Come on down! These days everyone wants to be taken over by a billionaire and then immediately get linked with players worth more than the entire debt of Africa. But how?
Ker-Ching! It’s easy! The Premier League title awaits, all you have to do is pick out a billionaire, flutter your eyelashes and as sure as houses they will want to take over your club because deep down that’s what they all want to do.
To save Chairmen time I have created a guide of the world’s top 20 richest people and matched them to the club of their dreams….
1. Warren Buffett $62bn
There’s none richer than modest Warren, but the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ has lived in the same ho-hum house in Dundee, Omaha, all his life. He only takes a $100k salary from his company and shuns the trappings of his status. A philanthropist to the core, his plan is to give away 31 billion of his fortune when he passes away. Despite his massive wealth the Oracle keeps a keen sense of humour and a common touch.
It’s unlikely that he would be interested in buying a soccer club but if he did it’s likely he’d plump for Bolton Wanderers. He’s not into the fancy life and would relate to their plucky stickability at the top despite their relatively small size.
2. Carlos Slim Helu $60bn
Say Hello to Helu Hull, the Mexican who loves sport and art. This communications investor knows how to donate money to needy causes. He has revitalised large areas of Mexico City with his cash and isn’t shy when it comes to funding health projects for the poor or providing web connectivity for students. Of Lebanese stock, he’s a naturally smart streetwise negotiator.
Carlos loves to spot an opportunity and develop it to full potential. He is far more likely to buy into a smaller club than one of the elite in the top four. Spurs or Everton would be possibles, but he may set his sites a touch lower and opt to go for Hull. Say hello to Kaka, Hull.
3. William Gates III $58bn
Mister Vista needs no introduction. The man behind the most infuriating operating system ever created will be looking for some challenges with his spare time now that he is winding down at Microsoft. Seeing as his wife runs their charity, he should have enough time and spare change leftover to stop saving the world from AIDS and work his magic in the Premier League.
As the greatest nerd of them all it is unlikely that Bill has spent much time dreaming of owning his own club, but as he has aged he has become a lot more open minded. He’s likely to want a club functional and not too flashy; Boro would fit the bill nicely.
4. Lakshmi Mittal $45bn
Mittal is Metal. As the world’s largest steelmaker there’s a good chance that something metal you have seen or touched before lunch went through his business. The replacement for the World Trade Centre will be constructed using his steel. He’s an Indian citizen, but lives in London, which makes him the richest man in Europe. This is all a far cry from his humble start in life sleeping on hard floors and surviving day-to-day with his extended family.
Mr. Mittal is no stranger to football. He already owns 20% in QPR, his son-in-law is on the board, and he has previously shown interest in Wigan and Everton. As a resident of London and investor in West End clubs, Fulham would seem to be a plum club for his picking. They are swish and urbanite, without being too flashy — just like him.
5. Mukesh Ambani $43bn
Asia’s richest resident is busy building himself a 27 story house, but the vast edifice won’t be a home for his young brother (see below) Anil. The two brothers bickered so much about what to with their inheritance from their father, the industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani, that their mother had to sort out the squabble. Now bitter rivals, they have left their respective naughty corners to expand their combined wealth to astronomical levels, but they won’t be sharing….
Mukesh will always seek to trump his brother so Sunderland would be perfect for him. Why? His brother wants to buy Newcastle United….
6. Anil Ambani $42bn
They used to laugh at Anil for being tubby. They aren’t laughing now. The better looking Ambani brother shed the stones, piled on the dollars and married one of India’s most beautiful film stars, Tina Munim. It’s not all perfect though. He’s still fighting with his brother, this time in court over a gas supply, and he was recently linked with a takeover of Newcastle United which increased his profile a touch more than he wanted.
Ever since the fiasco with Kevin Keegan at Newcastle the speculation that Anil will takeover has increased by the day. With fans in open mutiny it is a likely buyout, but canny Anil will hang on to see how the story unfolds before he makes his move.
