• Tony Bloom, International Man of Mystery

    We all know that Uncle Tony is the Albion's saviour, and without his benevolence we certainly wouldn't have The Amex in it's current degree of splendour, and just maybe wouldn't have a club at all.

    Tony is a notoriously private man, and keeps his cards close to his chest both as a professional poker player, and also from a personal perspective.

    Many fans wonder how Tony made his riches, and how much he is worth. An investigation into his UK based wealth isn't particularly revealing though, which suggests he either made his money overseas or it is kept well hidden. Or probably both.


    Ancient History

    The Bloom family, first of all through Tony's grandfather Harry (former Albion vice-chairman), and Uncle Ray (director who fell out with Brian Bedson, but later rejoined the board) have had executive roles within the club since the 1970's.

    By all accounts the whole family is Albion mad, although they also have been involved with Worthing football club too.

    Tony Bloom went to Manchester University to study (like all the best undergraduates), and gained a degree in maths. He then started a career in accountancy before switching his skills to options trading in the City of London.

    Tony 's enthusiasm and love of betting, combined with the skills he learned in the City, were spotted by Victor Chandler, and he was headhunted by them to set up their Far East operations, specialising in football.

    The global popularity of the Premier League being shown live on TV combined with the Far East passion for gambling was an intoxicating combination, and Tony took full advantage of this.

    Tony used his gambling knowledge, numeracy skills and eye for a gap in the market to develop the Asian Handicap style of betting for football, where teams start the match (for betting purposes) with a head start in terms of goals (including fractions of goals) to make the outcome more interesting for punters.

    Tony then set up Premier Bet as an online betting vehicle, which he then sold to a company called Interactive Gaming Holdings plc (IGH) for £1 million. IGH no longer trades, it looks as if made substantial losses (as did Premier Bet), but there was evidence that TB had other sources of income as he had lent Premier Bet's holding company over £10 million by that stage.


    Current directorships

    According to records lodged at Companies House, TB currently has directorships in a number of non-Albion related companies. Their assets and cash are summarised below.

    Company Name Net Worth £'000 Cash £'000
    AGB (Church Road) 893 27
    AGB (Woking) 6,195 228
    AGB (Reading) 1,284 158
    AGB (Camden) 20,664 843
    Blue Lizard Consulting 3,441 1,911
    Deanway Properties 733 35
    Total 33,210 3,202


    £33 million is clearly a lot of wealth from the average person's perspective, but insufficient to fund a £200 million interest free investment in the Amex, Lancing and a prospective hotel development, so where has the rest of the money come from?

    All that can be gleaned is that it is not from the UK, and like the majority of the Albion's transfer dealings these days, the number is 'undisclosed'.

    It would appear that our secretive supremo has extensive overseas investment, but a check at the equivalent of Companies House in both Australia and Hong Kong (I've had a lot of spare time on my hands today) reveals nothing in the name of Anthony Grant Bloom.


    Investment in the Albion

    The club have lost money every year since the 70's. Even promotion to the old first division (the equivalent of the Premier League to youngsters reading) in 1979 could not change this, and the club were at one point paying the highest wages of all 92 clubs when captain Steve Foster and striker Michael Robinson signed 10 year contracts in 1982 which paid £70,000 a year.

    Relegation, combined with the death of chairman Mike Bamber and vice-chairman Keith Wickenden meant that the clubs losses could not be subsidised to such an extent, and the slide to near oblivion ensued.

    After the return to Withdean the club was still losing a seven figure sum a year, and it was at this point that Tony Bloom started to get involved in the club. He has effectively been underwriting the losses incurred through loans, some of which have been converted into shares, ever since.

    Currently his investment is close on £200 million in the form of both loans (interest free, unlike those from Bill Archer and Greg Stanley) and shares.

    Summary
    We're none the wiser about the wealth of Tony Bloom, but his heart is in the Albion, and so is his wallet, and for that, we should perhaps just be grateful and STFU.

    Related articles:

    Who does what in the Albion boardroom?
    "Financial Fair Play - we're top of the league!" - true or false?
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. seagully's Avatar
      seagully -
      Excellent article, enjoyed reading that
    1. Papa Lazarou's Avatar
      Papa Lazarou -
      How easy is it to hide assets globally? After all most banks now have sophisticated processes and systems to ensure that payments and assets are legitimate when dealing with customers, and aligned to this due diligence there are the tools and techniques to 'follow the money' to determine where money is held, despite often elaborate attempts to hide it.

      Just for avoidance of any doubt, I AM CATEGORICALLY NOT SAYING TONY BLOOM'S MONEY IS DIRTY.
    1. KZNSeagull's Avatar
      KZNSeagull -
      Interesting. There was an Argus article that someone linked to on a thread the other day (http://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/4387...t_the_jackpot/). It mentions a couple of companies - one of those companies (Tribeca Tables) was sold for between $75m and $135m (http://uk.pokernews.com/news/2006/11...e-playtech.htm). What TB's stake in that company was though is not clear.
    1. larus's Avatar
      larus -
      Good read El Pres.

      IMO, I don't care how much he is worth, nor where he's made his money. Being honest, it's sweet FA to do with me. I trust him 99%, as I can't see what he could possibly hope to gain by investing (or borrowing to invest) about £200m into our club. What's he going to do - asset strip it?

      Also, I can't recall a single event where he has failed to keep to his word. Too many 'fans' seem to expect him to throw caution to the win because they have 'ambitions'. Well, I think TB has ambitions too, but he;s definitely a shrewd guy and isn't going to chuck a huge chunk of his money away to satisfy the damp sheet brigade.
    1. desprateseagull's Avatar
      desprateseagull -
      former city dealer! $$$
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