Last week Blackburn Rovers became the latest Premier League club to be bought out by a foreign consortium. The purchase of Rovers was a key moment in Premier League history because it brought the number of clubs that are majority owned by foreign investors to 10, representing 50% of the league.
An asterisk should be added to that number since it includes Tottenham among the ten who are foreign owned. Even though their majority owner is English, he operates his business from Florida and the Bahamas.
So who are the owners of the 20 Premier League clubs? Here they are:
Arsenal – Arsenal Holdings plc
Arguably the club whose ownership is most contested. Arsenal operates as a private limited company. Arsenal’s board of directors own 45.2% of the club’s shares. The largest shareholder on the board is American sports investor Stan Kroenke, who has a 29.9% stake. However Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov isn’t far behind with a 26% share. It has been speculated that the two will enter a bidding war to take total control of the club. Kroenke is favourite should a bidding war occur as he is currently elected to the Arsenal board.
Aston Villa – Randy Lerner
Lerner, who also owns NFL team Cleveland Browns, took over the club in 2006. One of the less high profile investors in the league, Lerner is thought to have a net worth of around $1.5billion.
Birmingham City – Carson Yeung
Hong Kong billionaire Carson Yeung finally completed his proposed takeover of the club in 2009 after previously looking to purchase the club in 2007. The deal went through on October 9th for a reported £81.5million.
Blackburn Rovers – Venky’s Group
Poultry giant Venky’s became the first Indian owners of a Premier League club with their takeover of Rovers last week. The deal was worth around £46million and left the Ewood Park club debt free.
Blackpool – Owen Oyston
Oyston has been the majority shareholder at Blackpool since 1987 and currently owns an 80% holding in the club. Famous for work in the media Oyston is thought to have a net worth of around £105million. The other 20% of the club is owned by Latvian billionaire Valeri Belokon.
Bolton Wanderers – Eddie Davies
One of the most unglamorous names out of the Premier League owners, Davies is estimated to have a fortune of around £60million. He became the majority shareholder of the club’s holding company Burnden Leisure PLC in 2003, and is a lifelong Bolton fan.
Chelsea – Roman Abramovich
Abramovich’s takeover at Chelsea in the summer of 2003 was the first real high profile takeover of a club from a foreign investor and has really set a trend in English football. The Russian, who has made most of his estimated £7billion fortune through oil, has spent huge amounts of money in transforming Chelsea in to a footballing super-power.
Everton – Bill Kenwright
Boyhood Everton fan Kenwright completed a takeover of the club in 1999 and currently has a 27% share in the club. Other major shareholders include Robert Earl (23%) and Jon Woods (21%). The club has been linked with several buyouts in recent years and the club are said to be actively seeking investment.
Fulham – Mohamed Al-Fayed
Former owner of the famous Harrods department store in London, Al-Fayed took over Fulham in 1997 with the club languishing in the bottom tier of English football. They then set about a rapid climb to the Premier League, and by 2001 were playing in the top flight. Al-Fayed is known for having a more laid back approach to ownership and is thought to have personal fortune of around £680million. However that figure does not take into account the sale of Harrods.
Liverpool – New England Sports Ventures
One of the more controversial takeovers that has been seen in the Premier League. New England Sports Ventures purchased the Anfield club from fellow Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett last month in a deal worth £300million. However Hicks and Gillett challenged the legitimacy of the takeover in a high court because they felt the fee wasn’t representative of the club’s true value. The dispute went to the high court where it was eventually approved and Liverpool fans rejoiced at the news that Hicks and Gillett were no longer in control at Anfield.
Manchester United – The Glazer Family
Arguably the most controversial takeover of them all. United fans were so furious at the news the club had been purchased by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer that some formed break-away club FC United. The buy-out of the club was completed in the Autumn of 2005, and left the club with over $850million of debt. While the owners have made moves to lower the level of debt in recent months, there is still a massive anti-Glazer feeling around Old Trafford and the “Green and Gold till United are sold” protest is still on-going.
Manchester City – Sheikh Mansour
If the takeover at Old Trafford was greeted with anger by United fans, Manchester City’s buyout by an Abu-Dhabi based consortium with links to the UAE royal family is still being celebrated by City fans. The consortium is fronted by Sheikh Mansour. It’s impossible to put a true figure on his wealth, but his personal fortune is said to be around £20billion. His investment in City, including the club’s purchase in 2008, is already approaching the £1billion mark.
Newcastle United – Mike Ashley
Another owner who is far from popular with his club’s supporters, Ashley purchased the Magpies for around £135 million in 2007. But a general lack of investment and poor on the field displays lead to Newcastle’s relegation from the Premier League and mass protests over Ashley’s ownership. In 2009 Ashley, who is estimated to a have a personal fortune of around £700million, was actively looking for a buyer of the club, but has since said the club is no longer for sale.
Stoke City – Peter Coates
Now in his second spell as Stoke’s majority shareholder, local businessman and lifelong Stoke fan Coates made most of his estimated £400million fortune through the betting industry. Coates had originally owned the club between 1989 and 1998 before selling the club to an Icelandic consortium. But eight years later he returned to the Britannia Stadium in a deal worth the mediocre sum of £1.7 million.
Sunderland – Ellis Short
American entrepreneur Short was part of an eight-man consortium that purchased Sunderland in 2006. The consortium was lead by former Black Cats striker Niall Quinn, however Short was the majority shareholder. In May 2009, Short took full control of the club, after buying out the other members of the consortium. Short is a well established business man in America and is estimated to have generated a personal fortune of around £2billion.
Tottenham Hotspur – Joe Lewis
One of the more hidden owners of a Premier League club, English businessman Joe Lewis has an 85% share in Spurs. Lewis is exiled in the Bahamas but gradually built his shares up in Tottenham since the turn of the century. Lewis is estimated to have a personal fortune of around £2billion which he has built up through investment in over 175 companies.
West Bromwich Albion – Jeremy Peace
Another of the least glamorous owners in the Premier League, Peace has had associations with the Baggies since December 2000 when he was elected to the club’s board, and took over as club chairman in 2002. In 2005 Pearce was announced as the club’s majority shareholder.
West Ham United – David Gold and David Sullivan
The infamous duo of Gold and Sullivan completed the purchase of a 50% stake in West Ham in January after completing the sale of Birmingham City last year. Their stake was increased to 60% in May of this year. Lifelong fans of the Hammers, Gold and Sullivan are said to be looking to purchase the other 40% of the club which is owned by Icelandic bank Straumur-Burdaras.
Wigan Athletic – Dave Whelan
Outspoken Whelan is a former professional footballer in England, but made most of his estimated £200million fortune through sports retail chain JJB. He took charge at the Latics in 1995 with the club in the bottom tier of English football, and has played a key part in their establishment as a Premier League club.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Steve Morgan
Morgan arrived at Molineux in 2007 after purchasing the club for just £10 from Sir Jack Hayward. The deal was conditional on Morgan investing £30 million in to the club. It was the second time Morgan had looked to purchase a club after previously attempting a takeover of his boyhood Liverpool only to have his offer rejected. Morgan is estimated to have a £350million fortune, which he has built up in the property market.
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