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The world of football is witnessing a surge in international investment, with North America and the oil-rich Gulf region vying for a stake in Italy’s Serie A.

The United Arab Emirates established a foothold early on through City Football Group (CFG), a holding company owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Therefore, CFG has become a major financial force, owning 13 clubs worldwide and expanding into Brazil and Holland.

The US and Saudi Arabia are catching up, with the US emerging as a trusted financier for Italian teams.

Who are these investors interested in Italian football?

The investors driving the surge in Italian football ownership come from two main groups: North American private equity funds and investment funds backed by wealthy Arab Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) like PIF and Mubadala.

Arab investors are diversifying their economies beyond oil and engage their young populations.

North America, Saudi Arabia & The UAE Competing For Italy’s Serie A

Both groups see undervalued Italian teams as attractive investments. Some US firms adopting a “multi-club” model focused on acquiring smaller teams across Europe.

As seen with the recent purchase of Serie D’s Sanremo. City Football Group (CFG), owned by Abu Dhabi, are maximizing profits through player trading and cost savings within their multi-club network.

CFG’s success, turning Manchester City into the world’s fifth most valuable football team (valued at $5 billion), highlights the potential for growth in Italian football.

The US has emerged as a major player in Italian football ownership.

Since 2018, US investors have acquired a staggering 13 teams, including Serie A giants AC Milan, Roma, and Fiorentina.

This influx of capital brings more than just money. US ownership often comes with expertise in crucial areas where Italy lags behind,

Such as sports business management, financial modeling, international marketing and merchandising, data management, and digital entertainment platforms.

A key focus for these investors is unlocking the value of Italian sports media rights.

Compared to other European leagues, Serie A lags significantly. In the 2020–21 season, Serie A teams generated only €2.1 billion from all revenue streams combined.

Well below Spain’s La Liga (€3.3 billion) and a fraction of England’s Premier League (€5.2 billion). This highlights a significant potential for growth under US leadership.

However, US companies can capitalize on a range of opportunities beyond team ownership. Cutting-edge products and services are in high demand. Including those related to digital services (AI, blockchain data management & mining), sports marketing, fan engagement strategies, stadium development, design, and even video games.

Italian teams significantly lag behind their European counterparts in fan engagement. While powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, and Real Madrid boast 100–150 million followers each, Inter Milan, a top Italian team, only has 55 million globally.

Companies From North America Increasingly Interested In Serie A

This highlights a clear area where US expertise in fan-base management can significantly boost Italian teams’ reach and value. With a valuation of only $1 billion (Forbes), Inter Milan is a prime example. The Nerazzurri are deemed at just a fifth of Manchester City’s value.

In addition, football investments are seen as an entry point to acquire and/or participate in other Italian sectors such as tourism, infrastructures, and mega sports events. Sectors where Italy is lagging behind.

A good example is AC Milan (which is owned by US Investment Fund Red Bird) partnership with Italian luxury ski resorts of Cortina to co-host the 2026 Winter Olympic games. These games are expected to generate about $2.5 billion in investment, providing many lucrative opportunities for US companies.

Saudi Arabia finally, is a later comer to football investments. Crown Princes Mohammed Bin Salman envisions football to account for 2–3 percent of national GDP soon.

To make this happen, and with the financial banking of the $776 billion Public Investment Fund (the national sovereign fund), Saudi Arabia is going on a shopping spree. In the summer of 2023 alone, Saudi Pro League (SPL) clubs spent close to $1 billion, acquiring 94 players from Europe’s top leagues.

Three of the biggest names in world’s football, Ronaldo, Benzema, and Neymar are now playing in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, with the likelihood of Saudi hosting the FIFA world cup in 2034, we should expect Saudi acquisitions to expand. Particularly in Italy with Inter Milan and AC Milan as the most likely candidates for an acquisition.

Conclusion: A Brighter Future for Italian Football

Italy’s improving business climate under Prime Minister Meloni is attracting more US and Arab investors.Their capital injections, coupled with new technologies, strategic sponsorship and international business practices, have the potential to revitalize Italian football and its associated industries.