A review of football finance by consultancy firm Deloitte recently revealed how the Premier League is becoming increasingly dominant in world football, with 11 out of the sport’s highest 20 revenues globally flowing to clubs in England’s top flight.

Football is the ultimate team sport. But if you take a look at the Premier League table, the main factor behind which teams are included in it and which are not, or who is riding high and who is battling relegation, is the person at the top of the hierarchy.

It’s not players or managers but club owners — many of them barely known beyond a hardcore fanbase — who play the biggest roles in determining the long-term successes and failures of Premier League clubs.

Business savvy and a passion for the club involved are nice to have but deep pockets are nicer, with many clubs consistently losing big sums of cash but getting propped up by wealthy benefactors. Lots report hefty losses each year.

Here we will look at how the owners of the 20 teams who make up the 2023-24 Premier League made their money, much of it building on extensive reporting by our dedicated club reporters.

Some stories you might know, such as the Glazers. They own Manchester United (for now). Others you might not, like the rivalry between two former colleagues in the sports-betting industry now playing itself out in the top half of the Premier League.

They come from industries as diverse as toilet paper and adult magazines, and countries ranging from Saudi Arabia to Greece, and they are almost exclusively men. Some are liked and others less so. Some have invested a lot of their personal wealth while others are looking for a way out.

Articles about very rich people often focus on their “net worth” — an individual’s total wealth, taking account of assets and liabilities — but we will steer clear of that for two main reasons. It is extremely hard to calculate, especially for foreign owners with diverse and complex investment portfolios. Also, these big numbers can give a misleading picture when applied to football. For example, Josh Harris owns a chunk of Crystal Palace and is worth many billions, making him one of the richest people involved in football anywhere in the world. But he is not expected to be pouring large amounts of this wealth into the south London club.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which owns 80 per cent of Newcastle United, on the other hand has almost bottomless pockets, and eagerness to spend it, though financial fair play (FFP) rules limit their ability to spend without constraint.

Arsenal — marrying rich, property and sport

After first buying a chunk of the club in 2007, Stan Kroenke built up his share over the years via his Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) group, becoming majority owner in 2011 and now owning all of the club. For a long time, the family were largely unpopular with Arsenal fans. Protests also followed the club’s involvement in the ill-fated European Super League.

But this has faded away somewhat as the club’s on-field fortunes have improved. They finished second last season, coming close to a first league title in 19 years. The Kroenkes were criticised for years for not investing enough in the playing squad but Arsenal have spent big over the past couple of seasons, evidenced by this summer’s signings of Declan Rice, Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz for a combined total of more than £200million.

Kroenke, 75, grew up in the Midwestern state of Missouri and was catapulted into the global super-rich in 1974 after marrying Ann Walton, a member of America’s richest family. She was an heir to the Walmart dynasty and inherited her father’s stake in the retail giant in 1995. Ann is worth more than £12billion. Kroenke has also invested in commercial property across the U.S., building shopping centres and apartment buildings, and setting up THF Realty — which has a portfolio worth £1.44billion ($2bn). He also owns vast ranches across America, making him one of the country’s biggest landowners.

As well as Arsenal, he owns a raft of American sports teams including the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL, MLS side Colorado Rapids and the Denver Nuggets, who won their first NBA title this year.

Josh Kroenke, son of Stan and Ann, is on the board at Arsenal and regularly seen at games.

Stan Kroenke is the majority owner of Arsenal (Photo: Ian Kington/AFP via Getty Images)

Aston Villa — nitrogen fertiliser, Adidas and subprime lending

Aston Villa have had a brilliant six years, going from the bottom half of the Championship to qualifying for Europe last season — and this has come via hefty financial backing.

Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, joint investors through their company NSWE, rescued Aston Villa in 2018. They bought the club from Chinese businessman Tony Xia after the UK tax man threatened the Midlands club with a winding-up order. The pair have spent hundreds of millions getting Villa promoted and established in the Premier League.

