The Sunday Times' Rich List looks set to become required reading in Championship boardrooms up and down the land as the Canaries begin to size up next season's financial opposition.
Some 16 individuals – be they owners, chairman or directors of Championship football clubs – make it into the pages of the Times' annual 'Rich List', a comprehensive and almost compelling guide to the richest 1,000 people in the United Kingdom.
As City directors Andrew and Sharon Turner insisted last year, the valuations listed within the 'Rich List' can be fanciful in the extreme; they also take little account of the actual liquidity of those assets ascribed to the individuals concerned – that the figure is notional and nominal, at best.
A paper, almost bag-of-a-fag-packet calculation that demands every business, home and asset to be sold for a penny to be realised. For the rest of us, however, it remains all good, slap-stick financial fun – seeing who is up, who is down and who, exactly, might be pouring their millions into the Championship next season in that search for a place among the really high rollers in the Premiership.
Amusingly, the Championship is actually shaping up to be more of a billionaire's playground than the Premiership next season – albeit only thanks to the arrival of the Mittal family at the helm of Queen's Park Rangers.
Headed by Indian-born steel magnate Lakshmi, the family is now reckoned to be worth ?27.7 billion – all of which dwarfs Roman Abramovich's ?11.7 billion fortune that underpins Chelsea.
Mittal – the No1 entry in this year's Rich List – is, of course, not alone in having some cash to splash at Loftus Road – Formula One chiefs Bernie Ecclestone (?2.4 billion) and Flavio Briatore (?120 million) also have a stake in the Rs; together the three make QPR the richest football league club in the world.
That and ensure that there is more money awash in the boardrooms of the Championship than there is in the Premiership.
With City boss Glenn Roeder about to discover just what sort of funds he has available this summer, the fortune of the Turners was always going to come under the spotlight with this year's Rich List dropping the husband and wife founders of Central Trust from joint 263rd equal to 320nd equal on ?255 million, a figure down ?20 million from last year's ?275 million.
While confirming the Turners' intention to take Central Trust's turnover to ?1 billion by 2010, the Sunday Times' short piece does not offer an explanation as to why the Turners have slipped back into the 300-something pack – other than that they now value Central Trust at ?220 million. This could, in theory, be simply a reflection of the current difficulties in the global money markets which few institutions – however well run – appear able to avoid.
Again, as they stressed on their arrival in the City boardroom with a ?2 million 'loan' cheque attached, much of their perceived value is on paper only; that only by either selling or floating Central Trust could they actually sit there with ?220 mill to play with. The Rich List does also claim that the couple have ?35 million worth of 'other assets' to complete their ?255 million entry.
They are 15th in the list of richest husband and wives – just one place below fashion designer Sir Paul Smith on ?260 million; four places behind Mr and Mrs Guy Ritchie on ?300 million.
The fact that both Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones have long maintained that they are 'poor millionaires' would appear to be borne out by this year's Rich List with the club's principal shareholders not figuring at all. Indeed among the list of the United Kingdom's 100 wealthiest women, the 'poorest' – Ann Yerburgh of pub and brewing fame – still comes in at a whopping ?80 million.
The really intriguing one, however, is Towergate insurance magnate Peter Cullum who is actually cited by the paper as being the fourth biggest riser in this year's league table as his nominal worth rockets by the small matter of ?1 billion – ?100 million more than the rise ascribed to Abramovich.
He is also claimed to be the owner of the ninth fastest-growing fortune whose average annual growth rate is now reckoned to be at the ?154.5 million mark as he hits the ?1.7 billion mark – 40th equal in the UK's rich 1,000.
Indeed such is the pace of his rising star, that he gets a little feature panel all to himself – in which the Rich List reveals the 57-year-old's ?1.68 billion stake in Towergate Partnership, Europe's largest independently-owned insurance organisation which he founded in 1997.
Again, according to the paper, Cullum has had discussions with a private equity group about divesting a 25% stake in the business to them for ?850 million – valueing Towergate Partnerships at ?3.4 billion.
Though Towergate are based in Maidstone, Cullum was born and raised in Norwich and, says the paper, “remains a keen Norwich City fan”.
Indeed, they add: “He abandoned his own dreams of a footballing career after coming off second best in a tussle with Charlie George when playing in central defence for Norwich City Boys against Arsenal Boys….”
Elsewhere and Ipswich supporters will be interested to note Marcus Evans in at 397th equal with a fortune estimated at ?200 million. Based in Bermuda, the Marcus Evans Group 'runs business events and training'. Their biggest fan, financially, is however Michael Spicer who comes in at 62nd equal on ?1.15 billion.
The 52-year-old runs Icap, the world's largest inter-dealer broker, and has a home in Suffolk. How much of that personal fortune will ever be brought to bear not that Town fall within the Evans empire is, of course, a moot point – something that equally applies to Cullum with both the Smiths and the Turners already in place in the boardroom.
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