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Enthusiasts, Invaders, and Custodians: Media Characterizations of Foreign Owners in Barclays Premier League

Anne C. Osborne and Danielle Sarver Coombs

By the end of the 2007–8 season, non-Britons owned 9 of the 20 teams competing in England’s Barclays Premier League. Of these, 3—Manchester United, Aston Villa, and Liverpool—were purchased by Americans. This article examines how the British press covered foreign takeovers between the July 2003 purchase of Chelsea and the January 2008 sale of Derby County. The thematic analysis of articles written around the times of each takeover identified 3 dominant media characterizations of incoming foreign owners: the rich enthusiast, the foreign invader, and the savvy custodian. Each characterization is explored in terms of four key dimensions: commitment, authenticity, finances, and character myths. The study suggests that in addition to media making globalization possible insofar as they actually carry sports across the globe, media, particularly sports journalism, might facilitate globalization simply by not questioning it.