Football: Gibson among the 'also-rans'

THAT WAS THE WEEKEND THAT WAS
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The Independent Online
How far can Steve Gibson go in his plan to turn Middlesbrough into a genuine power in the football world?

Possibly not as far as starstruck Teessiders would like, according to the annual Sunday Times "rich list", which the 39-year-old road haulier may well have found among his breakfast reading yesterday.

Although in most eyes Gibson might be regarded as quite comfortable, an estimated fortune of pounds 85m gives him only a share of 226th place in Britain's 1,000 richest individuals or families.

Not bad, you might justifiably say, for someone who started out 16 years ago with just pounds 4,000. Nevertheless, the man who has bankrolled the Riverside revolution is merely a bit-part player among the seriously wealthy patrons of the national game.

Indeed, of the 22 football millionaires among the top 285, Gibson comes in a lowly 18th.

Nearer the top, "Uncle" Jack Walker, the Blackburn owner, is reckoned to be worth, in conjunction with his brother Fred, some pounds 550m, which leaves most others in the shade.

Next in the pecking order come the Gold brothers, partners in Birmingham City, with an estimated pounds 230m, just a little more than the Birmingham chairman, David Sullivan, whose pounds 200m is on a par with John Madejski, the Reading chairman. Newcastle's Sir John Hall weighs in at pounds 220m, Wolverhampton's exiled benefactor, Sir Jack Hayward, at pounds 190m, and Tottenham's Alan Sugar at pounds 186m.

They are dwarfed by the Moores family, of Liverpool legend, said still to be worth some pounds 1,000m despite recent (relatively) hard times. But even they cannot compete with the man who, in January, bought a pounds 40m stake in Rangers. The Bahamas-based financier Joseph Lewis is estimated "conservatively" by the authors of the list to be sitting on pounds 3,000m.

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