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July 2021

Just how many billionaire clubs are there now – and how successful have they been?

by Tony Attwood

I had just got used to thinking that we had two billionaire clubs doing the rounds – Man City and Chelsea.

The came the news that PSG was in the same group – and then Malaga.  And there is QPR although I can’t quite work out what is going on there.

So I am trying to build a list of such people and their teams and hope you will help.  My point is that if the number of billionaire clubs in which the billionaires spend their money on players over and over again until they win something, then that is a real challenge both for Uefa and for the essence of football.  Ultimately the traditional way football is run vanishes, and we have a billionaires club.  The players might still be on the pitch following the rules, but it doesn’t have much to do with the tribal origins of the game – which still mean a lot to quite a few of us.

Restricting myself to Europe here are a few others that have come over the horizon

  • Amancio Ortega has Deportivo de la Coruna
  • Silvio Berlusconi owns Milan
  • Francois Pinault owns Rennes
  • John Fredricksen owns Valerenga (Norway)

Then there is the case of  Anzhi Makhachkala bought by Suleyman Kerimov and/or Magomedsalam Magomedov.  They are managed by Guus Hiddink and are looking to buy Robin van Persie.

Some of these cases are curious – Milan doesn’t seem to be buying nearly so many players these days.  There is also QPR which is no longer owned by a billionaire.  There is also Kronke owning Arsenal – but not putting his personal wealth into the buying of players.

And hasn’t Monaco just been sold?

What I want to do, and the area in which I need help, is to get a list of the clubs in Europe with their big time owners, and note their success levels, to try and work out just how successful the process of throwing lots of money at a club actually is.

If you have some insights or thoughts onto any club associated with a very rich owner, and if poss (but not essentially) the use it is making of the money, please write in.

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47 comments to Just how many billionaire clubs are there now – and how successful have they been?

  • Rhyle

    Reading(!), Aston Villa, Rennes, Malaga as well. Qatar and SE Asia have detailed plans to make their leagues more competitive…I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a move in the future to bring players in their prime in to their leagues rather than the current retirement village style they’ve got at the moment.

    It’s a strange thing, watching these European clubs being hoovered up by the rich…Do you believe their intents are altruistic? Are they expecting the game to be more profitable in the future, hence the huge investment they’re making? Will that involve the game at the top level shrinking with a small number being invited to the top table of an elite European competition? Would you want Arsenal to be involved in that (for me…YES)?

    There are many variables and implications from this move – billionaires rarely like burning money – and it’s the first time I can remember the game being so interesting off of the pitch…

    A half-decent read on the matter:

  • Aniruddh

    Vitesse, Neuchatel Xamax and Huddersfield come to mind. Isn’t Mike Ashley a Billionaire too? I believe a lot of French teams are also owned by big businessmen. This is not a new trend in football, it’s been happening for a long time but only now have owners become so involved with the funding/doping of their clubs that this has become a contentious issue.

  • Shard

    Getafe was bought by some shiekhs in Dubai, was it not? I don’t know their current status but Real Santander were bought by an Indian origin middle east based businessman, with promise of much investment and glory. I’m not sure if he’s still the owner or upped sticks/was forced out. Liverpool, Villa, Fulham? in the PremierLeague are also owned by billionaires. Stan Kroenke doesn’t own Arsenal FC.. He’s just the majority shareholder.

  • GunnerPete

    I think you should have mentioned that Usmanov part owns AFC too . Does that make us the richest owners of the lot? Or does Arab oil beat the rest? Whatever! its a sick old world of football now and I want no part of it.

  • The Blaze

    Netherlands has Vitesse and Roda JC, used to have FC Utrecht and AZ (AZ twice and they quickly rose to prominence only to fall from it just as quickly twice).

    Germany has Hoffenheim.

    Spain has Getafe, Racing Santander.

    Neuchatel Xamax quickly failed in Switzerland.

  • slugboy

    This might help for prem clubs (don’t know of the integrity of the data):

    With a world with people starving, it really is a sick means of ridding yourself of money.

    Keep it the Arsenal way!

  • Matt Clarke

    well said.

  • Sav from Australia

    Hi guys,

    I think there can be two classifications for football clubs with billionaire owners (individual or family).

