FourFourTwo’s 100 most influential people in football right now: 70-61
65. Nelio Lucas
Neymar, David Beckham, Usain Bolt: just three global football superstars whose marketing is managed by Neilo Lucas's controversial company Doyen Sports Investments.
Doyen are unquestionably one of the biggest investment funds in European football today, yet their speciality (and chief catalyst behind their rapid rise to the top) – third-party ownership of players' economic rights – has earned them a questionable reputation to say the least.
Before it was outlawed two years ago, TPO was a practice described by FIFA president Gianni Infantino as a system akin to “modern slavery”, and seen by others as a transfer business with similarities to a cattle market.
Not that Lucas seems too bothered. His lavish 35th birthday celebration in London a couple of years ago was attended by football luminaries including Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, plus the owners of Fulham, a host of Russian oligarchs and the odd Swiss tax lawyer. EP
64. Martin Glenn
Glenn became the FA’s CEO in 2015 and, within the space of a year, had encountered two substantial crises: England’s elimination by Iceland at Euro 2016 and Sam Allardyce’s scandal-driven departure barely a few months later.
Handily, Glenn is a blend of private sector savvy (he’s a former chief executive of United Biscuits) and old-school traditionalism (he was previously a grassroots coach), and has shown both a dynamic attitude towards problem-solving and a willingness to back the much-maligned England DNA scheme, evidenced by his role in appointing Gareth Southgate as head coach of the senior side.
While the cogs turn beneath him, his role is to provide the surface layer protection needed for English football to evolve, out of sight. It helps that Glenn – unlike some of his predecessors – appears outwardly to understand the nature of the problems posed by modern football and isn’t just the latest executive to believe that all issues can be solved by a silver bullet appointment. SSB
63. Andrew Wilson
EA Sports… it's in the game. Quite literally, and very prominently these days.
The Australia-born Wilson – EA's main man – has been heading things up since 2000. Fuelled by his love of the beautiful game, Wilson and his company have slowly but steadily made FIFA the dominant force in sports gaming, ousting former market leader Pro Evolution Soccer.
It was a remarkable turnaround. EA were plummeting in the four years prior to his appointment, shipping billions and even being given the unwanted tag of "Worst Company in America" by Consumerist. Fast-forward to 2014 and Wilson was at the helm as EA doubled its stock price. The FIFA series is now EA's best-established brand – and, in fact, now the biggest sports franchise title in the world.
Over 100 million copies have been sold worldwide since its first release in 1993, facilitating the incredible rise of sports e-gaming which has led to pro club-affiliated players, investment from the likes of Ronaldo, and a FIFA-recognised Interactive World Cup. EP
62. Alex Morgan
Morgan’s past two years have solidified her place as an influencer in the sport. A few months after she’d won the World Cup, in 2015, the Californian became the face of new franchise Orlando Pride, which came to being at the time it did based largely on its ability to acquire her.
This past December, she signed a short-term deal with Lyon that also saw her name and likeness splashed across the club’s marketing campaigns and YouTube channel. That deal happened after Lyon owner Jean Michel-Aulas’ public, awkward pursuit of the U.S. star on Twitter.
Morgan’s income is in the seven figures annually, between team salaries and endorsements – a number unheard of in the women’s game. It speaks to her value on and off the field, and her ability to reach a wide demographic of fans.
Morgan is still trying to carve her place among the world’s elite, though, which is part of why she joined Lyon. Still, her influence remains wide-reaching, evidenced by those big moves to Orlando and France, as well as the sizeable endorsement demands on her. JK
61. Dan Ashworth
At St. George’s Park, a talented team of coaches and sports scientists with world-class facilities are busy plotting the future for the English national team – one hopefully free from farce and failure – under the watchful eye of technical director Dan Ashworth. The 46-year-old was a youth player at Norwich, and started his coaching career at Peterborough United’s academy.
He joined the FA in 2013, and is now in charge of coaching for the senior squad and implementing the ‘England DNA’ strategy; a plan for how England teams of all age levels should play, with the eventual aim of winning the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. Or the 128-team World Cup in North Korea in 2026.
Crucially, Ashworth was integral in the search for a successor to Roy Hodgson, and with close friend Gareth Southgate now in the post, he wields huge power at the FA. AK