Premier League finances – part three: Overseas investment can prove complicated for ambitious clubs
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The final part of our report into the Premier League wealth which Norwich City is trying to compete with discovers the strength of some of the Canaries’ direct rivals in the top flight.
Competing in the top flight of English football has always been difficult for promoted sides but it's a giant leap to compete with the financial muscle of most Premier League clubs now.
With Norwich City's majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones may be wealthy in comparison to the average football fan, their financial strength pails in comparison to many rival owners in the top tier.
The Canaries' attempts to succeed as a self-funding club could pay off hugely if Daniel Farke's team can defy the odds and become established in the Premier League, but for the moment City are at a clear disadvantage.
Current position: 13th
Owners' estimated worth: £2.4bn - Mike Ashley
Annual turnover: £178m (£23m)
Reported summer 2019 transfer fees: £28.5m net spend (£61m bought, £32.5m sold)
Successive seasons in the top flight: 3
Summary: Sports Direct founder Ashley has proved a controversial owner among Magpies fans since becoming majority shareholder in 2007, with the club largely occupying a place in the bottom half of the Premier League, twice bouncing back from the Championship as title winners. Reports of takeovers by even wealthier prospective new owners have persisted in recent years, with Forbes reporting a £350m valuation had scared off Britain's richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, before he bought French club Nice.
- SHEFFIELD UTD
Current position: 5th
Owners' estimated worth: £155m - Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz al Saud
Annual turnover: £20m (£1.9m loss)
Reported summer 2019 transfer fees: £42.25m net spend (£42.5m bought, £250,000 sold)
Successive seasons in the top flight: 0
Summary: The Blades had been at the centre of a 20 month legal battle, which came to an end in September with Scarborough-based businessman Kevin McCabe ordered to sell his 50pc stake to Prince Abdullah for £5m after a bitter dispute. The Saudi businessman had bought his 50pc stake in 2013 for a minimal fee when the club was in League One, with the promise of investment to follow. McCabe had reportedly invested over £100m in the club during his long association and is attempting to contest the High Court ruling.
Current position: 19th
Owners' estimated worth: £1.1bn - Gao Jisheng
Annual turnover: £153m (£35m profit)
Reported summer 2019 transfer fees: £27m net spend (£52m bought, £24m sold)
Successive seasons in the top flight: 8
Summary: Swiss businessman Markus Liebherr rescued the Saints from administration when the club was in League One in 2009 and the club was inherited by his daughter, Katharina, when he father passed away in 2010. With the south coast club enjoying relative mid-table safety since promotion in 2012, an 80pc stake was sold to Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng for around £210m in August 2017.
Current position: 14th
Owners' estimated worth: £4.1bn - Joe Lewis
Annual turnover: £381m (£139m profit)
Reported summer 2019 transfer fees: £67m net spend (£87m bought, £20m sold)
Successive seasons in the top flight: 70
Summary: Spurs' octogenarian owner is based in the Bahamas and notoriously private, having built a global investment empire from his London roots. ENIC (English National Investment Company) acquired stakes in various football clubs around Europe, with managing director Daniel Levy concentrating on Tottenham after Alan Sugar's majority stake was purchased in 2001. The club's new £800m stadium and last season's Champion League final appearance point to the north London club's increasing power.
Current position: 18th
Owners' estimated worth: £120m - Gino Pozzo
Annual turnover: £128m (£32m loss)
Reported summer 2019 transfer fees: £13m net spend (£33m bought, £20m sold)
Successive seasons in the top flight: 5
Summary: The Pozzo family operate an unusual system that sees clubs they own, including Udinese in Italy and Granada in Spain, often transferring players and even managers between them. The Italians took control in 2012 and have established the Hornets in the top flight since automatic promotion in 2015.
- WEST HAM
Current position: 16th
Owners' estimated worth: £1.15bn - David Sullivan
Annual turnover: £175m (£18m profit)
Reported summer 2019 transfer fees: £13m net spend (£71m bought, £48m sold)
Successive seasons in the top flight: 8
Summary: Former Birmingham owners David Sullivan and David Gold took control of the Hammers in 2010. Sullivan is the majority shareholder with 55pc and Gold, whose net worth is £470m, owns over 30pc. Since their arrival the club has moved to the former Olympic Stadium and enjoyed mid-table safety since promotion in 2013.
Current position: 8th
Owners' estimated worth: £10.7bn - Fosun International
Annual turnover: £26.4m (£57m loss)
Reported summer 2019 transfer fees: £84m net spend (£87m bought, £3m sold)
Successive seasons in the top flight: 2
Summary: Chinese investment group Fosun International took control at Molineux in 2016, for a reported £45m, promising a £30m investment over two seasons. The group have links to super agent Jorge Mendes, who represents big names including Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo, Two years later Wolves romped to the Championship title under former Porto boss Nuno Espirito Santo and their expensively assembled squad finished seventh in the Premier League last season to qualify for the Europa League.
- Worth of club owners is indicative, not exact, with latest available figures supplied by Forbes or Sunday Times. All financial results for 2017-18 financial year. Transfer fees from soccerbase.com and transfermarkt.com.