Many League One clubs now have foreign investors in the boardroom as they bid to achieve a money-spinning move up into the Championship and beyond – while many have retained the same steady hand on the tiller for decades.
As the money continues to stream into the Premier League, with transfer fees, wages and TV rights all at record highs, the money is slowly but surely trickling down into the third tier.
A host of League One sides have burst through into the Premier League in recent seasons, and there a number of sides in League One now desperate to do the same.
So, here’s the complete list of the money men and women…
A bit of an anomaly to begin with, as phoenix club AFC Wimbledon are one of just a few fan owned clubs in the EFL.
The club is under the ownership of The Dons trust, which has pledged to retain at 75% control of the ownership.
The Dons Trust is an industrial and provident society registered with the Financial Services Authority as “Wimbledon Football Club Supporters’ Society Limited”.
The chief executive, Erik Samuelson, is a retired accountant, who carries out his full-time duties in return for the nominal sum of one guinea a year, because “it sounded posher than a pound”.
In November 2010, the Indian company V H Group bought Blackburn Rovers under the name of Venky’s London Limited for £23 million.
In December 2011, Blackburn Rovers posted an annual pre-tax loss of £18.6m for the year ending 30 June 2011. Despite this, the owners of Blackburn Rovers provided assurances over the continued funding of the club, even if they were relegated.
The club have suffered two relegations since the Venky’s took over, and now find themselves in the third tier for the first time in over 35 years. They will be back in the Championship next season.
The VH group generates its wealth via the poultry industry in India, and protests at the owners by Blackburn fans has seen a chicken released onto the pitch during matches.
Owen Oyston is an English businessman and the majority owner of Blackpool FC.
He was convicted of rape and indecent assault in 1996. He served three years and six months of a six-year sentence in prison.
Owen’s son Karl is now chairman at the club and has overseen Blackpool’s solitary season in the Premier League.
However the relationship between the family and the supporters has soured, with crowds plummeting at Bloomfield Road.
His poor standing is mostly due to a perceived lack of funding for the club’s stadium, playing staff and training ground – particularly since relegation from the Premier League.
The Oysten’s wealth was listed at £100m in the Sunday Times Rich List.
The German duo took over at Valley Parade in May last year, with Rahic taking on the role of chairman and chief executive based permanently in Yorkshire, while Rupp remains in Germany.
Upon investing in the club, Rahic said: “Both myself and Stefan have a background in business and sport, and after looking at a number of clubs in England, Bradford City had the potential and fan base that interested us most. We do not have plans to make big changes but to work with the existing structure. We have seen the way the club and fans interact and the model of affordable football is very important to us.”
The German duo have made affordability of tickets a key issue and the Bantams now regularly enjoy crowds in excess of 20,000.
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Little was known about Jordanian businessman Wael Al-Qadi and his family when they chose to invest in Bristol Rovers in February 2016.
But the die-hard Chelsea fan has made himself popular at the Memorial Stadium through a combination of fan interaction (he can often be spotted in among the Rovers fans on a matchday) and continued on field improvement.
Rovers have won promotion to League One and picked up an impressive 10th place finish since the Al-Qadi’s took over.
While there have been off-field setbacks, most notably the failure to come to a deal with the University of the West of England about a proposed new stadium, the majority of Rovers fans seem content with their current owners.
The Al-Qadi’s made their money in the banking industry in the Middle East and while Wael acts as President of the club and the public face of Dwane Sports, his family have also taken in games at the Mem.
Bury have suffered an uneasy financial situation in recent years, and were issued with a winding-up petition in October last year.
Chairman Stewart Day has said he is keen to build a new Stadium for the Shakers, however, questions hang over the funding for the new ground after Bury faced off three winding up petitions for unpaid tax bills last year.
They will be in League Two next season.
The Belgian took over at the Valley in January 2014 and immediately brought in several players from Belgian side Standard Liege – another club owned by Duchatelet.
The changes led to Charlton’s relegation to League One, and many fans took their anger out on the new owner and blamed the odd recruitment of both players and managers.
In March 2016, the club issued a statement believed to have been penned by Duchatelet which reprimanded some Chalrton fans for wanting the club to fail.
CARD (the coalition against Roland Duchatelet) was formed and staged numerous protests against Duchatelet and his running of the club.
Doncaster co-owner Dick Watson passed away in July at the age of 75. The former construction magnate had held a 26% stake in the club.
Watson, a multimillionaire and long-time fixture on the Sunday Times rich list, which put his net worth at £90m, created Keepmoat, the Doncaster development firm with Terry Bramall – his friend of 40 years.
Watson joined the board in 2006 becoming equal shareholders with Bramall and John Ryan (an entrepreneur involved in the cosmetic surgery business).
