Prague - Tonight, the Sparta Prague soccer team will clash with London's Chelsea in the European League.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's wealth is estimated at approximately nine billion euro. According to the Czech media, Sparta Prague owner Daniel Kretinsky's fortune is much smaller - about 240 million euro.
Nonetheless, the two businessmen may have more in common than what appears on the surface. For example, for both of them, their soccer investment is a disappointment of sorts.
Abramovich, 46, bought Chelsea in 2003 for GBP 60 million, and turned the indebted club into a global soccer power. Since 2003, he has spent in total EUR 987 million for new players.
"When (Abramovich) bought Chelsea, it was mostly a local brand. And he made a global brand of it," explained Tomas Klecka, a Czech sport marketing expert, adding that the acquisition was probably also aimed at making Abramovich more visible. "Thanks to soccer, Abramovich does not have to introduce himself to anybody."
However, in spite of the massive investments, Chelsea has managed to won the UEFA Champions League only once in the said period - in 2012.
Kretinsky, 37, bought Sparta Prague on behalf of the J&T investment group in 2004 for CZK 554 million (22 million euro). Kretinsky, who was 29 years old at the time, announced that he wanted the club to play in the UEFA Champions League regularly. That's why he set an annual budget of CZK 350 million (14 milion euro) for the club.
But since the acquisition, Sparta Prague has played in the Champions League only twice. As result, the club has lost a total of CZK 800 million over the period.
Sparta Prague still remains rather unknown in Western Europe, but it has much more fame in the East.
"When I mention in Moscow that I own Sparta, the Russians immediately get friendlier," said Patrik Tkac, an owner of the J&T investment group, to the Trend weekly.
In addition to their soccer investments, both Abramovich and Kretinsky are also linked to the energy sector.
Abramovich's career started in the oil business, where he cooperated with Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. In 2005, Abramovich sold his 73 percent stake in the Sibneft oil company to Russian state energy giant Gazprom for USD 13.1 billion. At present he is active in the metallurgy industry and trades on financial markets.
Kretinsky is currently in charge of the EPH energy and industry holding, which is owned by himself together with the PPF and J&T investment groups.