able to see through years of studying Arsenal’s history (see for example the Arsenal History Society site) have worked within the rules (although occasionally the odd person has tried to argue otherwise, and the site has explored such issues in detail) so I wonder why football now finds itself seemingly at the beck and call of the mega-rich who want to change football from without.

Something seems to be going wrong.

6 Replies to “Why do owners from non-democratic backgrounds want to change English football?”

  1. Can’t help but remember what we were all being told when the World Cup was held in Qatar…
    “Respect our culture”
    Yeah. That.

  2. Excellent piece thanks Tony. I seriously hope City get relegated to division 3 at least.

  3. We are now seeing the consequences of the FA allowing these foreigners with their undemocratic ways of ruling and their lack of business ethics move in and use the Premier League with it’s world wide coverage for their own ends
    Imagine their reaction if you went to their states and then complained about the lack of democracy for the majority rather than their rule by minority families. Beheading?

  4. It’s all very demoralising. Too much money to expect anything else.

  5. I don’t want to see manc115 relegated to division whatever , i want their owner kicked out of football and should a person try to inveigle himself back in . In Mansours place then im looking for a 10 year probation period being imposed and even then , they should be forced to sign up to Premier league T&C’s . With no comeback . Call it a benign dictatorship if you like . One way or another, force these crooks out . Go and infest and invest in F1 or shove ha’penny, I don’t care , but get them out and away from my team , and my inheritance as a supporter.

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