October 8th, 2009
08:53 AM ET

English Premier League International

The big bosses at FIFA and UEFA must have been spinning in their leather chairs when they got the news that the English Premier League has yet another foreign owner.

Carson Yeung, chairman of Grandtop International Holdings Limited and now the new owner of Birmingham City FC.
Carson Yeung, chairman of Grandtop International Holdings Limited and now the new owner of Birmingham City FC.

Messrs. Blatter and Platini, along with FIFA Vice-President, Jack Warner, who wants to place a financial cap on EPL teams, have been huge critics of the overseas impact on the Premier League, which is now like the United Nations on and off the field.

Carson Yeung’s takeover of Birmingham City football club means half of the EPL’s 20 teams are now foreign owned. And, with five of the managers hailing from overseas, and an average of 13 foreign players in each first team squad, the league is statistically no longer English. My question is – so what?

FIFA’s boast is that football is a global game with a universal language, so is it not desirable that the world’s blue riband league is blind to nationality?

Surely, no-one watching a football match in any country considers the origins of the players and coaches? They are just concerned about the result.

For example, my team, Arsenal, is predominantly non English, but when I watch the Gunners all I see is the red and white of their shirts, not the black, blue, maroon, green, and embossed gold of the players' passports. It is irrelevant!

Similarly, as long as the owner has the club’s best interests at heart and does not meddle in team affairs, why should I care where he or she comes from?

His only obligation is to provide the cash to bankroll my team. And, the last time I checked, mega rich is mega rich regardless of whether your billions are in pounds, dollars, rubles, or riyals.

Of course, there are those who argue that the influx of foreigners to the English game has taken away its national character.

However, I don’t think that’s born out in practice, either in terms of the club's culture or, more importantly, in the way the teams perform.

I have lost count of the number of foreign opponents who have talked about the English way of playing, or the number of foreign imports who talk about adapting to the English style.

There is an English way – extremely high tempo, very physical, relentlessly competitive, and that is what gives the league its character.

So, in my book, there is no downside to the EPL’s cosmopolitan look. In fact, as long as the integrity of those involved remains intact, it is the perfect model because it blurs the borders.

And, let’s face it, if other leagues had been as progressive late in the last century, they would be reaping the same rewards as the English, and they would be loving it!

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. jc

    there should be at least 4 or 5 players from the uk playing for each premiership team.my club manchester united do.rooney,foster,carrick and ferdinand while your club arsenal who are not a very good side have only regular starter from the uk,theo walcott

    October 8, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  2. Jeff Walker

    Well said Sir!

    October 8, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  3. father tango nancy

    When the fans welcome revenues from overseas, whether they be sponsorships, sales of merchandise or even sharing of revenues from overseas broadcasting rights, but complain about any kind of foreign influence. That's hypocritical.

    Globalization comes in a package.

    October 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  4. lakshman Dalpadado

    Half the players are foreign- so why not the owners!!

    October 8, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Reply
  5. ChelseaUSA

    The EPL is the BEST league in the world because it brings together the best players in the world.

    And if you don't like to see so much money associated with football THEN STOP WATCHING IT because that's how teams make money. They big make mind-boggling amounts of money because they are watched by mind-boggling numbers of people. Man United has something like a half a billion fans world-wide!

    October 9, 2009 at 5:54 am | Reply
  6. Kenneth

    Good to know you are an Arsenal fan!

    I think the EPL with all this injection of money from foreign investors to boost the class of play has been good so far. It is now the best, as compared to way back in the 80's when it was one of the most boring leagues, despite Liverpool and Nottingham Forest's achievements.

    The only mindful thing we must watch out for is if the foreigners decide to pull out their money due to some very hard hitting financial crisis or growing global resentment of their investments into the EPL.

    October 9, 2009 at 8:58 am | Reply
  7. GO-Getta'

    The arguement can also be based on whether the influx of foreign owners,managers and players will have a negetive or positive impact on the English National Team.

    Soccer is global sport and reaping financial rewards from the sport must be encourage as long as it benefit national interests and advancement of the game.

    October 9, 2009 at 11:42 am | Reply
  8. Robert Johnson

    The EPL is actually a cruel joke. Clubs fight for promotion to it knowing they have chance of winning anything unless they find a white knight willing to invest 300-400 million pounds. Its time to limit the amount of debt held by the big 4 and reward the teams that live responsably. Then we will really have the best league in the world.

    October 11, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  9. Gabriel unyeawaji


    October 12, 2009 at 6:24 am | Reply
  10. oscar

    Yes, Robert, but 10 of the clubs have found a "white knight", so doesn't that tell you that the EPL model works? Plus, most big businesses operate in some degree of debt, which is why the credit crunch has hit so hard. I agree that it could hit football, but the Premier League seems to attract the kind of investors who are largely so rich that they're immune to the economic crisis because dropping a billion here or there doesn't deplete their wealth sufficiently to force them out of football. Look at Abramovic - he lost a packet in the credit crunch, but I still see him jumping up and down like a school kid at Chelsea games, which implies he's still committed to the project.

    October 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  11. steven gerrard

    genie long out of bottle....

    October 15, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  12. felix edor-usiwo

    It doesnt matter whether the players are white or black nor where the owners come from... what matters is the quality of football.

    October 22, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  13. Simon

    great article.
    You're right! I couldn't care one bit where my team (MUFC) get their players from.
    The bit that makes me laugh is when you get the old timers (Peter Shilton, Kenny Dalgleish, Alan Hanson et al) who bemoan that the EPL is losing it's identity and such. Well, maybe this IS their identity. Look at the Champions League over the last 5-10 years and see which countries have dominated it. English teams have. If we (yes, I am English), adapt to be successful we will find success. If not, we will become like La Liga, or Serie A.
    While I'm on it, I also don't see how this change could hurt the national team, either. Remember when the British Media moaned about having a (gasp!) foreign coach. Well, Sven was statistically, the second most successful coach in terms of win percentage that we had over the first 4 years. Better than Alf. Better than Sir Bobby. Now who is #1? Yep, Fabio.
    Bottom line, who gives a toss about where they come from. It's results that matter.

    October 25, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  14. charles

    Football is football no matter where the players are from. I personally watch the game for the love of it. I could careless who own the club. If the English owners’ wish to sell their clubs and a foreigner wishes to put up the money and buy it, I say congratulation to that new owner and good luck.

    November 12, 2009 at 4:57 am | Reply
  15. arunals

    EPL is now attracted most of the people around the world, not in England only. It s caused by the foreign players, such as Park Ji Sung. Foreign players dan foreign owner have main contribution to support EPL at Global Business.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Reply

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