Vincent Tan and the Craziest Club Owners in World Football

Ryan Bailey@ryanjaybaileyFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2013

Vincent Tan and the Craziest Club Owners in World Football

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    We always knew Cardiff owner Vincent Tan was a little eccentric due to his football-shirt-over-suit combos, but the Malaysian businessman is raising eyebrows in Wales for his decision to suspend head of recruitment Iain Moody and replace him with an unknown 23-year-old Kazakhstani. 

    According to The Sun, Bluebirds fans are planning to burn their (red) shirts in protest against him. 

    Tan isn't the first eccentric club owner in world football—he's not even the first one at Cardiff—as there have been many colourful characters running clubs throughout the years.

    Here's B/R's selection of the craziest and most disparaged.

Sam Hammam at Wimbledon (and Cardiff)

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    Tan isn't the only controversial owner that Cardiff have endured. Lebanese businessman and certified crazy person Sam Hammam took over at the end of 2000.

    However, it was during his lengthy spell at Wimbledon that Hammam made the most headlines. Over the years, he was thought to have made his players eat sheep's testicles (a traditional Lebanese delicacy). He also started a craze of burning players' clothes, and allegedly scrawled offensive messages on West Ham's away dressing room to rile his charges up. He even once vowed to kiss striker Dean Holdsworth's behind if he hit a particular amount of goals in a season.

    It's also thought that he inserted a stipulation into manager Bobby Gould's contract that he could change a team line-up up to 45 minutes before a game. Gould later admitted that he never actually took advantage of it, though. 

    These days, Hammam is maligned by Dons fans for profiting from the sale of Plough Lane and leaving the team homeless, and in a sticky situation which eventually led to their transplant to Milton Keynes. 

Ken Bates at Chelsea and Leeds

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    Ken Bates bought Chelsea for the princely sum of £1 in 1982, and kept his name in the headlines by making various barmy and controversial statements in the 21 years that followed.

    Hooliganism was rife at Stamford Bridge when he took charge. Therefore, in 1985, he proposed to the Football Association that electric fences be installed at league grounds to deter rowdy fans. It had worked on his farm, after all, and he obviously saw no issue with likening his paying customers to cattle.

    After selling the debt-laden Blues to Roman Abramovich in 2003, Bates invested in Leeds United, another club with fairly significant financial issues. He finally sold out in 2012, leaving fans of other clubs nationwide terrified that he may next invest in their club.  

Venky's at Blackburn Rovers

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    Indian chicken proprietors Venky's took over Blackburn Rovers in November 2010, promising "beautiful football." After sacking Sam Allardyce, new manager Steve Kean guided Rovers to the bottom of the Premier League with some less-than-beautiful play, but they rewarded him with a pay rise anyway.

    In 2011, Venky's also revealed plans to bring international pop acts such as Kelly Rowland and David Guetta to Ewood Park, in some vain attempt to glamorise and profit from their new venture. The Indian firm are clearly not afraid to throw money down the drain, as shown by their huge wage bills and absurd agent fees

    Shortly before Blackburn's 11-year stay in the top flight was ended in 2012, a caped chicken was sent onto the field during a match with Wigan as one of many protests against the owners.  

Flavio Briatore at QPR

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    Despite being an overweight Italian businessman in his 60s, Flavio Briatore has a child by Heidi Klum and a supermodel wife 30 years his junior. He also had an ownership stake in Queens Park Rangers between 2007 and 2010, when he invested with Formula 1 crony Bernie Ecclestone and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

    Briatore would actually sit in the dugout and "assist" with team selection. He also fired several managers and once claimed he would sell the club if he wasn't given the names of fans who were booing him, which sounds like something a medieval king might say. 

    He eventually relinquished control when his involvement in F1 race fixing compromised his status as a fit and proper person.  

Aurelio De Laurentiis at Napoli

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    One of the craziest owners on the continent is surely Napoli's Aurelio De Laurentiis. The film producer and director likes to bring his sense of drama and theatre to the Partenopei in the form of crazy stunts and statements.

    When he isn't revealing players in lion masks or fabricating entire press conferences, he is endearing himself to the Premier League with statements such as: "The English live badly, eat badly and their women do not wash their genitalia."

    The outspoken owner once called Leo Messi a "cretin" and threatened Ezequiel Lavezzi's agent with the prospect of "chopping his balls off." Charming.  

Ratko Butorović at FK Vojvodinas

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    From 2006 until 2013, Serbian side FK Vojvodinas were owned by Ratko Butorović. Put his name in a Google Image Search to get a feel for his attitude toward business-appropriate attire.

    According to, the businessman from Novi Sad owned several hotels and sports clubs in Serbia and Montenegro, once worked as a bodyguard in Vienna and spent time in prison for his part in match fixing.  

    Sadly, the outlandish club owner was found dead in a hotel room in June


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