Does big money mean better football? The recent takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund who have an asset base of over $500 billion shook the premier league and by extension European football like none before it. The English Premier League remains the most powerful league in the world with an estimated 12.3 million audience per game. The entry of big money, including billionaires with more political than financial interest into the league is viewed by many as detrimental. Clubs still need big money to invest in the best facilities and employ the best personnel. Sadly, the financial success of most of these billionaires is not extended into the clubs they own.
With an asset base of over $500 billion, the famous Saudi Public Investment Fund is the largest investment fund in the world. The fund is believed to be under the control of the Saudi Royal Family led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Himself. The crimes of the family soon became the crimes of Newcastle FC when the fund took over with media and activists in the UK petitioning the government to stop the takeover. By the time the takeover was completed, Newcastle which faced relegation spent a record £100 million in the 2022 January transfer window which might just be the reason why they stay up. The club is expected to become one of the biggest spenders in transfer markets and possibly challenge the title in the near future.
This is another club whose deep-pocketed owners have transformed making them nearly Invincibles winning 13 domestic trophies since the City Group which is owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group took control of the club. They managed to attract some of the best players in the world including the Belgium captain Vincent Kompany, Yaya Touré, Kevin De Bruyne and Kun Aguero. They are never under any pressure to sell their best players to keep going and with $20 billion rich owners, Manchester City doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. The group has since taken over other major football clubs around the world including New York City FC and Mumbai FC.
The Invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army for a second time has led to sweeping sanctions by western countries against Russian Oligarchs and people closely linked to Vladimir Putin. Despite $15 billion rich Roman Abramovich having sold his stake in the Russian gas company Gazprom, he is still believed to have links to Putin and therefore was mentioned directly in the UK parliament as one of those facing sanctions. He has still overseen the transformation of Chelsea FC since taking over in 2003 with continued investment in the best squad that has seen the club win two UEFA Champions League Titles, the FIFA Club Football Cup and more than 12 domestic cups. He is one of the few billionaire owners in the premier league who is really concerned with how the club performs.
Shahid Khan has one of the most interesting rags to riches stories of any American billionaire. The owner of Flex-N-Gate has since diversified into sports clubs and now owns the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguas as well as the All Elite Wrestling club in the US. He is worth an estimated $9 billion and still going. Fulham, on the other hand, hasn’t had it easy since he took over and he had to apologize to the fans in 2019 after Fulham was relegated to the Championship. He promised to invest more in the squad and help the club play in the Premier League in future.
Since taking over Aston Villa, the NSWE Group has invested over $300 million and more is bound to come. The company is owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris and his American counterpart Wes Edens who are jointly worth over $9 billion. The new owners earned Aston Villa’s promotion to the Prem and have continued to invest in better training facilities and staff including a near full reshuffle of the squad after the club was promoted to the premier league. The two are considered one of the best owners of any club in England with the level of concern they show considering the previous owners only sold the club after two years of fan protests.
The Srivaddhanaprabha Family owns the King Power Group which owns Leicester. Since taking over, Leicester in 2010, the family has become deeply involved with the club’s development seeing it promoted from the championship in the 2014-2015 season and winning the premier league the following season. The club has remained competitive seeing huge investments in their stadium and training centre as well as the squad. Vichai, the former owner died in 2018 when his helicopter crashed while leaving the stadium after the game and now the family is tied to the club in more ways than money. The family is worth an estimated $7.7 billion making them one of the richest in Thailand.
Arsenal has not won the premier league title or any other major title for that matter since their billionaire owners took over the club in 2011. The Kroenke’s who own the Kroenke Sports and Entertainment company has been condemned for lack of investment in the London based club which was the pride of the premier league in the late 90s and early 2000s. They are seen as the best example of billionaire owners who focus more on profits rather than football.
Queens Park Rangers
In 2009, Lakshmi Mittal was the richest owner in British Football and has retained his 33% stake in QPR since then but the club remains one of the weakest financially in the UK. His son in law Amit Bhatia has been in the club since the family bought the stake. QPR has struggled with debt and lack of investment and even the recent entry of Tony Fernandes in the club hasn’t changed its financial prospects. Jointly, Fernandes and Mittal are worth $15.5 billion making them the third richest owners of a club in England after Manchester City.
When Peter Coates took over Stoke City FC in 2006, he said that the club was back to local ownership with local decision-makers. The club managed to get promotion to the premier league in 2008 for the first time since 1985. The club was relegated back to the championship in 2018 after a long period of poor management and lack of investment. The Coates family remains the owners of the club and while their net worth has ballooned to over $12 billion, Stoke City hasn’t seen much change in investment.
Manchester United is the biggest club in the English Premier League in terms of revenue and asset base. The club hasn’t won a major title since the departure of their legendary manager Alex Fergusson in 2013. Many people blame the poor run of the club on the billionaire owners; The glazers family who took over the club in 2005. The club remains the all-time biggest spenders on personnel in the Prem and although there has been criticism of lack of investment in their stadium and training centres, it is fair to say that the Glazer’s $5.5 billion net worth has been put to fairly good use at the club if you compare to the likes of Stoke City and QPR.