Sawiris is Egypt’s richest man but spends most of his time living in London. He built his fortune in the construction industry after his father set up Orascom Construction in 1950. It is a corporate giant which is now one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertiliser producers with huge plants in the American states of Texas and Iowa. Sawiris also owns a six per cent stake in Adidas, a chunk of cement giant Lafarge Holcim, and recently acquired five per cent of the group which owns the New York Knicks of the NBA and New York Rangers of the NHL, the world’s top ice hockey league.

Edens was born in Montana in the rural north of the U.S. and rose through the ranks of New York banks before making it big in the aftermath of the American financial crisis, making smart investments which led to him earning the nickname “king of subprime lending” by the Wall Street Journal. He is also a big real estate developer, has plans to re-popularise train travel in the US, and in the last few weeks bought supermarket chain Morrisons, a famous but ailing British brand. He also owns the Milwaukee Bucks, who won their first NBA title in half a century this year.

The two men come from different parts of the globe but struck up a bond at social events for the super-rich. Sawiris is worth more than $7billion (£5bn) according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, while Edens is worth $1.2bn according to Forbes.



Who are Aston Villa owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris?

Brentford – gambling their way to the Premier League

Brentford are one of the biggest success stories in English football, going from a humble history to a top-half Premier League finish in their second season in the division. The main reason is Matthew Benham.

After earning a physics degree at Oxford, he had a career in finance in London before entering the world of sports betting. He set up SmartOdds, providing advice and data to gamblers, then bought Matchbook, a betting exchange website. He learned there is a lot of overlap between mastering the world of sports betting and running a football club, as data can be used to find undervalued gems in the transfer market, or develop a tactical system to neutralise an opponent.

A lifelong Brentford fan, Benham first appeared on the scene in 2006 as a mystery investor bailing out the club to the tune of £500,000 to save them from administration and has subsequently increased his stake over time.

The club scored some remarkable successes in the transfer market while in the Championship, buying players for low fees from the lower leagues and selling them on at huge profits. Two of the most notable were Ollie Watkins, who joined Aston Villa for £28million, having cost around £2m, and Said Benrahma, who moved to West Ham for £20m, after Brentford signed him for around £3m.

Brentford spend far less on wages and transfer fees than most Premier League clubs yet have done brilliantly over the past two seasons, finishing 13th then ninth, and beating all of the Premier League ‘Big Six’ along the way. Benham also owns FC Midtjylland in the Danish SuperLiga.

Brighton — betting on top-flight success

Brighton qualified for Europe for the first time in their history this year and the biggest reason for that is Tony Bloom. Lifelong fan Bloom has invested hundreds of millions of pounds of his personal fortune into building Brighton’s American Express Stadium home and bankrolling their success in a savvy way, allowing them to compete with clubs whose owners have pockets far deeper than his.

Bloom started out as a professional gambler, developing a specialism in Asian markets, and new and growing types of gambling. He set up a gambling company and invested in property, but the move that catapulted him into the super-rich was the 2006 founding of a firm called Starlizard.

North London-based Starlizard, which now has around 160 employees, delivers specialist advice in online sports betting, gaining cutting-edge data by paying young analysts to sift through data and matches to gain an edge on bookmakers. For example, learning of an injury to a key player before a bookmaker may enable a gambler to gain an advantage and make some cash.

Starlizard’s biggest client is Bloom, as the head of a U.S. betting syndicate. Bloom is also the majority shareholder of Royal Union Saint-Gilloise, who play in Belgium’s first division.



The Tony Bloom story

An interesting subplot is that Brentford’s Benham once worked for Bloom before branching out to start his own business. It is understood that the two men do not get along.

Brighton and Bloom have become well known for their expert manoeuvrings in the transfer market, netting huge fees for players such as Marc Cucurella and, potentially, Moises Caceido. But selling their best players has not led to decline — their sixth-placed finish last season was the best in their history.

Bournemouth — insurance and entertainment

The newest owner in the Premier League is one of many Americans financially invested in England’s top flight. Bill Foley, who also owns the NHL champions the Vegas Golden Knights, spoke to The Athletic earlier this year after completing his takeover of Bournemouth.

