Football: Bristol Rovers’ Arab spring

Martin Booth, February 19, 2016

On the pitch on Friday afternoon it was business as usual. The noise of a lawnmower carried across the breeze as a groundsman cut the Memorial Stadium turf ready for Saturday’s home fixture against Morecombe.

Off the pitch, however, it was anything but a usual day as the wealthy Al-Qadi family, owners of the Arab Jordan Investment Bank, were announced as the new owners of Bristol Rovers.

Westminster School educated Wael Al-Qadi (pictured above left) is now president of Rovers, with former Swansea City chairman Steve Hamer the football club’s new chairman, replacing Nick Higgs.

Bristol Rovers chairman Steve Hamer

The family revealed that they had looked at several League One and League Two clubs before deciding to buy 92 per cent of Rovers.

“This club has a great heritage,” said Wael, who was sporting a natty blue and white striped tie. “The potential here is enormous. This part of the country deserves a footballing opportunity.”

Wael, a Chelsea fan and a member of the executive board of the Jordan Football Association, said that buying Rovers was about ownership rather than investment: “For me, it’s about the passion. The love of the game. That’s the number one reason we are buying the club.”

The new chairman refused to reveal the amount of money his family will invest in the club, but he stressed the importance of quality recruitment and that Rovers “needs and requires” a new stadium.

Wael also praised the fans. As the lawnmower continued below the executive box in which he spoke to the gathered press, he said: “The fans’ loyalty are a huge part of this decision. They have got a great fanbase. Very loyal, very passionate.

“This part of the country needs success.”

Watch the club’s official interview with its new owner here:

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