By Adam Smith
Right now, in sports, the English Premier League is just about the definition of a great thing. Backed by wealthy investors like Hicks, and tapping into a huge fan base all over the world, Premier League clubs have struck gold. Teams in English football's top flight notched up around $2.5 billion in revenue last season, almost triple the level of a decade ago, making it the world's richest football league by a country mile.
New owners are piling in: foreign investors have snapped up four clubs in the past year — Liverpool, Portsmouth, Aston Villa and West Ham United — to add to the three which already had non-British owners. The rush isn't over; in April, Stan Kroenke, owner of the Denver Nuggets basketball team and ice hockey's Colorado Avalanche, increased his stake in Arsenal, of London, to more than 12%. The flood of money is paying dividends; three of the four semifinalists in this year's Champions League are Premier League clubs. With interest swelling among faraway fans in Asia and beyond, backers of the Premier League can look forward to "a much brighter future of growth," says Hicks.
If so, that would be one of the business world's more improbable turnarounds. Less than 20 years ago, English football was known more for rabid fans and decrepit stadiums than for the sort of classy crowd that fills the suites at the stadiums of Chelsea and Manchester United. How did the local game of the English working class become a global business? And can it stay on top?
Διαβάστε το πλήρες άρθρο όπως δημοσιεύτηκε στο περιοδικό Time στις 26 Απριλίου 2007.