fbpx
glazers manchester united

Six of the most hated club owners in Premier League history

The fans are the true heartbeat of any football club, and keeping them onside is probably the key to maintaining harmony for any prospective football club owner.

However, throughout Premier League history we’ve seen our fair share of incompetence and controversy from the men in charge, with a series of the league’s bigwigs having preceded over hugely unpopular ownership reigns.

Here are five of the most hated club owners in Premier League history…

The Venky family, Blackburn Rovers 2010-present

One of just six clubs to have won a Premier League title, Blackburn Rovers were established within English football’s top division for several seasons before the Venky family bought the club in 2010.

Arriving amid bold talk of superstar signings such as Ronaldinho and David Beckham, the ownership of the Indian poultry magnates has failed to deliver success.

The club were believed to have debts of around £10m upon the Venky’s arrival, however having slipped out of the Premier League in 2012 those figures have swelled to £104m as recently as last season.

Blackburn dropped down to League One in 2017, before bouncing back to become second-tier strugglers. It is a far cry from their 1995 Premier League title triumph, and attendances at Ewood Park continue to plummet.

A series of protests and managerial appointments have failed to spark a revival for the Lancashire side.

Embed from Getty Images

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, Liverpool 2007-2010

One of the grand old institutions of English football, it is hard to comprehend that Liverpool were on the verge of administration following the ownership of the American duo.

The Boston duo arrived at Anfield with bold claims of restoring Liverpool to the elite, including grand plans for a new 60,000-seat stadium in Stanley Park.

The club’s fans had been sold a series of lies though and the situation would only worsen.

Having bought Liverpool with loans, Hicks and Gillett heaped huge debts upon the club, a situation not helped by the disharmony, bickering, and breakdown in the relationship between the pair.

With Liverpool facing administration, a London high court ruling severed the American’s ties with the club and jettisoned the pair from their positions.

Hicks and Gillett had left one of English football’s biggest clubs in ruins, a mess current owners Fenway Sports Group have helped resurrect over the past decade.

Embed from Getty Images

Mike Ashley, Newcastle 2007-present

The sports retail entrepreneur must have thick skin, given the level of abuse and discontent that has been levelled his way in 12 years as owner of Newcastle United.

In the 13 years prior to Ashley taking over, the club played Champions League football, finished as runners-up twice, in the top six four times, and reached two FA Cup finals.

By contrast, in roughly the same time period following his arrival, the club have twice been relegated to the Championship and faded into mediocrity.

The club’s fans have long voiced their frustration at Ashley’s lack of ambition and investment, despite the club making healthy profits, whilst the owner’s treatment of club legends such as Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan has further sparked anger.

Happy to remain a Premier League side and rake in the financial rewards, Ashley’s ownership is despised by Newcastle’s loyal fanbase.

Having persuade one of Europe’s top managers in Rafael Benitez to take charge of the club, things looked more positive. Ashley then preceded to alienate the Spaniard, who left at the expiry of his contract at the end of last season.

Ashley’s decision to replace Benitez with former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, whose finest managerial achievements are promotions from the second tier, is the latest decision to disgruntle the club’s support.

Embed from Getty Images

Peter Ridsdale, Leeds 1997-2003

Unlike some of the other owners on this list, former Leeds chairman Ridsdale was happy to splash the cash to realise the club’s ambitions.

The problem? Ridsdale’s free-spending ways left the Yorkshire side financially crippled, sending Leeds into a free fall in which they have never recovered.

Leeds were competing at the top end of the Premier League at the turn of the millennium, possessing an impressive squad containing the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Harry Kewell, and Robbie Keane, and the club reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001.

The Elland Road outfit were competing at the top by spending big and Ridsdale, banking on Leeds securing Champions League football again, borrowed £60m against future gate receipts.

Leeds finished fifth in 2001/02, missing out on the lucrative windfall for securing top-level European football, and having spent money they didn’t have, financially imploded.

The likes of Ferdinand, Kewell, and Keane were all sold to help balance the books, and by 2004 they were relegated from the Premier League.

Having slipped into the Football League, three years later the club also voluntarily entered administration, incurring a 10 point penalty and being relegated to the third tier for the first time.

The club was almost expelled from the league following further financial breaches, before eventually bouncing back with promotion in 2010.

Leeds have slowly re-established themselves in recent years, though they have been absent from the Premier League since Ridsdale’s ill-fated reign.

Embed from Getty Images

Sir Alan Sugar, Tottenham 1991-2001

Long before his stint on the ‘Apprentice’, London billionaire Sir Alan Sugar took charge of boyhood club Tottenham.

It seemed a match made in heaven, though Sugar soon discovered that football clubs are not as easy to run as his other ventures. Sugar treated Spurs like any other business, and fans soon became disgruntled at his lack of investment.

The club’s lack of ambition led to protests against the electrical entrepreneur, with Spurs failing to finish in the Premier League’s top six during his reign.

The sacking of popular manager Terry Venables the night before the 1993 FA Cup final angered the club’s fans, whilst his decision to appoint former Arsenal boss George Graham further dented his reputation.

A public fall-out with star forward Jurgen Klinsmann was also memorable and did little to help Sugar’s popularity, who eventually sold the club in 2001.

Embed from Getty Images

The Glazer family, Manchester United 2005-present

Having secured their takeover of the club in 2008, the Glazer family have owned and financially exploited England’s biggest club for well over a decade.

Their takeover, masterminded by ex-banker Ed Woodward, saw the family saddle Manchester United with huge debts, debts that the Glazer’s have continued to use to finance the club.

According to reports, the Glazers are said to have drained United of over £1bn since their takeover. By contrast, Manchester City owner Sheik Mansour has invested a similar figure into his project, helping City to become one of Europe’s leading clubs and creating an elite infrastructure in the blue half of Manchester.

United have had success in the Glazer-era, having won five league titles under their regime, however, the funds the Americans have taken could have been invested and helped stop the decline the club now face.

United have slipped from being undoubtedly the dominant force in English football to a side that has struggled to secure Champions League football and major honours, with fans having grown disillusioned with the business-driven nature which has seemed to rob the club of its soul.

The club’s supporters have protested, a ‘Love United, Hate Glazer’ campaign early in the American family’s ownership, whilst the formation of FC United of Manchester was by fans angered by modern football.

The Glazers have stopped catastrophic debts, helped by Woodward, by acquiring countless sponsorship deals and commercial partners. United remain immensely profitable, the fans just ask that these monies be invested in football matters.

Embed from Getty Images

Read: Top five ‘where were you’ moments in Premier League history

Read Also: Sectarianism, betrayal and a pig’s head – The most controversial transfers in football history