Football’s Biggest Gambler

Chairman and partial owner of the Premiership’s new boys Stoke City football club, Paul Coates has moved from betting shops to online gaming and built a £400m fortune, but will the club be buying Messi?

Paul Coates is known to thousands of football fans in the Potteries as a football mad man, but it’s his Stoke-based Bet365 that his hard work has seen him amass a personal fortune and it’s all been hard graft. Born in poverty, youngest of 14 children, his entrepreneurial spirit has ranged from achieving a successful stadium catering company to betting shops in the 90s.

He made the Sunday Times Rich List, and one of only a few to actually go up the list, due to his bankrolling the online operation which is a privately owned business. Bet365 is one of the largest sports betting sites in the world, taking £3.4 billion in bets last year and employing 900 staff.

His involvement with Stoke City is born out of love for the local community and club. His decision to return as Chairman after an earlier not so pleasant stay was one he wished to do not matter what the consequences, his first thoughts being to save the club he’d always supported and set it on its feet. And what feet it’s found, more like winged boots! From the depths of the Championship to the most pleasant surprise in the Premiership this year.

Will it get Messi in the end? I very much doubt it, this canny gentleman has lady luck and hard work under his belt to grow both concerns, backed by a family who’ve grown up in the business and shown great acumen.