‘So you’ve been taken over by a foreigner, huh?’ #1 Leicester City
While most Forest fans are no doubt glad to see the Al-Hasawi takeover finally go through, no one really knows what exactly to expect from Fawaz and his brothers. LTLF has been talking to fans from a number of clubs who have also recently been subject to overseas takeovers to gauge their experiences, good and bad…
We start with Leicester City who were bought out in August 2010 by an Asian consortium fronted by Vichai Raksriaksorn (right), founder of the King Power duty-free shopping giant who sponsor the club’s shirts and stadium. The buy-out cost the group £40 million and ended the stormy reign of Serbian manufacturing tycoon Milan Mandaric who moved on to Sheffield Wednesday, his third English club (Portsmouth being the other).
Since then Leicester has seen the arrival and departure of Sven-Göran Eriksson and Nigel Pearson’s return to the club. Last season the Foxes seemed to signing anyone with two legs, adding no less than 11 new names to their squad (including, of course, Wes Morgan). But despite all this they only managed ninth place in the league and since the end of the season four players have been allowed to leave.
However, Phil from LCFC World remains optimistic…
LTLF: What what your expectations when Raksriaksorn took over the club and how have events since lived up to them?
Phil: ‘Milan Mandaric bought the club on the cheap and ripped the heart from it, much to the displeasure of the Foxes fans.
‘Vichai Raksriaksorn and his Asia Investments team are investing in promotion and have made mistakes along the way, but we can see progress with the stadium, training facility and the team. They are building a solid base, which is the way forward.
‘After the wild suggestions of signing Henry, Beckham, etc, it calmed down and they have put up the money when required. I think they have high expectations for promotion in the first three years, so this year is pivotal.’
LTLF: From your experience, what effect does foreign ownership have on the relationship between club and fans?
Phil: ‘I think they need to respect the history of clubs and the local cultures. As with any company, if you’re successful, you reap the rewards. We wish they were a little more transparent with the club’s dealings though.’
LTLF: Do you think the ever-increasing trend of foreign investment in English clubs is a good or bad thing?
Phil: ‘Globally a good thing, as long as they are not in it for a fast buck (see Portsmouth).’
LTLF: Do you now see Forest and our potential Kuwaiti millions as a major threat?
Phil: ‘Not really as Forest need to inject £50/60M in a new ground and £40m-plus, including wages, in playing staff to get into the top six. It’s a hard league! With Financial Fair Play coming in then it could be more difficult.
‘What Forest have on their side is the two European Cups in the bag, so it will be interesting if this is a success or major failure. The East Midlands rivals will be looking on, as you were with us. Maybe you can learn from our failures?’
Tomorrow we hear from QPR and Man City fans on their eventful, but so far successful, foreign ownerships.