Bristol Rovers: Who are the Al Qadi family, the club's owners from Jordan?

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Wael Al Qadi on 'amazing journey' as Bristol Rovers owner

Bristol Rovers were taken over by the Jordanian Al Qadi family in February, and within three months the club had won promotion to League One.

BBC Inside Out West reporter Andy Howard has been to the Middle East to find out more about the investment bankers, and shares his experiences of his visit.

Jordan's position on the map made for interesting reading.

Bordered by Syria, Iraq and Israel, it hardly sounded like the ideal location for a short stay. "You'll be surprised," said the voice on the other end of the phone. That voice belonged to Wael Al Qadi.

It was a couple of weeks after the amazing scenes of jubilation at the Memorial Stadium on 7 May. The dust had just about settled on an incredible end to the season.

It was clear to me that we had to find out more about the new Bristol Rovers owner and, indeed, his homeland. So, despite the geography, we arranged to do just that.

Why? Because it is very unusual to see a man from the Middle East kissing an English football club's badge and clapping the home terrace.

It is even more unusual to watch a club president on the shoulders of fans heading towards the local pub.

But these are unusual times at Bristol Rovers.

Andy Howard (centre) with the Al Qadi family
BBC Inside Out's Andy Howard poses with (left to right) Hani, Wael and Samer Al Qadi

I suppose Jordan looks like you would expect - a contrast of sprawling, pale, low-rise cities, and mile upon mile of barren desert. But it functions like an island of relative peace, in an area dogged by war.

It is also very clear that football, especially English football, is big news.

I mentioned low-rise buildings, but on the first day I visited one of the tallest and newest in all of Amman - the Arab Jordanian Investment Bank, a multi-million pound, purpose-built skyscraper for one of the region's biggest businesses. There, I met the Al Qadi brothers - Hani, Samer and Wael, and their father Abdulkader - who set up the business from scratch more than 30 years ago.

They were all welcoming, warm, and interested in what a BBC reporter from 3,000 miles away wanted to find out.

The older brothers and father admitted they had needed massive convincing to buy Bristol Rovers, but that they can now see what Wael was going on about.

"It was the best day of my life," said Samer, describing the 2-1 win against Dagenham which secure promotion, when he watched the second half in the Blackthorn End. "It was crazy, I can tell you."

Over the course of the week I met:

  • Wael's wife, who said: "It's like we have a new baby, a Bristol Rovers baby."
  • His footballing contacts: "Wael has not bought a football club for a plaything, this is his ambition, and his passion."
  • His very honest friends: "I won't say what we used to call him, but now we've named him 'Mr President'."

He certainly seems to be enjoying the ride, so far.

The full BBC Inside Out documentary airs on Monday, September 12, on BBC One West at 7.30pm and will also be available on the BBC iPlayer.

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