Supporters of English football clubs will continue to be at the mercy of rogue owners putting their own interest before that of the club until a football regulator is in place, a leading sports journalism academic has said in response to the news that Manchester United owners, the Glazer family, are preparing to sell the English club after 17 years in charge.
Chris Lepkowski said: “The Manchester United sale story will no doubt excite many of their supporters, but it comes with cautionary caveats.
“Potential investors or owners will not be looking at trophies or marquee players – they’ll be thinking about what the financial value is. How many people or entities would be serious contenders to buy a brand that would most likely fetch in excess of £4bn, knowing the return may fall way below that?
“Also, change is not always necessarily for the better. Until we have a football regulator in place, supporters remain at the mercy of rogue owners putting their own interest before that of the club. United are just as vulnerable as a Bury or Derby County.
“What United do have in their favour is the scope for further growth, the cachet of being one of football’s more lucrative brands and, of course, the potential pot of gold at the end of the rainbow should the European Super League venture re-surface. The ESL would inevitably turn some heads, but such a venture is likely be met with huge resistance from supporters.
“Chelsea changed the financial landscape under Abramovich, Manchester City’s sale in 2008 took it onto the next level, and, more recently, the Public Investment Fund’s purchase of Newcastle has introduced another player into a hugely competitive landscape. It remains to be seen how much more value there is for any potential investor in a Premier League already bloated by financial heavy weights.”