Within two years, Rovers had been promoted to the Championship and enjoyed some of their most successful seasons in recent years.
Pilley is the chairman of independent commercial utility group BES utilities and current chairman and owner at Fleetwood Town.
Since becoming owner, Pilley has invested over £10m into the club and has overseen considerable success both on and off the pitch.
His financial support has seen the complete renovation of Highbury Stadium and last year the club opened a new £8m training facility.
The club also rose from the Conference North to League One in just four years.
Scally earned his wealth through the sale of a photocopier business before he bought Gillingham for £1 in 1995, taking the club out off administration.
His tenure has witnessed the most successful period in the club’s history, with three promotions, three Wembley play-off finals and four FA Cup victories over top division opponents, and their highest league finish of 11th in the Championship.
He has also found himself at the centre of a fair number of controversies, including stating his desire to relocate the club and banning the Kent Messenger Group of newspapers from the ground.
Winkelman is managing director of the property development consortium Inter MK that was responsible for developing the Denbigh North district of Milton Keynes.
Winkelman was a key player in the decision to relocate Wimbledon Fc to Milton Keynes and was part of a consortium which purchased the club at the end of the 2003/4 season, becoming chairman of the club.
The new board relaunched the club as Milton Keynes Dons FC, also giving the side a new all-white strip and a new badge bearing the year “MMIV” (2004).
5USport, a Chinese sports development and education firm, purchased a 60% stake in the Cobblers in June this year.
Guangzhou-based 5USport now has a stake in the holding company which owns the majority shareholding in the Cobblers.
Northampton chairman Kelvin Thomas suggested at the time it was not a takeover and added that he and 5USport would be working as “partners”.
Thomas himself completed his takeover of the Cobblers from David Cardoza in November 2015 and since then the club won promotion to the third tier.
Following a poor start to the season, Northampton brought in former QPR and Burton Albion boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but their form has remained indifferent and they still find themselves in the relegation battle.
Abdallah Lemsagam’s took over at Oldham Athletic from Simon Corney in January this year.
The Moroccan football agent agreed a deal with majority shareholder Corney, which ends his 14-year association with the Latics.
“This is a new challenge for me,” Lemsagam said.
“I’m not a billionaire, I’m taking it step by step, I’m here to work hard for the club, with the coach and everyone.”
Lemsagam’s Sport 2JLT company has represented players including former Portsmouth and AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari and striker Afonso Alves, who was at Middlesbrough.
Oldham will be in League Two next season.
Thai businessman Thanakarnjanasuth, who is also known as ‘Tiger’, became the majority shareholder and chairman of managerless Oxford last month.
Thanakarnjanasuth’s takeover means the capital structure of the club has been strengthened and the debt has been reduced, while outgoing chairman Darryl Eales will retain a shareholding and remain on the board at the Kassam Stadium.
Former owner Darryl Eales still owns just under 10 per cent of the club.
MacAnthony has been charmian at London Road since 2006. Legally obliged to give first refusal to a third party (Peterborough United Holdings Ltd) in the event of a sale, Barry Fry retained 99.8% ownership of the club, but MacAnthony gained power of attorney for the club’s affairs.
MacAnthony took over as chairman at Peterborough at the age of 30, making him the youngest chairman in the Football League.
As a sign of his ambition he promised fans promotion from League Two to the Championship in two seasons, which was duly delivered, though the club were subsequently relegated to League One. MacAnthony became owner of the club in August 2007, buying the club for a nominal £1 after taking on the club’s debts.
The Irishman is not afraid to speak his mind and regularly interacts with Posh fans and supporters of other clubs via Twitter and often backs up or quashes transfer rumours.
MacAnthony revealed earlier this month that Dr Jason Neale and Mr R Stewart Thompson have joined the Posh as co-owners. Neale and Thompson have bought 50 per cent of the League One promotion chasers through Kelgary Sports and Entertainment, and both will serve on the club’s board as directors with immediate effect.
The Canada-based investors will, according to a club statement, have equal voice with club chairman Darragh MacAnthony and are “committed to taking an active role in Peterborough United’s long-term success.”
Dunphy was originally appointed as a director of Rochdale AFC in 1980 when he spent 2 years on the board before moving out of the area. He returned to Rochdale in 1990 and was asked to rejoin the board and has remained there ever since.
In 29 June 2006 he was elected chairman of Dale, replacing David Kilpatrick on his retirement. He formed a new board of Directors with the sole aim of progressing the club.
One of his first major decisions was to appoint an untried Keith Hill as Manager. Since taking over, Dunphy has become the most successful chairman Rochdale has ever had, seeing Dale enjoy some of their most successful years; twice reaching promotion play off positions, one of which resulted in their first ever appearance at Wembley.
Finally in 2010 they gained promotion for the first time in over 40 years, relegation to League 2 in 2012 was followed by promotion back to League 1 in 2014.
Dunphy’s own business Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical is in the very specialized area of church heating.
Brent sensationally came out in 2014 and told BBC South West he spends just half a day per week on club business and is “not competent” to run it on a daily basis.
Brent, a former banker, was initially cajoled into advising a club on the brink of administration but when a buyer was not forthcoming he ended up saving them from extinction.
Just last month Brent reaffirmed his commitment to his goal of building a successful but financially sustainable club. He is a firm advocate of investing in the club’s infrastructure to generate additional revenue.
The former CEO of Walt Disney, Eisner completed his takeover of Portsmouth in August for a reported fee of £5.67m.
Eisner and his Tornante investment group bought 100% of the club.
The Pompey Supporters Trust previously owned 48.5% of the club’s shares with the rest shared among 16 ‘presidents’.
Eisner, whose net worth is estimated at $1 billion, and his three sons, Breck, Eric and Anders, make up the club’s board along with Andy Redman, president of Tornante, and Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin.
Eisner made his money at Disney between 1984 and 2005, having been President and CEO at rival movie studio Paramount Pictures from 1976 to 1984.
Local Tony Stewart took over at Rotherham in 2008 and his major achievement has been building a new stadium for the Millers – the New York Stadium.
Stewart is the owner of Rotherham based ASD Lighting PLC and saw Rotherham move into the Championship in 2014.
In 2008, Stewart bought a club in administration and with the rent being charged at the Millers Milmoor home being a large factor in their financial struggles, he quickly struck a deal to move to the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield.
A return to Rotherham came with the new stadium opening in 2012.
Swann took over from Steve Wharton in 2013 having previously invested in and been chairman of Gainsborough Trinity.
In 2015, he said of his takeover: “We picked up a club with no systems in place, it was run as a hobby and that is what we have cleared up. There were no records in several departments, no invoices, no purchase ledger, no structure and certainly no leadership at key levels and it has been a huge job to try and achieve.”
Swann currently holds an 87.5% stake in the club.
In December 2013, he spoke of his intent to construct a new stadium for Scunthorpe by as early as 2015.
However Swann has now said he is looking redevelop Glanford Park as opposed to build a new stadium.
Wycherley has been chairman at Shrewsbury Town since July 1996, and is currently overseeing a remarkable season.
When he took over the Club it had over £750k in debt and was playing at Gay Meadow, which at the time was a 97 year old stadium with a restrictive covenant that flooded twice per year, Wycherley has since turned around the club’s fortunes moving to a purpose built all-seater new stadium at Greenhous Meadow with a capacity of 10,000 in 2007 and the club also became debt free.
In the last season at Gay Meadow the average attendance was circa 2,500 and now is now around 5,500 per match.
Roland was born in the Castlefields area of Shrewsbury and started his working life as a plasterers apprentice but in 1972 founded ‘Shropshire Vending’ which started out with one machine and he grew the company into a multi million pound business.
Martin is a British businessman who is chief executive of Martin Dawn PLC, aproperty development company.
Martin’s development company ‘Martin Dawn PLC’ took control of Southend United in late 1998. Martin brought out the charges over Roots Hall from Lloyds Banking Group in 1998 for £4m, clearing the club’s debts.
Ron Martin was a member of Great Britain’s Olympic Bobsleigh team in 1980.
In November 2009, Ron Martin avoided Southend United going into administration by agreeing to settle a £2.1million tax bill by 6 November. He has blamed the size of their debts on their relegation from the Championship in 2007 and their proposed move away from their current home at Roots Hall.
Lifelong Walsall fan Jeff Bonser bought into the club in 1991, eventually going on to become the chairman in 1997.
Bonser has been credited with keeping Walsall out of administration unlike many other similarly sized clubs, and the Saddlers have posted modest profits during the last decade.
One bone of contention between Bonser and the fans however is that he and his brother Robert own a majority of the club shares personally, but hold the stadium separately – in their pension fund. Walsall Football Club pay rent, to play in their own home ground.
Perhaps the most recognisable owner outside of the Premier League, Whelan has been in charge at Wigan Ahtletic since February 1995.
After Whelan took the reins he announced that he would get Wigan Athletic into the Premier League, a promise he fulfilled in 2005.
Whelan oversaw eight successive Premier League seasons for the North West club and saw them lift the FA Cup in 2013.
On 3 March 2015, Whelan stepped down as chairman, appointing his 23-year-old grandson, David Sharpe, as the new chairman.
The 80-year-old has kept all of his business interests together as Wigan’s home has changed name from the JJB Stadium to the DW Stadium.
Wigan are back in the Championship next season.