THE BILLIONAIRES CLUB
Thanks to modern football, the word “oligarch” has passed into more general usage. It’s unavoidable if you follow the game – so many of the world’s biggest teams owe their status to obscenely wealthy benefactors. When we talk about there being too much money in football, in what the players make and the clubs generate, we only need to keep in perspective that the sport is a relative plaything compared to the assets of its owners.
This is a tale, and a good one at that, of just how far finance flows in a global market. James Montague made his name as the most intrepid of football writers – his previous books include the entertaining Thirty-One Nil, an account of various minnows’ attempts to qualify for the World Cup. The Billionaires Club similarly takes him places, starting with the Russia that produced the original football oligarch, Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich, to the corporate types of the US, and finally the nouveau riche of Asia and the Middle East. The bottom line of all the money spent and dubious dealing involved is rather chilling – fans don’t altogether care too much who’s paying the big bucks at their club, as long as the wins keep coming.