There is no sport like the beautiful game. Fans all over the world continue to be gripped every week by the dramas, controversies and seemingly impossible scripts that play out over the 90 minutes and more. With over four billion fans across the globe, football is unrivalled in terms of its popularity and influence – it even provides a significant impact on the cultural, economical and social status of society.
However, the sport requires figureheads, leaders, top agents and icons that can continue to spearhead and evolve the status of the game. Here are four individuals that either through their authority, money, talent or a combination of all three have made football the colossal business it is today.
The 57-year-old barks loudest as the top dog of the Premier League, which stands as the most lucrative and highest-watched division in world football. Scudamore’s longevity with England’s top-flight is testament to his expansive vision. He was appointed chief executive of the organisation in 1999 and became executive chairman in 2015 – leading to the global financial superpower it is now.
Even greater profits are set to mount in the coming campaigns following Scudamore’s successful negotiation of a record £5.14 billion TV rights deal between Sky and BT for the 2016-19 seasons – a 70 percent increase from the previous £3 billion contract between 2013-16.
Even though the world’s greatest players are arguably found in Spain’s La Liga (Messi and Ronaldo to name a few), it is still the Premier League that reels the viewers in worldwide. Scudamore’s responsibility is to retain the Premier League’s superpower eminence, but challenges lay in wait just around the corner with Brexit looming, potentially resulting in a return to restrictive work permit rules for European Union (EU) transfers.
The next couple of years will prove to be testing for even one of the most experienced businessmen within football – then again it is making these critical decisions which earn him a reported £2.5m a year, so it’s not all bad.
These days, the most powerful football agents are almost as recognisable as the players in modern football and none are more renowned than the Portuguese opportunist – a man in control of a portfolio of players worth more than £700m. People as esteemed as Sir Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo (his most high-profile client) all listen to Mendes’ advice and he is undoubtedly one of the most connected people in the game.
On the other hand, his influence is not just limited to players. He’s your port of call if you’re a billionaire who’s just bought financial control of a club and is looking to make waves in the transfer market. Owners such as Peter Lim at Valencia and Dmitry Rybolovyev at Monaco have all succumbed to a touch of the Mendes magic, while a further symbol of his power might be developing in the English Championship with Wolves who currently top the Championship – complete with Medes-managed players whose talents arguably outstrip the league itself.
Despite having the ear of some of football’s wealthiest individuals, Mendes still reportedly conducts himself in a humble, professional and sincere manner. If the previous years are abt indication, he will continue to be hugely involved in the major deals that shape the next decade of the sport.
The Argentinean wizard is the icon of a generation – arguably the greatest football to ever lace up a pair of boots. At 30 years of age, he is the embodiment of FC Barcelona and his recent contract agreement will see him stay put at the Nou Camp until 2021.
Even though the Ballon d’Or looks set to head to his main Portuguese rival Cristiano Ronaldo for a second consecutive year, Messi still remains football’s most bankable asset through his consistent staggering talent, fair play and positive perception that Messi still plays football like he is a child in the playground.
He keeps himself to himself and is far removed from the lavish lifestyle associated with many of football’s leading lights. He is the main focus of Adidas’s brand activation strategy and has also been the face of prominent campaigns with Pepsi, Gillette and Turkish Airlines.
Messi’s net worth is conservatively estimated to be between £200m and £230m. For as long as he is around, the current football era will be emblazoned with the name of the world’s most famous number ten.
With Bayern Munich amassing a record €640m in revenue during the 2016/17 season, Rummenigge would feature high on this list for his work with the Bavarian giants alone. In March this year, they became the first foreign club to open an office in mainland China and are nuzzled among the world’s five richest clubs.
Yet outside of Bayern, his achievements are just as impressive. Voted European Footballer of the Year on two occasions, the 62-year-old is also chairman of the European Clubs Association (ECA) – a body which represents 214 member clubs from the top of the game and is the only such organisation that UEFA and FIFA recognise.
Such is the influence of the ECA, Rummenigge and the rest of his colleagues are forging their own legacy. On one hand, they are leading the fight for compensation to be paid for the rescheduling from summer to winter of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as well as making the final judgment in deciding whether to ferment a breakaway European Super League in the future.
Written by Ian Waterhouse
Ian Waterhouse is a sports, fitness and betting writer with extensive experience in all sectors of the gambling industry. When he’s not trawling through the odds, you’ll probably find Ian on the golf course – probably the bunker!