foreign investment

Richest foreign owners in England

October 7, 2009
By Jon Carter

Now that foreign ownership in the English game has made an impact on over half of the top flight clubs, we look at the richest owners around, with the help of the 2009 FourFourTwo.com Rich List.

GettyImagesQPR are the richest side around with Briatore and Mittal (R).

1. In top spot, QPR shareholder Lakshmi Mittal is the richest man in British football. The London-based Indian steel magnate, who owns a 20% stake in the Loftus Road club, is worth an estimated £18.4 billion, although he has not had the same impact on the club as some of his rivals. Mittal has largely taken a back seat to owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone since investing in QPR in December 2007, but he would appear the real financial power at the club.

2. Under Mittal is Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, who has a fortune of £17 billion. In 2008 the Abu-Dhabi based billionaire launched probably the most high profile takeover in recent years and has spent over £200 million on the City side over the past twelve months, bringing in the likes of Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor. With designs on the 'top four', City have an owner willing to spend to take them to the very top.

3. Third is Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich with £7.8 billion - an increase of £800 million on his position last year. That rise is more than the Russian's total outlay at Stamford Bridge since his takeover in 2003; but he will forever be remembered for his impact on the Premier League, helping Chelsea to their first title in 50 years in 2004. Six managers in five years have felt his wrath, but Abramovich still has his eyes on the Champions League prize.

4. Arsenal have seen American shareholder Stan Kroenke (£2.709 billion) improve his stake to 28.7% in recent weeks, 1.2% short of the mark that triggers a mandatory takeover bid. In 2000, he became full owner of both the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche, so he loves his sports; but Gunners fans will worry about his intentions.

5. Not the most popular of owners, as the takeover involved so much debt, but the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United, are worth £1.5 billion. Led by Malcolm, who is also in control of NFL side the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, United have not lacked spending power over the years and have enjoyed some of the greatest success in their history under the American.

6. The other major piece to the Arsenal puzzle is Alisher Usmanov, whose fortune stands at £1.3 billion. A Russian based billionaire of Uzbek origin, Usmanov bought the stake in the club owned by former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein for £75 million in 2007. He is also head of the 'Red and White Holdings' vehicle that counts Dein as one of its backers.

7. Aston Villa are lucky enough to have one of the best foreign owners in the league, as American Randy Lerner (£800 million) has hardly been in the news at all. Lerner took over the club in 2006 and has allowed manager Martin O'Neill to do his job with the minimum of involvement, bar writing a few cheques for new players.

8. It's fair to say that Fulham's Mohammed al-Fayed has had other things on his mind in recent years, but the last time he flashed much of his £650 million fortune was when he backed former manager Lawrie Sanchez to the tune of £20 million, which didn't work out so well.

9. If only that was the case for Tom Hicks and fellow countryman George Gillett at Liverpool. They may have £500 million each at their disposal, but their partnership has seen numerous stories coming out of Anfield. The bottom line is that Liverpool had to sell-to-buy this summer and no team is going to improve with that kind of philosophy behind them.

10. Japanese businessman Yasuaki Kagami bought a 20% stake in Plymouth Argyle in 2008, and is worth around £42 million. He is the sole owner of the $60 million-a-year K&K Shonan Management Corporation, based in Tokyo, but the Pilgrims are third from bottom in the Championship.

• For the full list of players, managers, and new Birmingham owner Carson Yeung (£30 million), click here.