NEWCASTLE UNITED are edging closer to a takeover that would see them possess the richest owners in the Premier League.
The £300million deal is gathering pace, with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund having paid current owner Mike Ashley a deposit.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, a close associate of Mohammed bin Salman, will become new chairman – with his powerful friend also backing the Magpies’ takeover.
Following the deal’s completion, the Saudi consortium will own 80 per cent of the club – with Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers each evenly splitting the remaining 20 per cent.
While some fans are conflicted by the morality of Saudi ownership, others are simply excited at having owners worth more than TEN TIMES Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour.
Marca have ranked the Premier League’s owners in terms of wealth – and SunSport examine each and every one of them.
1) Newcastle United – Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund – £320billion
After 13 years of Mike Ashley being at the helm, Newcastle are essentially about to be owned by the Saudi Arabian state.
The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund invests on behalf of the country’s government.
The Toon can be certain of eyewatering spending after Ashley’s stingy tenure, with the gulf state one of the richest in the world.
Chaired by the controversial Mohammed bin Salman, and governed by Al-Rumayyan – the St James’ Park outfit will be run by some of the world’s most powerful people.
But while the prospect of big-spending may be exciting, some supporters will feel uncomfortable upon learning about the country’s appalling human rights record.
2) Manchester City – Sheikh Mansour – £23.3billion
Sheikh Mansour bought City in September 2008, immediately transforming them into a global powerhouse.
Mansour is the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and comes from the royal family of Abu Dhabi.
The 49-year-old has since also acquired New York City FC, Melbourne City FC and Yokohama F. Marinos, among others, via the City Group.
Day-to-day running of the club is delegated to trusted lieutenant Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
Like Newcastle’s Saudi owners, Mansour’s City ownership has been accused of being a blatant attempt at “sportswashing” by many human rights groups.
3) Chelsea – Roman Abramovich – £9.6billion
Chelsea’s Russian owner arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2003, transforming the West London club into a consistent driving force of the Premier League – and the transfer market.
Abramovich made his fortune in the 1990s, initially trading in all kinds of things including timber, food products and even plastic ducks – but his biggest business came in petrochemicals and oil trading.
The 53-year-old was able to exploit a changing Russian economy in the 1990s in order to acquire his fortune, gaining a controlling stake in Sibneft in 1995 – one of the country’s largest oil companies.
4) Arsenal – Stan Kroenke – £6.8billion
The Gunners are just one of a global network of sports teams owned by American Stan Kroenke, including the LA Rams, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rapids.
The 72-year-old married Ann Walton, an heiress of the US supermarket Walmart, in 1974 – and nine years later founded a real estate development group.
The Kroenke Group specialise in shopping centres and apartment buildings – with many situated near existing Walmart locations.
Kroenke first bought shares in the North Londoners in 2008, before increasing his stake to around 62 per cent in 2011.
5) Wolves – Guo Guangchang – £5.2billion
Guangchang, from the Eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, has been chairman of the Fosun Group since 1994.
The conglomerate are based in Shanghai and Hong Kong – and initially worked in market research.
After expanding into the healthcare and real estate industries – Fosun became one of the biggest investment firms in the world.
They bought Wolves from previous owner Steve Morgan in 2016 for around £45million – quickly transforming them from Championship mediocrity to European competition.
6) Aston Villa – Nassef Sawiris – £5billion
With Villa in the financial mire following their 2018 playoff final defeat to Fulham under the ownership of Tony Xia, Sawiris stepped in to save the day, buying a 55 per cent controlling stake in the club in July that year.
At 59, Nassef is the youngest of Egyptian billionaire Onsi Sawiris’ three sons.
Onsi founded the Orascom conglomerate, with Nassef joining the business in 1982, becoming CEO in 1998.
Sawiris also owns a stake in Adidas.
7) Leicester City – Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha – £4.6billion
Aiyawatt is the 34-year-old son of the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who tragically died in a helicopter crash in October 2018, aged 60.
He became CEO of King Power after his father’s death, the largest duty-free retailer in Thailand.
Having bought Leicester in 2010, Vichai became a visible, heroic figure in Leicester, investing in the city as well as the club and helping to engineer the their astonishing Premier League triumph in 2016.
8) Tottenham Hotspur – Joe Lewis – £3.9billion
While Daniel Levy may be the face of the Tottenham board, Joe Lewis is the ENIC Group’s main shareholder.
ENIC took control of the North Londoners in 2001, making Levy the longest-serving chairman in the Premier League.
The 58-year-old takes responsibility for the day-to-day running of the club as managing director of ENIC, but owns just 29.4 per cent of the investment company, compared to Lewis’ 70.6 per cent.
Lewis left school at 15 to help run his father’s catering firm, Tavistock Banqueting – before showing a flair for business himself upon taking control.
Lewis now 83, lives in tax exile in the Bahamas, and is rarely seen at White Hart Lane.
9) Manchester United – The Glazer Family – £3.6billion
Malcolm Glazer was a New Yorker, beginning life in the business world at just 15 – selling watches door-to-door to help keep his family afloat after the passing of his father.
