Chelsea boss goes straight to top of UK pay league

They earn money - but not as we know it - and only one woman (and guess who?) is among the best paid Britons

It's not like he hides it. Roman Abramovich bought one of the country's swankiest football clubs and has been splashing his cash out on top players ever since - but now the Russian oligarch has gone one better than his star-stuffed team by topping a league. He is revealed today as the highest paid person in Britain.

Not content with trying to buy his way to the Premiership title, Mr Abramovich leads the table of high earners thanks to the £564m he was paid last year. That's five times more than J K Rowling, the highest earning woman in the country and the only female to appear in the top 10.

Mr Abramovich came straight in at number one when he moved his operations to Britain earlier in the year, selling a stake in Aeroflot for £34m and receiving dividends of £530m from his Russian oil company Sibneft.

Second place in the pay list published by The Sunday Times today goes to John Caudwell, founder of Phones4U, the largest independent cell phone distributor in Europe. Last year he earned just over £397m, largely by selling his Singlepoint subsidiary to Vodafone in August. In third place comes Michael Cornish, who made the bulk of his £203m from selling Linpac, the Birmingham-based packaging company founded by his father.

Last year's chart-topper Philip Green, head of the Arcadia retail empire which includes Topshop and Miss Selfridge, finds himself relegated to number four with an income of just £171m. That's little more than a paltry £3m a week.

At five is J K Rowling, who was paid around £75m for her latest book Harry Pot ter and the Order of the Phoenix, and earned another £50m from royalties and merchandise deals to head the list of women.

Paul Drayson enters the list for the first time in 10th place, having earned £42m by selling his company, PowderJect Pharmaceuticals. PowderJect was awarded a government contract to provide a smallpox vaccine not long after Dr Drayson had given £50,000 to Labour, although both he and the Government insisted there was no connection between the contract and the donation.

Mr Abramovich is thought to covet the signature of David Beckham, so he will be pleased to see he could still buy the richest footballer on the list several times over. Signing for Real Madrid sent the England captain up the chart to number 34, but he only earned £20.5m last year. Poor thing.

Britain's 10 highest paid (2003)

1 Roman Abramovich. Business. £564m

2 John Caudwell. Telecoms. £397m

3 Michael Cornish. Business. £203m

4 Philip Green. Retailing. £171m

5 JK Rowling. Publishing. £125m

6 Bill Archer. Retailing. £73.8m

7 John Fredriksen. Business. £68.5m

8 Lynn Wilson. Property and construction. £47m.

9 Patrick Moores. Retailing. £43.4m

10 Paul Drayson. Pharmaceuticals. £42.4m

Britain's 10 highest paid women

1 JK Rowling. Publishing. £125m

2 Alison Goldberg. Retailing. £33m

2 Sara Phillips. Retailing. £33m

4 Charlene de Carvalho. Business. £27m

5 Portia Kennaway. Retailing. £18.4m

6 Marilyn Anselm. Retailing. £18.1m

7 The Queen. Establishment. £15.6m

8 Madonna. Music. £15m

9 Denise O'Donoghue. TV and media. £12.8m

10 Jackie Collins. Publishing. £10m

Comments