The south coast club surprised many people by retaining Premier League status last season and Foley is ambitious, targeting European football and ruthlessly replacing manager Gary O’Neil with promising young Spaniard Andoni Iraola.

Like most Americans who invest in football, his wealth comes from finance — he is chairman of Fidelity National Financial, a Florida-based insurance giant which is on the Fortune 500 list of America’s biggest companies.

He has invested heavily in the entertainment industry including golf courses and hotels, and in January bought a minority stake in French side Lorient which is now in partnership with Bournemouth, one of many multi-club models in the Premier League.

Burnley — from local ownership to a US investment banker

While England’s lower leagues are full of clubs owned by local businessmen, this has been a rarity in the Premier League in recent years. It became even rarer in December 2020 when American businessman Alan Pace and ALK Capital bought out Burnley’s previous Lancashire-based owners for around £150million, taking an 84 per cent stake.

Pace spent years as an investment banker in the U.S., for Lehman Brothers and then Citi, but has long been obsessed with football, taking two years out of finance to work for Real Salt Lake in MLS.

Alarm bells rang when Burnley were relegated in 2022 because ALK Capital had taken out a £65million loan at the time of the takeover, of which a “significant proportion” had to be repaid. The large drop in TV broadcast income following the drop out of the Premier League — 85 per cent of the club’s revenue — would leave a major hole.

But the appointment of Vincent Kompany as manager was astute, and Burnley dominated the Championship last season. They were promoted at the first time of asking, so any financial worries have disappeared for now.

The accounts released in July 2022 revealed a healthy picture which will look significantly healthier after another year in the Premier League — and even better if they can stay longer.



Burnley accounts show Alan Pace’s masterplan is very much back on track

Burnley have had an added dash of celebrity in recent months with the addition of NFL legend JJ Watt and his USWNT international wife Kealia as minority investors.

Chelsea — a new era of foreign ownership

Chelsea have gone through one of the most dramatic ownership sagas in world football over the past couple of years.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 the British government placed sanctions on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, forcing him to sell the club through a protracted process.

The eventual buyer was an American investment consortium led by Todd Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital, alongside other investors.

Club chairman Boehly, who also co-owns baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, has spent a career in American finance, buying assets and attempting to turn them around quickly and make a profit.

He has his work cut out doing that at Chelsea — the club has spent vast sums on transfers over the past year only to finish 12th in the Premier League. This means missing out on the European revenue that the 2021 Champions League winners have become so used to in recent years.

Clearlake is based in California and one of its founders, Behdad Eghbali, is a prominent figure in the Chelsea ownership.

Eyebrows have been raised because the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which owns Newcastle United, is also a major investor in Clearlake. But as The Athletic ’s Matt Slater recently explained, there is not necessarily anything untoward about this.

Crystal Palace — saved from the brink by one of their own

Steve Parish is a rare Premier League owner who often shares his thoughts publicly. Despite being the public face of the ownership and the club’s chairman, he owns a minority stake in the club. American John Textor paid £86million for 40 per cent of the club back in 2021, while two of his compatriots, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, also own sizeable chunks.

Parish, a south Londoner and lifelong Palace fan, left school at 18 and started out in the advertising and computer graphics industries, founding a technology company, and an advertising firm that ended up as TAG Worldwide. He sold the company in 2011 for around £150million. In 2010 he led a consortium that rescued Palace from the brink of liquidation by buying the club and Selhurst Park.

Josh Harris is a big name on Wall Street. He worked in banking before co-founding Apollo Global Management in 1990. The investment management firm focuses on private equity, venture capital and property investment. He has donated large amounts to Republican politicians over the years. Harris part-owns the New Jersey Devils of the NHL and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA and heads a group which has agreed a deal to buy the Washington Commanders of the NFL.

David Blitzer has spent three decades at Blackstone Group, a similar investment firm based in New York. He has a lot of experience in sports ownership, part-owning the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers with Harris.

Textor made his money in the media and entertainment industries and has become a big investor in football around the world. As well as Palace, he owns Botafogo in Brazil and RWD Molenbeek in Belgium as well as French side Lyon, completing his takeover of the latter in December 2022.

