Ever since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea football club in 2003, it sparked a trend in football of rich individuals buying football clubs and providing ample resources for the club’s efforts to reach greater heights. But being a football owner is more than just pumping in money into your football club. It involves understanding the fans, the club’s heritage and a passion and an understanding of what many people call “The Beautiful Game”. Here, Top 10 of Asia looks at its list of 10 of the most influential Asian owners of football clubs (presented in random order).
- Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sheikh Mansour owns City Football Group, which consists of Melbourne City F.C, New York City F.C and most famously Manchester City F.C. He is the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. He bought City Football Group for £265,000,000 and approximately three years ago sold 13% of its shares. Sheikh Mansour is undeniably one of the biggest factors for Manchester City’s stunning growth from a mid-table Premier League (English football’s highest level) team to becoming one of the best teams in the world today. Since Sheikh Mansour’s ownership takeover, Manchester City has quickly accumulated an impressive amount of silverware including 3 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup title, 1 EFL Cup title and 1 FA Community Shield.
- Vincent Tan
Vincent Tan is a Malaysian businessman and investor. He is the founder of Berjaya Corporation Berhad, a diversified conglomerate listed on the Malaysian stock exchange. His style of ownership is very hands-on. His decision in 2012 to change the colours of the club from blue to red and the club’s crest caused some controversy. However, Vincent Tan’s reign over the club has been appreciated and in recent times he is riding on a high. The 2017-18 season by Cardiff saw them clinch a surprise promotion to the Premier League and today are competing in the highest level of English football.
- Guo Guangchang
Guo is a Chinese billionaire business magnate and investor. He is the chairman of Fosun International Limited which has owned Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. since July 2016. Since then there has been a lot of turbulence with many changes to managers and players within a short period of time. However, these changes have evidently paid off as they won the Championship (English football’s second level) in the 2017-18 season and returned back to the Premier for the first time since 2012. Their current Premier League season looks good.
- Peter Lim
Peter Lim is a Singaporean business magnate, entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor. Peter Lim has had several ventures in the sporting world. His most notable role in football is having a controlling stake in Spanish La Liga club Valencia CF. Peter’s first season in ownership in the 2014-15 season saw Valencia CF recover from their slump in recent years. Ever since then his ownership has had its up and down with a change of 6 managers in just two years. Their current head coach, Marcelino, has had a successful first season and secured a return to the Champions League (Europe’s most prestigious club competition).
- Tony Fernandes
This Malaysian entrepreneur is known for introducing AirAsia which revolutionised air travel in Asia. He is the owner of the English team Queens Park Rangers. His ownership over Queens Park Rangers since 2011 has seen the club experience a roller coaster of a journey having seen the club promoted and relegated regularly from the Premier League.
- Nasser Al-Khelaifi
Nasser is a Qatari businessman and the chairman of beIN Media Group. He also holds positions in important sports organisations but his most notable one would be his role as the owner of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). With PSG’s takeover in 2011 by Orxy Qatar Sports Investments, its chairman Nasser laid out an extremely ambitious project to take the club to the summits of the European game. In 2017, PSG broke the world football transfer record by signing Neymar for a fee of £198. In 2018 they spent a hefty £158 on French prodigy Kylian Mbappé. With these players paired with striker Edison Cavani, PSG now boasts one of the deadliest attacks in world football. Since Nasser’s takeover PSG has won the French domestic league an astounding 6 times, the Coupe de France 4 times, the Coupe de la Ligue 5 times and the Trophée des Champions 6 times, essentially becoming the dominant footballing force in France.
- Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Prince Abdullah is a Saudi prince who in 2013 bought a 50% stake in the English Championship club Sheffield United. He is currently co-chairman with Kevin McCabe. However, in February 2018, Prince Abdullah entered into negotiations with McCabe to take full control of Sheffield United. The two co-chairman are currently embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of the club. Prince Abdullah’s financial investment has certainly been part of the reason for Sheffield United’s rise from League One (English football’s third level) side to a side vying for top spot in the Championship today.
- Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani
Sheikh Abdullah is a Qatari businessman and from the Qatari ruling family. He has owned the Spanish football club Malaga CF since June 2010. Despite the club’s deterioration from being a strong Spanish footballing side for the past couple of years, Sheikh Abdullah has been vocal in his passion and love for the club.
- Lai Guochuan
Lai Guochuan is a Chinese billionaire and is the controlling shareholder for English club West Bromwich Albion. The deal to purchase the football club was completed on 15 September 2016 for a figure reported to being between £150m and £200m. Lai appears to be a more reserved owner. He has shown a ruthless side having sacked the chairman and chief executive in the middle of their Premier League relegation battle last season. Lai’s side is now in the Championship vying for promotion to the English Premier League.
- Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Liu
The Chinese siblings took over English side Reading FC in May 2017. They have made their fortune through the property empire of Renhe Commercial. The owners immediately began bringing in players to improve the first-team with minimal selling of their existing players. Although success eluded Reading last season, the owners have shown a willingness to spend money. They also made quick changes to senior personnel but also showed patience when manager Jaap Stam was not getting results before his sacking.