Why US investors are buying into European football

US entrepreneurs appear to be lining up to buy into European football. Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon said soccer's attraction to American companies is no surprise. "They see it as a good business to be in with huge international opportunities, stadium rights and sponsorship. In many areas the US sports market has been ahead of the curve and they are trying to bring best practices from the US like naming rights and premium seating," he told Steve James of Reuters.

Noting Manchester United has stores selling merchandise in Asia, Swangard said US investors "recognize the advantage of running a business rather than having to create it."

While the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association try to expand overseas, they are also having to sell an American sport that may be unfamiliar to Asians or Africans who play and watch soccer. "You can invest in great brands that will bring solid returns, or maybe you can take a chance on a market with growth," Swangard said.

The English Premier League is already the world's most lucrative soccer league, with total revenue of $2.5 billion, 40 percent higher than its nearest competitor, Italy's Serie A and is the fourth-highest for any sports league worldwide, behind North America's NFL, MLB and the NBA.

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