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UK Football Gets An American Accent

posted 15 Aug 2013, 04:30 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 15 Aug 2013, 04:31 ]

"Hating soccer is more American than apple pie" - the words of USA Today's Tom Weir back in 1993.

Who'd have thought, then, that 20 years on, six of the English Premier League's 20 clubs would be run by Americans.

But what's attracting these billionaires to Britain's beautiful game?

Who better to tell us than the latest - Shahid Khan.

The owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise has bought Fulham, a mid-ranking London team, for around 300-million dollars.

Shahid KhanJacksonville Jaguars and Fulham owner:

"Premier League obviously has a huge global audience. I think it's got really good emphasis from a business aspect. A great media deal. Great leadership from the top under Richard. And most importantly a very, very passionate fan base."

The Premier League is the richest in the world, with clubs sharing annual TV revenues of around 2.6 billion dollars.

But NYU Professor of Sports Management, Robert Boland, says it's not purely about making money.

 Robert Boland, Professor of Sports Management, NYU:

"It's like owning real estate. You don't always make money by owning it. You want to keep it cash flow neutral. What you want to do is have it increase in value and borrow against that increase or ultimately sell it for far more than you bought it for."

As well as cash, it's also about exposure. Shahid Khan has already announced theJacksonville Jaguars will play one game in London for the next four years.

So while English football is showing them the money, what do these American owners bring to the Premier League party?

Well, unlike some of their spendthrift rivals, generating a sustainable financial return is second nature to owners used to salary caps and luxury tax levies.

And as Revolution Sports Managing Director, Rod Kohler, explains, U.S. bosses aren't just good at saving money, they're good at making it too.

Rod Kohler, Revolution Sports Managing Director:

"The American owners and their teams behind them really have an impact on off-the pitch activity in terms of club sponsorship and shirt deals. And just expanding and perhaps internationalising the appeal of premier league clubs"

So, is there a downside? Well, there's one big one - relegation. An unfamiliar concept in U.S. sports.

All that cash and exposure can soon dry up if your team drops out of the top division.