Dangers for Asian buyers of English Premier clubs

"Asian businessmen want to own English football teams because they see Asia, particularly India and China, as the biggest developing market for the Premiership," Philip Long, football specialist at London accountancy firm PKF, told AFP. "The worldwide love of football is focused at the moment on the English game, and the Asian fan base is well-established and growing fast." But Long warns that Asian investors are not just signing another business deal when they buy into the Premiership. "Anyone investing in football is making a partly rational, partly romantic decision. That can be a dangerous mix," he said. "It is a different type of investment to any other. Undoubtedly these businessmen know it is a sector that involves a great deal of publicity, and perhaps that's what they want. But when you buy a football club, you are taking on many responsibilities. During a losing streak, you must expect to have thousands of people chanting abuse at you. Fans can be very fickle and their financial investment in the club is probably limited to their season ticket, even if they have a huge emotional investment."

One British academic who is advising an overseas consortium on Premiership takeover targets agrees that it is an investment area characterised by high drama and risk. "English soccer is the biggest league in the world with a global audience and hence is attracting international interest," he said, on condition of anonymity. "The prestige and status are unique, and new television deals are perceived as offering new value. But the downside is that the current owners are extracting the surplus value when they exit."

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