How to buy a football club

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Minted and bored? Don’t despair, you can always buy your own football club/playboy’s plaything. But before you hand over that suitcase of cash, consult takeover whiz Keith Harris.

A trained economist and former chairman of the Football League, Harris acted as a key advisor to the likes of Roman Abramovich, Randy Lerner, Eggert Magnusson and Thaksin Shinawatra. What they did with the clubs then was up to them.

Who better to take us through the process. Pay attention at the back!

Step 1: Speak to the experts
“Approach a firm that deals with finances and knows how to buy a club, such as an investment bank. They have teams of accountants and lawyers all trained to help you get the best deal.”

Step 2: Show me the money
“Determine how much you want to spend, and remember that the initial sum you pay to buy a club is only the start. You’ll also have to invest in players, a new stadium, and infrastructure like youth set-up and training facilities.”

Step 3: Assess the club’s financial health
“The value of a club is determined by a number of factors: whether they own their ground, the value of their playing squad, the wage bill and third-party debts. You don’t want to pay £100 million for a club only to find out that it’s £50 million in debt.”

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Step 4: Meet the owners/state your intentions
“With shareholders, you need to demonstrate that you have the interests of the club at heart. What are your plans for the ground? Are you looking to invest in the playing squad? Will the prices of tickets go up? Only once you’ve convinced everyone of your good intentions will your offer go through.”

Step 5: Take the test
“The Premier League and the FA administer a ‘Fit and Proper Persons Test’ on any would-be owner. The test will ascertain whether his (or her) money is the result of some criminal enterprise, such as drug running, arms dealing or fraud. Essentially, anyone with a criminal conviction is precluded from buying a club in this country. But it’s not something you have to pass per se. As long as you don’t fail, you’ll get the go-ahead.”

Step 6: Finalise the paperwork
“There is a contract drawn up called The Sale and Purchase Agreement where one party agrees to sell and the other agrees to buy. When it’s signed, the money changes hands and the old owner gets money and the new owner gets the shares.”

Congratulations... you now own a club.


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