The English Premier League is the playground for the rich and famous, footballers and managers alike. The same can be said for off the pitch with many foreign businessmen and women looking to invest millions of pounds in English football clubs. As a matter of fact, the English Premier League is not looking so English anymore with fourteen of the twenty Premier League clubs having foreign ownership – that’s one in three of the 92 Premier and Football League Clubs which have substantial ownership overseas. Only a handful of clubs such as Burnley, Middlesbrough, Stoke, Tottenham, West Brom and West Ham have gone against the grain. Crystal Palace is part-owned by Englishman Steve Parish, but American duo Joshua Harris and David Blitzer have taken a sizeable chunk of the south London club. The Welsh side, Swansea, was the latest club to follow suit having been acquired by Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan, who also hail from the US, for a £110 million deal which was ratified by the Premier League just last summer. In our infographic, we shed some light upon the mysterious tycoons behind some of the biggest teams in football, and we reveal just how much they’ve invested in getting to where they are today.
Teams like Chelsea, Manchester City and Leicester have benefited from being taken over by foreign powers. Russia’s Roman Abramovich, Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi and Bangkok-based duty-free magnate Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha have all splashed the cash over the years in purchasing world-class stars since taking over their respective clubs. Leicester have even risen out of the depths of the Championship and into the Champions League since the Thai businessman bought the club back in August 2010. They were even crowned winners of the prestigious Premier League last season after a glorious campaign. Manchester City has also been transformed into global heavyweights after falling into the Sheikh’s lap of luxury.
The Glazer family have owned Manchester United since May 2005. The Glazer’s had had their eyes on the club for a while; they first made a move for the Red Devils in 2003 by purchasing shares, and only two years later did they gain full control. The club’s fan base had been in an uproar over the American family’s takeover and protested incessantly. Their wealth is founded on real estate, sports team ownership and retail. They also own the American football franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How much do you think they invested in the Premier League titans?
Liverpool’s owner, John W. Henry, is also a top investor in the league who took over the reins of this English squad in 2011. He is a prolific franchise owner of the Fenway Sports Group in the US. He also owns both the Boston Globe newspaper and the leading professional baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. He spent a fortune on acquiring the Liverpudlian club and recently came under fire for not strengthening his squad during the January transfer window. Will this affect the team’s performance during the rest of the season?
David Sullivan, together with his partner in crime (literally), David Gold, are the big bosses behind West Ham United. Both have interesting backgrounds, to say the least; the former is an ex-pornographer who made his fortune from the adult industry, and the latter is the son of an East End criminal who invested in women’s lingerie. They fly the flag for Britain as two of the few remaining British owners in the top flight. But their reign has not been without controversy. West Ham’s supporters felt a sense of cultural loss when their owners cut a deal to turn Upton Park into luxury apartments while luring them to a wholly unsuitable new home. How much is their 50-50 investment worth? And what is the total value of both their empires?
Of course, a list of top investors wouldn’t be complete without Roman Abramovich, the most notorious owner in British sport. The shrewd businessman who owns the London-based club, Chelsea, was once a street-trader who accumulated an astronomical fortune from the oil, steel and mining industries in his native land Russia. His acquisition of Chelsea in 2003 forever changed the landscape of English football and has gone on to finance the greatest stretch of success in the club’s history.
This is just the tip of the iceberg as there are a couple more moguls who have invested bucket loads into other English clubs like Arsenal, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion. Check out our infographic below to find out who they are and just how much they’ve invested into their respective clubs. Moreover, with the season drawing to an end, which of these magnates will watch their team lift that esteemed piece of silverware? Go on, place your bets!