Parish is the face of Palace’s ownership group (Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Everton — accountancy, mining and telecommunications

British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri has pumped more than half a billion pounds into Everton, on big-name transfers and the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, but over the past few years financial fair play (FFP) restrictions combined with underwhelming performances on the pitch have led to a new austerity at the club.

Majority owner Moshiri splits his time between Monaco and London. He was born in Iran before moving to the UK and training as an accountant working for firms such as Ernst and Young and then Deloitte, when he made a good impression on a wealthy client: Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov.

Moshiri was given a 10 per cent stake in a holding company and the two men’s careers became deeply intertwined. The Russian made massive investments in mining and telecommunications firms in the former Soviet Union through his company USM Holdings — which sponsored Everton’s training ground at Finch Farm.

Usmanov was long rumoured to be influential at the club but everything changed when he had his assets frozen by the British government after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, forcing Everton to remove the name of his company from the training ground.

Everton are in a terrible financial state at the moment, with much of the mess placed at the board’s feet. This includes chairman Bill Kenwright, who bought 68 per cent of the club for just £20million in 1999 but has gradually reduced his stake to around one per cent. Kenwright made his money in film and theatre production.

Right now, Everton are very much for sale at a perilous time for the club. They are attempting to finance the new stadium while battling FFP and trying to cling on in a division they were very nearly relegated from in both of the last two seasons.

Liverpool — from soya beans to global commercial nous

Boston-based Fenway Sports Group bought Liverpool for £300million in 2010. Its investment is now worth more than 10 times that, the club combining on-field victories with commercial success around the globe.

FSG’s two founders are John W Henry and Tom Werner. Werner made his money as a television executive, producing world-famous programmes including The Cosby Show, 3rd Rock From The Sun and That 70s Show. A lifelong baseball fan, he moved into sports ownership in 1990 as part of a group that purchased MLB’s San Diego Padres.

Henry grew up in a rural family and, after developing an interest in agricultural commodities such as soya beans, made his money in finance. He set up JW Henry & Co in 1981 after devising a “mechanical trading system” which followed certain patterns and price trends to buy and sell commodities and other investments. The firm stopped managing funds in 2012, long after it had made Henry a billionaire.

The other prize jewel in the FSG crown are the Boston Red Sox of MLB, with the group overseeing the team’s historic 2004 World Series championship — their first since 1918. The group also has investments in NASCAR auto racing and, back in football, in Olympique Marseille of France’s top division. Henry also owns the Boston Globe newspaper, where his wife, Linda Pizzuti Henry, is managing director.

FSG’s minor partners include basketball star LeBron James, who has been a part-owner of Liverpool since 2011 and RedBird Capital Partners, a US investment firm. In February, FSG put an end to speculation by ruling out a full sale of the club, but it is open to fresh investment in the form of minority ownership.

FSG came under some criticism last season as Liverpool started the season badly, though this has dissipated somewhat after the club came fifth following a good late run. They have made some big moves in the summer transfer market already, signing midfielders Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.

Luton Town — the one owned by the fans

Fan ownership of football hit mainstream politics two years ago when the European Super League proposals emerged and then dramatically imploded within days. Germany is often cited as an example of fan ownership, but there is another example closer to home in a commuter town an hour’s drive north from central London.

After controversies, financial irregularities and point deductions during the first decade of the century, Luton were relegated to non-League football in 2009, an embarrassing decline for a club who spent a decade in the top flight between 1982 and 1992, winning the 1987-88 League Cup final with a 3-2 victory over Arsenal at Wembley.

They were only hours from going out of business altogether in 2008 before being rescued by a fan-led consortium, Luton Town Football Club 2020 Ltd. Very unusually in English football, the Luton Town Supporters Trust own 50,000 shares in that company and has the right to veto changes in the club’s identity.

The group oversaw financial prudence in the second-tier Championship where that has often not been the case, keeping the wage bill substantially below turnover. Despite not having a megabucks backer and while being run sustainably, Luton sensationally achieved promotion to the Premier League by beating Coventry City on penalties in the play-off final in May.

