Reports from the Mirror this week have linked energy drink giants Red Bull with a move for a Premier League team with the aim of taking them to the Champions League. The company already owns football teams in the USA, Germany, Austria, Brazil, and Ghana, in addition to owning several ice hockey and Formula One franchises.
Ralph Rangnick, the Sporting director at RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg, has been tasked with finding an English club suitable for a takeover, and it now seems likely it will be a Premier League club. Clubs such as Liverpool and Everton are considered top contenders for the energy drink firm because it wouldn’t take them long to reach the Champions League level. Although investing in a Championship side and promoting them to England’s top flight was also a possibility, Red Bull did not seem interested, with the a source close to the company claiming that fortunes could be spent without making any progress in the lower levels of Football League.
The ‘insider’ that first reported on the story said that the firm intend to buy a Premier League team in order to expand their reach across Europe, and having them play in the Champions League would lead to an even higher exposure of their products, with the company’s influence clearly visible throughout every aspect of the New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Salzburg, Red Bull Brasil, Red Bull Leipzig, and Red Bull Ghana. Here is what the source told Mirror:
“Red Bull want a team to take into the Champions League. It is the only market they have not reached yet. Ideally this would be in the London area, but both Everton and Liverpool interest them too because it would not take much to get them to that level.”
A takeover from the company would involve a complete re-branding for the club involved. The name ‘Red Bull’ would ensue on their current name, and they would take on the traditional jerseys used by other clubs owned by Red Bull. For the traditionalists, these massive changes to their club would be difficult to take. This occurred in Salzburg when Red Bull took over SV Austria Salzburg, where traditional fans of the club set up their own movement in resistance to the changes made by Red Bull. The move ultimately paved the way for two fan groups: the ‘Red-Whites’ who stuck by Red Bull Salzburg in support of the re-branded club, and the ‘Violets,’ who broke away to create a new SV Austria Salzburg.
It is the balance of success vs traditionalism. In the world of modern football, there is no room for constant traditionalism. Cardiff City are the prime example of that; their fans were forced to dump their ties with blue for red with a promise of Premier League football. This promise was delivered, but perhaps at the expense of the club’s dignity. Football is about much more than success, particularly in the English game. The traditional rivalries, the prominent colors, and the working class roots are what bind English football. These move by foreign owners, including Red Bull, are a huge threat to the roots of the English game. While success is good and is ultimately the aim of any sport, the traditionalism football holds is much more important than any Champions League place.
If Red Bull did take over an English club, in what sense would they be the same club as they were before? They would be identical to every other Red Bull club, and if they didn’t deliver Champions League football, then the whole move would be considered an absolute failure. Thankfully, a move from Red Bull doesn’t seem to be going ahead any time soon according to Red Bull F1 principal Christian Horner:
“They have got their own team in Salzburg, they have another one in Germany, so I am not sure they would want to take another one on at the moment, but with Red Bull, you never know.”
If these reports end up being true, it will be only a matter of time before the billionare firm advance to the Premier League, but whatever club goes ahead with an agreement for a Red Bull takeover would arguably lose their traditional support. However, if it delivered them success and money, Red Bull would not care if they had ripped away the club’s traditional values.