Could the Premier League Go Bust?

Well, it might turn out that Americans owning clubs in the Barclays Premier League might turn out to be a bad thing after all. The current crisis on Wall Street and in the global economy could severely cripple the Premier League, due to the massive amounts of debt the big clubs are accruing each year. Today England's Football Association chief Lord Triesman estimated that English game was roughly £3 billion in debt.

Now, bear with me since macro-economics isn't exactly my area of expertise.

What I do in fact know that when Manchester United was purchased by the Glazers a few years ago, fans were irate that the buy was funded by massive bond payments. In fact, if the debt of £660 isn't paid by 2010 the control of the club goes to three New York hedge funds, which might not even be in existence by then so who knows what would happen.

The same thing played out when Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillette took over Liverpool, as they funded the move with bond payments. Recently, Liverpool halted its new stadium project for the time being.

It seems unlikely that a club in the Premier League would out-and-out fold up its tent and stop playing. Yet the specter of Leeds United does loom. Leeds went from the 2001 Champions League semifinal to now currently playing in England's League One since it had to sell off almost all its players to repay debts.

The report does state that the "big four" of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United have debts of £950m combined, so if somehow they miss out on the riches of the Champions League one season it could start a slippery slope/downward spiral. Not Chelsea, of course, which should be okay as long as Roman Abramovich's billions keep pouring into Stamford Bridge.

Let's just hope for the sake of entertainment the bond holders are fans of soccer.

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