Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, the 23-year-old heir to a billionaire business fortune led by his Russian-born mother, is the youngest chairman of English football after completing his third division Sunderland acquisition.
The youngster was confirmed on Thursday as the new chairman of the proud Northeast club, which is spending a third season in the premier league after falling down the steps as a ten-year stint in the Premier League ended in 2017.
Louis-Dreyfus succeeds British businessman Stewart Donald, who has owned the Stadium of Light Club since 2018 and will retain a minority stake in the company.
“Kyril’s commitment, sagacity and integrity convinced us to accept his proposal,” Donald said in a statement on Thursday.
📰 Sunderland AFC received @EFL approval today for Kyril Louis-Dreyfus to acquire a controlling stake in the club, signaling the beginning of a new era on Wearside. With immediate effect, Louis-Dreyfus will also be the new chairman of the club.
– Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) February 18, 2021
“His vision and desire to restore Sunderland to success was evident from the start. We believe his offer gives the club the best chance of long-term success and sustainability.”
Frenchman Louis-Dreyfus is one of three heirs to a sprawling billion-dollar group of companies run by his mother, Margarita, a 58-year-old Russian-born who married Robert Louis-Dreyfus in 1992.
The businessman died of leukemia in 2009, leaving his wife, now a Swiss citizen, to take over a company that had net sales of $ 33.6 billion last fiscal year.
Her son Kyril’s interest in football is said to come from the French giants Marseille, where his family were the largest shareholders from 1996 to 2016.
The budding young chairman completed an internship on the club’s training grounds and gained first-hand insight into the management of the club.
He is said to have graduated from the RIASA (Richmond International Academic & Soccer Academy) Leeds campus in northern England with a degree in sports management and the soccer industry.
Despite – or perhaps because of – his tender years, Louis-Dreyfus had already aroused great interest in football circles before his appointment as chairman of Sunderland was confirmed this week.
The first agreement on the deal was reportedly reached in December, although the EFL has only just given the takeover the green light.
The Athletic covered Louis-Dreyfus last year, quoting a family source as saying that the boy was “cared for from a young age to take responsibility.”
“[His mother] wanted to make sure their kids weren’t stupid, just spend daddy’s money. It would be against her father’s personality to be like that. “
Louis-Dreyfus, an allegedly compulsive player in the Football Manager computer game, is said to have been trained primarily under former Marseille President Vincent Labrune.
“Kyril has a clear understanding of the football world because of Vincent,” The Athletic quoted a source as saying. “He’s seen all the good things, but also all the bad things. Agents, money, who goes and stays. Good buys, bad buys. He saw everything. “
The young person’s connection to Sunderland seems to have come about through the Uruguayan businessman and politician Juan Sartori, whose billionaire Russian father-in-law Dmitry Rybolovlev owns rival Monaco in Marseille.
Sartori had owned 20 percent of Sunderland since the summer of 2018 and will reportedly retain a stake in the new structure, as will British businessman Charlie Methven.
When Louis-Dreyfus took control of the club himself, he said he was “proud to be an administrator of this prestigious institution” but he “also recognized”[s] the significant responsibility associated with it. “
Sunderland are currently in seventh place in the League One standings, with Louis-Dreyfus spotting in the stands in recent weeks.
The Black Cats were founded in 1879 and have six top English league titles, but the last of these came in 1936. They also won the FA Cup twice, the last time in 1973.
Sunderland’s recent woes were captured in all their agony in the popular Netflix documentaries’ Sunderland ‘Til I Die,’ which tracked numbers at every level of the club – from the boardroom to the loyal and long-suffering fans – as they watched squad The Happiness dissolves after leaving the promised land of the Premier League.