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Robbie Fowler: a very rich man in a small pond

Of the four elite football codes in Australia, the A-League’s franchise ownership structure boasts some of Australia’s richest men; but there’s a player who could buy and sell a few of the owners struggling to hang on at other clubs, having just made the Sunday Times 2009 UK rich list.

The annual list is not restricted to British citizens but those who either live or predominantly work there; with the claim entrants are assessed on the value of their assets. But whether this explains why Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo now surely the world’s most valuable player doesn’t crack the list because he’s either still busy building his pile to qualify or spending too much of it; new A-League talisman Robbie Fowler has been ranked fifth wealthiest in the newspaper’s player sweepstakes.

The 34 year-old former Liverpool and England striking legend, signed as the marquee player for new league expansion club North Queensland Fury, under the qualification rules is reckoned to have an estimated wealth of £31 million. Predictably David Beckham sits well on top with £125 million, while Michael Owen who once shared Liverpool adulation with Fowler up front; can at least comfort himself with knowing he’s runner-up to Becks; albeit with a more modest £40 million as Newcastle struggles to escape Premier League relegation.

According to the Sunday Times; Fowler has not only benefited from his elevated status as a goal scoring machine through a long career succession of rich salary deals and share of transfer fees; but his wealth has been significantly enhanced by a shrewd nose for property investment. The paper estimates he has a property portfolio of more than 80 under his wing; with his Robbie Fowler Sports Promotions company said to have net assets of £1.58 million.

Always one of the English Premier League’s most colourful characters, Fowler’s star quality that saw him bestowed with the Anfield fans sobriquet of “god” (sound familiar Geelong fans); was underpinned by a total of 183 goals during two stints at Liverpool.

But the press also bequeathed him and several other Kop stars from the mid 1990’s with a more disparaging moniker, when they tagged them “The Spice Boys” for a variety of playboy style indiscretions.

Ever the cheeky chappie, Fowler produced one of the EPL’s most infamous moments of post-goal celebration in 1999 when as a personal riposte to Everton fans who he claimed insulted him with false taunts of drug abuse; he produced an inspired moment of symbolic madness which cost him a £60,000 club fine for bringing the game into disrepute. After scoring against their arch Merseyside rivals, Fowler got down on all fours next to a penalty box large white line and simulated cocaine snorting. It remains one of TV sports most revisited show stoppers! It also cost him a four-match ban by the Football Association who found little wit in his protest unlike the ESPN’s of the world.

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Still if the Sunday Times sums are even close, unlike many soccer stars including Australia’s most celebrated fallen EPL star Mark Bosnich; Fowler has neither pissed, snorted or gambled away his accumulated wealth. Now his arrival in the A-League where he and family have already settled in Townsville; makes him the best performed Premier League name yet to appear down under. More than rivalling Sydney’s FC’s initial marquee player in 2005, one-time Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke — himself a Fleet Street tabloid favourite over the years  — as Bosnich can attest from their shared s-x video romp with four women.

Fowler’s opening game Townsville debut is bound to be a highlight of the A-League kick off in August when it hosts Sydney FC; but it will the second round away clash that will really have fans humming. Billionaire owner Clive Palmer’s Glitter Strip Gold Coast United will entertain Fowler’s Fury at a sure to be sold out Skilled Park at Robina.

Regardless of who takes the points, perhaps over a relaxing drink post game, Fowler can give Palmer a few tips on how to invest in UK real estate, while Palmer can pass on the finer points of owning your own fleet of aircraft!

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