Which Of These 7 Football Clubs Are Considered Oil Clubs? (Deep Dive)

Football goes beyond the players on the pitch or the supporting fans in the stands. This sport, like any other, is also a business run entity. Clubs need funding for day-to-day affairs and much more. 

And that is where investments come in. You might have heard about an oil club before. In this article we will explain what it means to be an Oil club  

What is an oil club in football?

 An Oil club is simply a football club which belongs to an investor or investors with major holdings in Oil. By extension, this means any source of investment from the owners will come from profit in their prior Oil business. 

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This includes several state-backed clubs in football and also conglomerates with Oil companies. With Oil being one of the planet’s major resources, these investors have quite healthy financials and don’t need to break the bank to buy clubs and properly invest in talents, infrastructure and more.

Is PSG an oil club?

Paris Saint Germain is an oil club. Since its founding in 1970, the club has competed in the French Ligue 1, which they have been champions for a total of 10 times and have won 8 of the last 10 league titles. Although the club had been dotted with success over the years, they fell into hard times. 

In 1991, French media giants, Canal+, completed a takeover of PSG and successfully orchestrated a golden age for the club. However, things turned sour in 2003 when the club’s on-field performances and financial mismanagement became a serious problem. In 2006, Canal+ sold the club to Colony Capital

However, the issues at the Parc des Princes persisted and Paris Saint Germain became a bottom half team in the league and desperately fought to stave off the doom of relegation season after season. Just then, the Emir of Qatar’s holding company, Qatar Sports Investment, bought the club from Colony Capital and spun Parisian fortunes around.  

PSG beat Sochaux on the last matchday to avoid relegation in 2008.

Across the next two summer windows, the Qatari era lurched forward with the acquisition of several players that would become greats of the Parisian club, including:

  • Blaise Matuidi
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic 
  • Thiago Silva
  • Marco Verrati 

Legendary manager, Carlo Ancelotti, was also attracted to the new project and led the club to the 2012/13 Ligue 1 title, which would be the club’s first title in 19 years. 

The 2012/13 league title marked PSG’s first success of the golden Qatari era 

The club’s management, led by the President of the QSI, Nasser El-Kalefi has continued to make big name signings to retain the club’s dominance of French football with the acquisition of  superstars like Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Jr.

Below is a comparison of the club’s league performance before and after the Qatari Investment:

SeasonLeague PositionOwners
09/10ThirteenthColony Capital
10/11FourthColony Capital
11/12SecondQatar Sports Investment
12/13FirstQatar Sports Investment
13/14FirstQatar Sports Investment

Paris Saint Germain have also been prominent in the UEFA Champions League since the Qatari takeover and finished the 2020 edition as runners-up. However, their only two European titles came far before the Qatari era. 


Qatari Sports Investment is a holding company with interest in sports, leisure and entertainment. The company is owned by the Emir of Qatar, who has major holdings in Oil investments. By definition, PSG is an oil club.

Is Manchester United an oil club?

Manchester United is not an oil club. The Red Devils were started in the 19th century by railway workers as the Newton Heath LYR Football Club. However, they have come a long way from competing in the regional Lancashire Combination and have become one of the sport’s top clubs.

In the beginning, the club was mainly funded by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, the club, who made the club a limited company and sold shares to local supporters for £1. However, Manchester United’s majority ownership would pass to private hands by 1902 to save the club from bankruptcy. It has since changed hands, in all forms of ease.

By 2005, the Glazers, the current owners, purchased the majority of the club’s equity (28.7%) for a sum of approximately $1.5 billion. However, the Glazer takeover was funded by loans which meant Manchester United had instantly become indebted by amounts up to £540 million.  

