English football has increasingly become a billionaire’s playground.
But it’s not all elusive Russians occupying the upper echelons of the game at the so-called ‘big clubs’ like Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea.
No, there’s some surprising names at the top of the money table and not all of them have brought winning ways with their wealth.
Using the 2017 Sunday Times rich list, Forbes, BBC, Birmingham Mail, and talkSPORT, Business Insider has put together this list of the 10 billionaire football club owners in England.
Here they are in ascending order.
10: West Bromwich Albion owner Guochuan Lai – £2.8 billion
Lai made his fortune in the landscape development and construction industry. Believed to have a vast net worth, Lai has recently been focusing on private investment projects.
His acquisition of West Bromwich Albion was led by an asset management company in 2014. Last season was Lai’s best with the club as West Brom finished 10th in the Premier League.
Most expensive signing: Nacer Chadli – £13 million (2016)
Source: Birmingham Mail
9: Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr – £3 billion
Katharina Liebherr is a member in a family business that leads the way in manufacturing construction machinery.
At the start of the Liebherr era, Southampton was in League One but is now considered a Premier League staple. Furthermore, it has transfer market nous and one of the best youth player development systems in English sport.
Recently, Katharina Liebherr has reportedly discussed a Southampton partnership with Chinese investors.
Most expensive signing: Sofiane Boufal – £15.9 million (2016)
8: Manchester United owners the Glazer family – £3.3 billion
Malcolm Glazer, the Glazer family patriarch, died in 2014 after accumulating a wealth thanks to successes in real estate, banking, health care, equities, and sports clubs.
Glazer bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995 and acquired Manchester United in a £790 million takeover starting in 2003.
Fans have protested United’s debt levels but the Glazer ownership has overseen five Premier League titles, three League Cup trophies, one FA Cup, one Champions League title, and one Europa League trophy.
Since Malcolm Glazer’s death, his sons Avram and Joel Glazer (both pictured) have stepped up as co-chairmen.
Most expensive signing: Paul Pogba – £89.3 million (2016)
7: Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – £3.64 billion
Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha made his fortune operating a network of duty-free shops, King Power Duty Free.
In 2010, Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester and oversaw the greatest success in the club’s history – winning the 2015-2016 Premier League as a 5,000/1 underdog.
His son, Aiyawatt, is vice-chairman of the club.
Most expensive signing: Islam Slimani – £29 million (2016)
6: Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis – £4.6 billion
London-born businessman Joe Lewis accumulated his wealth in the hospitality industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1992, Lewis made a fortune when he teamed up with George Soros to bet on the pound crashing out of the European exchange-rate mechanism.
More recently, the 80-year-old is the main investor in Tavistock Group, a varied portfolio that includes businesses operating in life sciences, manufacturing, property, and sports.
Tottenham is one of the most well-run clubs in England. In Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs has one of the most exciting coaches in European football while Dele Alli and Harry Kane are considered two top English talents.
Most expensive signing: Erik Lamela – £30 million (2013)
Source: Sunday Times
5: Wolverhampton Wanderers owner Guo Guangchang – £4.72 billion
Guo Guangchang is the founder and chairman of Fosun International, a Chinese international conglomerate and investment vehicle. Fosun’s business operations have included asset management, real estate, and entertainment.
Fuson bought Wolverhampton Wanderers for £45 million in 2016 and the new owners will hope that the team improves on its final rank of 15th in the 2016-2017 Championship table.
Most expensive signing: Helder Costa – £13 million (2017)
4: Stoke City owners the Coates family – £5 billion
Peter Coates left school at 14-years-old in 1952. After National Service, he became regional manager at a restaurant chain before founding a catering firm that served football grounds.
The Coates family fortune hit fever pitch in 2000 when Peter’s daughter Denise set up bet365 in a portacabin. Now one of the world’s leading online gambling platforms, bet365 own and sponsor Stoke City, with Peter Coates the club’s chairman.
Stoke is a well-established Premier League club.
Most expensive signing: Giannelli Imbula – £18.3 million (2017)
Source: Sunday Times
3: Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke – £5.8 billion
Stan Kroenke’s first job may have been as a floor sweeper but by 10-years-old he developed a bookkeeping nous.
At 36, he had a commercial real estate empire called Kroenke Group and, as the head of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, he owns the Los Angeles Rams (NFL), Colorado Mammoth (Lacrosse), Colorado Rapids (MLS), and Arsenal.
His ownership of Arsenal has divided fans, particularly as he once said: “I didn’t buy Arsenal to win trophies.” Supporters have targeted Kroenke as ticket sales increase despite a noticeable decrease in the quality of the overall team.
Arsenal is a Premier League club.
Most expensive signing: Mesut Ozil – £44.5 million (2013)
2: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich – £8 billion
An oil, gas, and metals oligarch, Abramovich made £10 billion when he sold a 73% stake in Sibneft to Gazprom in 2005.
Since Abramovich became owner of Chelsea, the West London club has enjoyed an unprecedented era of success thanks to five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one Champions League trophy, and one Europa League title.
In his first 10 years at the helm, Abramovich spent over £2 billion on the club but the 50-year-old won’t rest on his laurels as he looks set to embark on another summer of expenditure.
Most expensive signing: Fernando Torres – £50 million (2011)
Source: Sunday Times
1: Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour – £20 billion
Sheikh Mansour has a stake in Virgin Galactic, Daimler, and Sky News Arabia. He also just happens to be the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.
Like Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, Sheikh Mansour has completely revolutionised Manchester City as the club has won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, and two League Cup trophies since he acquired full control in 2008.
But City is not the only club Sheikh Mansour owns, as he controls Melbourne City, New York City, Atletico Torque, and has a minority stake in Yokhoma F. Marinos through City Football Group.