Championship owners guide: Apart from Mel Morris at Derby County, who are the division’s other money men (and women)?

0
36

The Championship might not be the cash cow of the Premier League when it comes to the financial figures involved.

But there is still plenty of money swirling round English football’s second tier.

With that in mind we’ve taken a look at who owns each of the 24 Championship clubs.

Acquaint yourselves with the money men (and women) here:

Aston Villa

Owner (or majority shareholder): Tony Xia

Nationality: Chinese

Net worth: £990m

Background: Landscape design, planning, new energy. He is the owner and chairman of RECON Group.

The successful Chinese businessman bought Villa for £76million in June 2016 after checking out a number of other clubs including West Bromwich Albion.

Little was known about the 40-year-old prior to the takeover other than that he studied landscape design at Harvard University and was one of the top students in the class.

He arrived as the owner and chairman of the RECON Group – an organisation which operates in a number of sectors including, health, new energy, IT, health and agriculture, smart transportation, as well as sport and leisure.

Read More

‘It’s Black & White’ – listen to our Rams podcasts

Xia quickly fell in love with Villa and the claret and blue faithful also took him into their hearts as he started and continues to engage with the fanbase via social media and regular visits to Villa Park.

Many scoffed at his ambitious plans early on. He claimed that he would help transform Villa into a feared force once again and claimed they could be champions of Europe again within a decade.

And although the clearly have some way to go before any of that becomes a reality, you can’t know Xia for not trying.

His first appointment – Roberto Di Matteo – didn’t go to plan but he backed him with sufficient funds to get the players he wanted into the club.

Steve Bruce has had his hands tied behind his back due to Financial Fair Play regulations, but he’s still been able to recruit a number of his top targets.

Xia’s plans to buy other clubs and use Villa as the cornerstone of his operations have gone quiet.

But there are plans in place to increase the capacity at Villa Park, improve the academy and training ground facilities and regenerate the area of Aston.

It feels like it all hinges on promotion back to the top-flight, though.

by Gregg Evans

Dr Tony Xia chairman of Aston Villa
Dr Tony Xia chairman of Aston Villa

Barnsley

Owner: Patrick Cryne

Nationality: British

Net Worth: £40m (approx)

Background: Terminally ill Cryne hit the national headlines a few weeks ago when he advised fans in his programme notes that he did not expect to reach the end of the season.

A local businessmen who made his money in software he rescued the club from folding at the turn of the millennium and has stood by them since.

He has, though been preparing for a handover and it is thought a takeover is imminent which will see 98.5% of the club sold for £20m to an American-Chinese consortium consisting Chien Lee, Paul Conway and Billy Bean – of Moneyball fame.

In a nod towards tradition Cryne’s son James is expected to take a 1.5% stake and remain involved at Oakwell.

by Brian Dick

Birmingham City

Owner: Paul Suen (Trillion Trophy Asia)

Nationality: Chinese

Net worth: £450m (reported)

Background: Distressed stocks, casinos, energy, real estate.

Little is know about the Hong Kong-based businessman – except that he’s known as the ‘King of Penny Stocks’ for his reputation of turning round struggling companies.

Suen wholly owns Wealthy Associates, which in turn wholly owns Trillion Trophy Asia. TTA has business premises at Great Eagle Centre, Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

He is described as having ‘extensive experience in strategic planning and corporate management of business enterprises in Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China. Suen is 56-years-old and there are no pictures on public file of him.

Nevertheless he came at a time when Blues’ parent company Birmingham International Holdings was mired in a legal wrangle with previous owners and directors – until it was put into administration.

That allowed the mysterious, BVI registered Trillion Trophy Asia, to emerge as preferred bidders to takeover – which they did in October 2016.

Since then they have invested heavily but have had no return on their investment on the field.

Having got rid of Gary Rowett when Blues were on the brink of the Championship play-offs, they have presided over the disastrous tenures of Gianfranco Zola and Harry Redknapp.

Eventually the money they’ve put in will surely lift Blues up the table – but first they need stability and hopefully Steve Cotterill is the man to bring that.

by Brian Dick

Bolton Wanderers

Owner: Ken Anderson

Nationality: British

Net worth: Unknown

Background: Bolton Wanderers’ owner is Ken Anderson, a Monaco and Switzerland-based former football agent who now owns 94.5 per cent of shares in parent company Burnden Leisure Limited through his own company Inner Circle Investments.

