Friday, January 1 – 1999
Robbie Fowler has bought a house in London to cash in on the lucrative rental market for foreign diplomats but his advisor insists the investment is not a step towards joining Arsenal but an astute business move.
You would not get change out of £1 million for many of the properties in the picturesque village of Hadley Wood where Fowler had made his purchase. They are huge sprawling mansions, many hidden behind security gates, with enough room for a 11-a-side in the back gardens. Local amenities include two excellent golf courses.
Fowler could get his money back in a little over 10 years from rental income of £1,500 a week and his advisor; George Scott, said: “There is a healthy market in renting property to diplomats who need a comfortable base close to London. Robbie is also buying property in other parts of country as an investment.”
It may sound like the world has turned upside down, but our top-class footballers are becoming the country’s upper-class landlords. On wages over £25,000 a week it is not difficult to see how they become property barons. In Fowler’s case he also has a five year deal with Nike worth £3m to aid his speculation in the housing market.
Scott was introduced to Fowler by former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, another canny investor in the property game.
Fowler has since bought places in Glasgow, London, and Manchester as well as his own home in Liverpool’s Mossley Hill. North London estate agents Stations confirmed Hadley Wood is a popular area for diplomats. Owner Nick Station said: “The railway station gives easy access for people who work in The City and we have diplomats who live round here.
“It is a beautiful area where you can either join in with the local community or hide yourself away. It can be very private if you want that way.”
Mr Station added: “We’ve heard stories about Robbie Fowler buying a place but we didn’t sell it to him. He would not be the first footballer to buy a house here as an investment then move in later. Les Ferdinand did it when he was at Newcastle.”
Hadley Wood could not be more convenient spot if Fowler did become an Arsenal player. A mile off the M25 it offers easy access to the club’s London Colney training ground and Highbury.
Dennis Bergkamp and Emmanuel Petit lives there while Patrick Vieira is about to move in. Other local celebrities include boxer Lennox Lewis.
By rail, the village is 15 minutes from Finsbury Park station, which is right next to Arsenal’s club shop and a short walk from the ground.
Fowler has 18 months to run on his Liverpool contract before he becomes a free agent and in a year he can talk to other interested clubs under the Bosman ruling. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger would love to sign him and the link refuses to go away.
Liverpool manager Gerard Houlllier is a close friend of Wenger’s and, if he feels the time is right to let Fowler go, would not doubt tip off his pal first.
Around £9m would secure Fowler’s signature because the Anfield hierarchy do not want to suffer again in the way they are doing with Steve McManaman, who can start talking to other clubs from today and can leave for free in the summer. Even if Fowler signs a new contract with his current employers, he will have an agreed transfer fee written into the terms in the same way Dion Dublin did when he extended his agreement while at Coventry.
Arsenal know it and appear to be in a position to strike any time they wish to sign one of the hottest young stars of the English game.
Scott is adamant there is no under-the-table agreement to join the Gunners and said: “Negotiations are continuing over Robbie’s contract and no decisions about his future have been made yet.”
Buying property is all the rage with Liverpool players, although others tend to use them for themselves rather than rent out.
Young striker Michael Owen has just splashed out on three houses in his home village of Hawarden in North Wales in the wake of his phenomenal progress in the past 12 months. He is building a £200,000 mansion for himself and has spent another £300,000 on a house for his parents and another for his brothers and sister.
Jamie Redknapp and pop star wife Louise have bought a £500,000 pad in Chelsea to serve as a London base, while they also have a holiday home in Dorset and a flat in the trendy docks area of Liverpool.
Liverpool#s progress under their French boss Houllier and ambitions for the future will apparently dictate Fowler’s decision, rather than straight money.
But if he does decide to quit Anfield, after so many years there as a youngster and as a seasoned pro, Arsenal are waiting.
And they won’t have to worry about putting Fowler up in a hotel.
(Copyright: Daily Express, 01-01-1999, by Shaun Curtis and Richard Tanner)