    You have Chelsea with their Russian owner who is most likely laundering alot of money through the club, and clubs similar to this model. I am wondering if Manchester City’s new owners are also in the money laundering game…what illegal ventures might they involved in that are similar to the Russian mafia…who knows but I wish someone would tell me.

    And then you have your Kroenke at Arsenal, Liverpool’s new owners, etc – who are aiming to run the club as a business first and foremost. (refuse to include the Glazers at Man Utd because they are bought the club ‘with’ the club, as far as debt goes).

    Also, Inter Milan and Juventus are both backed by very rich families. Not sure how much the clubs are used for money laundering and how much it is for pristige.

  • sebjob

    yeah, John Fredriksen is far from successful at throwing money at Vaalerenga. I don’t know if Roekke of national champions Molde FK is a billionaire but covers the deficit in the budget and gives about 2 million pounds plus in total each year. Reitan of Rosenborg BK might as well be a billionaire, but none of the norwegian clubs have particularly extravagant if even good economy

  • Tony K

    Its really interesting to read this blog out of all the others as I feel there is a geninue love Arsenal here. A real supporters blog that will stick by the team no matter what and that is what a real supporter should do.
    However, unfortunately it is not a straight as that anymore. Arsene has been placed under sickening restrictions by the current complete and utter lack of ambition and cohesion of the current board. Kroenke is the single worst thing that has ever happened to Arsenal football club in it’s entire illustrious history.
    Please don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting that we go mad with Man city style over the top player aquisitions, with over inflated wages to boot, however there are a number of reasonably priced players available that would significantly improve the first squad.
    I understand we don’t buy stars we make them, however when your club captain, who by the way I can fully assure you knew and bleed Arsenal even before Kroneke even knew Arsenal existed says he is only interested in knowing what new signings there will be before he commits to a new contract then that is a sure sign that what is at the club right now is NOT good enough to compete for the tital.
    Now as you guys are so fond of pointing out on this site Arsenal is a fantastically well run cub and are the 6th richest in the world. So can we please start acting like it and show some ambition. If Robin leaves this year I will start an entire website simply dedicated to getting that money draining non fan Kroneke to leave our club well alone.

    Its not simply about Robin Leaving its about the fact we are wasting the greatest coach of the modern era in Arsene who has continued to perform miracles and take all kinds of abuse for Kroneke’s lack of ambition, whilst he simultaneously drains the clubs of its resources and please don’t naive enough to believe that Kroneke’s vision for the club is altruistic, he is a money grabber with NO love for Arsenal and lest we forget that is ultimately whats its all about.

  • sebjob

    yeah, John Fredriksen is far from successful at throwing money at Vaalerenga. I don’t know if Roekke of national champions Molde FK is a billionaire but covers the deficit in the budget and gives about 3 million pounds plus in total each year. Reitan of Rosenborg BK might as well be a billionaire, but none of the norwegian clubs have particularly extravagant if even good economy

  • sebjob

    in Norway though financial fair play, as the homegrown rule where norwegians come home as foreign quota, has a negative impact.

    Otherwise I find it quite interesting how the AST want Usmananov into the board, a man with the dealings he has and short term vision for the club. I have seen no change in policy since Kroenke got in, and that is a positive for me. Every year AST seem so negative focused, not a single positive thing questioned

  • Gerry Lennon

    If the Euro crisis is as bad as many people predict, should Greece opt out of the Eurozone, then it will all become irrelevant? Football clubs will become a liabilty, not an asset with a devalued currency, devalued players, banks collapsing, austerity measures meaning fans will not be able to pay high ticket prices … grounds less than half full or reduced admission prices meaning they cannot balance their books .. so many clubs will got to the wall and never be seen again. AW has spoken of this before, but even now it is looking more like a reality, especially if Spain follows Greece down the plughole? Yet the football world seems to pretend it is a protected bubble splashing out millions here and there …
    and don’t think it will not effect us because we kept the £ … RBS alone holds £98bn, yes BILLION! of Spanish debt, and our goverment who still owns it, and will try and get the money from even more austere measures …
    Can I have Award No.5 now please??

  • robl

    @ Tony K, I’m not saying you are wrong, and I respect that you have an opinion, but who do you think are the reasonably priced players that would improve our team?

    Also, whatever you think about Stan, he has not taken any money out of our club or mortgaged our future.

