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hroughout January, every manager of every football club in the country would’ve knocked on the door of their boss, asking for funds to make improvements to their squad. Some would’ve been told that the pot was empty, while others would’ve been handed tens of millions to buy talent from all corners of the globe. From the pinnacle to the part-timers, British football is littered with examples of the delirious highs and crushing lows that huge investment has brought – the money men have changed the landscape forever. All of the teams that finished in the top six last season are owned by men with a net worth of more than £1 billion, and there are plenty of wealthy owners throughout the football league. As fans of rival clubs like to say, neither Chelsea nor Man City would be in their current positions without huge investment. Last season, City won their

first league title for 44 years and Chelsea became the first ever London club to win the Champions League. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has invested more than a £1 billion in Chelsea since taking ownership in 2003, while City’s owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan spent at a much faster rate, racking up close to £1 billion in just four years. In the last financial year, buoyed by the £47.3 million in prize money from the Champions League victory, Chelsea recorded their first ever profit under Abramovich’s ownership, a meagre £1.4 million; the previous year they recorded a loss of £67.7 million. And yet, Chelsea are likely to again operate at a loss at the end of this financial year, after investing in players and exiting the European Cup early. Meanwhile, City posted a loss of £197 million just two years ago, and though they have since reined in their spending, their losses in the last financial year were still £97.9 million. On the other hand, one could make a case that two of England’s most successful clubs, Manchester United and Arsenal, are suffering because of their investors. When the Glazer

family bought United, they did so using loans that were secured against the club’s assets, incurring interest payments of over £60 million per year. Although their revenue fell by 3.3 per cent for the year ending 2012, United were still able to announce revenue of £320.3 million with a profit of £23.3 million, and the club entered the New York Stock Exchange. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke was asked by concerned supporters at the club’s AGM about rumours that he was planning to pay shareholders dividends out of club profits. Arsenal were England’s most profitable club in 2012, revealing results of £36.6 million – but, having not won a trophy in almost eight years, supporters were left bemused at this news. Premier League strugglers QPR, owned by Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, are another club who could find themselves in a desperate struggle if the money was to stop. The club, with small fan base and revenue prospects, brought in a total of 11 new players at the start of the season, some on huge wages, for fees totalling approximately £22 million. In the words of their current manager, Harry Redknapp: “There are a lot of players at this club who earn far too much money for

Iurii Osadchi /

The money in football has always been controversial, especially for those clubs that boast billionaire owners. Tom Sheen looks at the chairmen whose spending habits are making headlines

The City Magazine February 2013  

Welcome to the February edition of The City magazine, celebrating the dynamism of the area and bringing you the latest features, articles an...

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