European soccer is planting more U.S. roots.
If Chelsea FC’s $5.4 billion sale to U.S. billionaire Todd Boehly goes through as expected, next season could mark the first time that more than half of the English Premier League’s top 20 teams are backed by U.S. money.
The list runs long even without Chelsea: Arsenal, Burnley, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Leeds United, Manchester City, West Ham, and Wolves, though Burnley and Leeds United may be relegated from the division by next week.
And most of the European teams’ U.S. investors have U.S. sports ties:
- Liverpool FC was purchased in 2010 by Fenway Sports Group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox. Last year, it agreed to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins for around $900 million.
- Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family, who bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a then-record $192 million in 1995.
- Crystal Palace is owned by John Textor, Josh Harris, and David Blitzer — the latter two own Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, which owns the Philadelphia 76ers.
Some fans are worried about the culture difference — European owners don’t anticipate a profit, while U.S. owners expect one.
Outlets reported earlier this week that the Chelsea sale was delayed due to outgoing owner Roman Abramovich not giving the U.K. government assurances that the proceeds will go to charity. Not long after, there were reports that the parties had come to an agreement, and the Mirror also reported that a deal might have been struck.
Chelsea’s temporary license to operate expires May 31.