Premier League influence could be set to extend its reach across the globe in more ways than just TV rights and revenue streams as Todd Boehly-led Chelsea is championing the establishment of a multi-club network for the Blues, with Premier League rivals Arsenal and Liverpool exploring the same.
Such an established global reach has been championed by City Football Group, with Manchester City at the top of the CFG ladder that spans five continents and includes eleven clubs in eleven different countries; Manchester City (England), NYCFC (United States), Melbourne City FC (Australia), Montevideo City Torque (Uruguay), Troyes AC (France), Lommel SK (Belgium), Mumbai City FC (India), Girona FC (Spain), Sichuan Jiuniu FC (China), Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan), and Palermo FC (Italy).
According to the report in The Guardian “It is understood that Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke – who already owns an MLS team – and his Liverpool counterpart John W Henry have explored adding clubs inside and outside Europe to their portfolios after Boehly indicated he would like to set up what he described as “a multi-club model.”
“Boehly is believed to have begun the process of finding other clubs to invest in after reportedly being turned down by the Brazilian club Santos, where Pelé spent most of his career. He is understood to have instructed Chelsea’s new president of business, Tom Glick, to take charge of the process, which could lead to investment in clubs in the Belgian and Portuguese leagues. They and Brazil are seen as potentially lucrative sources of young players, with Boehly believed to have consulted Jorge Mendes over which clubs to consider in the Portuguese agent’s homeland.”
“Kroenke, who owns Colorado Rapids in the MLS, the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, Colorado Avalanche in the NHL, and the NFL champions the Los Angeles Rams among others, is also understood to have explored the possibility of acquiring clubs in Brazil, Belgium, and Portugal. While Arsenal sources have played down any immediate plans, the club are believed to want to develop their existing links with the South American country in particular.”
“Liverpool’s owner, Fenway Sports Group, owns baseball’s Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Penguins from the NHL and last year sold a large stake to RedBird Capital – the company that acquired the Italian champions Milan in August for £1.1bn and has an 85% stake in Toulouse. It is understood that FSG would like to add to that stable. A spokesperson for FSG declined to comment.”
The direct mention of possible subsidiary clubs in Brazil, Portugal, and Belgium makes complete sense from a player acquisition and developmental standpoint for Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool as a direct pipeline from source into the first-team set-ups at Stamford Bridge, the Emirates, and Anfield.
Still arguably the premier youth production factory in the world, Brazil continues to supply football with one star after the next at a rate that is matched possibly by only France, but English clubs have historically found it difficult to bring in players from the South American nation and that has only gotten more difficult after Brexit.
As such, a link of clubs to circumvent work permit issues would be a clever way to still acquire players from all three countries, with Brazil the possible overall focus.
With Portugal being a common first port of call for Brazilian players looking to break into Europe given the cultural and linguistic ties, and Belgium’s football tier traditionally being easier to secure loan moves for players not yet ready for action in the Premier League but able to handle the level in one of Europe’s best second-tier leagues, the long-term scope of empire building for the top clubs in England could champion long term success on and off the pitch.
Denmark’s FC Nordsjælland has garnered plenty of success with its direct link to Ghana’s Right to Dream academy, while Ajax Amsterdam has championed foreign links all the way back to the late 90′s with former connections to Ajax Cape Town in South Africa, and Ashanti Goldfields in Ghana.
The Dutch giants still maintain a global network for youth scouting that include links with clubs in Spain, Brazil, China, Slovakia, Japan, UAE, and Australia, and have directly been linked long before City Football Group came into being.
Though City has drawn criticism given its connection to FFP breaches and the manner in which their vast financial backing has helped shift the very landscape that football exists on, how they have comported themselves abroad is hardly an alien concept but could certainly become far more common in the coming years.