The relative wealth of football club owners up and down the country has never been a hotter topic than right now, especially given possible developments at Carrow Road regarding Milwaukee Brewers’ head honcho Mark Attanasio and his colleagues from across the pond.
Guest blogger Alex Bain has taken it upon himself to detail exactly how Delia and Michael stand up against their counterparts in the EFL Championship next season, so without further ado, let’s hear from the man himself.
We are back where I believe our owners feel comfortable, so will we see a collapse like Sunderland and spend a few years playing derby games in League One? I truly hope that the self-appointed guardians of our club see sense and do end up getting in some investment.
I think what many supporters seem to want is to put the club up for sale and see what offers come in, although that in itself comes loaded with risk.
In terms of other owners in the Championship, this is what I have discovered and some MFW readers might care to look away now as, under the current terms, we are among the very poorest on the block.
Birmingham City had a tough season but City loanee Onel Hernández made a good impression and it’s rumoured that they would like him permanently. Owners are a Chinese sports investment group worth £450 million.
Blackburn Rovers had a really mixed season but a poor run after Christmas and lack of investment in the team killed off any promotion hopes. Owners are the much-derided Venky’s who are, nonetheless, worth £680 million.
Blackpool, my local team, have started to improve under new owner Simon Sadler. No personal net worth is available but he owns Segantii Capital Management, which is investing mainly in the Asian-Pacific Equity fund.
Bristol City have Timm Klose in their ranks so he should enjoy a Carrow Road homecoming. Another club with the potential to do better, Owner is Stephen Lansdown of Hargreaves Lansdown, worth a cool £2.5 billion.
Burnley were also relegated, Sold last year by Mike Garlick to American Investment Group ALK Capita. Currently, no declared net worth but a £65 million loan has to be repaid in full or the club could go into receivership.
Cardiff City are another club twho had a very up and down season, City loanee Jordan Hugill did well since his January loan after a bad spell at WBA. Club owner is Vincent Tan with a net worth of £750 million.
Coventry City remain a club with no permanent home but are still exploring the possibility of building a new stadium on the University of Warwick campus. Ironic for a club that built the first UK all-seater stadium in the late 60s. Owners Joy Seppala is worth £1.6 billion.
Huddersfield recently lost in the playoff final and have recently returned to the ownership of Dean Hoyle, who has a net wealth of some £285 million.
Hull City have recently been taken over by the “Simon Cowell of Turkish TV”. They had a very hit-and-miss season and a few clubs are hovering around for a couple of promising players. Owner Acun Illicali is worth less than Cowell at £100 million.
Luton Town have had a very successful season, narrowly missing out in the playoffs to Huddersfield. Supporter owned since 2020. Paul Ballantyne owns 82% of the shares but, understandably, his net worth is not declared.
Middlesbrough failed at the final hurdle and missed out on the playoff places although Chris Wilder turned a struggling season into a nearly successful one. Owner, Ben Gibson’s uncle Steve Gibson is worth £265 million.
Millwall seem a perennial Championship club that has its struggles yet on occasions shows ambition and tries for promotion. Owner is American John Berylson, valued at £175 million.
Preston North End sadly lost their owner during this season but his son has taken control after an attempt to buy the club by the American who, it appears, is buying Derby County. Owners the Hemmings family are worth £1.5 billion.
Queens Park Rangers – since their last visit to the Premier League their owners have come and gone. All have been extremely rich but no change in fortune. Current owners Tony Fernandes and Lakshmi Mittal are worth £15.75billion.
Reading had a very tough season fighting the drop until the final couple of weeks. This could be another difficult season with a few of their experienced players out of contract. Owners Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li are worth £950 million.
RotherhamUnited were promoted in second place from League One and they are a bit of a yo-yo club between the Championship and League One. Owner Tony Stewart is worth some £180 million.
Sheffield United lost in the play-off semis to Nottingham Forest, but have a good strong squad and will be looking to improve on a play-off place next season under Paul Heckingbottom. Owner, Saudi Prince Abdullah, is worth £200 million.
Stoke City have seen Mario Vrancic agree a further year’s deal, so another Carrow Road homecoming. The Potters, who flattered to deceive most of the season, are owned by the Coates Family who are behind Bet365. Net worth is £9.5 billion [and that’s not a typo].
Sunderland, under our old mucker Alex Neil, are back in the Championship after winning the Wembley play-off final against Wycombe, thus ending four years in League One. Owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is worth north of £3.5 billion.
