Football may be a poor cousin of cricket in the Indian sports arena, but the game has earned India-born business tycoon Lakshmi Mittal a place in yet another rich list, the world's richest soccer club owner.
In a ranking of the world's 10 richest owners of professional soccer clubs, Mittal has been named at the top by American business publication Forbes and is the only person in the list with India connection.
"Lakshmi Mittal, operator of the world's largest steel company, is the richest — despite his team not being worth all that much. Mittal is a stakeholder in Queen's Park Rangers, a team that doesn't even play in England's top league," Forbes said in a report.
In its annual ranking of the world's richest people released last month, Forbes had named Mittal at the eighth place with a net worth of USD 19.3 billion. He has moved down from his fourth position a year ago, as his net worth plunged by a massive 60 per cent.
Like Mittal, most of other billionaire owners of soccer clubs have also witnessed a sharp jolt of plunging fortunes, but it cannot be attributed to their soccer team ownership.
"Almost all of those losses are related to dropping values in assets other than soccer teams. In fact, elite soccer squads have been sound investments in recent years. Forbes estimates value of most top-flight teams is up in the past 12 months, thanks to a combination of lucrative television and marketing deals and continued demand for tickets," it noted.
Nonetheless, the combined net worth of the world's 10 richest owners of professional soccer clubs has dropped from more than USD 150 billion last year to less than $ 90 billion, it noted.
About Mittal, Forbes said, "Indian-born UK resident heads ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company. Despite plunging steel prices, Mittal remains soccer's richest owner."
"He bought a stake in the London-based Queen's Park Rangers in 2007, joining Formula 1 tycoons Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone as owners. The club, currently playing in England's Championship League, hopes to win a promotion to reach England's top league. It almost certainly won't happen this year. As of April 6, QPR was 10th in league standings."
Mittal has been named as richest person in the UK for many past years, while he also regularly features on the rich lists for India and South Africa.
Among the 10 richest soccer club owners, Mittal is followed by Amancio Ortega of Deportivo De La Coruna team with a net worth of USD 18.3 billion and Software giant Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen ($ 10.5 billion) ranked at third.
Allen's Seattle Sounders team defeated the New York Red Bulls by 3-0 in the team's first Major League Soccer game in March.
Russian billionaire and owner of famous English team Chelsea, Roman Abramovich ($ 8.5 billion) is ranked fourth and is followed by Stade Rennais' Francois Pinalut ($ 7.6 billion), AC Milan's Silvio Berlusconi ($ 6.5 billion), Swedish club Hannarby's Philip Anschutz ($ five billion), Manchester City's Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan ($ 4.9 billion), Norwegian club Valerenga's John Fredriksen ($ 4 billion) and Queen's Park Rangers' co-owner Bernard Ecclestone ($ 3.7 billion).