Football and family businesses

Photo: Action Images
Photo: Action Images

Family businesses are never too far away from the world’s most popular sport. If family businesses aren’t trying to buy a branded football team, then they are trying to sell one – and some are even resisting them.

This week was no exception. The French team FC Sochaux-Montbeliard, set up by the Peugeot family in 1928 and currently in Ligue 2 of the French football league is being courted by a Hong Kong electrical business called Tech Pro Technology Development.

According to reports, the Hong Kong company has bid €7m for Sochaux, which doesn’t appear much for a team with its illustrious heritage.

Established by Jean-Pierre Peugeot, a director at the eponymous carmaker, the football team was originally comprised entirely of workers from the local Peugeot factory. The team’s emblem includes Peugeot’s iconic lion symbol. An early advocate of professionalism in football, Jean-Pierre led the team to some success in the earlier years of its existence. But in recent years success has eluded the football club, and it was relegated last year.

Peugeot has acknowledged the offer but hasn’t said whether it would be accepted. But the French carmaker has been cutting costs to restore profitability in recent months – and as tragic as it might be, the sale of Sochaux might just suit the Peugeot’s current business strategy.

This week it was also revealed that a Thai businessman called Bee Taechaubol has made a bid for AC Milan, controlled by the Berlusconi family. Silvio Berlusconi has said the team’s not for sale. But AC Milan isn’t the team it was when it won the Champions League in 2007 – nor, some would argue is Berlusconi is the man he use to be when he was prime minister of Italy.

If some family businesses are selling football sides, others are challenging them. This week it also emerged that a family business in London is taking one of the capital’s biggest football clubs to the high court over plans to build a new stadium. Archway Steel Metal Works, which is 50 years old and now run by the second generation, is challenging a compulsory purchase order that would force them to make way for a new stadium complex being planned by Tottenham Hotspur.

The Josif family claim they have received bomb threats and last November the firm’s premises was gutted by a fire. Josif Josif, the son of the founder, said at the time: “People were calling us and threatening us and we were receiving bomb threats and that started a few months ago, but we don’t know if that’s got anything to do with it [the building of the new stadium].”

Archway Steel says it’s a “wonderfully old-fashioned family business” producing metal items for the catering and hospitality industry.

The north London football club is owned by Joe Lewis, one of the wealthiest UK businessmen, through his investment company ENIC.