Anderson launched a joint venture with ex-footballer Dean Holdsowrth in March 2016 to buy the club from former owner Eddie Davies for just £1, and took on around £7million of incumbent debts.

After promotion to the Championship, he is now looking to sell Bolton Wanderers for £25million.

by Shane Ireland

Brentford

Owner: Matthew Benham

Nationality: English

Background: Benham used to work as a city trader before setting up sports betting exchange website Matchbook. He also owns Smart Odds and bought Brentford, the club whom he supported as a boy, with the hope of transforming them into a Premier League club.

Gambling tycoon Benham became Brentford’s full shareholder in 2014, the year he bankrolled promotion from League One to ensure the Bees would be playing second tier football for the first time in 21 years.

He is also the majority owner of Danish side FC Midtjylland. Benham has been the pioneer for the use of statistical analysis within football and has recruited wisely to compete with Championship clubs on much larger budgets in recent years.

by Alex Dicken

Bristol City

Owner: Steve Lansdown

Nationality: British

Net worth: £1.5bn (Forbes)

Background: Financial services, Hargreaves Lansdown co-founder.

The Guernsey-based billionaire – educated in Thornbury, South Gloucs – has ploughed many millions into building up the Bristol Sport empire (Bristol City, Bristol Rugby, Bristol Flyers, more) and putting the South West firmly on the sporting map.

While yet to really plant the flag of success there are signs that a serious breakthrough could be on the horizon with Bristol City currently doing well in the Championship and Bristol Rugby looking to bounce back into the Aviva Premiership.

Lansdown celebrates 15 years’ ownership of the Robins this month (began October 2002) and can look back fondly at the regeneration of Ashton Gate during his time, as he sold a 4.7% stake in financial service firm Hargreaves Lansdown for £47.2m to help renovate the stadium and modernise the facilities in 2009, and his awarding of a CBE in January for his community and business service to the Bristol region.

His decision to stick with head coach Lee Johnson last season following a club record run of league defeats looks astute, and the 65-year-old will hope that the Robins can soon add to the EFL Trophies (2003, 2015) and League One title honours (2015) accrued during Lansdown senior’s tenure, as son Jon Lansdown becomes more involved in the community aspect of the club.

Gregor McGregor

Burton Albion

Owner: Ben Robinson

Nationality: British

Background: Robinson owns 98 per cent of the club is British, brought up in Burton.

He runs an insurance company. Robinson was originally chairman from 1976 until 1984 but quit to focus on his business.

He then returned in 1995 and has guided Burton, along with Nigel Clough, to the Championship.

by Richard Cusack

Cardiff City

Owner: Vincent Tan

Nationality: Malaysian

Net worth: Estimated $1.3 billion

Background: Resorts, food and drink and property before heading into sports ownership with KV Kortrijk, Los Angeles FC and FK Sarajevo – along with Cardiff City – now in his portfolio.

Vincent Tan has has a turbulent relationship with Cardiff City fans in the seven years he’s owned the club.

From the dizzy heights of the Premier League and back, to an unpopular blue-to-red rebrand and back and the fall-out with ex-boss Malky Mackay it’s never been boring.

But he’s recently been widely praised for his appointment and backing of manager Neil Warnock – a decision that has helped propel the Bluebirds back to the Championship’s summit and spread the good feeling around the club too.

Tan is now well liked by many fans, who recognise how much money he’s pumped into the club in recent times.

by Dominic Booth

Derby County

Owner: Mel Morris

Nationality: British

Net worth: £500m (Sunday Times Rich List)

Background: The local entrepreneur, who was raised in Littleover, Derby, had his first breakthrough with a dating website called uDate, which he built up and then sold for £100m.

Some of that money helped fund Prevx – an internet security company, which he developed and then sold for another healthy profit.

The cash from the uDate sale also provided the seed funding for King Digital Entertainment, an Anglo-Swedish start-up specialising in tournament-style games played over the internet.

King went on to develop Candy Crush Saga and Morris enjoyed a £450m payday following the sale of the company in 2015. He took full control of Derby County in September of that year, when he completed the purchase of the club from North American Derby Partners LP for an undisclosed sum.

