Many fans see their local clubs as the pillar of their community. Institutions that represent their town or city that stand on their own and represent their values. However, it’s becoming increasingly common to see more successful clubs form and emerge thanks to investments or ownership from major companies. This can be companies looking to get a commercial boost or giving back to their local area but it changes the way fans look at a club. Does money always bring success though? Let’s investigate further as we look at some of the top football clubs owned by major corporations
5 football clubs owned by major companies
One of the top sides of the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven has been a club that was part of a companies from the very start. Owned by electronics giant Philips, the club originally started out as a sporting association for Philips employees based in their local town in 1913. Since then, the Philips Sport Vereniging has grown in stature with their owners to become a continental icon.
The continued investment from Philips has seen PSV become one of Holland’s top sides winning 24 Eredivisie titles as well as the 1988 Champions League title. The club has also seen the likes of Ronaldo, Phillip Cocu and Patrick Kluivert play for the club in recent years showcasing how far the club has come in the past century.
Formed in 1904, Bayer Leverkusen are one of the oldest clubs formed from the shadows of their commercial owners and make our list of football clubs owned by companies. Created as a sporting network for employees of pharmaceutical giant Bayer, Leverkusen has grown into a stalwart of German football.
Bayer have been part of the Bundesliga since 1979 and have always been near the top, finishing 2nd in the Bundesliga on 5 separate occasions. They have also enjoyed successful runs in Europe with a notable run to the Champions League final in the 2001/02 season. Whilst Bayer’s sporting association has branched out into other sports such as tennis, hockey and basketball, it is the football club that is by far the most famous outfit of the sporting network.
Red Bull Group
Red Bull can be found everywhere in sports whether it be extreme sports, Formula One and of course, football. In fact, the Austrian sports drink company has gone on to create their own mini-network of clubs owning 4 teams 3 different continents. Their most successful venture has been their original purchase – that of hometown club RB Salzburg. Salzburg has dominated Austrian football since the takeover in 2005 winning 11 Austrian Bundesliga titles since then including 8 straight titles from 2014-2021.
Their success has slowly followed other installments of the Red Bull network as the company has expanded their reach. An expansion to America with New York Red Bulls in 2006 where the side has won the 2008 MLS Cup and 3 US Supporters Shields. Red Bull have also picked up straggling clubs and slowly built into top teams through investment as the creation of Red Bull Leipzig in Germany and Red Bull Bragantino in Brazil has seen both sides cement solid top-flight positions in some of football’s biggest leagues around the world. A real behemoth network to contend with.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest clubs in the USA, it’s not surprising to see that LA Galaxy come under the umbrella of a major corporation and sitting on any list of football clubs owned by companies. Galaxy are owned by AEG – one of the biggest entertainment firms in the world. The ownership came directly through the launch of the MLS in 1996 with AEG becoming a major partner in the movement and owning several sides in the league.
AEG has slowly backed out of owning several original teams such as Chicago Fire and SC United but remained with the Galaxy. Since then, LA Galaxy has been blessed with 5 MLS Cup wins as well as bringing in some of football’s biggest names to North America including David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It has helped raise the profile of football in the US and show why it can be a major draw in one of the world’s most lucrative markets.
Yokohama F. Marinos
Car companies often have a vested interest in sports so it’s not too surprising to see Japanese car giant Nissan have a presence in the sport with their club Yokohama F.Marinos. The club begin life simply as Nissan FC in 1972 but a major push into the community saw the city of Yokohama embrace the club as their own taking on the city’s name in 1991. Since then, Nissan have pushed Marino’s to the stratosphere helping fund the construction of the Yokohama Stadium in 1998 – one of the largest venues in Japan.
A new agreement in 2014 saw the City Group become joint investors with Nissan giving Yokohama added investment and access to global talent. With 4 J-League titles, the Yokohama F.Marinos are one of the biggest clubs in Japan and created a blueprint for how corporate entities can embrace a large community.
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