New items such as India ready to help the European Union out of their debt crises and Indian owners bailing out English football clubs, are significant social signifiers of a changing world order. This change is evident in the English League as nine Premiership clubs have foreign owners of which three are of Asian origin; the super-rich Abu Dhabi based Sheikh Mansur (Manchester City), Venky’s group of Pune which took over Blackburn Rovers last year and Tony Fernandez in charge of newly promoted Queens Park Rangers.
Soon a tenth club Everton may have a foreign owner which could be a takeover by an Indian company, the Mumbai based Jain group with interests in energy and property ventures. Despite the ongoing world recession, the Goodison Park outfit is confident that they can attract a new owner. This is essential for Everton, winners of the English league title nine times (the last in 1986-87) as only the rich succeed or survive in the Premiership.
Preliminary talks between the Jain group and Everton have been held and the Mumbai firm is interested in helping to construct a new stadium and providing money for the takeover. A major financial player from China has also shown interest in acquiring Everton.
The British media is still skeptical as nothing concrete has materialized despite a Goodison Park tour by the Jain Group representatives a fortnight ago. However unlike Sheikh Mansur who has inherited wealth the Jain Group has acquired wealth and so are cautious about splurging money. They are exploring whether to loan Everton Football Club the money and leave current chairman Bill Kenwright in control and gradually gain control or complete a full takeover.
Another reason for caution is that the Jain group wants to buy time to understand the nature of this football business. Using wealth to take control of a historic club like Everton is the preliminary step. Getting the right staff and players is a specialized task. The Venkys group is still being criticized for the hasty removal of experienced English coach Sam Allardyce as coach of Blackburn Rovers within months of their takeover.
Asian businessmen must tread cautiously whilst taking control of European professional clubs. The best example to follow is that of the Qatari Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, vice-president of the Bank of Doha and owner of a portfolio of companies, who bought Malaga a low budget team in the Spanish first division. This club based in the South of Spain had never won anything and had the third smallest budget in the Spanish first division.
Yet Al Thani did not splurge. His Malaga project is one of care and vision. He has recruited the right staff, the Chilean coach Manuel Pelligrini formerly with Real Madrid, the former Spanish legend Fernando Hierro, born in the region and returning to help his hometown as General Manager and Antonio Fernandez as Sporting Director to oversee long-term transfer strategy. They are not interested in easy glory and the players acquired, like Jeremy Toulalan (France), Julio Baptista (Brazil), Santi Cazorla (Spain) and Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Holland) have been for rational prices, the right temperament and understanding of the long terms goals of the Malaga Football Club.