Sports Profit of the Day

The NYT reports on Abu Dhabi’s purchase of Manchester City FC, and then zooms out to cover the bigger story of rich foreigners buying English football clubs:

As the Emirates get richer, Western entrepreneurs who bought into British soccer on the expectation of making money are finding that they cannot keep up…

Mr. Abramovich never talks publicly about his motives, or complains publicly when, for example, he unloads players — as he did with Andrei Shevchenko to A.C. Milan and Shaun Wright-Phillips to Manchester City for a fraction of the $100 million he spent on them.

He knows, as most of the entrepreneurs must, that buying into soccer is a financial loser.

A financial loser? Thaksin Shinawatra bought Man City for $148 million in July last year; he’s selling it for $360 million just 14 months later. I’m quite sure that the club’s operating losses in the interim have been much less than $212 million. If your timing is good, it seems, buying and selling football clubs can be a very nice little earner indeed.

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