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Thursday, January 08, 2009

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Man City owner tops British football's rich list

Manchester City's hugely wealthy owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has toppled Roman Abramovich to head British football's rich list.

Sheikh Mansour, a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, has a personal fortune of £15billion according to the Football Rich List, researched and published by FourFourTwo magazine.

The 38-year-old bought City in the summer, while Abramovich, Chelsea's Russian owner, has slipped to third in the list - his wealth is estimated at £7billion and he has been said to have lost over £3billion in the economic downturn.

He has also been overtaken in the list by Lakshmi Mittal, the 58-year-old Indian industrialist worth £12.5billion who joined Formula One's Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore investing in Queen's Park Rangers.

David Beckham remains the richest player associated with British football - his personal fortune of £125million being streets ahead of his closest rivals Michael Owen (£40million) and Wayne Rooney (£35million).

Beckham is 38th in the overall list, while England head coach Fabio Capello is at number 73 worth an estimated £25million with a £6million-a-year contract and a £10million private art collection.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is at number 78 in the list (£22million) and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at number 92 (£14million).

Celtic shareholder Dermot Desmond, the Irish entrepreneur, is the richest person in Scottish football - he is eighth on the list and said to be worth £1.2billion. Rangers chairman Sir David Murray is 19th on the list, worth £600million.

Despite the huge fortunes of the wealthiest owners, football finance experts fear British football's bubble may be about to burst.

Professor Tom Cannon told the magazine: ``Season-ticket numbers will probably be down by about 10% but renewals will be down by at least 15 or 20%. That's where the problems will be as you go down the divisions.''

Rich List Top 20
1 Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Man City) £15billion
2 Lakshmi Mittal and family (QPR) £12.5bn
3 Roman Abramovich (Chelsea) £7bn
4 Joe Lewis (Tottenham) £2.5bn
5 Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone (QPR) £2.4bn
6 Stanley Kroenke (Arsenal) £2.245bn
7 Alisher Usmanov (Arsenal) £1.5bn
8= Lord Grantchester & the Moores Family (Everton) £1.2bn
8= Dermot Desmond (Celtic) £1.2bn
10= Lord Ashcroft (Watford) £1.1bn
10= Malcolm Glazer and family (Man Utd) £1.1bn
12 Simon Keswick (Cheltenham) £966m
13 Trevor Hemmings (Preston) £900m
14 Mike Ashley (Newcastle) £800m
15 Randy Lerner (Aston Villa) £750m
16 Tom Hicks (Liverpool) £700m
17 The Walker Family (Blackburn) £660m
18 Mohammed Al Fayed (Fulham) £650m
19 Sir David Murray (Rangers) £600m
20 Steve Morgan (Wolves) £400m

Top 20 players: (overall position in the main list in brackets)
1 David Beckham £125m (38)
2 Michael Owen £40m (56=)
3 Wayne Rooney £35m (61)
4= Rio Ferdinand £28m (69=)
4= Robbie Fowler £28m (69=)
4= Sol Campbell £28m (69=)
7 Ryan Giggs £23m (77)
8= Michael Ballack £20m (80=)
8= Frank Lampard £20m (80=)
10 Steven Gerrard £19m (86)
11 Cristiano Ronaldo £18m (87)
12 John Terry £17m (88)
13 Didier Drogba £15m (89)
14= Nicolas Anelka £14m (92=)
14= Damien Duff £14m (92=)
16= Dimitar Berbatov £13m (96=)
16= Ashley and Cheryl Cole £13m (96=)
16= Fernando Torres £13m (96=)
19 = Emile Heskey £12m (100)
20 Gary Neville £11.75m (101)

Hughes preparing to make bids for new players

Mark Hughes will step up his bid to strengthen his struggling Manchester City squad this week, revealing he is almost ready to show his hand.


Defeat to Forest added further pressure

Hughes has come under increasing pressure due to City's poor form, culminating in the horrendous 3-0 home reverse to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. He knows it's make or break time with big names expected to come through the door at Eastlands.

Hughes has already snapped up Wayne Bridge from Chelsea in the first of a number of new faces to move to the City of Manchester Stadium. Roque Santa Cruz, Shay Given, Kolo Toure, Craig Bellamy and Scott Parker have all been heavily linked.

And Hughes is keen to bring in additional reinforcements quickly.

"I am sure we will be making more offers this week,'' Hughes told the Manchester Evening News. "It is about getting the balance and the pitch of the offer right. If you do that, more often than not a deal can be concluded quickly.

"Long drawn-out deals tend to test everyone's patience so it is better to look at the market, look at what you think the club that has the player would want and go in at that level.''

Hughes has handed his list of preferred signings to executive chairman Garry Cook, who has already pledged his backing for the Welshman even though a large number of fans voiced their displeasure at his management against Forest.

Owner Sheikh Mansour has consistently preached a need to adopt a pragmatic approach to the new riches he has brought to Eastlands and appears willing to give Hughes time to build a squad he feels is robust enough to challenge on all fronts.

