The impact of investors on transfer fees in the English Premier League: A study of the ownership structures

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Lukas Richau ORCID logo, Florian Follert ORCID logo, Monika Frenger ORCID logo, Eike Emrich ORCID logo

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Transfer fees in European football have experienced a rapid increase in the past years. Simultaneously, an increasing number of domestic and recently foreign investors — who are assumed to further increase team spending in European football — have entered the football market by becoming club owners. In light of these developments, fears associated with an increasing influence of foreign (majority) investors from the financial as well as the emotional fan perspective have increased. Given the rather limited number of empirical studies focusing on the impact of investors on transfer fees, we shed further light on this topic. Based on a data sample including transfer fees, player characteristics, player performance and team performance from 2012–2013 to 2018–2019 for the English Premier League, we estimate OLS regressions and quantile regressions to analyze the effects of ownership concentration and investor origin on the amount of individual transfer fees. While we do not find strong evidence that ownership concentration increases the willingness to pay, we find fairly consistent results that foreign investors are willing to pay a premium compared to domestic investors. Our results also indicate that especially foreign investors who own a majority share of a club have a positive effect on transfer fees for the upper quantiles.

Keywords: Sports Finance, Property Rights, Club Ownership, Investors, Football Transfer Market

Authors’ individual contribution: Conceptualization — L.R. and E.E.; Methodology — L.R. and M.F.; Writing — Original Draft — L.R. and F.F.; Writing — Review & Editing — L.R., F.F., and M.F.; Visualization — L.R. and F.F.; Supervision — F.F. and E.E.; Project Administration — L.R. and F.F.

Declaration of conflicting interests: The Authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and also Christian Pierdzioch and Jens Flatau for their valuable suggestions on a previous version of this paper.

JEL Classification: D23, G32, Z22, Z23

Received: 24.02.2021
Accepted: 22.04.2021
Published online: 23.04.2021

How to cite this paper: Richau, L., Follert, F., Frenger, M., & Emrich, E. (2021). The impact of investors on transfer fees in the English Premier League: A study of the ownership structures [Special issue]. Corporate Ownership & Control, 18(3), 241–256.