by Tony Attwood
We have got used to thinking about the resourceless acquisition of football clubs by the City Football Group which includes Manchester City, New York City, Melbourne City, Yokohama F. Marinos, Montevideo City Torque, Girona, Sichuan Jiuniu (China), Mumbai City FC and Lommel SK (Belgium).
But it is always worth looking beyond the narrow focus of the English media with its totally Anglocentric vision of the world to see what else is happening. Is there perchance anyone else also gathering up football clubs under its wing into another grouping, with multiple clubs owned by the same firm.
Well yes there is, and it seems the habit is growing as OL Groupe, the company which owns Olympique Lyonnais, playing of course in the French League, have bought Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. The name is now OL Reign – and it might well be noted that Olympique Lyonnais has the most successful women’s football club in Europe right now.
And even more established is Red Bull which seems to have 15 sports teams including most notably Red Bull Salzburg (Austria), New York Red Bulls, FC Liefering (Austria), Red Bull Brazil, SSV Markranstadt, and RB Leipzig (Germany).
RB Leipzig was founded in 2009 when Red Bull purchased the playing rights of the fifth division club SSV Markranstädt. Their aim was to get into the first division within eight years. In fact they got into the Champions League within eight years.
Both of these club buying groups are known for a simple sort of deal – a total takeover and do whatever it takes to get to the top. These sponsors are not interested in being underdogs. The old is thrown out and a drive towards the new is everything.
It is a view that can lead to a certain level of extremism. Manchester City are currently taking on the whole of Uefa and its approach to maintaining law and order, while it is reported that Red Bull Salzburg have been known to eject fans from their stadium for wearing the colours of the team that existed before the takeover.
Indeed although Manchester City fans seemed to take to the rule of Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan in his homeland, a group of RB Leipzig supporters set up their own club to continue the traditions of that team: SV Austria Salzburg. To fight this backlash, Red Bull in New York pulled in Pele as a club ambassador, and as we may remember Thierry Henry as a signing.
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