Billionaire owners: Good for European football?

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When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea, it completely changed the fortunes of the club. 

Powered by the millions that Abramovich pumped into it, the club, which had not won a league Championship for more than 40 years suddenly found themselves to be one of the major contenders – not just domestically, but also in Europe. 

And since then various others have entered the fray, with what looks like a pretty good recipe for success – money. 

More recently, Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City used the money of their billionaire owners to good effect, reviving the flailing fortunes of the clubs. 

And now, another hound is on the market – with the advent of Monaco and its billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev. Is this influx of money into the sport good for football? We examine this case here.

It is true that with the backing of billionaire owners, many clubs flourish. However, the problem arises because the teams with a much inferior financial clout find it hard to compete with these big guns. This is less evident in the English Premier League, with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal – all traditional heavyweights – having a decent financial backing themselves, enabling them to compete against Manchester City and Chelsea. 

However, the difference was glaringly evident this season in France, with PSG sweeping all before them on the way to the League title – their first in 20 years. The lesser teams often found themselves struggling to match up to the levels of the capital club, resulting in far too many one sided contests in France this season.

Another dismaying tendency in football following the arrival of the billionaire money into football has been the decline in loyalty to the game. Players are seen to be moving to cash-rich clubs purely for the financial benefit – only to waste their talent sitting on the bench. And never before has the world seen footballing talent being squandered to the degree at which it is being today. 

However, on the other side of the coin, the emergence of clubs like Manchester City provided more life to the English league, which had for long been dominated by the ‘Big four’. Powered by the millions of the Al-Athani family, City mounted a challenge, culminating in them winning the league last season. And City proved to be the only team to provide anything that remotely resembled a challenge to Manchester United winning the league. 

This extra competition within the league has pushed the existing heavyweights to perform better – improving the overall quality of the league. And also, interest in the English game has also gone up since the arrival of Manchester City.

Also, the revival of Paris Saint Germain has put French football in the limelight again. PSG provided some much needed glamour to the league, which was suffering due to the lack of big names plying their trade in France. The arrival of players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi lent star-power to a league that had always been considered a stepping stone to greener pastures.

To see that trend finally reversing was a refreshing sight. And French football’s outlook for the future also looks bright in this facet of the game with another cash-rich club arriving in the form of AS Monaco, and with it the likes of big names such as Radamel Falcao and Joao Moutinho among others.

To decide whether the money influx into football is good or bad is indeed a futile attempt, with far too many aspects having to be taken into consideration, of which only a few have been listed here. The answer to the question is subjective, and depends on what aspect of the game you value most.


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