Mel Morris
Mel Morris

Fulham

Owner: Shahid Khan

Nationality: Pakistani-American

Net worth: $7.2 billion

Background: Arrived in the US from Pakistan with $500 in his pocket as a 16-year-old and enrolled in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Owns autoparts maker Flex-N-Gate as well as NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Shahid Khan bought Fulham from Mohamed Al Fayed in 2013 and has since gone about changing the way the club is run in order to get them back to the Premier League. Since then, he’s hired his son, Tony, as vice chairman and Director of Football operations – giving him and his statistics team full control of the club’s transfer department.

by Ryan O’Donovan

Hull City

Owner: Assem Allam

Nationality: British

Net worth: £250m

Background: Marine generators.

The Allam family took ownership of Hull City in December 2010 with Assem Allam installed as chairman and his son Ehab, who takes care of the day to day running of the football club, occupying the position of vice chairman.

According to the Sunday Times rich list, Assem Allam’s net worth grew substantially in the last 12 months to increase by £40m to £120m. The family do not attend City home games due to a strained relationship with the club’s supporters that started following two applications to the Football Association to change the club’s name and then reinforced by a controversial membership scheme which scrapped concessions.

by James Smailes

Ipswich Town

Owner: Marcus Evans

Nationality: British

Net worth: £765m (Sunday Times Rich List)

Background: Corporate hospitality, founder of Marcus Evans Group

Evans made his millions through his eponymous corporate hospitality and events business, the Marcus Evans Group, before buying a controlling stake in Ipswich Town in December 2007.

Based in London but with childhood connections to Suffolk, Evans has always endeavoured to keep himself and his family out of the limelight – a lack of public visibility which has sometimes proven a source of frustration for fans of the Championship’s longest serving current tenants.

Evans helped to restore control of Ipswich’s finances in buying out the club’s debts of more than £32m upon his takeover. But despite swiftly setting sights on promotion to the Premier League, Town have failed to make any significant progress in the ten years since.

Following an early rush of spending which accomplished little during Roy Keane’s ill-fated reign as Town boss, the purse strings were tightened and Ipswich have spent much of Evans’ ownership operating on one of the smallest budgets in the Championship. Such constraints have left the club increasingly relying upon current manager Mick McCarthy to work miracles, and risk putting a long-awaited return to top flight football well beyond the Blues’ reach any time soon.

by Darren Campbell

Leeds United

Owner: Andrea Radrizzani

Nationality: Italian

Net worth: Unknown

Background: Radrizzani made his fortune selling the rights to broadcast a variety of sports internationally. He’s a co-founder of MP & Silva Worldwide.

The Premier League is one of their biggest sellers so it’s no surprise to hear that Radrizzani wants Leeds United back in the big time within the next five years.

The 43-year-old was born in Milan, studied in his hometown, and became an expert in reading the likely effect of the digital revolution on football rights.

He decided to purchase Leeds United after Kenny Dalglish explained the potential of the club to him over a lunch.

Since taking over he claims to have invested over £100m, which includes £20million to buy back Elland Road.

by Gregg Evans

Read More

Derby County recap

Middlesbrough

Owner (or majority shareholder): Steve Gibson

Nationality: British

Net worth: £195m (Sunday Times Rich List)

Background: The life-long Boro fan has a 75% stake in Gibson-O’Neill Ltd which is the holding company that owns Middlesbrough FC and the lush rural Rockliffe site that includes the club’s training complex and a swanky five star hotel and gold club.

In 1981 Gibson borrowed £1,000 from his father and alongside old college friend Michael O’Neill founded Bulkhaul, a company specialising in the transportation of bulk liquids, powders and gases in the chemical industry.

It was initially based on Teesside, then the hub of a massive domestic petro-chemical industry but rapid exansion has seen Bulkhual become one of the global players in the industry with centres and offices worldwide. The company covers the principal global trade routes and works closely with major chemical companies in Europe, America and the Far East.

Bulkhaul ceased manufacturing at Teesside, but its main base of operations remains in Middlesbrough.[5]

Gibson was the main force behind the consortium of local businesses that saved the club from liquidation in the summer of 1986, taking over the ground and football obligations – and debts – of a club in the hands of the official receiver.

