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Multi-club owners: Which are the biggest multi-club projects in football?

Multi-club club ownership has become far more prevalent in recent years, sparking plenty of debate about its impact on professional football.

ENIC were the first organisation to push this ownership model during the 1990s, gaining control of several European clubs including AEK Athens, Vicenza and Slavia Prague.

Their involvement raised numerous integrity questions, many of which came to the fore when the trio reached the 1997/97 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals.

While football’s governing bodies remain sceptical about multi-club ownership, this has not stopped several groups and individuals from establishing sizeable club networks worldwide.

There are numerous benefits to clubs operating under this ownership model, including greater power when negotiating commercial contracts and increased brand reach.

Another key selling point for multi-club ownership is it gives clubs much greater flexibility in the transfer market, particularly those at the top of the food chain.

For example, top clubs can use partner clubs in the network to develop promising talents they have acquired cheaply before bringing them into their own squad.

Read on as we look at some of the most prominent multi-club ownership projects in football, starting with one which spans five continents.

City Football Group

The City Football Group (CFG) is the only multi-club project that has broken into double figures, with 13 clubs currently under its umbrella (September 2023).

  • Manchester City (England)
  • New York City FC (United) States)
  • Melbourne City (Australia)
  • Yokohama F Marinos (Japan)
  • Montevideo City Torque (Uruguay)
  • Girona (Spain)
  • Mumbai City (India)
  • Sichuan Jiuniu (China)
  • Lommel (Belgium)
  • Troyes (France)
  • Palermo (Italy)
  • Bahia (Brazil)
  • Club Bolivar (Bolivia)

Silicon Valley private equity firm Silver Lake has acquired a one-fifth share in CFG after buying most of China Media Capital’s stake in City Football Group.

Premier League giants Manchester City are the top club on the list, with their Abu Dhabi owners helping them become the dominant force in English football.

777 Partners

777 Partners have primarily focused on acquiring European clubs, with five of the seven they own located in five countries across the continent.

  • Everton – England
  • Hertha Berlin – Germany
  • Genoa – Italy
  • Standard Liege – Belgium
  • Red Star – France
  • Melbourne Victory – Australia
  • Vasco de Gama – Brazil

777 co-founder Joshua Wander claims their ownership model does not have a hierarchy, with each club viewed equally within the group.

Their involvement in football has not been without controversies, with fans of several clubs under their umbrella dissatisfied with their ownership.

Red Bull

Red Bull currently has five clubs on three continents under its ownership, with RB Leipzig in Germany’s Bundesliga serving as the primary team in its network.

  • RB Leipzig – Germany
  • Red Bull Salzburg – Austria
  • FC Liefering – Austria
  • New York Red Bulls – United States
  • Red Bull Bragatino – Brazil

When it comes to utilising a multi-club network for player development, no one comes close to rivalling what Red Bull has achieved in professional football.

The link is particularly strong between Leipzig and Salzburg, with numerous players moving between the two clubs since Red Bull acquired the clubs.

Other Notable Multi-Club Owners

  • John Textor: Lyon (France), Botafogo (Brazil), RWD Molenbeek (Belgium), Crystal Palace (England)
  • David Blitzer: Crystal Palace (England), Augsburg (Germany), Ado Den Haag (Netherlands), (SK Beveren (Belgium)
  • INEOS Group: Nice (France), FC Lausanne-Sport (Switzerland), Racing Club Abidjan (Ivory Coast)
  • Bill Foley: Bournemouth (England), Lorient (France)
  • Nassef Sawaris & Wes Edens: Aston Villa (England), Vitoria Sport Clube (Portugal)
  • Evangelos Marinakis: Nottingham Forest (England), Olympiakos (Greece)
  • Gino Pozzo: Watford (England), Udinese (Italy)
  • Daniel Kretinsky: West Ham United (England), Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)
  • RedBird Capital: AC Milan (Italy), Toulouse (France)
  • Qatar Sports Investment: Paris Saint-Germain (France), FC Braga (Portugal)