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December 2020
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Football is being taken over by those fighting their own wars. Can Arsenal survive?

by Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw, senior psychologist at the University College Hospital of the North Circular Road.

Mike Ashley bought Newcastle United for £134m.  He bought it in stages, making use of UK law that says that once a single person or company owns over 30% of a listed UK firm, he or it has to put in an offer to buy the rest.  This Ashley did, buying up the shares step by step.

He has now sold it for £300m to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, at a time when the club has achieved nothing under Ashley and is like all other clubs in lockdown.  Not bad business if you can do it.  £166m profit for doing a bit of buying and selling.  He wasn’t even obliged to watch that many games.

There has been a fair amount of welcoming of the new ownership by Newcastle fans, and many have picked up on Faustino Asprilla tweeting, “Mike Ashley saw fans of Newcastle like bar codes, hopefully that will end soon this team is for lovers not for just merchandisers.”

I am not really sure that is the issue.

The point is that the Saudis are not newcomers.  Manchester United are linked to the Saudi General Sports Authority, and have a deal with the Saudi telecoms agency.  Blackstone which owns part of West Ham are partially funded by Saudi Arabia who also part-fund Uber who are linked with Chelsea.  And that’s before we get into the way Emirates Airlines has inveigled itself into Arsenal.

Of course, we could stop the take over of our sports by regimes that don’t care about human rights in any shape or form. Of course, the ownership of Arsenal is better in that it doesn’t run an organisation that promotes the public flogging of LGBT individuals owning the majority of shares.   But the way things are going, our club could be sold on to these monsters, and there wouldn’t be a thing we could do about it.

5 comments to Football is being taken over by those fighting their own wars. Can Arsenal survive?

  • Chris

    There is one perspective that is missing. The PL depends on TV revenue for most of its budget. Now a new member of the PL is a regime that is at war with the regime owning another memeber AND paying hundreds of millions for PL rights that are pirated on a rand scale by the regime of the new memberbe going down for lack .

    Wonder how that is going to pan out when money coming from broadcast right are going to be less….

  • porter

    He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon .

    That phrase goes back many years and is just as pertinent today as it was when it was first coined. However this is not just a football problem it is one of society as a whole.

  • Chris

    From an Arsenal perspective, I’d say it is better the owner is a person/company who does part of his business with sports and whose earnings depend in part on the results of the clubs. As for countries or billionnaires getting a club for prestige or powerplay, they will drop it anytime if it does not fit their interests anymore.

    So to paraphrase @porter, I’d say our devil seems less dangerous then the others…

  • porter

    I was talking about society in general not purely The Arsenal . We have as a country and possibly the Western world allowed ourselves to be taken over by other regimes not necessarily under our control.
    According to the BBC in 2015, foreigners own £122 billion ($185 billion) in property in the UK, via offshore holding companies:

    More than 100,000 UK property titles are registered to overseas companies, with more than 36,000 properties in London owned by offshore firms.

    Then there are our utilities ,private companies etc . Over the last thirty years or so we have been slowly but surely selling ourselves out . Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

  • Menace

    Foreign ownership is not an issue as that can be nationalised in one swoop. The sad thing about all the distribution of wealth is the corrupt getting open house while the honest pay taxes and get abuse. Non domiciles get all the benefits and none of the burdens.

    Let us hope that life improves with the lessons of the current pandemic and social justice becomes a norm rather than a dream.