Swansea City survived comfortably in the end, and are managed by our very own Russell Martin. Their ownership is an investment group run by Steven Kaplan and Jason Levien. Net wealth is not disclosed in this case I’m afraid.
Watford are another club that just got relegated. They are owned by Gino Pozzo and his family and are known as the Sports Investment Group. Current worth is £120 million.
West Bromwich Albion showed much promise at the start of the season but crashed over Christmas, so are now managed by Steve Bruce. Owners Guochuan Lai are worth £2.5 billion.
Wigan Athletic won the LeagueOne title and had a long period in the Premier League under previous owner Dave Whelan. The owners are Phoenix 2021, valued at £210 million.
Norwich City, as it stands today, remains under the ownership of joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones. Their joint worth? An estimated £25 million.
A quick note from sub-editor Martin P: Thanks to Alex for his endeavour in researching ownership values, which are obviously not set in tablets of stone as investments can rise and fall and all that kind of stuff.
But they make awesome reading in a chilling kind of way.
The potential of a shares deal with Milwaukee Brewers baseball chief Mark Attanasio remains in the mid-Atlantic air for the immediate future but to my mind, we cannot get him on board quickly enough.
Here’s a fine live version of what many of our readers will be listening to for the umpteenth time:
Gary Field says
Hi Alex, while there’s nothing wrong with your analysis, I’m afraid that you’re conflating two separate points; the reported worth of the owners (often stated on just a gross basis, with no consideration of any debt finance associated with their assets) and a worth of the football club itself.
While notoriously difficult to calculate, club valuations are typically assessed using a multiple on either projected net annual revenue streams, or EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).
A more relevant analysis in this instance would therefore be a comparison between the typical annual revenues at each club in the Championship, as this is far more likely to reflect the future success on the pitch, and, on this basis, NCFC actually comes out comparatively well. Maybe those two Championships titles in three consecutive seasons weren’t just down to luck after all. 😉
But if you suddenly hit stormy waters and need a sizeable sum to smooth things over, it appears (to me at least) that Stoke City have a better chance of avoiding administration than we at NCFC do.
O T B C
David Bowers says
Agree with John. Revenues don’t mean too much when your cost structure is closer to Premier League than The Championship.
We didn’t end up (to use Webber’s words) “with a gun to our head” because of Naismith. He was scapegoated. Our club is fundamentally structured to to cost between 60-70M to run in The Championship. Our absolute lowest costs (at our absolute leanest) in the last decade was 57M. With Championship TV money we earn about 35M without a negative impact on our squad (i.e. selling our top players).
We have two seasons to obtain promotion, then we’re back in the 20-30M quid deficit per season with no owner to help subsidize the club.
Thanks for the comment
When you walk into a new club as DoF I suppose you need to show who’s the boss and Webber’s statement about previous regimes was making a point to the supporters but he still had and has the same majority owner they had with the same restrictions.
He was lucky he had the Murphy twins, Maddison, Lewis, Godfrey to sell to cover up shortfalls his next target is to get top Dollar for Aarons and Cantwell good luck for that as Cantwell has thrown to many tantrums.
This will be an interesting period in City’s survival
Gary Field says
If your first paragraph holds any substance, why are investors valuing clubs on projected net revenue streams, or EBIDTA, rather than owner’s net worth?
The revenues point holds a degree of truth but is indicative of the effects of the huge drops in revenues, following relegation from the Premier League, as media rights fall much faster than wages at all relegated clubs, not just NCFC.
Revenue streams aren’t my thing as I said this was just to show how far down the league of owners in this league City are and possibly in league 1 as well.
Could you put something up proving your points on how the league would look on Revenue streams ???
Andrew Delf says
I agree with Gary’s comments. My more basic analysis would be the owner can be as rich as you like but it doesn’t equate to the wealth or success of the club if the rich owner is as tight as a ducks ar$hole.
As I said in the reply to Gary below I wasn’t we trying to equate rich owners with success just how far behind we are even in this league.
If someone could put together something along the lines of what Gary suggests I would be interested in reading it
Andrew Delf says
Hi Alex It has certainly made an interesting article and the comments show a common thread. Regardless of how rich the owners or governing body of a club the self sustaining model has hit a glass ceiling. Attitude to risk/ reward and external investment has to be adjusted for Norwich to take the next step towards promotion and survival at premier league level.
Having a Billionaire owner doesn’t guarantee success but it surely helps, the Coates Family £9.5bill+ are local owners but really since their relegation have done much to get promotion.
