There’s rumours that the takeover of Manchester United has hit the skids.
The Glazer family had initially put the Old Trafford outfit up for sale, with a bid of at least £6 billion thought to be good enough to get a deal done.
Two interested parties, Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim and INEOS founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, made themselves known, although it’s thought they valued the club at rather less – lodging offers, according to reports, of around £4.5 billion instead.
With their valuation not met, the Glazers appear to be dragging their feet over a potential sale – with rumours suggesting they may instead accept a minority investment that would enable them to retain control of the club.
The Glazers are just one of many American families and consortiums that own a stake in an English football club – believe it or not, ten Premier League clubs (including Manchester United) have an owner or majority shareholder from the United States.
Extend that to the EFL, and we find of 12 of the remaining 72 clubs have American owners or, at least, significant investment from the country.
So in demand are British football clubs that three National League outfits even have a North American influence: the well-documented buyout of Wrexham by the actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny being the most high profile.
So which English football clubs are currently owned by Americans?
A whopping 50% of Premier League clubs have an American owner or a considerable presence on their board from Stateside.
Premier League Clubs with American Owners/Investment
|Aston Villa||Wesley Edens|
|Bournemouth||William P. Foley|
|Crystal Palace||John Textor|
|Leeds United||49ers Enterprise|
|Liverpool||John W. Henry|
|Manchester City||Silver Lake|
|Manchester United||The Glazers|
Stan Kroenke is the sole shareholder at Arsenal, buying out his fellow investor (and occasional Everton funder) Alisher Usmanov for around £550 million in 2018.
Aston Villa are owned by the NSWE Group, a firm overseen by American billionaire Wes Edens and his business partner Nassef Sawiris. Edens is also a co-owner of NBA franchise Milwaukee Bucks.
William P. Foley, via his Black Knight Sports & Entertainment group, is a keen investor in sports teams. He led a consortium that acquired Bournemouth in 2022, with Black Knight also owning a share in Ligue 1 side Lorient and NHL franchise Vegas Golden Knights.
When Roman Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea as part of sanctions against the Russian, there was a scramble to take ownership of the London club. That honour went to Todd Boehly, the American entrepreneur who was supported by equity from U.S. firm Clearlake Capital. So far, Boehly and co have forked out a staggering £500 million on new players.
Three Americans make up more than 75% of Crystal Palace’s entire shareholding. John Textor, who also owns a majority shareholding in French club Lyon and other football teams around the world, has 40% while David Blitzer and Josh Harris share 36% between them.
Shahid Khan, who holds a dual American-Pakistani passport, made his money in the motor industry. He’s since invested that into sports clubs, with majority shareholdings in Fulham and NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars.
Andrea Radrizzani has retained majority voting rights at Leeds United, but a consortium called 49ers Enterprises – helmed by the York family, the owners of the San Francisco 49ers – continue to up their own share in the Yorkshire club. They’re now up to 44% of all shares….and are rumoured to want more.
Liverpool are owned by the Fenway Sports Group, headed by John W. Henry, while rivals Manchester United are of course currently helmed by the Glazers.
Even Manchester City, a club that is essentially owned by the Abu Dhabi state, have relinquished 18% of shares to American equity firm Silver Lake.
American Owners in the EFL
Burnley are majority owned by ALK Capital, an outfit that drew scorn and controversy when it was revealed their ‘leveraged’ takeover of the Clarets had plunged the club into debt.
Millwall are owned by two Americans, John Berylson and Richard Smith, while fellow Championship side Swansea City were acquired by an American consortium that included former U.S. football star Landon Donovan, Hollywood actress Mindy Kaling and former NBA pro Matthew Walsh.
Into League One and an eclectic board of shareholders at Barnsley, which includes American firm Pacific Media Group and US-Chinese entrepreneur Chien Lee. He’s thought to own a stake in seven different clubs across Europe.
Adam Webb and Mark Green own 30% of Cambridge United’s shares, while around 95% of Ipswich Town is owned by the Gamechangers 2020 syndicate.
Michael Eisner, the former Walt Disney Group CEO, will be hoping there’s a Hollywood ending for his time as owner of Portsmouth, while not a million miles away the businessman Rob Couhig owns around 75% of Wycombe Wanderers’ shares.
Even in the fourth tier of English football, there’s an American footprint. Crypto outfit WAGMI United acquired Crawley Town in 2022, while Brad Galinson is the majority shareholder at nearby Gillingham.