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Expanded horizons - The Premier League has shown a global outlook can improve performance

28/11/2013

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Fund Manager, Equity Value

The number of foreign-born footballers plying their trade in England can be an emotive issue, not least when it comes to debating the health of the national team. Even so, it would be tough to make the case that playing standards across England’s foremost division have suffered.

Clearly money has been a huge factor here, with the sums paid for the right to televise top-level matches sky-rocketing – pun intended. Back in 1988, for example, ITV’s forerunner ltv signed a four-year deal for the grand total of £44m. When the Premier League was created in 1992, however, the then recently launched Sky upped the ante significantly, striking a five-year deal worth £304m.

These newfound financial resources enabled teams to go out and buy players from almost anywhere. Rather than fishing in a pool that was more or less limited to the British Isles, the whole world – to mix our seafood metaphors – was their oyster. They could afford to seek out the crème de la crème from the 200-plus countries around the globe where football is played.

WHen the 1992/93 season kicked off, just 11 players came from outside the UK and Ireland. At the start of the current season, some two-thirds of premier league players were foreign nationals, with 61 nations from around the world represented among the division’s 20 teams. What is more, the last three decades have been something of a virtuous circle.

English football’s wealth helped it to attract talented players from around the globe. competition for places grew tougher, the quality of individuals, teams and matches improved and, as a consequence, the Premier League is now watched by more than 600 million people in more than 200 countries. This popularity means total television rights will now total more than £3bn for this season and next.

When the Premier League expanded its horizons, it increased its chances of success so is there perhaps an analogy to be drawn here with global investing? Here on The Value Perspective, we believe so. After all, if one excludes investment trusts, UK-focused investors are fishing in a pool of some 440 companies. Meanwhile their global counterparts can choose from tens of thousands of businesses.

Clearly you need an appropriate system to help you pick out the best of what is on offer – after all, not every foreign player signed to the Premier League has been an unalloyed success – and there are no prizes for guessing what approach The Value Perspective favours. nevertheless, in investment as in football, expanded horizons open up the prospect of greater opportunities and the potential for significantly improved performance.

Author

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Fund Manager, Equity Value

I joined Schroders in 2000 as an equity analyst with a focus on construction and building materials.  In 2006, Nick Kirrage and I took over management of a fund that seeks to identify and exploit deeply out of favour investment opportunities. In 2010, Nick and I also took over management of the team's flagship UK value fund seeking to offer income and capital growth.

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