7. Ingvar Kamprad $31bn
If you have bought furniture from IKEA and were forced to build it yourself then you have every right to want to flatpack Ingvar Kamprad and send him to Siberia. The self-made founder of IKEA started building furniture in 1947 and has always had cost on his mind. He never goes first class and prefers to drive an old battered Volvo to work. His house is furnished with his own products, which means that 98% of people on earth can claim to live like a billionaire.
He’s not the sort to seek publicity, so he’s unlikely to want to buy a club. If he did, Stoke City would be his type of team: frills free.
8. KP Singh $30bn
KP is the world’s richest real estate boss, but he still finds the time to follow sport. He’s a keen fan of cricket and golf, but his favourite sport seems to be making money. In a little over two years he has tripled his wealth and with his son Rajiv and daughter Pia looking after operations he has time on his hands.
Liverpool would be perfect for KP. He loves nothing more than an ambitious real estate project and with Liverpool looking to update from Anfield who better to bankroll the operation?
9. Oleg Deripaska $28bn
Everyone’s favourite oligarch, Roman Abramovich, is not Russia’s richest man — Oleg is. It hasn’t always been a life of endless roubles, though. As a student he often went hungry and worked as a labourer to earn enough to keep alive. Realising that cold cabbage soup wasn’t fun, he left his studies and worked his way up in small time metals trading. He used his rising influence to stop strikes and eventually crush the local mafia. How he managed that is still a mystery.
He has recently shown an interest in Arsenal and West Brom, with the latter looking the more likely.
10. Karl Albrecht $27bn
Germany’s richest man made his money through the Aldi supermarkets chain. He built up the budget supermarket with his brother from his mother’s corner shop after having fought with the German army during World War 2. At 88 he isn’t the youngest, but he’s still vital and loves nothing more than a game of golf on his own course, which he built himself. He’s now fully retired and has relinquished all control of the Aldi empire.
Piling high and selling cheap got Karl rich so it is likely that he would look to buy cheaply and make a profit on a sure thing. Portsmouth would be a sound bet.
11. Li Ka-shing $26.5bn
Rags to Riches stories don’t get better than Li Ka-shing’s. When he was a young boy he moved with his family out of a turbulent China and lived with his arrogant uncle in Hong Kong. When his father died Li was forced to leave school and support the family. Working 16 hours a day in a plastics factory, he used his sharp brain to trade with his own company selling plastic flowers.
That company has evolved and earned him a cool $26.5 billion dollars, but he isn’t letting that spoil him. Using his rich uncle’s attitude as a guide, he lives a simple life shunning overt luxury and the trappings of fame. He’s generous too, spending billions on good causes.
Everton’s links to China and down to earth image would fit in nicely with Li Ka-shing’s ethos.
12. Sheldon Adelson $26bn
Sheldon Adelson is another self-made billionaire from the USA. Of Ukraine and Lithuanian stock, he is keen to make the most of the opportunities on offer in the States. At the age of 12 he had his own business selling newspapers. He never looked back and made his fortune through hotels and casino halls, including a recreation of Venice complete with singing Gondoliers and crowds of open-mouthed tourists.
There is nothing Mr.Adelson likes more than to get one over on his rivals. Anything you can do, he can do ten times better. Manchester United would be his ideal club.
13. Bernard Arnault $25.5bn
If Ingvar Kamprad is all about a basic life, then Bernard Arnhault is the pole opposite – he is the arch bon viveur. The Frenchman has built a luxury goods empire by buying up the biggest names in glitz. From Dior to Dom Perignon to Tag Heuer, Bernard owns them all. He spends his spare time skiing and loves to wander about his wineries sipping the latest creations. From witnessing Sarkozy’s wedding to receiving the French Legion of Honour he has become the ultimate symbol of elitism in France.
As a man of effortless style and Gallic charm there is only one club for him: Arsenal.
