Multi-club ownership, or MCO’s as they are known within the game, are becoming increasingly common in the world of football.
We’ve gone with the suggested title of football clubs that own other clubs, but obviously it is often a single person, family or organisation that owns multiple clubs, and in those instances we have just led with the dominant club.
Here are our 7 football clubs that own other clubs
7. Watford > Udinese
Giampaolo Pozzo is the owner of Serie A outfit Udinese, whilst his son Gino owns Premier League side Watford. By that logic, you may suggest Udinese were the leading side, and they were when the Pozzo family first bought Watford, but now that the club is in the Premier League, their revenue streams are far greater than those of Udinese.
The Pozzo family also previously owned Spanish club Granada, but Giampaolo sold the former La Liga outfit in June 2016.
6. Atletico Madrid > Atletico San Luis
A person disguised as Atletico Madrid mascot Indi entertains fans before the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and SD Eibar at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium...
Atletico Madrid are clearly a club very interested in extending their reach overseas. They co-owned Indian Super League outfit Atletico de Kolkata, now known as ATK, between 2014 and 2017, the same year that they acquired 50% ownership in struggling Mexican side Atletico San Luis. The club were in dire straits financially, and even went a season without playing any league football, but are now back competing in Mexico’s second tier. Former Atletico goalkeeper Jose Francisco Molina took over for Atletico San Luis’ first season under new ownership, and they currently have a whopping 15 players on-loan, although only one of them is on-loan from their Spanish parent club.
5. Leicester City > OH-Leuven
Another Premier League club who have spread their tentacles internationally, the King Power International Group acquired Leicester City back in 2010 and bought Belgian outfit Oh-Leuven in 2017. Leicester have enjoyed extraordinary success since their association with the King Power group, winning promotion to the Premier League, winning a remarkable Premier League title and reaching the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League in a short period of time.
Belgian side OH-Leuven are managed by former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson, and his most recent signing shows both the benefits for the club and reasons why some people are uncomfortable with MCO’s. Leuven signed Leicester target George Hirst from Sheffield Wednesday after the 19-year-old rejected a new deal at Hillsborough. Had Leicester signed the player, a fee would have to have been decided by a tribunal. Since Leuven are an overseas club, the price will instead be a fixed fee set by FIFA regulations, likely to be around £160,000.
4. Ajax > Ajax Cape Town
Coach Erik ten Hag reacts during the first training session of Ajax for the new football season in Amsterdam June 20, 2018. (Photo by Koen van Weel
The first direct case of a club that literally owns another club, rather than a group or individual who owns multiple clubs with one larger than the other, Ajax set up South African outfit Ajax Cape Town back in 1999. The idea was to develop South African talent with the same philosophies as Ajax teach in Amsterdam. The project has been successful inasmuch as Ajax Cape Town’s team is dominated by homegrown players and are competitive in South Africa’s top flight, but few have managed to succeed at Ajax proper, with Steven Pienaar probably the clubs greatest success story.
3. AS Monaco > Cercle Brugge
Another inclusion which does exactly what it says on the tin, AS Monaco the football club literally own Cercle Brugge, with Belgium seemingly a popular choice for secondary clubs. Cercle Brugge were a club on a downward spiral and experiencing serious financial difficulties before identifying Monaco firstly as potential investors and ultimately new owners at the start of 2017. From relegation battles in the second tier to promotion, it was of course a Monaco loanee who scored the goal to secure Cercle’s return to the top table of Belgian football.
2. RB Leipzig > Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Brasil
Leipzig's French forward Jean-Kevin Augustin celebrates after scoring the 4-1 during the German first division Bundesliga football match RB Leipzig vs VfL Wolfsburg in Leipzig, eastern...
Austrian energy drink giants Red Bull are well-known for their advertising and ownership within sport, particularly motorsports and football. SV Austria Salzburg, based in the company’s hometown of Salzburg were the first to be acquired, and were promptly renamed Red Bull Salzburg in 2005. MLS franchise the MetroStars were next, also being bought by Red Bull in 2005 and renamed the New York Red Bulls. Two years later, Red Bull cut out the middleman, and instead of buying out a club, they just set one up on their own, namely Red Bull Brasil of São Paulo. Their most recent and indeed most notable acquisition, though, was that of German nobodies SSV Markranstadt, a lower league side situated close to Leipzig. Four promotions in seven seasons followed, culminating in a second place finish in the Bundesliga in the season before last.
You may notice that RB Leipzig are the only club not to sport the Red Bull name, and that is because company branding is prohibited in club names in Germany. The savvy Red Bull execs renamed the club RasenBallsport instead, but referred to them only as either RB Leipzig or by their new nickname, the Red Bulls. RB Leipzig have enjoyed much success since being bought out by Red Bull, but they’ve also been successful in ensuring that they are the most hated club in Germany.
1. Manchester City > New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Club Atletico Torque, Girona FC
The City Football Group are without doubt the most significant multi-club owners in world football right now, themselves a subsidiary of the Sheikh Mansour owned private equity company Abu Dhabi United Group. That’s right, the CFG are MCO’s, owned by ADUG from the UAE. Ah, the working man's game, don’t you just love it.
Manchester City were the first club acquired by the ADUG back in 2008. The club had just finished 9th, but despite the marquee signing of Robinho, they dropped to 10th the following season. Success would soon arrive under Roberto Mancini though, with signings like Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure establishing the club as a force within the English game.
Manchester City are, of course, CFG’s primary asset, but they acquired Manchester City Women and 80% of New York City FC in 2012, followed by Melbourne City in 2014 and both Club Atletico Torque and Girona in 2017. CFG also own 20% of Japanese outfit Yokohama Marinos. All that means the City Football Group have controlling stakes in five men's teams, two women's teams, a minority stake in another men's team, with their overall football business interests spanning six countries and four continents. CFG have stated that it is their intention to have a club in every continent with the word ‘City’ in their name.