  • Rhyle

    Gerry…the problem is that if Greece secede from the Euro there is the risk of contagion, particularly in Italy, Spain and Portugal. The break up of the Euro is also not an option as the Deutschmark would then likely become the world’s default currency causing the German currency to strengthen considerably, leading to mid-cap German companies struggling to export…leading to massive lay offs…leading to a depression-sized recession in Germany potentially affecting the whole of the EU.

    There is a force of will behind support behind the Euro (including Greece) surviving…although adding Hollande to the mix makes it a bit more interesting…and the LTRO buys them time to get an effective solution in place. After that the weapon of last resort is inflation…

    If elbowing Greece was the solution they’d have done it by now!

  • mike_greece

    Amancio Ortega has no connection whatsoever with Deportivo. Just because he lives there and loves the city doesn’t mean he owns the city’s football club. Their owner is called Augusto Lendoiro and they recently had huge financial difficulties (that’s why they were eventually relegated). Bad informing as is usually the case…

    Pinault of Rennes is a billionaire, but he surely doesn’t throw money away. He always likes to build teams with young talented players with good coaches/instructors to guide them to Europa League finishes. They then sell them on to make a profit. It is said that Rennes have the best scouting section in France and one of the best in Europe…

  • sebjob

    in norway in 2008 there was Atle Brynestad as well, he pulled out of his charity involvement for 1 NKR in 2008, and in 2009 the club LYN(former club of Mikel, Ogbuke and Al-Habsi)went bankrupt and are now in the lower local leagues in Norway. Situation has similarities with what is happening at Glasgow Rangers; charity involvement and broken promises, laws and trust. Reitan of Rosenborg BK is a billionaire in terms of GBP, Roekke of Molde FK and Fredriksen of Vaalerenga. Don’t think any of them formally owns the club. All 3 recent champions of Norway.

  • OK, so it seems the key issue is not only to try and get a decent list together, which I think would be of interest, but also classify them…

    a) Owners who have a major impact in club in terms of spending (Abramovich etc)

    b) Owners who seem to have little or no direct input in terms of lending money or dictating policy (Kronke)

    c) Owners who are having a modest impact in money terms, but are not going at it in such a wholesale way as Abramovich. That is to say, they could spend much more, but are choosing not to.

    Does that cover it?

  • Matt Clarke

    Probably hard to discern between b) and c) without insider knowledge – but certainly worth a go.

    And, do you include collectives whose net worth is in the billions, or just individuals?

  • Goona Gal

    @ Sebjob at 12:42 pm – Agreed.

    @ Gerry Lennon at 12:45 pm – Very interesting point.

  • Rhyle

    You could get the list together then try to engage with fans of those clubs to get their perspective. Always interesting to get the view from the terraces…

  • Shard


    Once again. I think a distinction has to be made. Kroenke is not the owner of Arsenal. He might be called that because his shares give him some power de facto. Still Kroenke is simply the company’s majority shareholder. Not the owner.

  • Matt – I don’t know how to distinguish collectives – … my point is I am trying to see how ownership is developing, and what effect it is having on clubs. I am interested because I don’t see anyone else doing this… and it could lead to some interesting conclusions. The initial thesis of just about everyone was that clubs would shoot to the top and win the league every year with all this money. That is not totally untrue but not 100% accurate either. So I would like to try and get a file on what is happening in each league where a mega rich club suddenly springs up. That is my key interest – clubs that suddenly become mega-rich – perhaps that is more important than the ownership issue.

  • Adam

    Sorry slightly off topic.
    For me it’s about the wealthy positioning themselves for a global league or cup competition. European football has the most money invested in it. The next stage from the champions league will be a club world cup (bigger in format than it currently is). However for this to happen other continents have to catch up and be more competetive. Can you imagine the money involved in a club world cup every year or two.

  • Matt Clarke

    I see … and I agree that there is likely to be some interesting conclusions.
    Having read your post i found this link which may (I haven’t crossed-checked it at all) be of some interest.

    I love the point (in your article) about the tribal origins of the game being important.

    Whilst I one welcome investors (and recognise that they ought to get a return on their investment), I wish for them to invest primarily for the sake of football rather than profit. I think that your study may turn up some contrasts between the two types 🙂

  • Matt Clarke

    …Whilst I welcome…

  • Adam

    Spartak Moscow. Chairman Leonid Fedun worth $7.1 Billion. (oil money) Ukrainian.

