Chelsea - Roman Abramovich - 2003
Abramovich was perhaps the first of the big billionaire owners to drastically change the outlook of a club. Back in 2003, the Russian bought Chelsea for a fee of £140m in a surprise takeover, purchasing the club from long time owner Ken Bates.
Abramovich began his tenure at Stamford Bridge by proposing to cover the £80m debts that had began to rack up behind the scenes, and simultaneously bought shares in Chelsea Village. On arrival, he stated:
I think what this could signal is the arrival of overseas sugar daddies. We have the resources and ambition to achieve even more given the huge potential of this great club.
Boy, did he deliver.
With the Blues already doing pretty well before his arrival, he would sanction over £95m on new signings that included Hernan Crespo and Claude Makelele.
Finishing fourth the previous season, the big money buys turned The Blues into genuine title contenders for the first time, ending the season in second and adding a Champions League semi-final appearance to it.
The Russian billionaire would really signal his arrival a year later with perhaps his most important signing - Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese boss had upset the odds by winning the Champions League the year previous with unfancied Porto and was seen as the hottest managerial property in Europe.
Although investment in player recruitment was almost identical in value, they purchased far better value than the year prior. Club legends in the making Didier Drogba and Petr Cech moved to London as Jose Mourinho built a side that would go on to win Chelsea’s first ever Premier League title and once again reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Chelsea would go on to dominate English football in the years following with Abramovic and Chelsea shaking up the usual suspects, Manchester United and Arsenal, and injecting some excitement into the title race for the first time in a decade.
Now into his sixteenth year at the club, Chelsea have won five Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, two Europa League wins and one Champions League with over £900m spent over his time at the helm.
Man City - Abu Dhabi United Group - 2008
Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabi United Group announced their multi-billionaire takeover at Manchester City in the best possible way, by splashing the cash on superstar Robinho from Real Madrid for a cool £32m - not bad eh?
Originally the Abu Dhabi group kept faith with the manager they inherited, allowing Mark Hughes to oversee the first two transfer windows at the Etihad, before they - much like Abramovic’s Chelsea - opted to pump some of their fortune into luring a top-class manager to Manchester, appointing Roberto Mancini in December 2009.
With the popular Italian in charge City spent astronomical amounts. After years of bobbing around the top tier and the Championship, the Etihad club were welcoming the likes of Carlos Tevez (£32m), Yaya Toure (£42m) and Edin Dzeko (£27m). Within months City had gone from a mid-table Premier League side at best, to genuine contenders for the title.
After picking up the FA Cup, their first trophy of the new era in 2011, City went from strength to strength under Roberto Mancini and won their first title from under the noses of their rivals Manchester United in the dying seconds of the 2011/12 season.
Although Mancini lasted only one more season, the success and intelligent spending of Manchester City continues to this day. They now hold four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups.
Eleven years this summer since the takeover, Manchester City currently dominate the Premier League, have the most celebrated manager of our time in Pep Guardiola and, to date, have spent £1.5 BILLION on players in total. But, and it’s a big but, they are now one of the biggest names in world football, with global revenue above and beyond what they could have dreamt of back in 2008.
It’s also worth noting their investment in youth development has been exemplary, making sure they’re success is sustained and continued by investment not only by spending power, but from developing their youth at grassroots level - which is surely the very paramount of almost any successful long term project.
It’s all fun and games spending £50m+ on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, but it’s equally as impressive to see the likes of local product Phil Foden competing for his place in the starting eleven. Investment across all levels is breeding success at Eastlands.
From relegation fodder to the Barcelona of England? Not bad for a decade’s worth of work.
Wolves - Fosun International - 2016
In July 2016 Chinese conglomerate Fosun International bought Wolves for a modest £45m, with outgoing owner Steve Morgan confirming to fans that Fosun had “made a commitment to invest between £20-£30m over the next two years”.
Wolves had finished the season in a modest fourteenth only months prior, but the investment gave optimism that the club could not only achieve promotion back to the promised land of the Premier League, but also punch above their weight if, and when, they got there.
Whilst Wanderers fans had themselves become a little giddy, the news was Dr Tony Xia’s purchase of neighbouring Aston Villa and subsequent “silly spending” weeks prior had meant the club had right to be at least cautiously optimistic.
Jeff Shi, who had led the negotiations with Morgan on behalf of Fosun, became the club’s representative (and latterly Chairman), whilst local businessmen and Wolves supporters John Bowater and John Gough will also continue to serve as non-executive board members, with Jez Moxley remaining as chief executive for three months as they searched for a permanent replacement. With people who had Wolves at heart, and man who understood the club helping to make the decisions, it seemed a perfect partnership.
A difficult season ensued after the much-lauded appointment of Walter Zenga had turned sour only fourteen games into the season. The early sacking of the big name manager meant Wolves limped to mid-table and went through no less than FOUR managers in a calendar year.
With the mistakes of the previous campaign fresh in the memory, the new board opted to bring in the respected and highly rated Nuno Espírito Santo, who had left Porto in 2016. With Nuno as head coach, the Midlands outfit were able to attract - and afford - some top talent that would rocket them to the Premier League well before schedule.
Big names Ruben Neves, Willy Boly and Diego Jota did arrive (the latter two on loan) but despite having an abundance of riches Nuno was shrewd, picking up the likes of Ryan Bennett and John Ruddy on free transfers.
Rather than buy his way to the top they changed formation and put time, effort and faith into the likes of Matt Doherty and Conor Coady - players who had been with the club before the takeover - to get them to the Premier League.
And it worked.
They achieved promotion with 99 points and effectively walked the Championship, but the glory hasn’t stopped there.
Making modest changes to the squad but mainly keeping faith with the squad that got them there meant Wolves did a bit of a 1999/2000 Sunderland, finishing seventh and bringing European football back to Molineux.
This season they have continued to build, making three to four key purchases per season to improve the squad without too much disruption, proving that with Nuno at the helm the sky is most certainly the limit for Wolves.
Does money equal success? - The verdict
It’s hard not to look at the three aforementioned clubs and not be excited by our own potential billionaire takeover, but there is a recurring theme throughout, albeit at varying degrees.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Wolves all showed their spending power from the off, but success was far from achieved at first point of call. Signing Robinho took City to no more than mid-table, Chelsea had a marginal improvement but didn’t transform to Champions League winners overnight and Wolves could have easily been relegated at one point.
The key take out from each club is that they achieved success once they brought in a manager who knew how to get the best from what he had when he landed, coupled by an intelligent transfer policy.
So, does money equal success? If it’s spent wisely, and by a manager who knows his onions, then yes. Let’s just hope Jack Ross is that man should the investment come-off.