Foreign investment in Football in the FA Premier League

Increased foreign investment in football

During the 1990’s when the FA Premier League first came into being there was a dramatic increase in the number of foreign players plying their trade in English football. As the amount of foreign players playing in England has increased to dramatic levels as has the amount of money in the game, the foreign money men are also wanting a piece of the action.

There has been some very high profile takeovers of the most successful football clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea whereas in the last couple of season less well known or successful clubs are attracting the interest of big foreign spenders.

Is the ownership of a football club any different to the ownership of any other business?

At times sport holds a different position in the legal world to other industries through the concept of specificity. This means that due to the specific nature of sport in some cases slight breaches of the law can be allowed in order to maintain the nature of the sporting competition.

However, in the case of ownership of a football club this is treated the same as any other business transactions.

What involvement would a legal firm thus have in the takeover of a football club?

When a foreign takeover of a football club is mooted the following legal issues will come into play:

  •       The fit and proper persons test
  •       The existing structure of the club

The fit and proper persons test

In order for an individual to become an owner of a football club they must satisfy a test which is called the fit and proper persons test.

There are certain requirements which must be adhered to for an individual to be a fit and proper person, and in many cases the test for the FA Premier League is actually stricter than that for other industries.

A legal team may therefore be required to deal with certain aspects in relation to the fit and proper persons test.

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For more information on:

  • The existing structure of the club
  • Are there any other issues that may have to be dealt with by the legal team of a foreign owner when in place?