The news is full of how the financial crisis / credit crunch / economic recession / clusterfuck is putting pressure on football clubs with debts and / or billionaire owners.
But there are positives to be found for a few (prospective) owners, provided they play the situation to their advantage.
Chelsea and Roman Abramovich
If one accepts that Roman is at Chelsea for the long run then Chelsea are best placed to ride out the current financial crisis and even come out at the other end as a profitable club. They have the resources and commitment to be leaders in football in the long run even if it means taking a hit in the short term. The financial crisis means that Chelsea’s future earnings will fall short of projections which in turn will lead Chelsea to cut costs while remaining competitive so that they meet their footballing and financial targets. It might even mean compromising on results in some ways, with Champions League qualification being the minimum requirement instead of a top-2 finish every season.
However, unless Roman loses everything he has, I don’t see why he would sell Chelsea. If anything, he would be more committed to ensuring that Chelsea start earning a profit. Trust a young billionaire to have the insight and determination to make that happen.
Arsenal and Usmanov
Usmanov isn’t as rich as Roman and more vulnerable to the financial crisis, but he is still better off than Arsenal or Arsenal’s primary shareholders. The board is squarely against him but the credit crunch will do two things – one, it will put pressure on Arsenal via the debt (Arsenal fans should thank Wenger for his prudence – if that 40m overdraft had been used, Arsenal would be under more pressure now…then again they might also be champions) and two, it will provide more incentive for shareholders to sell.
The board don’t have to sell, don’t need to sell, but the board don’t own all the shares and have so far failed to make moves to secure enough shares as a group to prevent Usmanov from launching a proper takeover bid or taking 51% control of the club. Usmanov’s target is 25%, he has 24% already, the current climate just makes it more likely for him to get a minor shareholder to sell and pick up the shares he desires.
Usmanov will be looking at the coming recession as a opportunity for him to gain leverage at Arsenal while trying to ensure that fans accept him, even if they don’t love him.
Who said it was tough on the billionaires?