Big money has ‘infected’ the world of football, especially England’s top-tier Premier League. With the exception of Leicester City’s miracle triumph in 2015/16, every Premier League title has been ‘bought’, in the eyes of those who know they will never be amongst a throng of title-celebrating revellers.
However, it’s not all bad, with some clubs spearheading the football market – and developing the English game’s reputation and marketability – in a positive way, both through charitable initiatives and shrewd transfer market deals.
Pioneers off the pitch, as well as on it in the 1990s, United’s many successes under Sir Alex Ferguson have long since assured the full globalisation of the club’s brand. Though the Red Devils are a shadow of the outfit they were under the Scot, their global fanbase remains in-situ, as does their financial clout.
Huge contracts with kit suppliers Adidas and main sponsor Chevrolet have done much to revive United’s image as a corporate powerhouse. However, United’s money is also used to fund a grassroots scheme that enables schools around the greater Manchester area to bring out the best in future talents. There is also a coach training scheme run by Manchester United, enabling aspiring coaches to get a foothold in an extremely tough area of employment.
Impact signing: Eric Cantona – Though his arrival far pre-dates the current climate of ownership, his skills and prowess undoubtedly did much to advertise the English game as a natural home of top international talents.
As reflected by the current outright prices for the Premier League that can be found here, Manchester City are perpetual title favourites under the ADUG’s majority ownership
That ownership, combined with Nike as the technical kit supplier, and Etihad Airways as the sponsor makes City’s status as a financial powerhouse watertight. Like United, City also has grassroots schemes in the local area, with the Etihad Campus providing the type of facilities that could turn the good into the great in a remarkably short time.
There are also two clubs, New York City FC across the Atlantic, and Melbourne City on the other side of the entire planet, which are associated with Manchester City and boast excellent stadia. As was once said of the British Empire, the sun never sets on Manchester City FC, and budding young talents in those cities will also benefit from City’s grassroots initiatives.
Impact signing: Sergio Aguero – His iconic goal against QPR on the final day of 2011/12 thrust him into the limelight like never before. Back in his native Argentina, he is an icon, with many children wanting to be the man himself and dedicating their lives to football more than ever.
Across the East Lancashire Road, Jurgen Klopp has unapologetically championed an all-out attacking style. While this was not 100% effective during his first two years at Anfield, it brought them to within a point of the Premier League title and landed a sixth European triumph in the club’s history.
Club owners Fenway Sports Group brought the club back from the brink of serious trouble in 2010, steadying the ship and doing much to help Liverpool attract some top talents, with Luis Suarez notably arriving within six months of the takeover. Liverpool’s new owners have ensured that the good work of the charitable Liverpool FC Foundation can continue for generations.
Impact signing: Mo Salah – Those who dwell in the Egyptian star’s humble birthplace, Nagrig, have built murals dedicated to the man himself. Salah has used his wealth to aid significant regeneration in an area that sees two-thirds of its population live in poverty.
Sixteen years on from Roman Abramovich’s takeover, Chelsea remain a financial powerhouse, building on the initial success of the team that won two Premier League titles in the mid-2000s. As the kit sponsors, Nike remain profoundly close to the club, with Yokohama Tyres being one of the most coveted sponsors around.
Chelsea foundation prides itself on diversity, and Abramovich’s money has done much to ensure as wide an outreach as possible. This theme is spearheaded by Plan International, which aids children across the world, and is aimed at those in developing countries who are suffering from poverty and trouble.
Impact signing: Didier Drogba – Like Salah, Drogba has himself done much to help fellow countrymen in poverty. Ivorian children will always name him as their idol. His time at Chelsea also enabled him to play in a wider range of leagues during his twilight years, and spread his values as widely as possible to a multi-generational audience.
Though neighbours Arsenal still have more money right now, they are not in the Champions League. Tottenham are though, and their presence in the world’s most lucrative club competition will do much to ease the financial burden of a stadium move, which was completed back in April. Last year saw more than half of the club’s revenue generated by broadcasting deals, but the club’s temporary stay at Wembley also boosted finances to a new high in the Mauricio Pochettino era.
As a Premier League ever-present, the club’s charitable actions are focused just as much on its home of Haringey as it is on places in need that are further afield. Over 2,500 jobs have been created as a result of the foundation’s actions, with Percy House being the hub of training and personal development for local citizens.
Impact signing: Son Heung-min – While the Premier League has always enjoyed a growing presence in the Far East, South Korean players of Premier League quality remain a relative rarity. After an excellent 2018/19 season, Son has the opportunity to make a great case for South Korea accelerating its developmental initiatives in national football.