SIX BECOMES FOUR
It is now looking more likely than not that by the end of the current football season that Liverpool and Manchester Utd will be owned by either Saudi Arabia or Qatar, or both.
This prospect has been further enhanced by the incredible Saudi Arabia defeat of one of the World Cup tournament favourites in Argentina, who were on a 36 unbeaten match run, and the hosting of the World Cup by Qatar which has further cemented the interest in football in the region.
In my view, this will bring about a seed change at the top of the Premier League and over time we will see a new Big Four replace the Big Six with Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United dominating not only English football but European competitions as well.
As fans, we all secretly hope somebody very wealthy will buy the club we support and transform its fortunes on the pitch. If we take that bias away and look at the bigger picture, then there are dangers in allowing Middle East ownership to take over our top clubs. For a start, it means more and more of the best overseas players playing in the Premier League which reduces the potential for home grown talent to progress and that in itself will have a longer term impact on the England team. Then as we have seen at the current World Cup many people feel very uncomfortable with the human rights record of Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as the treatment of migrant workers.
Having only fairly recently approved the takeover of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia, there is nothing the Premier League can do to prevent these takeovers and on a political level the UK Government has many varied reasons for not wanting to offend the governments of both Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
With the Big Four competing for the world’s best players, I can see another significant increase in transfer fees in due course as well, as the wages of top players and agents will be in a position to demand huge fees for the most wanted players.
In many respects, it is admirable that the Premier League is so popular across the globe and it is one of this country’s most valuable exports but going forward everyone needs to ensure we don’t kill off the goose that laid the golden egg by creating a less competitive league and it being
dominated by issues of genuine moral and ethical concern.