Southampton has become the third Premier League club to receive Chinese investment. Property magnate Jisheng Gao paid £200m (some reports say £210m) for what is believed to be a 80 per cent stake in the club, about the same amount as Paris Saint-Germain paid for Neymar. However, it is a decent profit for the Liebherr family who bought the club for £13m in 2009. It is a reminder that one way of making money out of a football club is through capital appreciation.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain etc. may well be stronger than any clubs in the Premier League. However, what the Premier League does offer is drama and it has provided that in the opening weekend with champions Chelsea going down at home to Burnley; Arsenal’s narrow 4-3 victory over Leicester City; unfancied debutantes Huddersfield Town winning 3-0 at Selhurst Park; and a rejuvenated Manchester United beating West Ham United 4-0. Not to mention Wayne Rooney’s winning goal at Everton.
Brighton chairman, poker player and chartered accountant Tony Bloom has increased his loan to the club to £170m. Getting a club into the Premier League and keeping them there is not a cheap hobby. The Bloom family has been involved with the club for about 50 years.
The Seagulls made a loss of £25.9m in the 2015-16 season. Similar figures are expected this season and covering those losses will push his investment towards £200m.
Knocking copy about the Premier League is pretty much standard and we’re seeing a lot of it on the 25th anniversary. A journalist once said I took a Panglossian view of the Premier League, but someone has to recognise that there are positives as well as negatives.
What impact will the promotion of Huddersfield Town AFC to the Premier League have on the local economy? Supposedly Swansea City’s promotion gave a boost of £58m to the local economy in the first season alone. I am sceptical about that figure and think that there were other factors at work in the case of Swansea, a view I expressed when I was interviewed for this blog post by Matthew Engel of The Guardian.
The Premier League started on 15 August 1992. In its first season it was really the old First Division rebadged, still with 22 teams taking part. Only 3,039 watched Wimbledon play Everton at Selhurst Park on a cold Tuesday night in January.
Only 13 foreign players (less than six per cent) took part in the first games. Since then, 1,840 foreign players from 105 countries outside the British Isles have taken part.