Football is a sport which is treated as a religion by billions around the world. The game is faster, tougher and more technical than ever before. Even minute details can be a huge factor between reaching the finals of a world cup and winning it. The players are more hardworking, athletic, talented, skilful, committed and better in every aspect than before. Even the spending if the world of football has reached an all-time high with billionaire club owners willing to go to great lengths to make sure that their club is doing well in their respective leagues. The play a huge role when it comes to club football as they breathe new life into their clubs through smart investments in players, training facilities, coaching staff and off-the-field marketing and sponsorship. Such investments are sure to have a massive impact on the clubs as within no time the club gets an identity and becomes one of the teams to watch out for.
The richer the clubs history, the easier it is for a new owner to come and invest. He knows that through the sponsors and broadcasting deals, he will be able to make that much money which he will further put into the club to improve it. For understanding the role of owners, we just have to look at the case of English giants Chelsea FC. He bought the club for $400 million in 2003 and within no time changed the landscape of English football. His importance can be shown by the fact that before his purchase of the club, Chelsea FC had only one league title and now, they have four of them. Ever since Roman bought Chelsea, they have won 15 trophies and have ushered in the most successful era in the London club’s history.
Interesting, isn’t it?? Here we have prepared a list which will show you more about these billionaire figures who have invested in the club as owners or shareholders for the success of their clubs.
10. Rinat Akhmetov – $12.8 Billion – Shakhtar Donetsk
Rinat Akhmetov, the son of a coal miner is now a Ukrainian oligarch that is the centre of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. He was the founder and owner of the System Capital Management which got successful investments in several companies in different industries. Ever since he took over the Ukrainian Giants Shakhtar Donetsk in 1996, they have won 8 Ukrainian Premier League titles. He also oversaw the construction of the insanely beautiful home stadium called the Donbass Arena. This stadium was selected as one of the venues of 2012 European Championships.
9. John Fredriksen – $14.5 Billion – Valerenga
Next on the list in John Fredriksen who is oil and shipping magnate who controls the largest fleet of oil tankers in the world. He made a fortune in the 80s when his tankers moved oil during the Iraq-Iran wars. He is an investor in companies like Deep Sea Supply, Golden Ocean Group, Seadrill, Marine Harvest and most importantly the Norwegian Tippeligaen club Valerenga. His investments in Seadrill alone have yielded him more than $400 Million at an annual basis that have enabled him to invest in the club. He was helped the club stand on their feet by absorbing their debt as well as moved the team into a bigger stadium, the Ullevaal Stadion that has a capacity of 22,000.
8. Francois Henri Pinault – $15.5 Million – Stade Rennes
Next on the list is, Francois Henri Pinnault who is a successful businessman and the CEO of Kering, the company that owns Yves St. Laurent, Gucci and more. Kering was started by his father Francois Pinault in 1963 and since then, the company has achieved more and more success. The incredibly growth of his company has helped him acquire the French Ligue 1 team, Stade Rennes. After the high profile divorce with supermodel Linda Evangelista, Pinault married actress Salma Hayek. Pinault is also known to operate Groupe Artemis which is a holding company that manages his family’s investments in insurance, art and wine.
7. Lakshmi Mittal – $16.1 Billion – Queens Park Rangers
On 7th is Indian Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal. He is the head of world’s largest steel producer ArcelorMittal. Despite the economic hardship of his company due to the decrease in demand for steel, he still manages to amass wealth and give his best for the development of his football club Queens Park Rangers who are currently playing in the second division of English Football. His 41% stake in his company ArcelorMittal will surely be boosted by several steel mill development projects currently taking place in India and in the U.S.
6. Paul Allen – $16.3 – Seattle Sounders
Next on the list is Paul Allen. Paul is a co-founder of Microsoft along with another huge name Bill Gates. Paul has also had a string of successful investments with his company Vulcan, Inc. He has invested heavily in professional sports franchises like Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Seahawks and most recently the MLS club Seattle Saunders. Allen is also the owner of CenturyLink field stadium in Seattle where his clubs play their home games. Not only is Allen investing in sports these days, he is also investing significantly in scientific research for AI and brain science.
5. Alisher Usmanov – $19.4 Billion – Arsenal FC
Starting the top 5 countdown is the richest man in Russia, Mr. Alisher Usmanov. He has had some successful investments in mining, steel, telecommunications and media conglomerates. He currently holds majority of shares of Metalloinvest, a company that specializes in the manufacturing of Steel and also sponsors Dynamo Moscow. Usmanov is also a shareholder in English side Arsenal FC. Despite his best efforts, Usmanov was unable to beome the majority shareholder of Arsenal FC. However, that hasn’t reduced his passion for the club one bit as he continues to have keen interest in the success of the club on and off the field.
4. George Soros – $24 Billion – Manchester United
The fourth spot goes to George Soros. He is the head of Soros Fund Management which is one of the most successful hedge funds till date. In the year 1992, Soros made more than $1 Billion in a single day just by short selling the British Pound during the crisis of Black Wednesday. After that, he started investing heavily in football, starting with DC United in 1995. He later went on to acquire a minority share in Manchester United after the company decided to go public in 2012.
3. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan – $34 Billion
Manchester City, Melbourne City, New York City FC Number 3 on the list is Sheikh Mansour who is known as one of the wealthiest men related to the world of football. He took over the English club Manchester City in 2008 and has achieved great success in the limited time he has been their owner. His club have managed to win two English Premier League titles. His ambitions have attracted several high profile stars while he has also invested heavily in the training facilities and youth academy of the club. He is also looking to expand his investments after buying the MLS franchise New York City FC and Australian club Melbourne City.
2. Amancio Ortega – $62.9 Billion – Deportivo De La Coruna
Number two on the list is the Spanish tycoon Amancio Ortega. Ortega recently stepped down as the chairman of fashion conglomerate Inditex which is known to operate in over 5,000 stores spread across 77 countries. It operated under a number of labels including Stradivarius and Zara. This Spanish tycoon is the current owner of the historic club Deportivo de La Coruna. He is highly passionate and enthusiastic for the club. Deportivo used to be a regular in Champions League, however in recent years, have found success hard to come by as they lag behind giants like Barcelona and Real Madrid by a huge margin. Despite his immense wealth, Ortega likes to have a normal and private life while he tries his best to avoid interaction with the media.
1. Carlos Slim Helu – $86.3 Billion – Club Pachua, Club Leon, Real Oviedo
Number one on the list is one of the richest men in the world, Carlos Slim Helu, who is known as the richest owner in the world of football. He has made quite a fortune through investment in his conglomerate Grupo Carso. Helu is also the President and Chief Executive of the Mexican Telecom companies Telmex and America Movil. His company America Movil purchase a stake in Club Leon and Club Pachua, two Mexican clubs while he followed it up with the purchase of Spanish club Real Oviedo in 2012. Being the majority shareholder of the club, Helu has set his sights on the return of Real Oviedo to La Liga after more than a decade of absence from the top tier of Spanish football.
The immense wealth these owners bring to their respective clubs is beyond explainable. More and more billionaires are getting attracted by the allure of football, which has meant that football market is richer and grander than ever before. There was a time when a player worth $1 Million was considered as one of the best in the world and now, players are being sold for 100 times of that. Recently, Manchester United broke the transfer record for most expensive player ever after they purchased Paul Pogba for more than $100 Million. This is an indication that owners are willing to spend big bucks if it means immediate success for their clubs