The Glazers have maintained ownership of the club to date. Although it has been a rough ride for all parties involved, the Glazer era has brought a healthy dose of success to the club. During this period, the owners secured many signings for the club’s legendary manager, Alex Ferguson and they won several titles including:

  • 2007/08 Champions League title 
  • Five Premier League Titles
  • One FA Cup
  • Four EFL Trophies
  • 2016/17 UEFA Europa League
  • Six Community Shield Trophies
  • 2008 FIFA Club World Cup

However, the question of Manchester United being an Oil club has never arisen. The Glazers have a very diverse investment portfolio which includes food packaging and food supplies, broadcasting, health care, property, and banking. 

Although the Glazers are at the helm of the Zapata Corporation, an Oil & gas company, there has been a divestment in the company’s involvement with Oil. Instead, focus has been turned to other sectors. Therefore, it is certain that Manchester United do not receive funds from any Oil profits and are not an oil club.

You can find out why there are 2 clubs in Manchester in this article here.

Is Liverpool an oil club?

Liverpool is not an oil club. As one of the best clubs in English football, Liverpool has enjoyed prolonged periods of success on one hand and painful droughts on the other. 

The club’s management switched hands over the years with several prominent Britons holding the position of chairman. However, the current ownership came into being after Fenway Sports Group acquired the club in 2010. Liverpool joined other teams in the lineup of Fenway’s acquisitions across different sports, including:

  • Boston Red Sox (Major League Baseball)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (National Hockey League)
  • Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing (NASCAR racing)

In fact, celebrities like Lebron James are involved with the corporation as partners. Since the Fenway era began, Liverpool has won several titles including:

  • 2018/19 UEFA Champions League
  • 2019/20 Premier League
  • 1 FA Cup 
  • 2 EFL Cups
  • 1 Community Shield
  • 2 UEFA Supercup

Liverpool is not an Oil club because they are not owned by Oil-based investors. Instead, the owners are deeply rooted in the business of sports and leisure. However, the non-oil club status might not stand for much longer with recent rumors of the club’s sale and potential Oil suitors lying in wait.

Is Chelsea an oil club?

Like many of the top English clubs, Chelsea had a glorious era in the past century before falling into the cracks of mismanagement and relegation doom. After an underwhelming beginning to top-flight football, the Blues finally won their first league title in 1955. The years that followed were incredibly successful for the faithful of Stamford Bridge with an unprecedented run of trophies.

However, the era soon took a dark turn which came in the form of ambitious projects that harmed the club’s long term health. The management aimed to redevelop the Stamford Bridge stadium which put great strain on the finances leading to an exodus of star players and wide dissent from the fans.

During this tumultuous period, Kevin Bates acquired a controlling stake in the club for £1 in 1982 and the Stamford Bridge freehold was now owned by property developers. Fortunately, the Blues were able to rally on the pitch and secured promotion to top-flight football after winning the Second Division title in 1984. However, Chelsea’s new high only lasted a couple years until their relegation in 1988.

In the next decade, the Blues saw their fortunes revitalized after Kevin Bates reunited the club with its stadium freehold and secured a £26 million loan to invest in new players & infrastructure. Ruud Gullit joined the side as a Player-manager in 1996 and led them to the 1997 FA Cup, their first silverware triumph since 1971. 

Gullit was then replaced by Gianlucca Vialli who led the club through their first successful era in ages. Vialli engineered a haul of silverware glory for the Blues, including:

  • 1997/98 League Cup
  • 1997/98 UEFA Cup WInners cup
  • 1998 UEFA super cup
  • 1999/00 FA Cup

However, despite the club’s resurgence on the battlefield, the ship was going down behind the scenes. Another dark era of financial woes loomed ahead for the Blues.

Kevin Bates finally sold the club in June 2003 for £60 million to Russian Oligarch, Roman Abrahamovich who assumed responsibility for the club’s £80 million debt. 

Abrahamovich quickly moved to invest in his new team by acquiring top players for up to £100 million. However, the man in charge, Claudio Ranieri, did not lead the team to any silverware that season. 

