Middle East and Asia boost investment in top level sports

Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:16pm EST
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By Michael Hann

LONDON (Reuters) - A new report has highlighted the growing reach and depth of Asian and Middle-Eastern investment in top-level sports around the world with no sign of any slowdown.

Entitled "Emerging Giants", the report released by sports marketing research company Repucom on Monday, examines the trend of investment in sports sponsorship from the Middle East into European soccer and from Asia into U.S. sports franchises.

Across Europe, $1.5 billion has been spent by Middle-Eastern investors and groups on team ownership, while in the last two years alone, Asian businessmen have invested approximately $1.1 billion in U.S. sports franchises, the report says.

English soccer clubs Manchester City, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest all have Middle-Eastern shareholders, while French champions Paris St. Germain and Spanish top flight club Malaga are 100 percent Qatari owned.

Abu Dhabi Holdings spent $330 million for a 90 percent share in Manchester City in 2008 and so far their investment has been rewarded on the pitch with two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a League Cup.

Likewise, Qatar Sports Investments spent $130 million for a 100 percent stake in Paris St Germain in 2011.

Having labored in Ligue 1 for many years, PSG's new-found spending power has seen them crowned champions in the last two seasons, while Brazilian David Luiz became the world's most expensive defender in June when he joined from Chelsea for around 50 million pounds.

Middle Eastern brands have also invested heavily in soccer sponsorship, with some of the largest European clubs now sponsored by Middle East airlines.   Continued...

Barcelona's Neymar celebrates his second goal against Celta de Vigo during  La Liga's soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona March 26, 2014.  REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino