30= BARRY HEARN & FAMILY
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.