Football clubs have grown by leaps and bounds in the last few decades. The focus of the club no longer remains solely on the fans in the stadium but also on those sitting at home or in pubs, viewing their favorite team's matches via television.
This particular shift in paradigm has helped teams grow their ardent fanbase massively to the point where the value of the club itself has multiplied several folds.
It has seen an influx of several billionaires as investors in the last two decades and the trend could continue this year. Chelsea already exchanged batons earlier this year when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich sold the club to American billionaire Todd Boehly.
English giants Liverpool and Manchester United could soon follow suit, with both clubs seeking fresh investment from the market. United have mentioned in their club statement that selling the club entirely remains a viable option for their current owners, the Glazer family.
The insane influx of cash into the first team and infrastructure at some clubs has left the giants of the yesteryears struggling to keep up. The likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), and now Newcastle United have invested billions, which has put teams like Liverpool, Juventus, and Tottenham Hotspur, among others, at a disadvantage in the transfer market.
For United, the case is unique. Despite having owners who do not invest a lot of their own money in the club, the Red Devils have been lavish spenders in the market. The reason behind this is the club's own revenue, which remains the highest across the globe owing to its incredibly big fanbase.
Given the situation, both Liverpool and Manchester United, the latter in particular, will be keen to see new owners, especially ones who can throw in money rather frequently.
On that note, we will now take a look at the five most expensive club sales in the history of football.
#5 Valencia - Peter Lim - £345 million
Singaporean business magnate Peter Lim bought Valencia in 2014. After months of negotiation, the deal was eventually completed. Valencia, who are historically a giant in Spanish football, have failed to maintain their heights under the new ownership. They won the Copa del Rey in 2019 but European glory has evaded the club.
The La Liga side are currently 10th in the league standings, five points adrift of a top-four spot. There were rumors doing the rounds in the mill about Lim possibly wanting to sell the club, but the news was quashed by the owner.
Beating the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona is a gargantuan task but fans will want to see more drive and a better project in place under Lim's ownership.
#4 Arsenal - Stan Kroenke - £600 million
American business tycoon Stan Kroenke bought a particular percentage of shares at Arsenal in 2011. Over the years, he kept buying out other stakes and by 2018 he had full control of the north London club.
Throughout the last decade, Arsenal have been one of the lesser spenders in the market compared to other big clubs. As a result, they also underachieved on the field, with several star players leaving in their prime for more fruitful opportunities.
Since the end of 2018, the vision appears to have shifted a little as the club are trying to increase their spending power and at the same time streamline their resources towards a one-vision project with Edu and Mikel Arteta in charge.
They backed Edu and Arteta through a tough period by giving them money to invest in young talent, the benefits of which are being ripped at the moment. In the current season, Arsenal are one of the most well-organized clubs with excellent on-field performances and a safe bank created for the future.
#3 Manchester United - The Glazers - £800 million
The Glazer family bought Manchester United in 2005. Up until this year, it was the most expensive purchase of a football club.
Manchester United, as a sports organization, is a massive brand, right up there with Real Madrid. In the initial years under the American owners, the club enjoyed fantastic on-field success courtesy of their legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. However, since his retirement, the trophies have dried up and the brand of football has also diminished.
Fans have been upset with the owners for not spending money outside the club's revenue resources. There have been several protests amongst the fans, who have also bemoaned the lack of a sporting project at the club. United, possibly as a result of multiple protests, among other reasons, was put up for sale on November 22. The cub is reportedly valued at £4.6 billion in the current market.
#2 AC Milan - RedBird Capital Partners - £1.07 billion
RedBird Capital Partners acquired AC Milan from Elliott Management Corporation in June 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic severely affected Italian football, with AC Milan being one of the clubs that had to exchange hands of ownership.
The new ownership sensed the opportunity to buy the Italian giants, who won Serie A last season.
RedBird's ownership of Milan should be more financially stable, but there is a long way to go. The Serie A giants are currently second in the league standings but the owners will know the club will need to spend rather heavily to sustain their success.
#1 Chelsea Football Club - Clearlake & Todd Boehly - £4.25 billion
Chelsea fans were put through emotional turmoil last season. From watching the club win the Club World Cup in January to parting ways with their beloved owner Roman Abramovich and Champions League-winning manager Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea fans have seen it all this year.
The Russian oligarch came under intense government pressure in the United Kingdom to sell the club earlier this year due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Chelsea's new owners Todd Boehly, along with Clearlake Capital, invested a handsome £4.25B to buy the club.
The club's price was £2.5 billion, and the remaining value was guaranteed investment into the team. The new owners have been busy over the last five months clearing ranks and bringing in completely new people. Time will tell whether they can replicate the success that Abramovich achieved.