Are Coventry Set to Follow Manchester United, Liverpool Under American Rule?

Will Tidey@willtideySenior Manager, GlobalMay 16, 2013

According to the Coventry Telegraph, millionaire American businessman Preston Haskell IV has bid to buy financially stricken Coventry City.

The news comes ahead of an expected announcement on Thursday night, which will see administrators outline the League One club's dire situation. 

This as per the Coventry Telegraph, report:

Suspended Sky Blues life president Joe Elliott and former vice chairman Gary Hoffman have made bids on behalf of the property tycoon (Haskell) ahead of tonight’s disclosure of the administrator’s findings.

In an interview with local BBC radio, Elliot said Haskell's attempt to buy Coventry has been a long time in the planning and should be viewed as "extremely serious." The proposed bid, if accepted, would also see Haskell's group take a 50 percent share of City's Ricoh Arena stadium.

Coventry could use saving.

With reported debts in the region of £60 million (BBC Sport), the midlands club have been in dispute with the company who own their stadium, Arena Coventry Ltd, and have been facing the possibility they might have to leave the city they take their name from.

Should this bid be successful and all aspects meet the Football League's due diligence requirements, Coventry fans would have renewed optimism about the club's future. 


Why Would Haskell IV Be Interested? 

Coventry have suffered a monumental fall from grace over the last decade or so and now find themselves a jobbing midtable team in English football's third tier. But it wasn't always thus.

Having reached the top flight in 1967, they stayed firm—through the dawn of the Premier League era—for 34 straight years until being relegated in the 2000-01 season. Their most famous day came on May 16, 1987, when they beat Tottenham in a memorable FA Cup Final (exactly 26 years ago Thursday, as pointed out by the BBC report).

During their time rubbing shoulders with clubs like Spurs, Manchester United and Liverpool, Coventry drew regular crowds around the 20,000 mark. Those numbers have slipped with their fall from grace, but Haskell IV clearly sees potential in bringing them back.

Coventry were formed way back in 1883. They have a grand tradition and a brand most football fans will be familiar with. The term "sleeping giant" is bandied around freely, but there's certainly potential for growth were City are concerned.


Who is Haskell IV?

BBC Sport have put together a quick reference guide to the man who would be Coventry's new owner in its report. An Economics graduate from USC, he is the son of billionaire Preston Haskell III, who owns a share of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team.

Haskell III is the founder of The Haskell Company, a wildly successful construction firm in the U.S. whose website boasts revenues of $590 million and reportedly has quite the flair for entertaining.

A Time Life report from 2011 reads, "Texan billionaire Preston Haskell has gained a reputation over the past few years for throwing the most lavish New Year's Eve parties the country has ever seen."

His son Haskell IV has been living and working in Moscow, Russia for the last 20 years. This Bloomberg profile speaks of his diverse business interests, which include him being the founder of Office Solutions and co-owner of a property business in Moscow called Forum Properties.

Whatever he's up to, it's clearly bringing in the dollars. Even if it wasn't, his father could probably lend him a few.

Before the Coventry story emerged, Haskell III reportedly showed interest in buying another club in financial disarray, Leeds United (The Times).


American Owners in English Football

If the deal goes through, Haskell IV will join a host of other American owners who are banking on English football clubs.

There are currently five Premier League teams under American majority rule—Manchester United (the Glazers), Liverpool (John Henry), Arsenal (Stan Kroenke), Aston Villa (Randy Lerner) and Sunderland (Ellis Short).

The implication here is that owning an English football club with global reach makes for an attractive addition to a portfolio for the American businessman. The downside for U.S. soccer is that the money being poured by these men into teams abroad is not being spent on teams at home in the MLS.

Coventry fans won't care about that. They just want their club back where they think it belongs. Haskell IV might well have the capacity to make that happen.


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