London: England skipper David Beckham has delivered a knockout blow to Britain’s world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis by taking over as the country’s richest sportsman this year.
For the first time, the Real Madrid star has become the nation’s biggest sports earner with income of £ 20.5 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List which monitors the top 500 money-makers in Britain every year.
Lewis has lost his top place after his earnings slumped from £ 30 million last year to a modest £ 9 million this time round.
The footballer is paid £ 4.68 million by Real Madrid but the vast majority of his wealth comes through various endorsement deals which are so huge that fellow-England international Michael Owen, the closest player to him in the list, is a relative pauper raking in £ 7.5 million. Splitting them in the list is former Chelsea owner Ken Bates who took £ 17.5 million to the bank.
The massive individual earnings come at a time when some leading clubs are making worrying losses with Leeds in dire trouble at a reported £ 49.5 million loss. “I don’t think players have been affected at all (by the game’s economic downturn),” soccer agent Pini Zahavi said.