For many people, supporting a sports club is a way of life and something that gives them a break from their everyday life. However, sport is big business these days and for many people, sports clubs are a way of investing and enjoying a strong return on time and money. It is therefore inevitable that American sports owners are keen to tap into international sports clubs. While there is a high level of passion, interest and excitement in America for sport, the United Kingdom and Europe provides fan bases that are hugely passionate about their club.
This creates a platform where owners can tap into this audience and develop a sports team that excites fans while generating money for the owner. One thing that interests many American owners is the fact that the rules of sports team ownership in Europe and the United Kingdom are very different compared to the United States. Even the structure of the leagues or sporting competitions can provide an incentive to invest and become stronger.
One American sports owner who also owns a major international sports club is John William Henry II. Henry is the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club. The Merseyside club is one of the most illustrious football clubs in England with a strong European pedigree that ensures they are known and respected throughout the continent and world. The Liverpool brand is a strong one with a global fan base, and the American ownership has helped transform the club off the park.
Liverpool stadium development will boost club
There was a spell when Liverpool were lagging behind traditional rivals like Manchester United and Arsenal but the redevelopment of their Anfield stadium is likely to reap rewards in increased income and match day revenue for years to come. With the side re-entering the Champions League for the 2017/18 campaign, Liverpool fans are optimistic that the club is in good shape to become a major force once again.
Liverpool’s bitter rivals, Manchester United, have also been owned by Americans since 2005, when the Glazer family gained a controlling share of 56% of the club. This came at the end of a two-year process of the Glazers building their shareholdings, led by Malcolm Glazer. The family also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, giving them a strong holding in leading football clubs on both sides of the Atlantic.
While the Glazers have met with great opposition in Manchester, their ownership has brought considerable success, coinciding with the final years of the Alex Ferguson era. With the 2003 Super bowl title and the 2008 Champions League final, the Glazers can point to significant on-field success in Europe and America. Malcom Glazer passed away in 2014 but the club is owned and run by his children.
Not all US sports owners have enjoyed success in UK
There is a tendency, on both sides of the Atlantic, to appreciate club owners when a team is winning but to have criticism when a team is doing badly. During his time at Aston Villa, Randy Lerner has been adored and vilified by the fans who have seen their side slide out of the English Premier League. Lerner was formerly the owner of the Cleveland Browns before selling them and as of June 2017, Lerner has been looking to sell the English side.
Running two teams, even in the same sport, can be difficult because of the time constraints involved with managing a team and the fact that sports fans always want to see their club spend money. This is an issue that Vangelis Marinakis knows all about. His capture of Nottingham Forest, an English team with an illustrious history but difficult present-day situations will see Marinakis having to call on his experience of running Greek side Olympiacos. Olympiacos have been successful under Marinakis and Forest fans will be desperate to see the same outcome for their team.
Owning a sports team is difficult because no matter how much money is spent; so many external factors can influence the outcome or performance of a team. However, the rewards that come from owning a successful team, both financially and personally, ensures that there will always be a strong level of interest in sports ownership.
For many American owners, the more relaxed rules of ownership in Europe mean that there is a strong incentive to own international teams. While US owners have experienced mixed fortunes in the UK and Europe, it is likely that many more American sports owners will try their luck on the other side of the Atlantic.