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Sports Man­age­ment & Me­dia 2018: £115m 2017: £82m (40th)

“I am into world dom­i­na­tion – of a sport­ing sense,” Barry Hearn told The Daily Mail last year. The Brent­wood-based sports pro­moter was raised on a coun­cil es­tate in Da­gen­ham. His mother was a cleaner and dad a Lon­don bus driver. He trained as an ac­coun­tant and be­came the youngest ever char­tered ac­coun­tant to be­come a mem­ber of the in­sti­tute. Hearn later worked for a large firm where one of his big­gest clients was Deryck Healy In­ter­na­tional, a tex­tile de­sign com­pany. In 1973, he per­suaded the firm that it needed a full-time fi­nance di­rec­tor. Overnight he had dou­bled his salary. One of his briefs at Healy was to look at pos­si­ble ac­qui­si­tions, so he took the com­pany into snooker, buy­ing the Lu­ca­nia chain of snooker halls for £500,000 in 1974. It was such a good in­vest­ment that he put his own money into it. When Healy sold it in 1982 for more than £3.5m, Hearn owned a third of it. He left Healy in 1982 and formed his own com­pany – Match­room. He had a Rom­ford snooker hall, a fruit ma­chine and pool ta­ble business in the East End, some of­fices and the best snooker player the world had yet pro­duced, Steve Davis, who sim­ply walked in off the street. Since then Hearn has dom­i­nated snooker, over­see­ing its ex­tra­or­di­nary leap as it be­came es­tab­lished as Bri­tain’s favourite tele­vi­sion sport. He man­aged the best play­ers, or­gan­ised many of the top tour­na­ments and sold them to tele­vi­sion. He took 20% of his play­ers’ in­come but re-in­vested heav­ily in the sport. He is chair­man of World Snooker and took a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in the sport’s com­mer­cial business. “It was like meet­ing an old girl­friend, and she’s gone a bit rough,” he said of the deal. “We took snooker to a health farm, we in­jected a bit of bo­tox and now she is a beau­ti­ful woman again.” He also branched out into box­ing, pool, bowling, golf, fish­ing, poker and darts, giv­ing the lat­ter a much-needed in­jec­tion of razzmatazz. With his son Ed­die, who is Match­room’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Hearn pro­motes a ros­ter of big name fight­ers in­clud­ing An­thony Joshau. Hearn pre­dicts that the world heavy­weight cham­pion could be­come a bil­lion­aire if he re­mains un­beaten over the next 10 years. Match­room, owned by Hearn and his fam­ily, made prof­its of £13.7m in 2016-17 on £100.2m sales. It is worth £100m and paid a div­i­dend of nearly £5m to Hearn and his fam­ily. With his other as­sets, Hearn is eas­ily worth £115m.

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