Super League billionaires who ‘spit in the face of football lovers’ profiled
Together they are worth billions, with sporting clubs around the world.
They have yachts, luxury mansions and acres of prime real estate and land.
But fat-cat owners Joel Glazer (Man Utd), John W Henry ( Liverpool ) and Stan Kroenke ( Arsenal ) faced a furious backlash from fans for new breakaway European Super League.
They have the support of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi-backed Man City and Spurs, owned by Brit Joe Lewis.
But, according to UEFA chief Aleksander Ceferin, their plan is a “spit in the face of football lovers”.
He warned top stars – including Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford for England – will be “banned from the World Cup and Euros”.
As Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden promises a fan-led review of football, we profile those who sparked crisis in our national sport.
Chelsea – Roman Abramovich
The Russian and his billions turned Chelsea into a Premier League giant.
Since he took ownership in 2003, investing heavily in big-name managers and players, they have won 16 major trophies, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League.
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Abramovich, believed by Forbes to be worth about £10.7billion, also owns stakes in steel giant Evraz and Russian mining firm Norilsk Nickel.
He has become the world’s top spender on luxury yachts and maintains a fleet dubbed Abramovich’s Navy. His 530ft yacht Eclipse is one of the many gems in his fortune.
A political figure in Russia, he was governor of the Chukotka region and donated more than £1.4million to build schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
Abramovich, 53, is known to have enjoyed close relationships with former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin and current president Vladimir Putin.
In 1991 he married ex-Aeroflot stewardess Irina Malandina. They have five children, Ilya, Arina, Sofia, Arkadiy and Anna.
His British property empire is estimated to be worth more than £200million.
Arsenal – Stan Kroenke
Nicknamed Silent Stan, the 73-year-old American billionaire is heavily involved in sport as owner of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.
He has been involved with the Gunners since 2007 and took complete control three years ago.
Kroenke also owns elite-level American teams LA Rams (American Football), the Denver Nuggets (basketball), Colorado Avalanche (ice hockey) and the Colorado Rapids (football).
His wife Ann Walton is heir to the vast Walmart supermarket fortune.
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Despite his involvement in sports watched by millions Kroenke got his nickname because he prefers to avoid the spotlight.
He is estimated to be worth £7billion. In 2015, he angered fans by moving his Rams team from St Louis, where it had been based since 1994, to California.
In 2016, he bought a £520m, 520,000- acre ranch in Texas, helping make him one of the top 10 landowners in the US.
Spurs – Joe Lewis
An art lover as well as a football fan, Lewis has a £4billion fortune, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
The Londoner entered the family catering business at 15 but in the 1980s moved into currency trading.
Lewis, 84, is the major investor in Tavistock Group which owns more than 200 companies in 15 countries. It formerly owned stakes in Scottish club Rangers and Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic.
Lewis lives in the Bahamas as a tax exile.
He is reported to have a collection of artworks worth an estimated £700million which includes works by Picasso, Matisse, Lucian Freud and Henry Moore.
He bought Bacon’s Triptych 1974–1977 in 2008 for £26.3m.
Lewis is also the largest shareholder in pub group Mitchells & Butlers.
Other investments include luxury resorts, hotels and an Australian agriculture firm. He owns Aviva, a luxury yacht.
Italian and Spanish giants
Real Madrid are the most decorated team in continental football’s history, winning 13 European Cups – six more than AC Milan.
Club president Florentino Perez will be the first chairman of the Super League.
Real are valued at £2.5billion according to Forbes. Perez, who made his fortune in construction, is worth an estimated £1.5bn.
The club is fan-owned, with about 90,000 investors known as Socios having stakes.
Barcelona, 26-time La Liga winners and five-time European champions, are also set to compete, as well as Atletico Madrid.
The Barcelona club is also fan-owned. More than 144,000 pay membership every year and have shareholder votes on major decisions.
Last month Joan Laporta was elected for a second spell as club president.
Andrea Agnelli, chairman of Italy’s major side Juventus, will join alongside AC Milan and Inter Milan.
uventus have been majority-owned, almost continuously, by the Agnelli family since 1923.
In February, the club said it had suffered a loss of £98million and expected to lose more in the season’s second half due to Covid.
Liverpool – John W Henry
Mr Henry’s Fenway Sports Group has owned Liverpool since 2010.
It also owns the Boston Red Sox (baseball), and stakes in Roush Fenway Racing (NASCAR) and Minor League baseball team the Salem Red Sox.
Worth an estimated $3billion, Mr Henry made his money from trading company JW Henry and Co before buying the Red Sox with his partner Tom Werner – the Liverpool chairman.
Under their control in 2004 the Sox won a first World Series in 86 years.
In 2016, he splashed out an eye-watering £68million on a new 215-foot super-yacht which can reportedly host 12 overnight guests in a master suite, three double cabins and two twins, and up to 17 crew in separate quarters.
Mr Henry, who is married to Linda Pizzuti, 30 years his junior, put his Florida mansion up for sale in 2018 for $25m before knocking off $10m.
Many fans have turned on him for saying he loved the club’s history, only to back the Super League.
Manchester United – Glazer brothers
The Florida-based Glazers have controlled Manchester United since 2005 and also own NFL team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to Deloitte, United are the world’s fourth richest club behind Barcelona, Real Madrid and Barcelona with revenue of $580million [£415m].
The Glazers’ money comes from their sporting empires and US real estate. They acquired the Buccaneers for $192m [£137m] in 1995 and it is now worth $3.1billion [£2.2bn].
They took control of United for $1.4bn [£1bn], according to Forbes, with the club now reported to be worth more than $3bn [£2.1bn].
The family owns First Allied Corporation, a real estate holding company that owns and rents out shopping malls across the United States. The company owns over 6.7 million sq ft.
The Glazers have seen frequent protests against their ownership of the club and in 2010, a group of wealthy Manchester United fans, dubbed the Red Knights, discussed a billion-pound takeover bid.
However, the bid fell through when the Red Knights refused to meet the Glazers’ valuation of the club.
Manchester City – Sheikh Mansour
With Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, pulling the purse strings, the club has not looked back since he took over in 2008.
Cash was quickly pumped into every area – academy, training ground, playing staff, coaching – and City quickly overtook their neighbours United.
They have won four Premier Leagues since then, look set for a fifth this season and are in the semi-final of the Champions League.
The Abu Dhabi Group is the majority owner of the City Football Group which boasts Man City as its flagship team.
The group has teams around the world.
The High Court heard the Sheikh’s assets have included about 140 properties in the most affluent areas of London, including Mayfair, Marylebone, Knightsbridge and Kensington.
The Sheikh’s royal yacht, Azzam, at 590ft, is the largest private ocean-going yacht in the world. He is also the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and minister of presidential affairs.
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