Malaga CF, Paris St-Germain and Anzhi have new owners, but are these Football Clubs just a new fad for them, or a real project of love?
It seems to be a trend for billionaires to buy a football club nowadays. Abramovich was the first to do it in the English Premier League and that transformed the club to what it is today and the same thing happened with Manchester City when Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan bought the club in 2008.
It also seems that now these purchases are referred to as "projects", to give them a sense of worth, a sense of meaning, rather than being looked at as a new found fad that will soon pass. Maybe I am being a little crude with my thinking there, as out of the three I am going to mention I believe one has a real purpose to build something more than just a football legacy, but I may also be a little naive there too.
In June 2010, Sheikh Abdullah bought Málaga CF, a club that was in a relegation battle and one they won on the last day of the season by one point. The summer saw an influx of new players added to the squad that had some investment the previous season and now looks like a club that could push for a Champions League spot, but more likely will qualify for the Europa League which is their main target this season. With players like Ruud van Nistelrooy, Julio Baptista, Jeremy Toulalan and Santi Cazorla and being managed by Manuel Pellegrini there is an expectancy of the club now that has never been there before, and there is a real excitement for the fans who now have hopes of being able to do what Chelsea and Manchester City are done winning silverware and getting Champions League football.
This season, with 5 games gone, they sit 6th equal on points with Real Madrid but have still yet been unable to find a style of football to call their own with manager Pellegrini still finding his best team, but no doubt will add to the squad in January and if they find themselves in a good position, may well be able to attract even better players and really push on as the season continues.
May 2011, Paris Saint-Germain announced that Qatar Investment Authority bought a controlling 70% stake in the club. In July 2011 Leonardo was appointed as director of football and using his knowledge of Italian football brought in players such as Jérémy Ménez, Mohamed Sissoko, Salvatore Sirigu and Javier Pastore, who was being chased by Chelsea among others as well as some hot products in France such as Kevin Gamiero and Blaise Matuidi.
But Leonardo is talking up the project this is undergoing at the Parisian club, stating that it is more than just to do with football on the pitch, but also off it and what the whole city can offer PSG and what PSG and offer the capital and that they in the coming years can win the Champions League. Over at the BBC was an interview that gives some insight to this http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/14935658.stm
With the kind of investment that QIA can make, there is no glass ceiling for PSG, but just how long are they going to stick around at the club, but what if PSG and Leonardo are unable to achieve all they want to achieve and they decide to pull out of the club, leaving them with huge debt and an exodus of players. Situations like this have happened before.
But for now they currently lead the French Ligue 1 on goal difference sharing the same points with Lyon and Toulouse and if they keep this up they will be one of the front runners for the league and you could see them playing in the Champions League next season, after that, who knows!
FC Anzhi Makhachkala
January 18, 2011, Suleyman Kerimov Anzhi was bought by Suleyman Kerimov, and has started to revolutionise the club that was formed only in 1991. Some major signings have happened, but none as big finically or in terms of surprise as the transfer of Samuel Eto’o. Others players to join the Anzhi revolution are Balazs Dzsudzsak, Yuri Zhrikov, Mbark Boussoufa and three key Brazilians. Striker Diego Tardelli, defender Jucilei and most notably Roberto Carlos.
Some have questioned if Kerimov is in this for the long haul, but from what I can see he is, He is not just looking to build the club, but also the city of his birth. He was born in Dagestan and educated there getting a degree in financial accounting and economics from Dagestan State University and held government roles for the area. He plans to build a new stadium, and rejuvenate the area, which borders on some of the most dangerous area in the world, and has long been involved in crime. Through football, he is looking to change this. For now the team train and stay in Moscow and fly in for their home games, but In the future things will be different. If the amount of money he has, there is no end to what he could achieve at the club, and it is not as if he is afraid of giving money away as he has given hundreds of millions to charities in Russia. I wouldn’t be surprised if big names continued to come to Anzhi, and in a year or two I won’t be surprised to see them in the Champions league which for a club such as Anzhi would be a huge achievement.
For me Kerimov seems the one man out of the three that will keep his interest in the club for a long time to come, where as with the other two may have a long relationship, but ultimately if targets are not reached, or an opportunity to sell for a good price arises, then you may never hear from them again. With Anzhi and Kerimov its seems like a project of love, and not just a passing fad to entertain himself with and could be something that turns the club into something special.