Maybe they are more pragmatic in thinking if they get back up then they will have to spend large amounts to stay there and like our owners prefer to be a larger fish in a small pond but so us in the rich list of this league yet again we are the poor country bumpkins
Thank for the comment
I was really trying to show how far behind the 8 ball our owners are in comparison to the other owners.
Our revenue streams are better than some of the richer clubs but if that fails we have no real safety net whereas others do with their rich owners covering the short fall.
Thanks for the comment
Gary Field says
AlexB, I suppose it’s dependent upon your personal view on how football is run at the moment – I personally believe that answer to be, very badly!
I also believe that just because other clubs are being run on a completely unsustainable basis, doesn’t mean that we should necessarily join them.
I have no issue with owner funding either, but the commonly peddled mantra of, “we’re only doing it to compete with the Premier League”, is a lazy one, which is too readily accepted by fans across the game, not just at NCFC.
I agree some supporters expect their owners to fund success and that is up to the individual.
With our present model we have no real back up plan if all goes pear shaped.
Do I want success on and off the field yes but not at all costs where the soul of the club is lost but at the moment Football has turned on city as a laughing stock and with our majority share holders making statements about not selling or investments just adds fuel to their fire.
peter jenkins says
Spot on Gary. I would rather take a bit of time to concentrate our thoughts onwards .I have been a fan since 1963 .Up and downs it doesn’t matter I’ll support the lads whatever.OTBC.
Alex, an interesting piece. I think the wealth of owners is indicative of their business abilities, they tend to be very shrewd and worldly wise and very success oriented, and achievement motivated. Not prepared to settle for second best or near enough. And that does have a bearing on the drive for success in the football clubs they own. Our two OAPs have a very nice nest egg and have been smart enough to accumulate their £25M but in the big money crazy football world it‘s chicken feed, wouldn‘t buy a decent striker. The Self financing approach has failed to secure us a Prem success, just hope the Yank can pull it off if he joins the board.
When I did this it was due to someone saying that with our present owners we are a good fit for the Championship but for how long one bad season, A poor ST take up no player sale and no parachute payments to fill the big gapping crevice and League1 here we come especially with no sugar daddy to cover loses or shortfalls.
Tim Ball says
Very interesting piece Alex.
It does go to show just how difficult it could be one day in keeping Norwich City Football Club in the Championship let alone the EPL if the status quo is maintained.
I would be interested if you or Gary knew how much these owners are allowed to spend with FFP in mind per season ?
I have come round to thinking FFP is not doing what it was intended to do and that is stopping clubs from spending too much and going bust, to being a tool to stop a much smaller club breaking into the EPL.
And perhaps stopping say a Newcastle who now have almost endless wealth getting into the top 4 or one day from actually winning the Premier League.
Look how the “Top Six” acted when the European Super League was touted. I find Manchester City’s objection to the Newcastle takeover as laughable, people in glass houses and all of that.
Closer to home Burnley may be in a lot of trouble, especially with the expected exodus of players.
For us, I think that all we have learned about the potential American investors at the moment is very promising. True they maybe doing this to make a profit in a few years time but to do that we would have to be in the EPL for a fair amount of time.
So I think they will be proactive and that is badly needed, especially after last season.
Let’s all go into next season getting behind Dean Smith and the team perhaps with the thought that our next foray into the EPL may not have to be as atrocious as the last two.
Someone will tell me if I am wrong but FFP but suppose to be a percentage of a clubs income over a set period that was to include all commercial outlets.
ManC got into trouble due to Etihad Airways sponsorship of the ground I think they paid double of the going rate so that their income could boost the FFP.
There are only 3 trophies that most clubs are interested in so in a relative success year most clubs hope for a cup run as it is usually one of the top6 clubs that wins any of them.
Thanks for the comment as usual
Tim Ball says
I said to my wife years ago what’s to stop Sheikh Monsou sponsoring every Manchester City home game at a million pounds a time.
Well the answer is FFP it seems as you say Alex.
I just think this possible exciting investment does offer us hope if we do manage to go up to the EPL again that it won’t be as bad as the last two occasions.
Owners’ wealth is only relevant if the owner has enough interest in the club to put money in, and most of those currently in the Championship clearly are not that bothered. How many of them attend actual matches, or take an active role in the management and activities of the club? FFP will prevent them from pouring funds into their club, even if they have the inclination to do so. For most of them, it’s a vanity project, just giving them the opportunity to boast of their ownership. They invest their real funds into something a bit more likely to produce a return than the average football club.