Joorabchian hints Tevez could leave Old Trafford

It appears increasingly likely that Carlos Tevez's future lies away from Manchester United after his agent refused to rule out a move to another club.

Carlos Tevez


Carlos Tevez: Could be on his way out

Speculation regarding the striker's future has intensified recently with Sir Alex Ferguson failing to tie up a permanent deal. At present he remains on loan from agent Kia Joorabchian's investment company Media Sports Investments (MSI) and it has been rumoured a fee of £32 million has been quoted.

Tevez is now being strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid and with United seemingly unwilling to pay such a large sum for a player who has struggled to hold down a regular place in the team the writing is on the wall it seems.

Added to that, United seem loath to pay out so much money to what is, in effect, a third party rather than another football club.

And with Tevez highlighting the fact he had yet to be offered a deal at the start of this week things may now come to a head.

Joorabchian was vague when asked if Tevez would be at Old Trafford past the end of this campaign.

"It's very hard to predict,'' Joorabchian told BBC Radio Five Live. "It's football. Things change by the minute, by the hour. It's not a no. You never know.

"All Carlos said in the interview was that it was not true, he has not rejected an offer from Manchester United, he has not made crazy demands. He just wanted the fans and the people to know that we haven't had any contract talks.

"That's the bottom line. He wanted to say 'How could I reject something if I've never spoken about it'?

"Carlos has never made an issue or a problem. He doesn't have a problem at all with Sir Alex (Ferguson). He's never had a fight with Sir Alex or any arguments.

"All of these things are being created around a simple story that Carlos wanted to put straight.

"He's saying 'I'm happy to continue doing what I do best. If I get a new contract and everything works out, fantastic. If it doesn't, I'll go to another club'.''

Ferguson is unlikely to give a public airing to his private views over Tevez, although it is likely to have been pointed out to the Argentinian his manager actually said it was an attempt to bring forward talks on the South American's future that have stalled, not the negotiations themselves.

However, it is now clear the longer an impasse between the two parties remains, the more scope for speculation and rumour-mongering, which could cause further friction.

Angry Boro shut door on talk of Downing move

Middlesbrough have denied rejecting a third bid from Tottenham Hotspur for Stewart Downing, insisting he is not for sale and refusing to make any further comment on media specualtion regarding the player's future.

Stewart Downing


Stewart Downing: Eager to leave Boro

The England international has had a transfer request turned down by the struggling Premier League club in a bid to engineer his move to White Hart Lane. But that has not dissuaded Spurs boss Harry Redknapp from moving for the winger with bids of £6 million and £11 million.

On Wednesday morning, Boro rubbished reports they had rejected a new offer of £12.5 million with another £2 million in add-ons.

And now chief executive Keith Lamb has issued a short, sharp statement to underline the club's determination to hold on to Downing.

"We again reiterate that no senior players will be leaving this football club during January," said Lamb. "That is the end of the matter.

"Any ongoing media speculation is therefore meaningless and we will not continue to respond to it.''

Boro chairman Steve Gibson had already stated that none of his star players would leave the club during the mid-season transfer window as the Teesside outfit battle to stay in the top division. Recent poor form has seen them drop closer to trouble and they are currently only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Boss Gareth Southgate, whose position at the helm is now being brought into question, will be heartened by the club's stubborn stance when many crumple after a transfer request has been handed in.

Gibson said this week: "The January transfer window is feeding time for the sharks. But we will fight to keep this squad together because we know we have a lot of quality.

"Stewart Downing, and in fact all of our players, should fight to turn this club around. The players owe it to the club and to the fans and they owe it to the manager.

"As far as Stewart is concerned, we understand the background that has led to this transfer request and we believe his head has been turned. We will work hard to try to convince him to stay. I am adamant nobody will be leaving."

Lampard: Chelsea are well placed to take title

Frank Lampard insists Chelsea are still well placed to catch Premier League leaders Liverpool despite dropping valuable points over the Christmas period.

Chelsea face Manchester United this weekend and defeat could leave them lagging further behind in the title race.

The Blues dropped two crucial points in an away draw at Fulham which allowed the Reds to open up a gap at the summit.

Blues midfielder Lampard is well aware of the importance being placed on the upcoming fixture, but is confident Luiz Felipe Scolari's men can claim a positive result.

"We've dropped some easy points over the last few weeks but no one has pulled away, we're all starting pretty much level.

"A game against Manchester United will always be a table-topping clash and it's in our minds that we dropped some relatively easy points over the last few weeks, so we're in a position now where we really want to get a result.

"We go to win the game or not to get beaten, there is still a long way to go regardless but it is a very important game.''

Chelsea sit three points behind leaders Liverpool at present, with six draws in their last 10 games hindering their pursuit of top-flight glory.

"The publicity around Chelsea now is that if you drop a few points people jump on it straight away, but Liverpool and United have dropped points, no-one has pulled away from us, and Arsenal are behind us,'' added Lampard.

"It's the same for everyone, now we're starting all pretty much level. We need to start this part of the season very strong.''