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15 December 2006

Football Club Takeovers...Who's Got A Billion

This month's big Premiership football trend is 'takeovers'. Every Premiership club now wants their own multi-millionaire to come along and propel them into the big league. After all if West Ham and Aston Villa can have one each, why shouldn't Liverpool and Newcastle get their own.

There never seems to be much investigation into where this money is coming from or how it was made. There's money out there and the clubs want it now !

So, here's a quick guide to where the money is coming from and the people who actually own these clubs.

Chelsea: Roman Abramovich - When the Soviet Union fell apart, the workers in the oil fields were all given shares in the newly privatised oil companies. Unfortunately, the government neglected to tell the workers exactly what a 'share' was and what value it had. A century of communism tends to make people ignorant of such things.

However, it is alleged that a man named Roman - who did understand what a share was - took advantage of this understandable ignorance and went around buying up all the workers shares for less than pennies on the Rouble and ended up owning the company. This made him extremely wealthy.

He then left the country while other extremely wealthy men who tried similar tactics were rounded up and put in prison.

West Ham: Eggert Magnusson - Magnusson is a UEFA and Icelandic FA official who made quite a pile of cash in biscuits. However, he couldn't afford to buy West Ham on his own.

He has a financial backer: one Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson. Gudmundsson is the owner of Icelandic bank Landsbanki and a billionaire. So far, so good.

But Gudmundsson is a
convicted criminal who was charged with 450 offences after the Icelandic shipping firm he was involved with went belly up.

Even more interesting is that there are significant worries in the world markets that Iceland is teetering on the
brink of a financial meltdown. If foreign investors start to withdraw their money from Icelandic banks and financial institutions, what then for West Ham United?

Manchester United: Malcolm Glazer and Sons - Well, at least we know where Glazer got his money from. He borrowed it at exhorbitant interest rates, turning the 'richest club in the world' into a company millions and millions of pounds in debt. What happens if United don't generate the necessary income and the debt can't be serviced ?

Well...Ken Bates famously bought Chelsea for £1. If it all goes wrong at United, you might be able to buy for less. Start saving your pocket money now.

Liverpool FC: Being Courted by Dubai International Capital - Liverpool have been looking for a fairy godfather for quite some time and have already shown they are willing to deal with some unsavory characters when they were considering an offer from the [now deposed] corrupt Prime Minister of Thailand.

Dubai International Capital are an investment vehicle for Crown Prince of Dubai and United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

This is the same Sheikh Mohammed that is currently being sued for child slavery over his alleged use of child jockeys in camel racing.

It's not very impressive, is it ? Still, football clubs will continue to let greed cloud good judgement, with all the problems that will eventually entail.

The owner who stands head and shoulders above this sorry lot? Randy Lerner at Aston Villa. Yes, he's American [apparently, this is not a crime!] and yes, he's got an embarrassing name [this too is not a crime, but should be]. But at least he came by his money honestly (it was inherited from his father - founder of the MNBA credit card brand) and for that, Aston Villa can be grateful.


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