I have to concede that this article is not going to be to the liking of everyone. It’s about, and I’ll say this quietly, finances.
It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine as I love numbers, and with little football to crack on with it gives me a time to ponder some of the latest financial nuggets that have been published over the last day or so.
Essentially FourFourTwo compiled a list of football owners, players, and managers and ranked their worth. Not surprisingly it was the owners who dominated the list and our very own Mike Ashley made the top ten in this latest edition, but the real question is regarding whether or not it really matters and whether or not the figures really stack up to scrutiny.
I suppose we’d better deal with the figures first and foremost. The Manchester City owner Shiekh Mansour comes out on top with his wealth standing at a cool £20bn. Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov sits in 2nd place with a worth of £12.4bn while QPR’s Lakashmi Mittal rounds off the top three with a wealth of £11.8bn. Despite the wealth of Usmanov and Mittal, neither have a controlling stake in their respective clubs.
Outside of the top three we find Roman Abramovich in 4th place with a worth of £10.3bn before a big drop to the 5th placed Liebherr family who currently own Southampton and have a worth of just £3bn. Joe Lewis, the Tottenham majority shareholder, is worth £2.8bn while former Doncaster director and current Celtic minority shareholder Denis O’Brien sits 7th with a worth of £2.517bn.The man that Arsenal’s Usamanov can’t oust, Stan Kroenke sits in 8th with a fortune of £1.8bn while Manchester United’s oweners, the Glazer family, take the penultimate spot with a paltry £1.64bn. Last but not least is our very own Mike Ashley who concludes the top ten with a fortune of £1.37bn.
Now the first thing to look at is whether or not these fortunes are relevant. In short, not really. For instance I’m worth about £200,000 and 21p. It doesn’t mean to say that I have that swimming around in a bank account somewhere – that is where the 21p comes from! What it does mean is that I’m worth that if you add together the value of my house, car, shares, savings, etc. Essentially it’s the value of my assets.
They may be on a different level, but these billionaire owners have their fortunes counted in much the same way. Just because they are billionaires on paper it doesn’t mean that they are cash rich billionaires. In fact the tax efficient billionaire will have most of his wealth tied up in this that or the other to minimise their exposure to the taxman although I have no doubts that all of them aren’t short of a few bob in cold hard cash and I dare say that the top few have a few billion stuffed away in an accessible tin box somewhere.
The second thing that I notice is that Mike Ashley is small fry in terms of the big boys of the Premier League. It’s a sobering thought for those that would like to see our billionaire owner splash the cash, but the fact remains that he just hasn’t got the cash to compete with the likes of Mansour and Abramovich.
So where do we go from here? Do we hope and pray for a rich oil baron, because that is what it’s going to take to move us towards sustained competition with the top clubs in the short term? Or do we settle with the fact that Mike Ashley just simply hasn’t got the money to throw about to get us up there in the short term? Granted we sit 4th currently, but do you think we’ll end the season there? I don’t…
It seems strange to talk about a billionaire not being able to afford to compete, but the numbers are there in black and white. And when you consider that those numbers include all of their assets (including his £260 million commitment to NUFC) you can perhaps start to appreciate that spending say, £25 million, out of his own pocket is a lot more complex than first thought. Spending money that the club generates though should be an entirely different matter.
So in conclusion I guess the numbers don’t really matter. Not when they are compiled using numbers the really have no relevance to us as football fans. It does perhaps make it a bit clearer why Ashley is not so flash with his own cash though.
What do you make of it?