Meet Kyril Louis-Dreyfus. The 23-year-old heir to a Swiss commodity fortune bought a majority stake in Sunderland AFC and installed himself as the youngest president in English football.
Louis-Dreyfus, whose family owns the Louis Dreyfus Group business empire, has been interested in football since he attended Olympique de Marseille (OM) games with his late father, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, owner of the French club until his death in 2009.
After the sale of OM to American billionaire Frank McCourt, the young Louis-Dreyfus promised that the family would “do nothing else in football, it is a rotten business.”
That was until Sunderland, who is currently seventh in Football League One, called and Louis-Dreyfus was blown away by the passion of the Black Cats fans.
“Sunderland is a special project”, he told the French newspaper L’Equipe. “The fervor of the people [in Sunderland] reminiscent of Marseille. On average, there were more spectators than half of the Premier League clubs.
“You can’t buy this! In cities like Zurich, Monaco, nobody is interested in football, it limits the possibilities of expansion ”.
Louis-Dreyfus, who flew in from his boarding school in Singapore to watch OM face Inter Milan in the Champions League in 2012, had considered a career on the court as a player or coach but was sidelined with injury.
He studied for a degree in International Sports Management at the private Richmond International Academic & Soccer Academy (RIASA) in Leeds and South Kensington, London in 2017-18, but dropped out the course from £ 26,000 a year.
Kamran Stead, RIASA’s assistant head coach at the time, said: “Kyril was a good technical player and a very educated and intelligent young man.
“Unfortunately, he was unlucky with injuries while at RIASA, but you could clearly see that he had a competitive advantage for him in a very positive way and he had a good sense of humor both on and off the field.”
In announcing its acquisition of Sunderland AFC this week, Louis-Dreyfus said He was “proud to become the custodian of this esteemed institution, but I also recognize the great responsibility that comes with it.”
“I am confident that together we can weather the current storm and lay a solid foundation for sustainable and lasting club success.”
Former Sunderland owner Stewart Donald, who will retain a minority stake, said he had been impressed by Louis-Dreyfus’ intelligence and enthusiasm despite his youth.
“Kyril’s commitment, insight and integrity convinced us to accept his proposal,” said Donald.
“His vision and desire to bring success back to Sunderland were obvious from the start and his commitment is what we believe gives the club the best chance of long-term success and sustainability.”
The sale was first agreed on Christmas Eve, but the English Football League only approved it this week. Other existing shareholders, Juan Sartori and Charlie Methven, will also hold small stakes.
Lee Johnson, Sunderland head coach, said: “I am very, very confident in his motives and I am very confident in his ideas. Probably the most complete 24-year-old [sic] That I have known in my life “.
Louis-Dreyfus, who refers to himself as KLD, is friends with several footballers, including Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé, Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy and Crystal Palace’s Michy Batshuayi.
They all appear in selfies on Louis-Dreyfus’s Instagram feed, which also includes photos with boxer Floyd Mayweather, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Robert Louis-Dreyfus was CEO of Adidas and the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, before taking over the family business established by his great-grandfather Léopold Louis-Dreyfus in 1851.
Following the death of Robert Louis-Dreyfus from leukemia in 2009, his wife, Margarita, became the majority shareholder and president. The company reported a 50% increase in earnings before charges to $ 634 million (£ 450 million) in the first half of 2020, as the pandemic boosted demand for many of the commodities it markets.
Louis-Dreyfus has a twin brother, Maurice, who refers to himself as MLD and is a DJ in Zurich. They also have an older brother, Eric. They are distantly related to actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine on Seinfeld and Selina Meyer on Veep.
Margarita, 58, is now in a relationship with Philipp Hildebrand, a former head of the Swiss central bank and vice president of US asset manager BlackRock. The couple welcomed the birth of twins in 2016.
Vincent Labrune, who was president of OM and is now president of the French soccer league, said of KLD: “He has an absolute passion. He takes the torch [from his father]; there is ambition, pride. He has a good memory, he will feed on past mistakes.
“It will not turn on: it is not in his nature, and his mother, anyway, did not allow it.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism