The Top Three: Farcical Football Takeovers (2000s)
In 2008-2009 World finances took a massive hit. It seemed as though football was not party to the disaster, as Premiership clubs continued to sell out stadiums and make millions from touring cities across the world from Dubai to Kuala Lumpur.
The Premier League still brought in players at exorbitant fees, such as Robinho. Wages didn’t take a step down, with six figure salaries becoming commonplace at certain clubs in the upper echelons of the Premier League. New foreign owners continued to flood English football with their millions, taking over meager teams and turning them into money flaunting giants.
Sadly, just as the art of borrowing money took its toll on the world economy, it began to take its toll on English clubs. Owners who had fueled spending sprees with money they did not have began to severely restrict their manager’s transfer activity, while elaborate plans that had been drawn up for the building of new football arenas were swiftly swept under the table. And possible sources of revenue started to take precedence over history and legacy.
How did this happen? Well, let’s revisit and examine some of the most famous financial farces in English football.
Apart from receiving a small mention in articles concerning Sol Campbell’s return to Arsenal, the (other) Magpies have firmly disappeared from the spotlight. Their former “multimillionaire” owners Qadbank have quietly sold off the club for pennies. Sven Goran Eriksson, their football director is threatening to quite unless there is an injection of funds into the club.
To cap it all, the League Two side have been served with a second winding up petition from HM Revenue and Customs. It seems odd, seeing as at the start of the 2009-2010 season the club were setting objectives of reaching the Championship within five years.
Qadbank, registered in the British Virgin Isles, claimed to represent the collective interests of "certain Middle Eastern and European-based families." County’s supporters' trust, understandably wooed by the promises of top class football in Meadow Lane within a matter of years, gave their consent to the takeover.
The plot thickened as former England coach Eriksson joined the club, citing the huge ambition shared by the owners. Sol Campbell also signed on, but one match into his debut Campbell wanted out, muttering something about “broken promises” as the club attempted to keep him silent. It all began to fall apart and on the 12th of December, just five months after the Qadbank takeover Notts County were once again in financial difficulties with the club sold off and coach Hans Backe (a former Eriksson assistant) having resigned.
At the time of writing, Chairman Peter Trembling is seeking new investment with Scandinavian communications giant Ludo reportedly interested.
Portsmouth FC a mere two years ago were FA Cup Champions having stunned Manchester United at Theatre of Dreams in the quarters. Now they are mired in deep financial troubles. The club is in heavy debt to several football creditors, Her Majesty’s Government and have lost most of their best players including Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Lassana Diarra.
With the threat of administration looming, Portsmouth’s players have failed to deliver on the pitch as well. The constantly delayed payment of wages has not helped either.
The blame must lie squarely at the owners of Portsmouth, who have given little reason to prove that they possess the financial mettle required to run a Premiership club.
Early in the season, citing financial difficulties, Sacha Gaydamak sold the club to Sulaiman Al Fahim, who was formerly involved in the takeover of Manchester City. Fahim took more than a month to supposedly examin Pompey’s finances, but it quickly emerged that he did not have the cash needed to run the club.
Now, Muhammad Al Faraj has stepped in. Al Faraj, derisively nicknamed “Al Mirage”, has yet to visit Fratton Park amidst the continued monetary mayhem.
In June 2007, English businessman Mike Ashley purchased Newcastle United. He was popular with Tyneside faithful, sitting with the fans in the stands and donning his fave Alan Smith jersey. Ashley was a man of the people, listening to the crowd as they jeered Sam Allardyce.
The owner went out and made himself even more popular by removing Big Sam and appointing the very much-loved Kevin Keegan as manager. Ashley even began wearing a "King Kev 1" shirt. However, nine months into his reign King Kev abdicated his throne, with interference from Ashley’s Football Duke Dennis Wise rumoured to be one of the reasons.
Before he could blink, Newcastle fans turned on Mike Ashley, demanding that their King be restored to his throne. The likelihood of that quickly vanished and with pressure mounting, Ashley put the club up for sale. By December, however, the club was off the market, Mr. Mike citing the lack of potential buyers.
On the field, the players did not give the fans much reason to rejoice as the Magpies stayed in the relegation zone. Joe Kinnear was appointed as manager, but health issues forced him out. In an act of desperation Ashley made Alan Shearer manager for the last eight games of Newcastle’s campaign. Only one win came and the Magpies were relegated, despite the Messiah’s best efforts.
While Newcastle are now runaway leaders in the Championship, Mike Ashley has further incurred the wrath of the Toon Army by renaming their legendary stadium Sports Direct at St. James Park, in order to demonstrate a potential rights package. Right now, Newcastle fans are putting together an audacious effort to wrest control of the club. After all that they have gone through, you have to commend their continued desire to see their beloved club succeed.