The lack of a big external benefactor will make it hard for Luton to compete next season in a league where salaries and transfer fees are far higher than in the Championship. But as Brentford have demonstrated, it is possible to do well in the Premier League on a tight budget.

Manchester City — Abu Dhabi and empire-building

Just a few decades ago, the land from which English football’s richest owners made their money was a largely uninhabited desert where the main business opportunities were camel herding, farming dates and diving for pearls. That all changed in 1958 when oil was struck in Abu Dhabi for the first time. When the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became independent 13 years later, the oil really started pumping, just before the global oil price surged following the 1973 war between Egypt and Israel.

Abu Dhabi is an absolute monarchy, so these developments made members of its royal family very, very, very rich — including Sheikh Mansour, who is the UAE’s deputy prime minister. Abu Dhabi and other Gulf countries now want to diversify from oil and make money through investment income, business, transport and tourism and other avenues. But the oil is still flowing out of its soil — the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) made around £470million in profit last year.

In 2008, the royal family decided to branch out from their usual investments and buy Manchester City, bankrolling massive investment on the pitch, which led to the club’s first Premier League title in 2012, and four more since then. The group has become ever more ambitious, creating City Football Group (CFG), which owns clubs all over the world as part of a sprawling business empire.

The group was fully owned by Mansour’s investment group until 2015 when China Media Capital and CITIC Group, an investment firm backed by the Chinese state, paid $400million (£298m) for a 13 per cent stake.

In June, City’s owners achieved their ultimate goal — winning the Champions League as part of a treble alongside the FA Cup and a fifth Premier League in six seasons.

Manchester United — debt and premium shopping space

This entry could go out of date at any moment.

The U.S. based Glazer family bought Manchester United in 2005 as part of a leveraged buyout, an arrangement by which the club would be loaded with debt and income slowly extracted. The deal, combined with a marked decline in success on the pitch from the Sir Alex Ferguson era in the previous two decades, has led to deep resentment in the red half of Manchester, with “Glazers Out” protests getting a new lease of life when secretive European Super League proposals emerged with United’s owners at the forefront.

Malcolm Glazer led the initial takeover but died nine years later and passed his empire on to his children. Glazer started out by repairing jewellery and watches in New York, then moved into real estate, buying up homes and commercial property before attacking a dizzying array of corporate adventures, from television to healthcare, Tonka Toys to Harley-Davidson.

According to Forbes, the family’s First Allied Corporation today owns more than 6.7 million square feet of premium shopping-centre space across America. Their most high-profile investment now, aside from United, are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.

As part of a more conciliatory approach recently, executive co-chairman Joel Glazer said he is open to part-fan ownership of the club after apologising for his role in the European Super League fiasco. Some shares have been put on sale recently, with members of the family anticipated to rake in huge profits for their stake in one of the commercial powerhouses of global sport.

Of course, the Glazers may soon be no more — they are weighing up rival bids from Sheikh Jassim of Qatar and Sir Jim Radcliffe and his INEOS Group. It is still possible the Glazers decide to stay on though…

Newcastle United — the Saudi oil fields

“Human rights we take very seriously, but our partner is PIF, not the Saudi state,” said Amanda Staveley in an interview with The Athletic around the time of the Newcastle United takeover in October 2021.

It is not a plausible claim. The Public Investment Fund and the Saudi state are inextricably linked, as demonstrated by Yassir Al Rumayan, PIF governor and the right-hand man of Saudi ruler Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), having a kickabout on the St James’ Park pitch at the end of last season.

While the PIF invests in many companies, the Newcastle deal is something which goes beyond usual financial investment. The club have incorporated Saudi green into their away kits and reportedly arranged a friendly for the country’s national team at St James’ Park next season.

This is hugely controversial because of Saudi Arabia’s terrible and extensively documented human rights record.

