The last decade has seen an influx of foreign owners come to the Premiership and exert their financial muscle by buying a football club. It started in 2003 when Roman Abramovich brought his limitless chequebook to Chelsea, and now the likes of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Man City and West Ham have been taken over by new owners. Some have been popular (Abramovich, Randy Lerner at Villa) and some are downright despised. An owner can be hated for meddling with team affairs, needlessly sacking managers, selling off star players or caring more about profit margins than the well being of the club. Some owners haven’t even visited their club (which I am sure Portsmouth fans can attest to).Here are the top five most hated owners that have graced the Premiership since it’s inception and angered fans across the country.
Before hiring and firing fame-hungry “entrepreneurs” on the Apprentice, Sir Alan bought Spurs in 1991. Because Sir Alan treated Spurs purely from a business perspective, it made him extremely unpopular amongst Spurs fans. He may have flashed the cash to bring Jurgen Klinsmann to White Hart Lane in his time at the club, but Sugar’s unwillingness to spend money for Spurs and a lack of ambition angered fans. Arguments with star players Klinsmann and Teddy Sheringham; sacking Terry Venables the night before the FA Cup Final and bringing in former Arsenal boss George Graham hardly endeared Sugar to Spurs fans. In his time as chairman, Spurs never finished in the top six in the league. If only Nick and Margaret were there to help him…
Unlike Sugar, Ridsdale had a problem not spending money. In Ridsdale’s reign as chairman, Leeds borrowed £60 million against future gate receipts and when the club failed to qualify for the Champions League, it went into freefall. Spending money that Leeds didn’t have, the whole squad had to be sold to balance the books; with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Jonathon Woodgate, Robbie Keane and Harry Kewell forced to leave Elland Road. Ridsdale stepped down in 2003, leaving the club £103 million in debt, with the club falling into administration and being relegated to League One. Ridsdale then worked his magic with Barnsley, nearly bankrupting the club, and then brought his impressive CV to Cardiff.
These two are both being grouped together because they were as bad as each other. Al-Fahim was in charge for only six weeks before realising he had no money. Al-Faraj then took over and his reign saw players and staff paid late four times, TV money taken away to pay outstanding debts to other clubs and a winding-up order being slapped on the club for unpaid taxes. Al-Faraj’s complete disinterest in Portsmouth is evident as the Saudi businessman didn’t even bother to visit Fratton Park. This off-field drama has led to Pompey being rooted to the bottom of the Premiership, only having won four games this season.
Liverpool (2007 – present)
Two owners that are more interested in making money than preserving the heritage of their football club. Broken promises, plotting behind Rafa Benitez’s back to replace the Spaniard as manager with Jurgen Klinsmann and the constant airing of their dirty laundry in public mean the American’s are hated on Merseyside. Reportedly £237 million in debt, the American’s do not want to back Benitez financially. Gillett has had to sell his stake in Ice Hockey team Montreal Canadiens for £350 million, whilst Hicks is looking to offload his Texas Rangers baseball team. The sooner this pair sell up and leave Anfield won’t be a moment too soon for Liverpool fans.
Newcastle (2007 – present)
It had to be Mike Ashley here. No owner experiences as much hatred from fans as the Newcastle owner. Hated for being a Cockney; driving Kevin Keegan out as manager; installing Dennis Wise as Director of Football and getting the club relegated after 16 years in the top flight, Ashley still goes to games despite being despised by every Newcastle fan. Ashley failed to sell the club following relegation and had the audacity to rename the stadium “Sports direct@ St James Park. It’s hard to believe that Ashley was reasonably popular at the start of his reign at Newcastle.
The Next few hated owners: The Glazers (Manchester United), Kjell Inge Rokke and Bjorn Rune Gjelsten (Wimbledon’s Norwegian owners who moved the side to Milton Keynes), Doug Ellis (Aston Villa’s owner from 1968-75 and 1982-2006).
What do you think? Are there any other Premiership owners that deserve to be on this list?
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