How well do you know your club's owners?

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Football News

 When it comes to club owners, most fans are happy so long as money is being pumped into the club for new signings and the trophies are flowing in.

But how well do you know the men who are pocketing your hard-earned cash every weekend and charging you £4 for a pie? GMF decided to take a closer look at the men controlling the strings behind the scenes at five of the Premier League's biggest clubs.

Manchester United

Pretty much every Manchester United fans know who owns their club now. The Glazer family.

In 2005, the American family completed a leveraged buyout of the club - purchasing the club using borrowed money, then putting the debt in the name of the club via a holding company in the low-tax state of Delaware.

In February of this year it was reported that the amount of money that had left Manchester United to help service the debts, paying for things like interest and other financial charges, had hit £500 million.

Since the clan took over the most successful club in Premier League history, loading them with debt, season ticket prices rose by 12.6% in 2006, while across the Glazer reign ticket prices have gone up by around 5.8%.

Interestingly, notable Manchester United blogger Andy Green has suggested Manchester United could be debt free for the first time in the coming years thanks to a combination of the extraordinary TV deal which comes into play next season and increased commercial revenue.

But what of the men themselves? 

Malcom Glazer, head of the family, owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He formed the real estate company First Allied, which controls more than 6.7 million square feet of retail space in the United States. His Glazer Children's Museum opened in Tampa in September 2010 after he donated $5 million. His six children manage the family's assets.


Arsenal's ownership history is a long and complicated one. The Hill-Wood and the Bracewell-Smith families (Nina Bracewell-Smith, who recently sold her stake in the club, was a third-generation owner) traditionally owned the largest stakes in the club going into the Premier League era.

David Dein, former vice-chairman of Arsenal, bought a 16% stake in the club in 1983 for £292,000. He sold up to Alisher Usmanov for £75 million in 2007.

Nina Bracewell-Smith bagged £116 million when selling to Stan Kroenke. The American bought out the remainder of the shares owned by Peter Hill-Wood, who is the third member of his family to serve as club chairman.

So, who owns what now? Kroenke owns 66.83% of the club through KSE UK Inc. while Usamonov owns 29.99% through Red and White securities Ltd, of which Dein remains the chairman. The remaining 3.18% is owned by smaller shareholders.

Arsenal and their parent company Arsenal Holdings plc, operates as a non-quoted public limited company. They don't trade shares regulalry on the stock market like others, and they don't have a set ("quote") price that gives an indication of their true value.


Chelsea's ownership is a lot more straightforward that Arsenal's in as much as they have one overlord, Roman Abramovich.

Buying an initial 29.5% of the club from Ken Bates in 2003 for £60 million, the Russian proceeded to buy out most remaining shareholders taking the total price of the club to £140 million.

He cleared the club's debt of around £80 million, delisted it from the stock exchange and changed the ownership name to Chelsea FC plc.

Most people will be aware of Abramovich's investment in Chelsea over the years in terms of transfers, while even more will be aware of his reputation for firing and hiring managers.

What is interesting to hear is how Abramovich got wealthy in the first place.

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when state-owned utilities were sold off cheap to the emerging oligarchs, Abramovich combined a refinery and oil drilling business into the company that became known as “Sibneft.”

Boris Yeltsin, president of Russia at the end of the Soviet Union, was persuaded to sell off Russia's oil assets. Sibneft, amidst allegations they had frightened off and bribed rivals, took control of one of the largest oil companies in Russia.

In 2005, Abramovich sold his share in Sibneft back to the state-owned Gazprom, for around £7.4 billion.


Most people know chairman Daniel Levy as the face of Tottenham as a business, but less is known about the true owner of the north London club.

Enic Group, an investment company with shares in various other clubs including FC Basel and Slavia Prague, bought a controlling stake in Tottenham in 2001 from Alan Sugar, who bought and profited from the advent of the Premier League era.

Enic's stake grew to 85% in 2007, with Joe Lewis controlling 71% of the company to Levy's 29%.

Lewis, Tottenham's absent owner, lives in the Bahamas and is rarely seen at games because he is a tax exile. The 76-year-old is listed by Forbes as the 290th richest person in the world 

Reports suggested he had been the subject of an assassination attempt when his helicopter exploded in 1999, killing the pilot, although the incident was quickly blamed on mechanical failure.

Manchester City

Sheikh Mansour; Is there anyone in the world of football who hasn't heard of him?

The Abu Dhabi billionaire spent, ironically enough, £1 billion in propelling Manchester City to the Premier League title, their first league title in 44 years.

Buying the club in 2008 from former Thai president Thaksin Shinawatra, who had had his assets frozen in his home country having been accused of human rights violations and corruption, Mansour made the world of football sit up and notice with the purchase of Real Madrid star Robinho for £32.5 million that same year.

Attracted by never-say-die supporters and a stadium built and handed to City on rather generous terms by the local council, Mansour piled petrodollars into the club and has bought them huge success.

Mansour, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is half brother of the President of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and is part of the ruling family in the gulf states.

Under Mansour, City recorded the highest level of debt ever seen in English football - £197m.

The royal family member is rarely seen at the Etihad Stadium, leaving Khaldoon Al Mubarak to act as the club's chairman.


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