Uli Hoeneß, president of Bayern Munich, is concerned about Saudi Arabia’s violent invasion of European football. With nearly inexhaustible financial resources, he fears the differences in Club Europe could become even greater than they already are.
– I am very worried about what is coming from Saudi Arabia, says Honess Sky Sports.
With wealthy owners also comes unbridled buying power during transfer windows. In recent seasons, many leagues have seen transfer fees skyrocket, especially in the English Premier League. The money often comes from state funds, and the owners are prominent heads of state.
They seem to have endless money. We in Europe contribute to fantastic profits by buying oil, so there is no point in complaining. But something still needs to be done.
Saudi heads of state, usually with funds from the state Public Investment Fund (PIP), now owns many of the largest clubs in the world. A Manchester United purchase may be imminent. It’s bad news for football, if Hoeness is to be believed.
– It certainly won’t be easy in the next ten years. You can see them in the bay, where they bought everything.
– It will be a fight for the second best
If we are to believe Hoeness, we can already see a dramatic shift when it comes to the pursuit of top players. If the club is not owned by a loyal sheikh from the East, it can be difficult to keep up with the buying spree already underway. Hoeness explains that smaller clubs, such as Bayern Munich, must choose second-best players.
– But the advantage is that each team can only play with 11 players, and the team only has about 15-16 players in the team. Hoeneß says there will always be more than 50-60 good players in the world, and we have to get to them.
When the battle for the best and biggest stars gets too fierce, the focus turns to the age groups. Hoeness explains to Sky magazine that it will become very important to catch great talent early, as well as to build good academies.
Loyalty though Sheikh Malik
It has been speculated many times in the past to what extent the change in Saudi ownership affects fan loyalty to the club. If Arve Hjelseth, a professor at NTNU is to be believed, conversion can have different results, even if loyalty is generally high.
In the Premier League, we see that the fans are always loyal to their club, although of course you see some reactions in terms of a potential takeover from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates or Qatar. But it usually passes, Helseth tells Dagbladet.
– So a Manchester United fan clings to the club despite the possibility of taking over Qatar?
It will be exciting to see what happens, there will be reactions, but the most important thing for a fan is sporting success, and you get a lot of money for that.
Hilseth further explains that he only knows of a few cases where fans have been “substituted”, for example when Red Bull took charge of Austrian club Salzburg. Regardless, the vast majority seem to stick to their club.
– But when a club is bought in the lower divisions, we have seen many times that the sporting success that comes with all the money also brings many new supporters. Fans usually start supporting this club as well as a bigger club in the Premier League, for example.
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