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The Question Of Foreign Ownership In English Football – Assessing The Potential Manchester United Takeover

Old Trafford
Friday, 05 May 2023 By Stuart Hatcher

It may be a function of “always on” social media platforms, wall-to-wall sports reporting and the associated need to fill copy (and to some extent create “clickbait”), but it feels like English football has never had as much scrutiny or interest in off-the-field investment and ownership of its clubs as it does currently. This may be partly due to popular podcasts (and books) such as “The Price of Football”, or the fact that serious business press journalists cover football for the commercial side of the game. But regardless of the reason, it is as easy to find analysis of a set of accounts these days as it is to find analysis of why a team failed to “do it on a cold, wet, night in Stoke” (I note that Stoke City fans may take issue with this and point out that all too many teams have, in fact, done just that in recent years).

Against that backdrop, this article discusses what is arguably the hottest topic in English football: foreign ownership of clubs. It’s an issue that spans Europe, with UEFA’s benchmarking report1 from 2022 showing 30 top division club takeovers in 2021, with 11 of those being investors of “foreign” origin. But for the purpose of this article, we will focus solely on English football:

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Stuart Hatcher

Stuart Hatcher

Stuart is Head of the Forsters’ Corporate team and is able to advise across the full range of domestic and international corporate law issues, including M&A, venture capital, private equity and other shareholder investments, group reorganisations and the return of value to shareholders.

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