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Barca hampered by archaic FIFA

Barcelona 12 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 12, 2006

'Foreign owners could kill English game' - Wenger

LONDON COLNEY, England, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Arsene Wenger said on Tuesday he feared for the future of English soccer if Premier League clubs continued to sell up to foreign owners.

'At the moment the point is the love of the game,' Arsenal's manager told a news conference at the club's training ground.

'Once it becomes investment only, then you have some different ingredients that are not necessarily for the love of the game, or the good of the game.'

'It looks as if we have gone from one period to a new one with more people who look at it as an investment - where they want to be paid back quickly.

Wenger said the days of Englishmen buying clubs for the love of the game is gone and he is worried about the future.

'What was traditionally true in England is that the people who were the owners were the supporters. The biggest example was at Blackburn where a guy called Jack Walker, who was a passionate supporter of the club, was in charge.

Walker ploughed the wealth he made from the steel industry into Rovers and they won the Premier League title in 1995. The Blackburn-born steel magnate died aged 71 in August 2000.

'What happened, chronologically, was he was a supporter, he became wealthy and he fulfilled his dream by buying the club of his dreams,' said Wenger.

'But that looks to be a period of the past. It was really reassuring for the fans because it looked as if the heart of the owner was like their heart.

'It didn't matter whether it was blue and white, or red and white, or yellow and black, but it was the same colour - the heart was the same colour.

'It looks like that period has gone because the implication of the financial investment is too high. This tradition has gone.'

'We are one of the biggest clubs left with this tradition. Liverpool, until now, were another.'

The Merseysiders look set to be the next Premier League club taken over by foreign backers, with Dubai International Capital (DIC) in talks about investing what British newspapers have said could be worth up to 450 million pounds ($882.7 million).

Wenger fears the Premier League could lose its competitive streak if too many teams take up the lead set by champions Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

'What is dangerous for us, is once the financial potential of the club goes above their natural resources we will be in trouble,' Wenger added.

'At the moment, we can do it because only Chelsea has those resources. But once three or four have that, are you dead?

'If today you go into football and think 'I have 100 million pounds available and could put that into Arsenal Football Club to make 200 million', it looks very dangerous - both for football and for the club.

'To find people who put 100, 200 or 800 million into a club and are prepared to lose their money, you must be lucky.'