- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2007

American players aren’t the only ones seeking fortune in English soccer. American sports owners also are finding gold in the English Premier League.

According to a report released this week, the impact of new owners and a lucrative new television deal will send EPL profits soaring in the upcoming season.

Deloitte’s 16th Annual Review of Football Finance notes that the 20 EPL teams will share an additional $600 million from a new broadcasting deal expected to bring the upcoming’s season’s turnover to a record $3.2 billion. The EPL generated more revenue last season ($2.5 billion) than any other league in the world, including Italy’s Serie A ($1.8 billion), the German Bundesliga ($1.5 billion), Spain’s La Liga ($1.5 billion) and France’s Ligue 1 ($1.2 billion), and contributed to nearly a quarter of all the money made in the European soccer market.

While the EPL’s revenue still lags far behind the NFL’s $6.2 billion intake, the increase in profit is good news for Americans who recently started a new phenomenon in purchasing English soccer teams.

In 2005, the Glazer family, owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, took over Manchester United for $1.4 billion. Last year, Liverpool FC — England’s most successful club — was bought by George Gillett Jr., who owns the Montreal Canadiens, and Tom Hicks, who owns the Texas Rangers. Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner purchased Aston Villa.

“A batch of new owners are coming into the league, some of whom have experience running sports business in the states, so it will be interesting to see how that works,” Deloitte’s Dan Jones said on the company’s Web site podcast.

According to the report, while European soccer has “less equal revenue sharing than most U.S. sports,” Europe’s big five clubs — Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus and AC Milan — all earned higher revenue than the highest-learning NFL team — the Washington Redskins — which pulled in $303 million.

Sixty-two percent of all revenue generated by the EPL goes to player salaries according to Jones, and if that can be reduced by a percentage point, it would give teams an extra $70 million each season to share.

Last season, more than 12 American players played in the EPL. And more American businessmen, such as St. Louis Rams co-owner Stan Kroenke, who holds 12.19 percent of the shares of EPL giant Arsenal, are looking to invest in English soccer.

EPL games are broadcast to 200 countries, with a worldwide audience of 2.6 billion viewers a season. Asia is one of the league’s biggest markets. With games beginning in the afternoon in England — unlike other European leagues that have evening games because of the hot weather — Asian fans can watch in prime time. In Hong Kong and Singapore alone, according to Jones, the cost is $10 a head per population to see the games, while larger countries such as China, India and the United States pay little for EPL television rights. The TV rights costs in those countries are sure to rise in the future, making the league an even brighter venture for investors.

U.S. team — After its 1-0 win over Guatemala on Thursday, the U.S. team plays Trinidad and Tobago today in Carson, Calif., in its second first-round game of the Gold Cup. It finishes off opening-round play against El Salvador on Tuesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Beckham revival — David Beckham is seemingly playing at the top of his game of late. In England’s exhibition against Brazil last week, the future Los Angeles Galaxy star converted 70 percent of his passes and set up England’s lone goal in a 1-1 finish at the new Wembley Stadium. It was his first game for England since being dropped after the World Cup in July.

On Wednesday, Beckham had two assists in a 3-0 2008 European Championship qualifier win at Estonia.

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