14. Lawrence Ellison $25bn
The man behind business software giant Oracle failed to graduate from the University of Chicago as a young man, but the 25 billion he has banked since has softened the blow. Born in the Bronx to a single mother, he spent his early life in the care of his aunt and uncle who raised him. His tough Russian adoptive father gave him the surname Ellison after his point of entry into the USA, Ellis Island. These days he spends his free time competing in the Americas Cup and creating the largest subwoofer in the world out of a converted swimming pool.
He’s desperate to get into sports, but is finding it tricky. He has been knocked back in his attempt to buy the 49ers and is finding obstacles in other approaches. He loves boats best and also loves turning a lost cause into a winning proposition. Southampton beckons….
15. Roman Abramovich $23.5bn
Orphan and college dropout Roman Abramovich already owns, as we all know, Chelsea. He set the billionaire ball rolling and is seen by many as the man who triggered the beginning of the end of football as we know it.
It’s how he reacts to the new threat of Manchester City’s wealth that will be fascinating. History suggests that he will crush it like a snail under his shoe, but if these other billionaires get involved he may slip back into his shell before it all gets too common. But where would that leave Chelsea?
16. Theo Albrecht $23bn
Karl’s younger brother Theo got the raw end of the deal when the Aldi lines were drawn. Theo got the less affluent north and Karl the south on the map of cheap supermarket domination. In the end things worked out fine, give or take a few billion. These days he prefers to be out of the public eye after having being kidnapped for 17 days back in the early 70’s. His hobbies include collecting old typewriters and playing golf, possibly on his brother’s course.
Theo won’t make the same mistake twice. He will want to stay close to his brother and that means joining forces at Portsmouth. It’s odds on though that he will be seen more often on the golf courses of Bournemouth than screaming on the team at Fratton Park.
17. Liliane Bettencourt $22.9bn
As the figurehead of L’Oreal Liliane is worth it even if her fortune is inherited. She is the world’s richest woman with a bank balance touching 23 billion dollars, but that hasn’t made her greedy. Her Battencourt Schueller Foundation backs science and it is rumoured that she regularly gives to good causes.
Liliane isn’t into football, but loves to spend time in London. She would see Arsenal as the perfect investment. Lunch with Bernard and some shopping afterward.
18. Alexei Mordashov $21.2bn
When Freddie Shepherd talked of finding a ‘Geordie Abramovich’ he could well have been talking about Alexei Mordashov. Despite being worth 21 billion, the Russian still found time to study at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle. His wealth was forged in the steel mills of Cherepovets, a sleeper town in Russia. At 42 he’s still young and loves sport.
It’s rumoured that Mordashov went to every home game when he was a student in Newcastle and that he’s a keen supporter of the club. It’s likely that he will step into the breach if Anil Ambani fails to make his move.
19. Prince Alwaleed $21bn
The Citigroup investor looks every inch the international jet-setter. With his Peter Bowles moustache and shades the Saudi billionaire loves to live the life. As the descendant of the founding King of Saudi Arabia the Prince is used to having things his own way. The Louvre were happy to accept his $20m gift to build a wing housing Islamic art and Donald Trump gave in when he wanted to buy his yacht the ‘Trump Princess’. He keeps himself busy driving his 300 cars and swimming in his lagoon pool.
The fact that Aston Villa have a very rich man in charge would be the red rag to the Prince. He would also not be averse to adding another Villa to his already bulging collection. Get packing, Randy.
20. Mikhail Fridman $20.8bn
Tow Law Town
Steel and Oil combined to make Mikhail Fridman a billionaire via his set-up The Alfa Group. They then diversified into telecoms and other investment ventures which have shot him into the top 20 richest people on earth with his 21 billion. He regularly finds himself in disputes and scandals, but rarely fails to win his battles. He is Russia’s representative on the Council on Foreign Relations which is largely down to his affable, ahem, nature.
Mikhail loves to take something from nothing and make it worth a billion dollars. He would see Tow Law Town as the ultimate challenge.
Oliver Fowler is the brains behind Next Soccer Star, set up to offer an opportunity for the next stars of football to showcase their skills and offer the very best a road into the professional game and possible megastardom.