The next season, Jose Mourinho replaced the Italian and led the Blues to their first league title since 1955. Since then Chelsea has witnessed their most successful decades of football, with titles including:

  •  2 UEFA Champions Leagues
  • 2 UEFA Europa Leagues
  • 5 Premier Leagues
  • 5 FA Cups
  • 3 EFL Cups
  • 2 Community Shields
  • 1 UEFA Super Cup
  • 1 Club World Cup

By the time Roman Abrahamovich took over the club, Chelsea could be considered an Oil club since the owner had major investments in oil when acquired the club. In 2005, Abrahamovich sold his oil company to the Russian government for $13 billion which provided funds for his new ventures and an investment base for Chelsea.   

Although Chelsea has exited the Abrahamovich era with the club’s sale to the ownership group led by Todd Boehly, majority of their success came from the time period when an Oil-based investor funded the club. Therefore, Chelsea can be concluded to be an Oil club

Is Arsenal an oil club?

Like their Blue London neighbours, Arsenal did not have the best of starts at the foundation. The club was relegated from the First Division in 1913 and would remain in the Second Division for five years until they were promoted to the First Division in 1919.


Arsenal has not been relegated since then. The Gunners hold the record for longest First Division tenure (103 years) in England.

The club’s fortunes brightened under the leadership of Herbert Chapman who led the club to the 1930 FA Cup,which was their first national trophy. Afterwards, two league titles followed in the Chapman era until his death in 1934. However, Arsenal continued their dominance winning the league three league titles and one FA Cup within the next four years.

World War II began in 1938 and so the football league was suspended for seven years. Arsenal emerged triumphant in the first season after the league hiatus which equalled the Champions of England record and later broke the record with their 1953 triumph. 

For the initial periods after the war, the Gunners were doing great. However, the war had taken a toll on the club as Arsenal had the most players killed during the conflict. Furthermore, debt from reconstructing parts of the stadium put them in a precarious financial condition.

Over the years, Arsenal’s ownership has been in the hands of prominent Englishmen including Sir Samuel Hill-Wood and Sir Bracewell Smith, the Lord Mayor of London. During the club’s heavy downturn, David Dein purchased the shares of Peter Hill-Wood, Samuel’s descendant, for £292,000 from Peter Hill-Wood. Dein’s purchase in 1983 was described as a crazy investment. 

However, David Dein made an incredible turning impact on the club and the Premier League in general, where he ushered in one of their most successful eras. Under Dein’s ownership, Arsenal became home to Managers like Arsene Wneger and George Graham. This was a long-awaited era of success, which saw the Gunners win several titles including:

  • 5 Premier League titles
  • 5 FA Cups
  • 5 Community Shield
  • 2 EFL Cups
  • 1 European Cup Winners Cup

David Dein sold some of his shares to London Diamond dealer, Danny Fizsman, and a further 9.9% stake to ITV Plc. In 2007, American Sports mogul, Stan Kreonke, bought the ITV Plc shares and later incorporated some of Danny Fizsman’s shares for a total of 20.5% equity.

Kroenke later became the sole owner in 2018 after buying out the rest of the shares. He faced stiff competition from  Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and London-based financier Farhad Moshiri who owned a similar amount of shares for many years until he achieved the takeover.

Stan Kroenke has no background in oil investments but has instead made his wealth through real estate and sports teams. Today Arsenal is part of the Kroenke Sports group, which includes:

  • Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
  • Denver Nuggets (Basketball)
  • Colorado Avalanche (Ice Hockey)
  • Colorado Rapids (MLS Soccer)
  • Colorado Mammoth (Box Lacrosse)
  • Los Angeles Gladiators (E-sports)

Therefore, Arsenal is not an oil club.

Is Tottenham an oil club?

Tottenahm Hotspur has had a long history full of triumphs, windy twists, and potholes. In 1882, the club was founded by schoolboys and nineteen years later, it became the first club outside the top division to win the FA Cup.