At 28, he moved into real estate, gradually expanding across America before acquiring three TV stations.
His later investments included Harley-Davidson – before moving into sports with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995 – and later Manchester United in 2003.
Malcolm suffered a stroke in 2006, at which point sons Avram and Joel took over day-to-day running of the club, which has continued beyond their father’s passing in 2014.
Avram is a former chairman of the Zapata Corporation, while Joel took a more hands-on approach to the family’s NFL franchise.
10) Southampton – Gao Jisheng – £3.1billion
Chinese billionaire Gao Jisheng took over at St Mary’s in 2017, buying the club for £210million of his own personal fortune, rather than that of his company, Lander Sports Development Co.
Jisheng, 67, served in the Shanghai People’s Armed Police for seven years, while also gaining a degree from Shanghai Normal Uinversity.
He founded the Lander Group in 1995, initially focusing on the property market before moving into the sports industry.
Jisheng is looking to sell up, however, putting the club up for sale last month.
11) Crystal Palace – Joshua Harris – £2.9billion
Harris, 55, is involved in a number of sporting ventures.
The American is principal owner of the New Jersey Devils in the NHL, and NBA franchise the Philadelphia 76ers.
Alongside business partner David Blitzer, and long-term chairman Steve Parish, Harris has been in joint-control of the Eagles since 2015 – but is reportedly looking for buyers.
12) Liverpool – John W. Henry – £2.1billion
Henry, 70, is head of Fenway Sports Group – which took control of Liverpool in 2010 after George Gillett and Tom Hicks’ unpopular ownership of the Anfield club.
He founded John W. Henry & Company in 1981, an investment group that made him his millions.
Alongside business partner Tom Werner, Henry also owns the Boston Red Sox.
13) West Ham United – David Sullivan & David Gold – £1.6billion
Gold and Sullivan began their foray into business in the soft porn industry, before moving into sex shops, magazines and adult films.
These ventures made Sullivan a millionaire by just 25 – while Gold also owns the lingerie high-street chain Ann Summers.
The pair owned Birmingham City in the noughties, before acquiring boyhood club West Ham in 2010.
14) Everton – Farhad Moshiri – £1.5billion
Previously a shareholder of Arsenal, Moshiri grew frustrated at his lack of influence in North London, selling his shares to business partner Alisher Usmanov in 2016 and upping sticks to Goodison.
He bought a 77.2 per cent stake in the Toffees, being able to plough in investment in players that Bill Kenwright was never able to on his own – although with mixed results at best so far.
The Iranian, 64, resides in Monaco, and has shares in mobile phone operators and steel manufacturers.
15) Brighton – Tony Bloom – £1.3billion
Bloom, 50, made his fortune through gambling – having competed in a number of lucrative poker events.
In 2009, he used his fortune to buy the Seagulls, his boyhood club, overseeing their rise from the third-tier into the Premier League.
He also owns Belgian second-tier side Union SG.
16) Bournemouth – Maxim Demin – £900million
The Russian, 50, is a petrochemical magnate, having bought the Cherries in 2011.
Demin has played a big part in Bournemouth’s miracle rise from the foot of League Two to their fifth consecutive season in the Premier League.
He resides in Dorset, and his wife Irena even once gave his Cherries side a half-time team-talk – her rant inspiring them to clinch a 2-2 draw against MK Dons, having been a goal down at the break.
17) Sheffield United – Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ed – £198million
Newcastle will not be the only Premier League club with Saudi ownership.
In 2013, the Blades were taken over by Prince Abdullah.
The 55-year-old comes from the House of Saud – the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia.
He was appointed the country’s General President of Youth Welfare in 2014, and also owns a 50 per cent stake in KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk.
18) Watford – Gino Pozzo – £93million
A member of Italy’s influential Pozzo family, Gino acquired the Hornets from Laurence Bassini in 2012 – adding them to his portfolio of clubs including Granada and Udinese.
Having made his money through his father’s family business, Freud, Pozzo is now based in London and plays a key part in the day-to-day running of the club.
While he has a penchant for sacking managers, clearly Pozzo has a flair and passion for running Watford, with the Vicarage Road side having improved a great deal under his unorthodox stewardship.
19) Burnley – Mike Garlick – £62million
Garlick is the CEO of Michael Bailey Associates – a British recruitment consultancy.
Having been born just 200 yards away from Turf Moor, Burnley FC is in Garlick’s blood.
Educated at the town’s grammar school, he has masterminded their stay in the Premier League – as the smallest place in the UK to have boasted a top-flight club since 1992.
Garlick has turned down a number of approaches for the club, and believes its community ties are central to its success.
20) Norwich – Delia Smith & Michael Wynn-Jones – £23million
One of Britain’s most beloved TV chefs, Smith and hubby Wynn-Jones traded their season tickets for a spot in the Carrow Road boardroom when the Canaries fell upon hard times.
By far the smallest club, budget-wise, in the Premier League, the pair have had to run the club smartly – investing in coach Daniel Farke and his philosophy.
Lesser seen on the telly these days, having hung up her TV cookery set in 2013, Smith focuses primarily on her beloved football club.