Since then, having taken over as chairman in 1994, he has bankrolled a golden era of success with a new stadium, a first ever trophy in 2004 and two season sin Europe that ended in the UEFA Cup final in 2006.

Following relegation in 2009 Gibson was reported to be funding the club to the tune of £1m a month but much of that debt has been written off in various restructures.

Gibson, who was awarded an OBE in 2016, remains the chairman and figurehead of the club.

by Anthony Vickers

Millwall

Owner: John Berylson

Nationality: American

Net worth: $175million

Background: Born in Boston, U.S, Berylson is a Harvard MBA and a former US Marine. He worked in Rhode Island refinancing banks and had a successful financial career. There was even a time when he considered working in public office and he also claims to know the Queen!

He was part of the American consortium who bought Millwall in 2007 after being introduced to English football by fellow-Massachusetts businessman Robert Kraft.

Liverpool and Leeds United were also considered but Berylson wanted to be based in London.

by Gregg Evans

Norwich City

Owner: Delia Smith, Michael Wynn-Jones (majority shareholders)

Nationality: British

Net worth: £23m (Mirror, 2015)

Background: Delia Smith, famed television cook, and her husband Michael Wynn-Jones became majority shareholders of public limited Norwich City in 2003 as the Canaries prepared to embark on a title-winning promotion to the Premier League.

The couple have overseen plenty of highs and lows in their tenure, including a drop into League One and consecutive promotions back to the top flight.

Celebrity Stephen Fry and former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, both supporters, are on the club board.

by Joseph Chapman

Norwich City majority shareholder Delia Smith
Norwich City majority shareholder Delia Smith

Nottingham Forest

Owner (or majority shareholder): Evangelos Marinakis

Nationality: Greek

Net worth: Unknown, reported to be $650million in 2015

Background: Shipping

Had previously failed in an attempt to takeover Forest in 2016, before eventually getting the green light in May. Headed a consortium – along with fellow Greek businessman Sokratis Kominakis – which bought the club off Fawaz Al Hasawi.

The Reds became the second football club in Marinakis’ portfolio, as he has been the majority owner and president of Olympiacos since August 2010.

Made his money in the shipping business. He is the founder and chairman of Capital Maritime & Trading Corp, and also has experience in the governance of football through his role as vice-president of the Hellenic Football Federation and president of Superleague Greece.

by Sarah Clapson

Read More

Derby 2-0 Nott’m Forest

Preston North End

Owner: Trevor Hemmings

Nationality: British

Net worth: £850m (Sunday Times Rich List)

Background: Hemmings, 82, is well known for being North End owner – but he’s perhaps better known for his horse racing exploits.

He owns over 100 horses and has had three Grand National wins – Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds.

His company, Deepdale PNE Holdings, acquired 23.4% of the club in 2010, taking the overall ownership to 51.4% – and a controlling stake.

Hemmings also owns Trust Inns, a company that runs almost 500 pubs around the UK. They bought more than 100 pubs from Mitchells and Butlers in 2006 for just over £100m.

by Joseph Chapman

Queens Park Rangers

Owner: Tony Fernandes

Nationality: Malaysian

Net worth: £345m (Forbes)

Background: Tony Fernandes is a Malaysian entrepreneur most famous for introducing the world’s first budget airline, AirAsia.

He started his career working with Virgin Atlantic and was financial controller for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records in London between 1987 and 1989.

He also worked for Warner Music in Malaysia before purchasing AirAsia in 2001. Fernandes has also had business interests in leisure and Motorsport, as well as hosting The Apprentice Asia in 2013, where aspiring businessmen and women competed for the chance to work with him.

by Phil Spencer

Reading

Owner: Dai Yongge, Dai Xiu Li

Nationality: Chinese

Net worth: Unknown

Background: The brother and sister pair made their fortune through a massive property empire.

Mr Dai has been the chairman of Renhe Commercial since 1999, which is an organisation owned by his sister behind a vast network of underground shopping centres in China. The company has centres – which are converted from air-raid shelters – in more than 30 Chinese cities, including Harbin (Heilongjiang), Guangzhou (Guangdong), Wuhan (Hubei), and Shenyang (Liaoning).

