We have all seen the news pass: the now former Russian owner of Chelsea wants to sell the club, following the conflict which broke out in Ukraine. But before this controversy, and especially this war, many did not even know that the owner of Chelsea was a rich Russian businessman.
Let’s take a look at the men (and women, but you’ll see, there aren’t many of them), who own our favorite clubs, European and global.
1. Former Chelsea owner: Roman Abramovich
As I said, the former owner of Chelsea was none other than Roman Arkadievich Abramovich, a businessman, oligarch, politician and multi-billionaire (yes, you heard that right, mutli) Russian of Israeli and Portuguese descent. In June 2003, he bought Chelsea who were financially vulnerable at that time, and you can imagine that his fortune greatly helped the future success of the club. Indeed, he invests huge sums of money in the club which makes it possible to pay off the starting debt of around 120 million euros and injects additional funds for player transfers.
Today, the fact that a Russian oligarch owns an English club is controversial. Several British parliamentarians believe that Abramovich should be stripped of all his property in the United Kingdom. Abramovich therefore decides to sell the club, knowing that this risks impacting the success of Chelsea, because it is clearly not going to be easy to find someone as rich and invested as him in the life of the club, it could therefore be a blow to Chelsea.
2. The Qataris: big owners of PSG
PSG has been owned by Qatar Sports Investments for several years now, a company founded in 2005 based in Doha, Qatar, which aims to invest in various sports activities. The president of this company is none other than the famous Nasser Al-Khelaifi, also president of PSG, yes the guy who freaked out against the referees in the famous Champions League round of 16.
And you may not know it, but Nasser Al-Khelaifi was a former tennis player and he is also a minister without portfolio in the Qatari government (without portfolio means that he is not attached to a specific ministry, globally it is useless what).
It was therefore in 2011 that Nasser Al-Khelaifi invested heavily in the Parisian club and he had considerable financial resources made available to him by Qatar Sport Investments. 100 million euros are injected to recruit players in the summer of 2011, and he wants to win the French championship, but also all the cups in which his team participates, well, we already know, it’s a bit of a failure blow…
But it is thanks to the Qatari era that PSG recruits many international players (Zlatan, Neymar, Thiago Silva…) and develops its activity as much, cimer Nasser.
3. Florentino Pérez Rodríguez and the Real Madrid owner’s hidden stories
Florentino Pérez Rodríguez is a Spanish businessman, former politician and current president of Real Madrid. He is known to be associated with Real Madrid’s Galactic period, a period in which he bought many world-class footballers for (very) high prices.
But there are big stories behind Perez’s tenure… Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has been accused of rigging the presidential elections as well as using the club card to play golf. This is why he resigned in 2009, tired of these accusations, leaving the field open to Florentino Perez. Nevertheless, 10 years later, he was exonerated and the journalists who accused him were found guilty of defamation. These same journalists now work for Real, because Florentino Perez had hired them (strange all that). In addition, Perez had bought the English player Woodgate, which had caused controversy, because he believed that he had good statistics on the game Fifa (yes I swear to you), to justify himself he would have said in front of the press “Woodgate is young and he ranks well on my son’s Fifa game”. Eventually, the England defender was injured when signing, and on his Real debut he scored an own goal before being sent off from the game.
In short, you will have understood it, even if Real had great successes under the Perez era, all is not all rosy within the Madrid club.
4. The owners of Barça, the “socios”
FC Barcelona is one of the few clubs that operates democratically. It’s owned by 180,000 socios, who are shareholder supporters (maybe that’s why the club isn’t so rich). Today with the financial difficulties of the club, the leaders of Barça may be thinking of opening up to private investors, which scandalizes the supporters (but good when you know that Barça has a debt of around 1.173 billion euros, something has to be done).
At FC Barcelona, it is therefore the supporters / shareholders who decide on the president of the club by voting, currently the president of the club is Joan Laporta, elected on March 7, 2021
5. Bayern is also largely owned by members of the club
Bayern Munich is also one of the exceptions, because the club is not owned by one and the same wealthy investor, but partly by popular shareholders.
At this time, why is Bayern not sinking economically like Barça? Because Bayern derives a lot of profits from its commercial activities and in particular from its sponsors like Adidas and Deutsche Telekom, but also from television rights. The fourth richest club in the world, Bayern Munich saw its revenues increase from 474 million euros to 660 million between 2015 and 2019, and it is also often cited as an example for its financial management.
The Bavarian institution also benefits from the Allianz Arena (14% of its income), an ultramodern stadium built in anticipation of the 2006 World Cup and which it owns. The sports arena, which was sold out at each match before the health crisis, was reimbursed in 2014 almost sixteen years in advance.
Here Bayern manages its finances very very well and it is true that other clubs should learn a little from this moderate cost management. The current president of Bayern is also a German businessman named Herbert Hainer.
6. The atypical owner of Leicester City Football Club
You probably didn’t know it, but Leicester City was bought by a Thai king of duty free (therefore nothing to do with football): Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. A guy with a hollow nose. This polo fan didn’t even have to spend the 180 million that was earmarked for various transfers to take Leicester City from a mediocre Second Division place to an important Premier League club. And the man saw his fortune triple in just one year, someone with flair.
7. The historic owner of AC Milan is none other than our dear (or not) Silvio Berlusconi
The Italian politician, long at the head of the country, is also one of the richest men in Italy with a fortune estimated at several billion euros. This is why in 1986 he bought the AC Milan club which was then in difficulty. He manages to straighten out and modernize the club, which thus enjoys many successes, including five European Cups (and three other times in the final). He will use this success for his political career.
However in 2016, after almost 30 years of reign, he decided to sell the club to a Chinese investor, Li Yonghong. To complete the takeover of one of the most prestigious clubs in Europe (seven Champions Leagues, 18 Italian championships), it had to make a loan of 335 million euros from the American investment fund: Elliott Management. Unfortunately, Li Yonghong is unable to repay the first installments of the loan, which has caused AC Milan to fall into the hands of Elliott, an investment fund with very controversial practices. No phew for AC Milan, we almost preferred Berlusconi in the end.
8. Manchester City, owned by the ruling dynasty of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
A relatively classic story for Manchester City. Before 2008, the English club lived in the shadow of its competitors and then finally the private group, Abu Dhabi United Group, bought the club. A major (and big money) transformation took place and the club subsequently won four league titles for the first time since 1968, City’s first Premier League titles.
Mansour meanwhile, is not really a great supporter since he would have been seen only on very rare occasions at the Ethiad Stadium, but we will not blame him.
9. The love affair between Leipzig and Redbull
Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz is best known for the brand he founded, Red Bull. But it was also he who made it possible to finance RB Leipzig to the tune of around 19 billion dollars. Today Leipzig occupies the first places in the Bundesliga, whereas this club did not even exist a few years ago. The club even reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in the 2019-20 season. For a club that has only existed since 2009, it’s not disgusting, well done Mateschitz.
10. The Agnelli family, directors of Juventus for many years
The current president of Juventus is none other than Andrea Agelli, who like his father inherited a passion for football and Juventus.
The Agnelli family made their fortunes in the Italian automotive industry, producing brands like Fiat and Ferrari. After his grandfather and father, Andrea is the representative of the third generation, owner of Juventus. Since the Agnelli family owns the Old Lady, Juve have become the most capped team in Italy, with 36 national titles to their name. Add to that even more prestigious titles, with two Champions Leagues.