    Zenit St. Petersburg. Owner, Gazpom (50%state owned)worth $160 Billion. Chairman, Aleksandr Dyukov.

    Juventus. Owner, Agnelli family. Worth $80 billion probably more. Chairman Andrea Agnelli.

    Dinamo Moscow, Owner VTB Bank. worth $160billion. Chairman Yuri Isayev.

  • Matt Clarke

    And this link from the same journal may help in compiling your list.

  • Adam

    Lokomotiv Moscow, Owner Rinat Akhmetov (Ukrainian) worth $16 Billion.

    FC Metalist Kharkiv, Owner Oleksandr Yaroslavsky (Ukrainian) Worth $3.6Billion

    Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk Owner Andriy Stetsenko Cannot find anything about this man. Juande Ramos is manager (what would entice him there).

    Arsenal Kyiv. Owner Vadim Rabinovich Billionaire, media.

  • Adam

    Inter Milan. Massimo Moratti worth 4 Billion Euro’s.(Oil money)

    Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Owned by Bayer AG (Pharmaceuticals) worth £50 Billion.

  • SouthernGunner

    John Henry, owner of Liverpool, and Mike Ashley at Newcastle are both listed as billionaires.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Rhyle – While I accept your point about there is a collective will(to save the Euro), there is an opposing force on the ground, where people are not seeing a future without work or money. Your second point on inflation being the last resort… well it seems like that is the point we are at?
    It always struck me there was a major flaw in the way the Euro developed. Trying to cover such different economies had its risk when setting a ‘fixed’ rate on entry. If coutries had elections at the same time, every 4/5 years, reset their value of economic growth(or lack of) against its original entry, and the Euro would be revalued against other currencies. That is the only way forward now. Greece pulls out, devalues(inflation) rejoins at the lower level. The debt gets revalued too … with a probable 50% loss, problem halved?. To devalue the Euro as a whole would not sort out these discrepancies.

  • Sammy The Snake

    There is a third kind of owner, the ManC or PSG type, who use the club as an advertising vehicle. It makes for great publicity and the owner is associated with success and victory, both locally and globally. The oil rich Sheikh kingdoms need this form of self promotion for both good business sense as well as egocentric reasons.

    BTW, Malaga owners are no billionaires. Remember Dr. Fahim of Portsmouth?! Which reminds me, there a fourth type as well, con artists who want to look like billionaires….

  • Rhyle

    Gerry – you’re absolutely right on a couple of points…the elephant in the room is the political environment in Germany who have an election looming and have only just seen German reunification costs come off of their pay packets (they literally had €x on their statement as their part of paying for it!) and the concern is that they won’t be keen on seeing the cost of bailing out Greece (and potentially Spain…possibly Italy) on their statements. That is the most dangerous scenario of all as it’s full of unknown unknowns! The political force of will behind the Euro is not just from member states, though. Both the US and China own a shed load of Euro debt…hence Obama / the Chinese finance minister (who made Sarkozy stand at a hotel door waiting for him for 15 mins…naughty!) attending many of the negotiations. Investors in Greek debt are likely to take a haircut but it will be within the Euro…they’ve been letting the rope down with each repayment over the last 12 months anyway, spreading the impact of the debt haircut to investors.

    The vox populae is also an interesting point – the Greeks are totally against austerity…and who can blame them? If you read up on their lifestyle, they’ve been able to get by on paying minimal tax and retiring in early 50’s on state pensions for a couple of decades! However, if they think austerity is bad…they should try pulling out of the Euro. They’ll still have to finance their debt, and, as once they leave the Euro they’ll be bankrupt, that could be pretty difficult to say the least and the consequences could make austerity look like a luxury lifestyle! I’ve mentioned the impact of Greece pulling out of the Euro on the Deutschmark – the Drachma would have an equal but opposite movement downward. There is no value in holding the currency of a bankrupt nation – and managing the impact would be very tricky for a country with no inherent industry bar shipping (most companies of which are listed with head offices in countries with beneficial tax regimes…lol…).

    You’re spot on with the flaw in how the Euro was delivered. Delivering a common currency amongst countries with diverse economies without a federalised economic policy was always likely to feel great pressure at times of fiscal stress…as we’ve seen…so one of the major outcomes could be a federal Eurozone / EU. Do we want to be a be a part of that?