His sister Dai Xiu Li is reportedly one of the wealthiest women in China. In 2014 according to the American business magazine Forbes she was worth £700m.

She is currently on the board of Renhe Commercial as a non-executive director and is president of Beijing Renhe Football club, who were recently relegated to China League One. She also owns Belgian side KSV Roeselare.

After graduating with a degree in Chinese Literature in 1986 and working as a journalist in China, she moved to England in 1991 and married teacher Tony Hawken. The pair lived in South Norwood, near Croydon but divorced in 2014, after 21 years together.

Along with her brother she formed Renhe Commercial Holdings in the early 1990s and by 2008 it was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The pair made an attempt to buy Hull City last summer following the Tigers’ promotion to the Premier League. However, the bid failed due to some of the members in the pair’s consortium running into problems during the Premier League’s fit and proper persons’ test.

The takeover was completed on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 with Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li becoming majority shareholders after the club gained approval from the EFL.

by Jonathan Low

Sheffield United

Owners: Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Nationality: McCabe (British) Prince Abdullah (Saudi Arabian)

Net worth: McCabe £150m (approx) Prince Abdullah £110m (estimated)

Background: McCabe, who is from Sheffield and has made his money in property investment, has been the long term owner of Blades. However in 2013 he sought further investment to improve the club’s position which is where Prince Abdullah came on the scene.

McCabe sold the Saudi Prince a 50% stake in the Blades for just £1. Since then the Prince has invested the best part of £80m in the club.

He had to step down as a director, though, after he was given a governmental post in Saudi – though he remains committed.

McCabe has also resigned from the club’s board but has his representatives there and both men remain the power behind the crown at Bramall Lane.

by Brian Dick

Sheffield Wednesday

Owner: Dejphon Chansiri

Nationality: Thai

Net worth: Estimated £520m

Background: Chansiri’s family own Thai Union Group, who are the world’s largest provider of canned tuna.

The Chansiri family bought out former Owls owner Milan Mandaric in 2015 and Dejphon immediately set out their aims to reach the Premier League by 2017.

They sacked manager Stuart Gray and appointed Carlos Carvalhal who has guided them to consecutive top six finishes in the Championship.

Bangkok-based Chansiris are among the richest owners in the Championship and have splashed big fees on Jordan Rhodes, Adam Reach and many more talented players in recent transfer windows.

by Alex Dicken

Sunderland

Owner: Ellis Short

Nationality: American

Net worth: £1bn

Background: Private equity

In keeping with a number of British football club owners, Ellis Short is a billionaire, American and shy.

London-based Short was brought on board by former chairman Niall Quinn, and bought a controlling share in 2008. He decided it was time to sell in 2016-17 after years of managerial sackings, hopeless director of football appointments and bad transfers had left the club over £100m in debt.

His unwillingness to throw more good money after bad was one factor in Sunderland’s relegation that season.

Needing yet another new manager after David Moyes resignation, Short pulled the plug on talks to sell the club in the summer because it was holding up a new appointment and pre-season was about to start, but he will certainly not turn his nose up at a good offer.

by Stuart Jamieson

Wolves

Owner: Fosun International

Nationality: Chinese

Net worth: £7bn (Forbes)

Background: Industrial operations, investment, asset management, and insurance

Compared to some other drawn-out football club sales, Steve Morgan’s £30 million disposal of Wolverhampton Wanderers to Guo Guangchang’s Fosun International Group was a whirlwind affair.

The diversified Chinese company involved in healthcare, fashion, tourism and property investment completed the deal in July 2016, following Steve Morgan’s announcement last September that he was looking for a buyer for the club which he bought from the late Sir Jack Hayward for £10.

Guo Guanchang runs the Fosun business which has investment assets in the Europe including holiday companies Thomas Cook and Club Med, nursery brand Silver Cross and entertainment group Cirque de Soleil.

After the takeover Fosun promised to invest between £20 million and £30 million over the next two years to get the club into the Premier League as soon as possible.

And so far, it’s all going to plan.

The decision to appoint Nuno Espirito Santo as head coach in the summer looks a shrewd one, with Wolves firmly in the promotion mix.

by Shane Ireland

Source

LEAVE A REPLY