Opponents to foreign ownership in English soccer are a frustrated bunch these days. In all, nine EPL clubs have been taken over by foreign investors; Americans own three of them, and soon, perhaps, four, if Colorado Rapids owner Stan Kroenke can buy his way further into Arsenal and gain control.
Opponents to the trend argue that English soccer is not only losing its soul, but the league also risks bankrupting itself if the foreign owners are unable to turn a profit and decide to leave the clubs behind. "No other country allows the crown jewels of their major sport to become the uncontrolled playthings of investors whose backgrounds remain untested," says Observer columnist Tom Bower, author of a book called "Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football." Indeed, British regulators seemed to look away as exiled Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra took control of Manchester City -- despite the fact that over $1 billion of his money remains frozen in Thailand.
Worse, Bower says, is the looming threat that foreign owners pose to the Premier League and Football Association's authority. In recent weeks, foreign owners have discussed replacing EPL chief Richard Scudamore -- most likely with an American, says Bower. Meanwhile, more pressure will be heaped on the strained relationship between the owners and their regulators as the likes of Everton, Fulham and Arsenal look for buyers. That would tip the balance of power in the league in favor of the foreigners.