As for where the money ultimately comes from, the answer, as with Manchester City, is under the ground — Saudi Arabia sits on vast oil reserves which have made the country phenomenally wealthy. Although, with one eye on a future where the oil has run out, it is also trying to diversify into new areas including sport, with the government also bankrolling the Saudi Pro League — which is hoovering up much of European football’s top talent.

The upper reaches of the Premier League has an increasingly Middle Eastern flavour with Manchester City’s longstanding Abu Dhabi owners, and perhaps soon, neighbours Manchester United being bought by Sheikh Jassim of Qatar.

Nottingham Forest — the Greek shipping magnate

In the summer of 2017, Evangelos Marinakis bought Forest from the Kuwait-based Al-Hasawi family… and the last six years have been chaotic. More than a decade in the Championship preceded a miraculous 2021-22 season which saw the club rise from last place after eight games to gaining promotion via the play-offs, then sign almost an entirely new squad, and manage to surprisingly stay in the Premier League thanks to a late flurry of good results.

As for where all the money comes from, the answer is: ships. Big ones.

The son of a shipping owner and Greek MP, Marinakis moved into the family industry by setting up Capital Maritime & Trading Corp, which owns dozens of tankers and container vessels.

Marinakis has steadily grown the business, acquiring other companies and becoming a big figure on the Greek political scene, taking a seat on the city council of Piraeus in the Athens suburbs as a larger-than-life figure straddling the worlds of business and politics. He also owns several TV channels, has investments in the world of media and entertainment, and has been involved in high-profile philanthropy in his native land.

In Greece, he is best known as owner of Piraeus-based Olympiacos, the country’s most successful club with 46 domestic league titles.

Sheffield United — a combination of royalty and toilet paper

If you ever go to the toilet during a trip to the Middle East, please take a moment to think about Sheffield United.

When Prince Abdullah bin Mosa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud bought into the club in 2013, they were languishing in the middle of a six-year stay in League One, English football’s third tier, but are now looking forward to their second stint since then in the Premier League.

Prince Abdullah initially purchased 50 per cent of the club from local businessman Kevin McCabe for a single pound with the promise of a £10million investment in the team. Six years later, he took full ownership after an extensive legal saga.

Sheffield United’s promotion last season means Newcastle are not the only Saudi-owned club in the top flight — though the Yorkshire club have a less of a direct link to the state itself. Prince Abdullah is one of many grandchildren of Ibn Saud, who founded the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

Successful businesses in the country are largely run by people connected to its royal family. In this case, the business is the Saudi Paper Manufacturing Company, headquartered in Dammam on the country’s east coast, which makes toilet rolls, tissues and kitchen towels in vast factories there and neighbouring nations the UAE and Kuwait. It then sells these products across the Middle East and North Africa.

Besides the Bramall Lane side, Prince Abdullah’s United World portfolio of clubs includes Beerschot of Belgium, India’s Kerala United, Al-Hilal United in the UAE and, the group’s most recent addition, Chateauroux of France.

Prince Abdullah has made clear he wants to sell up, despite the club’s return to the Premier League.

Prince Abdullah, left, owner of Sheffield United (Photo: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur — betting on Black Wednesday

Chairman Daniel Levy owns a large chunk of Tottenham Hotspur and is the face of the club hierarchy but their majority owner is a more enigmatic figure.

Joe Lewis was born in London in 1937 and left school to work in his father’s cafe. He took over the business and built a portfolio of restaurants and other investments aimed at tourists, including the Hanover Grand club in the West End.

He then made his initial fortune by selling that business to focus on currency speculation, a ballooning industry after the demise of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates. Moving to the Bahamas, Lewis earned a vast fortune in the 1980s and 1990s, investing in all sorts of businesses including hotels, hospitality, energy and property.

He made a fortune in 1992 on Black Wednesday — the day currency speculators correctly bet on the UK crashing out of the European exchange rate mechanism. However, 16 years later, he blew a billion dollars in a day after buying up shares in the U.S. bank Bear Sterns in the misguided belief that they would recover. Nevertheless, Lewis has won far more big bets than he has lost and was 41st in the most recent Sunday Times Rich List — with an estimated net worth of £4.3billion ($6billion).

