Steel czar Lakshmi Mittal is top soccer billionaire

April 12th, 2009 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 12 (IANS) Despite plunging steel prices, Indian-born steel czar Lakshmi Mittal with a net worth of $19.3 billion remains the world’s richest soccer club owner in the Forbes list of soccer billionaires.

“Anybody can buy a ticket to a soccer game; these moguls own the teams on the field,” the American business publication said about the top soccer 10 ten picked up from its list of the World’s Billionaires published in March.

“Last year the world’s 10 richest owners of professional soccer clubs had a combined net worth of more than $150 billion. Then the economy tanked. These days the top 10 have a cumulative net worth of less than $90 billion,” Forbes said.

Mittal bought a stake in the London-based Queen’s Park Rangers in 2007, joining Formula 1 tycoons Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone as owners.

The club, currently playing in England’s Championship League, hopes to win a promotion to reach England’s top league, Forbes said. “It almost certainly won’t happen this year. As of April 6, QPR was 10th in league standings.

“Lakshmi Mittal, operator of the world’s largest steel company, is the richest - despite his team not being worth all that much. Mittal is a stakeholder in Queen’s Park Rangers, a team that doesn’t even play in England’s top league,” the magazine said.

In its annual ranking of the world’s richest people, Forbes had named Mittal at the eighth place, down from his fourth position a year ago, as his net worth plunged by a massive 60 percent.

Like Mittal, most other billionaire owners of soccer clubs have also witnessed a sharp jolt of plunging fortunes, but it cannot be attributed to their soccer team ownership.

“Almost all of those losses are related to dropping values in assets other than soccer teams. In fact, elite soccer squads have been sound investments in recent years.

“Forbes estimates value of most top-flight teams is up in the past 12 months, thanks to a combination of lucrative television and marketing deals and continued demand for tickets,” it noted.

Among the 10 richest soccer club owners, Mittal is followed by Amancio Ortega of Deportivo De La Coruna team with a net worth of $18.3 billion and Software giant Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen ($10.5 billion) ranked third.

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