Yes, I’ve said it before: it’s ‘Top 100 Ranking’ time. Fresh from publishing their Top 100 footballers list last month, English magazine FourFourTwo just released their a list of the Richest players and club owners of the English Premiership, sort of a “2007’s Billionaire’s club” if you will. As the editors eloquently put it, the key message of this year is that “British football is getting richer, and the rich are getting richer“.
The most striking particularity of this list, is not so much the fact that the football business is growing every year (as can be expected), but rather the abyss that separates the earnings of players from those of club owners. Indeed, if it is true some of the players’ salaries can sometimes reach astronomical values (“obscene”, as UK Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe defined them), they absolutely pale in comparison to those of the people writing the paychecks. Indeed, the first player in the Top 100 list (David Beckham of course) is only 45th with a fortune of £112m (â‚¬160m), divided with co-branding wife icon Posh Spice. Peanuts in comparison to the £10.8b (â‚¬15.4b) in the personal fortune of Roman “Scrooge McDuck” Abramovich, patron of Chelsea. Not only that, but only FOURTEEN players make the Top 100.
According to FourFourTwo, investors with a staggering combined value of over £11 billion have become involved in British football for the first time over the last 12 months. Half of the top ten in the Rich List are newcomers to football, and reinforce the attraction of the English Premiership to multi-millionaire businessmen. Also, 8 of them qualify as BILLIONAIRES.
Aside from Abramovich, the newcomers are headed by another Russian, Alisher Usmanov, whose personal fortune is said to be £2.76b and F1 Racing supremo Bernie Ecclestone, said to be worth £2.5b and who took over struggling QPR with Renault team boss Flavio Briatore. Other new entries are Mike Ashley at Newcastle United, Stanley Kroenke at Arsenal, and Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft who bought 42% of Watford.
Other high-profile new entries include Thaksin Shinawatra (16th), who has taken over Manchester City and has a personal fortune of £640m and said to be the 18th richest man in South East Asia, as well as American Tom Hicks (21st), who took over Liverpool with his friend George Gillett (31st), and has a fortune of £500m. The pair bought the Anfield club in a £220m deal pledging a new stadium at Stanley Park.
New TOP 10:
Top 10 New Entries:
Two new players on the list are Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (96th) with a £14m fortune and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo (100th), who props up the list with a bank balance of £12.25m.
Top 10 Players:
FourFourTwo Editor, Hugh Sleight commented: “Our list shows what a magnet the British Premiership and even clubs outside the Premiership have become to wealthy foreign businessmen. It remains a mystery why British businessmen do not seem as interested in investing in our clubs. While there is a current debate about the wages of players being too high this list proves beyond doubt that there is buckets full of money floating about in football and you have to spend big money to get the best and stand a chance of winning trophies.”
So what do you think? Are we right in defining these large sums of money “obscene” (as labeled by the UK Sports Minister), or are we just a teeny bit jealous in the end? For those of you who are interested, have a look at my 2007-08 Player Salaries of Serie A article.
Marco Pantanella writes for the mCalcio blog