The 40-year-old's vast fortune is estimated to have risen by £3billion, moving him back in front of QPR shareholder Lakshmi Mittal, whose fortune has dipped to £17bn.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, whose wealth once dwarfed all other fortunes on the list, has now dropped as far as fourth - displaced by Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, whose estate has exploded to rise from £1.3bn to £8bn.
"It's tempting to say that those who live by the rouble, die by the rouble," said FourFourTwo editor Hugh Sleight.
"For so many years, Roman Abramovich was the top dog, but now he faces challenges wherever he looks.
"It isn't that Abramovich has got poorer, but more and more billionaires are coming into English football. When we first published this list in 2003, there were two. Now there are 15."
Usmanov's fellow Arsenal shareholder Stanley Kroenke is eighth on the list with a fortune of £1.85bn, while Mittal's partner at QPR, Bernie Ecclestone, also makes it into the top 10 with his £1.4bn estate.
The controversial owners of Manchester United, the Glazer family, are ranked ninth with an estimated fortune of £1.53bn.
Others figuring in the top 10 are Southampton owners the Liebherr family, fifth with a fortune of £3bn, Tottenham owner Joe Lewis, sixth at £2.7bn, and Celtic's Denis O'Brien, seventh with a fortune of £1.87bn.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett, whose ownership of Liverpool could come to an end if the club's other directors are able to force through a sale, do not feature on this year's list at all.
Having been listed joint 16th last year with an estimated £500million each, analysts said it was now impossible to verify their worth as the turmoil continues at Anfield.
Among players, David Beckham still tops the list by a huge margin, but his worth is said to have dropped from £125m to £100m, pushing him from 38th overall to 49th.
Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, has dropped from third to sixth.
"For Beckham, missing the World Cup and approaching retirement have had an effect and we've cut his value by a fifth to £100million," Sleight said.
"As you'd expect, Brand Beckham have a cunning business plan to ensure their financial power continues even after Becks hangs up his boots, but that's still in its early stages and has yet to bear fruit. So for now, it's down to number 49 for Becks."
Rooney has dropped beneath Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell and Ryan Giggs.
"Wayne Rooney's flirtations with the front pages have clearly affected his value to sponsors and we correspondingly cut his value by a third," Sleight said.
"He's young and he has time to bounce back, on and off the pitch, but for the time being, his reputation has been seriously tarnished."
Michael Owen is second on the players' list with a fortune of £40m, £6m more than Manchester United team-mate Ferdinand.
England boss Fabio Capello tops the managers' list with a fortune of £36m, ahead of Ipswich boss Roy Keane, whose £28m fortune was largely accumulated as a player at Manchester United.
He sits one place above his old boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, third, with a fortune of £26m.
New Leicester boss Sven-Goran Eriksson is sixth with a £15m fortune, level with Manchester City's Roberto Mancini.
That puts him £5m ahead of his predecessor at Eastlands, Fulham manager Mark Hughes, who is joint eighth with Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp and Manchester United reserve-team boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The list once again demonstrates football's ability to ignore the recession as the overall value has risen to £77bn, £8bn higher than a year ago.