Lewis moved into football in the 1990s, setting up the ENIC Group, which invested in multiple clubs including Slavia Prague, Scotland’s Rangers and AEK Athens. ENIC also put money into software, entertainment and other businesses. Lewis chose a Cambridge graduate then in his early thirties to run his empire: Levy. The group bought a major stake in Spurs in 2001 from Alan Sugar, whom Levy replaced as chairman, with ENIC becoming majority shareholders over several years.

Despite Lewis’ vast wealth, the club are essentially self-sufficient, with the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the jewel in a revenue-generating powerhouse that hosts concerts in the summer and NFL games during international breaks — though a 2023-24 season without European football after finishing eighth in May does no favours for the balance sheet.

West Ham United — adult magazines and property

West Ham was David Gold and David Sullivan’s second footballing joint venture. The two men owned Birmingham City between 1993 and 2009, eventually selling up to Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung. The duo chose as their managing director Karren Brady, then aged just 23 and at the time a very rare woman in a key role at an English club. Brady followed the two Davids to West Ham, and was described as their “enforcer”.

These are West Ham’s G, S and B. The slogan ‘GSB Out’ has been shared by West Ham fans over the years, including during last season’s poor Premier League campaign, but winning the Europa Conference League final brought good vibes to east London this summer.

As for where Gold and Sullivan made their money, it is a long way from the sanitised surroundings of the London 2012 Olympic Park, where West Ham play their home matches. Gold started out selling pornographic photos and magazines, controlling half of the UK’s adult magazine market by the mid-1970s, according to the Sunday Times. Meanwhile, Gold owned Ann Summers, a chain of adult stores, with his brother Ralph. The men became partners and launched the Sunday Sport, a tabloid newspaper known for its photos of topless models. Sullivan, though, made more of his net worth buying and selling property.

In November 2021, Gold and Sullivan announced they had sold 27 per cent of the club to a new name, Daniel Kretinsky.



Finding the real Daniel Kretinsky in Prague: The businessman with a ‘calculator in his mind’ who is ‘paralysed with fear’ before games

Kretinsky is a Czech businessman who owns EPH, a huge energy company, and completes West Ham’s distinctly Czech flavour alongside their players Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal, which made it all the more special when the club lifted their first trophy in decades in that country’s capital, Prague, in May.

Gold passed away this year at the age of 86. His shares have passed onto his family.

Wolves — Fashion, pharmaceuticals, retail and real estate

Chinese takeovers in English football are now associated with absentee owners, and investment drying up after that country’s football-investment bubble burst having boomed in the mid-2010s. But Wolverhampton Wanderers are a slightly different story, with Fosun International retaining an active role after bankrolling the club’s rapid rise from the domestic second tier to playing European football after taking over in 2016.

Wolves’ progress has somewhat reversed in the past couple of years and they only narrowly escaped relegation last season. Fosun was blamed by some fans for scaling back their investment, though financial fair play (FFP) restrictions are also to blame after a couple of high-profile missteps in the transfer market.

The West Midlands club are just one asset in the very large portfolio of the international conglomerate that is Fosun.

Fosun was founded in 1992 as the Guangxin Technology Development Company by five university graduates and started out performing market research before diversifying into real estate, healthcare, steel and other industries.

In the early 2010s, the group expanded abroad, picking up European leisure brands including Thomas Cook, Club Med and Cirque Du Soleil. It now has investments in a vast array of businesses, from banking to fashion, property to retail. Fosun Pharmaceutical made headlines around the world a couple of years ago developing Covid-19 vaccines and tests.

Since buying the club for around £30million, the group has poured cash into the first team as well as increasing revenue fivefold. It has lofty ambitions to turn Wolves into a global commercial powerhouse, developing the club’s brand into a huge media and entertainment business in fashion, eSports and other areas.

In October 2021, Fosun sold a minority stake to PEAK6, an American private equity firm, and it is rumoured to be looking for more new investment to help Wolves stay competitive in an increasingly tough Premier League.

(Top photos: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)