These days it’s not uncommon for billionaires to buy football clubs to show off their vast wealth, with many of the biggest teams in the sport connected with some of the wealthiest men on the planet. At times, some of these deals will lead teams to dominate their leagues such as the Qatari takeover of PSG or Manchester City under the guise of the Mansour family. However, there are some owners who choose to fly under the radar and let their teams progress naturally, leading many to be surprised at the wealth behind them. With that in mind, here are ten surprising football clubs owned by billionaires.
Top ten surprising football clubs owned by billionaires
Hoffenheim – Dietmar Hopp
Hoffenheim have been a mainstay of the Bundesliga for around a decade now but what many people may not realise is just how much wealth is behind the club. The German side are owned by Dietmar Hopp – the mastermind behind electronics giant SAP. Hopp has mainly taken a backseat during his ownership of Die Kraichgauer but they have certainly enjoyed some high moments including Champions League appearances and a best finish of 3rd in the league during the 2017-18 season.
OH Leuven – King Power Group
If you mention King Power, many people will link the Thai family to Leicester City and their success in the Premier League. What you may not know is that OH Leuven a Belgian side currently playing in the Pro League, are another of the surprising football clubs owned by billionaires. They were purchased by the Srivaddhanaprabha family, among the richest football club owners in England, in 2017, saving them from liquidation shortly before King Power chairman Vichai tragically died in a helicopter crash. Since then, Leuven have bounced between the top two tiers of Belgian football but returning to the Pro League for the 2020/21 season, a new dawn for the Belgian side could on the horizon.
New England Revolution – Kraft Family
The most famous and successful MLS sides have been the likes LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls in recent years. However, that could change with Boston side New Revolution having one of the wealthiest backers in the form of the Kraft Family. The Kraft family, and Robert Kraft in particular, became rich through their food empire and have been regular backers of the side since their formation in 1996. Although success has largely bypassed them, they have been regular contenders when many other sides have struggled to stay afloat over the past few years. They are also part of a larger sporting network in the Boston area that also includes the New England Patriots in the NFL.
A.C Monza – Silvio Berlusconi
More traditionally known for the Italian Grand Prix, Monza could finally put themselves on the footballing map thanks to the recent purchase by a certain Silvio Berlusconi. The former Italian PM and bunga-bunga party lothario has a rich history in football, having been the long-time chairman of AC Milan during their successful runs during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Monza have never featured in Serie A and their presence in Serie B suggests that now could be the time that Berlusconi helps elevate the Lombardy side into the top tier for the very first time in their existence.
Red Bull Bragantino – Dietrich Mateschitz
Red Bull have helped guide several teams to dominance since taking over clubs that were previously unheard of. Successful stories such as RB Salzburg and RB Leipzig have shown what their investments can do and their latest project could come in the spiritual home of football – Brazil. Their franchise – Red Bull Bragantino – have risen from nowhere to become the latest sensation in the Brazilian Serie A. The league has always been dominated by many of the traditional names such as Palmeiras, Sao Paulo and Flamengo but RB Bragantino could very well upset the status quo in South America, especially as they have some of the best young brazilian football players.
Malaga – Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani
Not linked to the PSG Qatari owners, with the PSG owner net worth making them among the most successful clubs on the continent, Malaga’s success story has shown what happens when things don’t go according to plan. Al Thani pumped a lot of money into Malaga when he took over in 2010 and, for a while, Los Albicelestes were a force to be reckoned with as they regularly qualified for the Champions League. However, their fortunes suffered on the pitch and, following relegation from La Liga, Adelante left them in a quagmire. Issues surrounding Al-Thani’s fortunes and subsequent involvement with the club have left the team teetering on the brink of existence and shows that money doesn’t always equal success.
Chennaiyin FC – Bachchan Family
Bollywood dominates all facets of Indian culture so it’s not surprising to see the biggest names in the industry getting involved with sporting affairs. The renowned Bachchan family took their first venture into the football world with the creation of Chennaiyin FC when the Indian Super League took off in 2014. The Chennai based franchise have already won 2 ISL titles since the league was founded giving them the Bachchan’s added impetus to back their team all the way. Chennaiyin also have links to cricket with famous Indian wicketkeeper MS Dhoni being a minority shareholder, ensuring that Chennaiyin will always be one of the more prominent sides in Indian football.
PFC Sochi – Boris Rotenberg
Russia has many billionaires involved in their domestic football with varying degress of success. One of the less prominent names is Boris Rotenberg who has invested heavily in local side Sochi, turning them into a fully-fledged top tier side. Sochi have been one of the beneficiaries of investment to the local area and now call the impressive Fisht Olympic Stadium their home for many of their league matches. Sochi’s success has been steady and Rotenberg’s steady approach should help the side avoid the pitfalls that have plagued other sides who went too big too fast.
Forge FC – Bob Young
Whilst most major Canadian football teams play in the MLS, a new initiative by the Canadian Soccer Association and local entrepreneurs went about creating a new domestic league for Canada. One of the main driving forces behind this was software guru Bob Young who founded Forge FC as one of the inaugural members of the Canadian Premier League. Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Forge FC have won the first two league titles showcasing that Young meant business when forming his team. Linked with CFL side Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Forge FC are showing Canadian football teams that there can be success outside of the MLS by becoming one of the surprising football clubs owned by billionaires.
Sydney FC – David Traktovenko
One of the more successful sides in the A-League, Sydney FC have enjoyed a lot of backing from Russian owner David Traktovenko allowing them to bring in headline names to the league. From Alessandro Del Piero to Bobo, two of the best A-League players from overseas, the steady name of footballing stars appearing for the New South Wales side has seen them secure no less than 3 Grand Final wins in 4 years from 2016-2020. Having previous been heavily involved with Zenit St.Petersburg at the turn of the century, Traktovenko knows what it takes to make a successful side and has replicated this success down under with Sydney FC over the past decade.
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