    As for inflation, we’re not there yet. Yes, both in the EU and the UK we’ve been above inflation targets for a while but the trend has been a movement down towards target over the last few months. However, we’re yet to see the impact of QE / LTRO (printing money, essentially) feed in to the market. However, even the Japanese have realised that a little bit of inflation (they’re now targeting 1%, first time in years) is better than any deflation or stagflation.

    A weak Euro suits the Germans (export driven economy), lessening the spending power of Euro members by devaluing the currency – a very different thing – will not benefit and impact their ability to refinance Euro debt on the world stage.

    Anyhow it’s Sunday. I hope I’ve made sense…

  • bob

    Adam, Southern Gunner,
    Could you guys offer a link or two as to where such a person’s value is listed online? Cheers 🙂

  • Thanks to everyone – if there are more comments please add. I will try and make a first stab at a list of clubs where billionaire owners are involved who are putting a lot of money in or look like they are going to. Once we have that we can start comparing their ability to make a difference.


  • bob

    Tony, Sammy the Snake,
    That’s an interesting typology you’re developing. My concern is that for it to hold water, won’t data be needed – both objective and subjective – that no one can get hold of? There’s so much that’s cloaked and, while the research is no doubt worth undertaking for whatever it turns up, there obviously are secrecy and proprietary information policies and practices to contend with. (Including at AFC, obviously.)

    It’s not possible, yet, for example, for 99.9 per cent of the population to know exactly (with certainty) any of these football billionaire’s exact mix of intentions. Unless someone is an insider or privy to inside knowledge. For example, how can egoism (Sammy the Snake) be ascribed to one but not another? Tony, what does being noisy or silent, flamboyant or stealthy actually prove? Does keeping a low profile mean there’s not a massive ego being kept in check for tactical and strategic business purposes? It’s good business to be silent. And appearances are just as manufactured as they can be inadvertent. What represents real tea leaves to read as opposed to a false trail. Obviously only specific research will tell, but it’s all in what the research turns up; which, in turn, will refine the typology into something more useful than impressions.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Hi Rhyle, yes perfect sense. Unfortunately, as we are being ignored by those following the blog in its narrow form, perhaps this is the wrong place for an in depth look at the political state of europen countries … lol? I only put it up because such a run on the Euro could make football clubs a liability. Even billionaires have their money wrapped up in shares somewhere?
    Anyway, thanks for responding, so let’s see how it develops, and may be come back to it another time?

  • Rhyle

    Possibly…lol…it’s true, there are many clubs run in the red who, should there be a run on the banks and their loans called in would be in a world of hurt…

    As you say…probably not the time and place..! It is relevant to the discussion in some way, however, in that having a billionaire owner financing you removes the likelihood of being impacted by having your debts called in – with the strength of their own and their companies balance sheets they will not struggle to refinance the debts on their clubs…most who are not owned by billionaires and have substantial debts on their books are very likely to go to the wall…

  • Adam

    Hey Bob, Give me a job to do on a Sunday eh. Cheers sweatheart.
    This will end up in moderation for a while.
    Zenit St. Petersburg

    Gotta love Zenit? Suppose it would be like the Britsh government owning Manchester city or at least building them a new stadium (Oh hang on a minute).

  • Rhyle

    Don’t forget Spurs, by the by…not sure if anyone’s mentioned Joe Lewis / ENIC…

  • rusty

    Any chance we could get back in touch with Swiss Rambler? I’m sure he’d have a decent sense of clubs that avoid serious loss-making through owner generosity.

  • bob

    WOW! Sunday, bloody Sunday! Cheers for your efforts; and I’ll be back once I’ve read and digested the smorgasboard.
    Spaciba! 🙂

  • SouthernGunner


    Forbes lists both Mike Ashley & John Henry as billionaires on their website, mate. A quick Google search of each individuals name and Forbes brings you to all the info you requested 🙂 (tried posting links here, but didn’t work)

    As an aside, Usmanov is also listed as 28th richest on the same sites list of billionaires, higher than Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Kroenke is listed much further down their famous 500 list.

  • SouthernGunner

    Usmanovs Forbes profile also has a few photos of The Emirates stadium in his picture gallery, as well as keeping us updated with news related to his business’ & companies.

  • Stuart


    An interesting snippet from the link you provided and with the actual owners of Red & White holdings not being available, it does pose a question or two:-