Football club ownership has never quite been a bigger topic than it is right now.
The takeover of clubs such as Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle United by Middle Eastern wealth, as well as the disappearance of a club like Bury, means that fans are now much more attuned to what an owner can bring, and what they can take away.
The latest major news in elite football surrounding owners is that Liverpool and Manchester United, two of the biggest clubs in the world, are essentially up for sale. That means all types of wealth have been linked with a purchase of either club, or even both. Tottenham Hotspur are also said to be a possible purchase.
One group that has been linked heavily with both clubs is the QIA (Qatar Investment Authority). Here is an explainer on what that is and how much money it possesses.
What is the Qatar Investment Authority?
The QIA is a sovereign wealth fund located in Doha, the capital of Qatar. It was founded back in 2005. It was founded by the state of Qatar in order to strengthen the country’s economy. By having a separate wealth fund, the country can indirectly involve itself in other forms of business, such as owning a successful sports team.
It is not dissimilar in principle to the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund which purchased Newcastle United.
The chief executive of the QIA, Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud admitted moving into football is a very possible venture for the fund. Their website says that it is a ‘global investment organization, with investments spanning all major global markets, asset classes, sectors and geographies’.
When talking to Bloomberg, Al-Mahmoud said:
“Football, the clubs and the sport is becoming very commercialised in a way – especially now fans are looking into this as an experience so they would like to and experience and entertain themselves.
“At the same time, digitalisation is becoming very important for this. So the business model of these institutions is becoming very commercialised and very investment friendly. You will not be surprised if we invest in this.
“We have not made our mind yet but this is a very commercially-driven decision that we go through. And, again, sports is becoming a very important theme as well, people are engaged more in a sport and digitalisation is making it more attractive to investors.”
What is QIA worth?
It is stated by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute that QIA possesses assets that are currently worth $475,000,000,000 (£379bn). With that money, some of their investments include Twitter and London department store Harrods.
Much was made about how Newcastle’s owner’s wealth dwarfed that of Manchester City, but QIA have got even more than the Saudi Arabian PIF. They are worth around $430bn.
It is believed their current interest in Premier League clubs is based on buying a minority stake, but that situation can often lead to a full purchase further down the road. What makes their links to the Premier League even more interesting is that QIA is the over-arching body behind Paris Saint-Germain’s ownership.
PSG is owned by Qatar Sports Investments, which is a subsidiary of QIA. These are the blurred lines that are created by attempted sports-washing. PSG will say QSI is not the same thing as the Qatari leadership, but it is all a part of the same machine, meaning nation states are effectively owning football clubs.