Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has fallen to fourth in FourFourTwo.com's Football Rich List - his lowest position - having been pipped to third by Arsenal stakeholder Alisher Usmanov.
The revelation, exposed in the latest edition of the Football Rich List, released today on FourFourTwo.com, shows a continued descent down the chart of British football's wealthiest for the Stamford Bridge supremo, who instantly became the richest man in the English game when he bought Chelsea in the summer of 2003.
Uzbek-Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov has a stake in Arsenal now worth £172m. Speaking of his interest in the Gunners, he explained: "My love for Arsenal is like that of a man for a woman. It is not something you can sell." Aside from the Emirates Stadium side, his recent investments have been in media, telecoms and banking, with his wealth estimated at £8 billion.
Abramovich, now valued at £7.4bn, wrote off £340 million of Chelsea’s debt in January, effectively turning his £709 million loan to the London side into equity, and has also diversified from oil by investing in Russian steel group Evraz and mining group Highland Gold.
And FourFourTwo Editor-in-Chief Hugh Sleight explains that Abramovic's steady slide down the list isn't down to the Russian's own financial situation.
“It isn’t that Abramovich has got poorer, but more and more billionaires are coming into English football. When we first published this list in 2003, there were two. Now there are 15," Sleight said.
“This year, Arsenal’s Alisher Usmanov has superseded Abramovich, knocking him down to number four, his lowest ever position. And keep an eye on QPR, riding high in the Championship and also in the Rich List.
“With Lakshmi Mittal at No.2 and Bernie Ecclestone at No.10, their combined wealth absolutely dwarfs Abramovich and Chelsea. If they can maintain their push for promotion to the Premier League, how long till Chelsea aren’t even the biggest club in West London?”
It is unclear whether Usmanov will seek to continue increasing his stake in Arsenal, but if he crosses the 30 percent threshold, City of London takeover rules will require him to make a formal offer for the club.
In April, his holding company, Red & White, stated: "At this stage Red & White retains all its options and does not wish for the purposes of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers to reduce its future flexibility and accordingly no particular course of action is ruled in or out."
Fans of Arsene Wenger’s side have previously protested against the 57-year-old taking over at Emirates Stadium.
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