By the end of the 1960-61 season, Spurs also became the first British club to achieve a domestic double in the 20th century. A couple years later, Tottenham became the first British club to win a UEFA competition after demolishing Atletico Madrid in the final of the UEFA Cup WInners Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur also won the first ever UEFA Cup, now known as the UEFA Europa League.

At the beginning, Tottenham became a limited liability company for the purpose of raising funds. Many shares were purchased and several families ended up with a significant amount. These families later became the major stakeholders of the club. 

In 1982, a fan named Irving Scholar bought 25% of the club for 600,000 and gained control of Tottenham’s affairs. He successfully floated the club on the stock market and made Spurs the first sports company to go public with over 3.8 million shares sold. Eventually, financial woes led to the acquisition of a major stake in the club by Alan Sugar in 1991.

British Billionaire, Joe Lewis, began acquiring the club in 2001 and completed his private ownership in 2012 when Tottenham was taken off the stock market. Lewis’ ENIC International Ltd is the holding company of Tottenham and the club’s executive chairman is Lewis’ longtime business partner, Daniel Levy.

Tottenham has only lifted the 2008 Carling cup in the Joe Lewis era.

Joe Lewis has no background in Oil. Therefore, Tottenham Hotspur is not an Oil club since the North London club is not funded by oil-based investors. 

Is Real Madrid an oil club?

 Real Madrid is the world’s most valuable football club (worth $5.1 billion) and is the second highest earning football club in the world. Besides its impeccable financial standing, Real Madrid is widely regarded as the greatest European club due to their many records, including:

  • 14 UEFA Champions League titles  
  • 21 European trophies 
  • Five UEFA Super Cup
  • Seven Club World Championships
  • 35 La Liga titles

Real Madrid are the current champions of Europe and Spain

At its foundation, the club was engineered by academics and students of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, who departed the former club, Sky Football, to form Madrid FC in 1902. The club’s founders held a view that football should be accessible to every member of the public as recreation and charged a monthly membership fee of two pesetas.

Over the long 120 years, Real Madrid has retained its structure where the club is essentially controlled by a body of club members known as Socios who pay a yearly fee of patronage and direct the club’s affairs by electing the 2,000-person assembly. 

Members of the General Assembly serve four year terms. This elected assembly is entirely composed of Socios and fulfills several roles in the club, including:

  • Approving the yearly budget
  • Sanctioning the President
  • Authorizing loans

However, all Socios vote in the general Presidential elections which are held every four years. 

To be eligible for the presidential elections, each candidate must have been a Socio for at least 20 years. Furthermore, each candidate must be a citizen of Spain and hold a significant amount of funds for surety in case of financial mismanagement. 

Real Madrid is directed by over 60,000 socios. To become a socio you have to gain approval from two senior Socios and join a long waiting list. Afterwards, you will pay an annual membership fee. Perks of the membership includes:

  • Subsidised ticket fees
  • Right to vote in club affairs
  • Special events and magazines, and more.

Although the Socio fees do not form a significant portion of club revenue, the management of the club’s finances is designed to be airtight and overseen by the socios approval. 

Real Madrid is not owned by any individual or corporation but instead by the fans. Thus, the club cannot be called an Oil club but in fact the direct opposite. Other clubs who use the Club member model are:

  • Barcelona
  • Athletic Bilbao
  • Borussia Dortmund
  • Penarol
  • Flamengo 
  • Panathinaikos

All Argentine clubs follow this model including Boca Junior, Argentinos Junior, etc.


Football has several terms and slurs. An Oil club is simply a club that is funded by Oil-based investors. In other words, the club benefits directly from Oil profits. Oil clubs get an upper hand in the financial play and can invest in the brightest talents and great infrastructure. 

Depending on what side you are on, some fans see it as unfair and others see it as beneficial for football’s competitiveness. However, it is safe to say that Oil clubs will keep multiplying since there are several Oil-based football investments on the horizon.

If you’re looking to buy the latest football merchandise from your favourite club, you can check out the latest deals at Kitbag.

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