Billionaires are buying into soccer these days to make their pockets deeper. The business soccer and its club teams, mostly from Europe, has boosted over the last ten years or so, and it is attracting people with hefty pockets. Many soccer clubs in Europe are worth over a billion dollar, so investing in one is not a bad idea, especially for billionaires who have deep pockets.
Boston Red Sox owner John Henry bought English club team Liverpool FC in 2010. Henry told the press that he decided to expand his horizons with sports because he liked the fact that Liverpool’s audience can be much bigger than any American team of any sport. See Liverpool is international, so, when playing against a rival team like Manchester United, the audience can reach up to a billion people. That is more viewers than any sports final in America. Henry’s point is that the money is there.
The sport is constantly growing as well and, if invested in the right team, it is a good place to be in. In the last two years, 20 teams became worth over $1 billion. That rise of value in those two years was over 36 percent, which is by far one of the biggest jumps in the history of soccer and the price of clubs.
Yes, most teams that have this success are the European club teams. That does not mean that one has to buy a successful team. A few billionaires have invested in European club teams that were at the bottom, and decided to spend money on superb players to bring the status of the team and roll with the elite.
An example of this is club team Chelsea FC. The London based team did not have much to offer ten years ago. Since the team was purchased by Russian Oil Tycoon Roman Abramovich, the club has flourished and has even won championships domestically and internationally.
In the last ten years, Abramovich has invested $2.7 billion on the team and has had superb success. Chelsea is now one of the elite teams, not only in England, but around the world. With the right faces or players on the team, Chelsea has grown internationally. With the rise in popularity, it is not surprising to see a number 9 Chelsea jersey in China with the name Fernando Torres on the back. In the end, the investment paid off for Abramovich.
The owner of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, bought two teams. One in Europe and one in America in the MLS. Mateschitz European team is from Austria, Red Bull Salzburg, and the American team is the New York Red Bulls. Both teams are raking in money to the point in which Forbes ranked him in the top soccer billionaires in the world.
Not always do these teams see success on the field. For instance, the New York Red Bulls have never won an MLS title or any title at that, despite being one of the popular teams. Still, the club has brought many popular faces throughout the years. Currently, French superstar Thierry Henry is currently playing with the New York team. His presence with the Red Bulls is bringing in some good money for Mateschitz.
Another example of this is Malaysian owner Vincent Tan who owns Cardiff from England. The team has not been doing well despite the money spent on the team. Cardiff was also the first English team to fire its coach this season and is struggling to get a good place in the Premier League.
So, the idea that a team will do well once bought by a billionaire is not all very accurate. Yes, the owner has to make wise decisions when purchasing players and it can get expensive. However, the ownership of a soccer team is not a luxury anymore for billionaires. Now, a billionaire will purchase to make more money and many teams are proving this trend to be correct.
Commentary by Jose Herrera