Improper Owners, a Look Back at Some of the Worst Owners in Football League History

There have been many examples of football chairmen who have devoted their lives and their money to the club’s they love. For many years, clubs were often financed by local entrepreneurs who had made good with the Edwards family at Old Trafford and Jack Walker at Blackburn being the most obvious examples.

Sadly, it is the improper owners who make the news at present with Bolton Wanderers’ Ken Anderson being the latest target of supporters wrath, due to his lack of investment and mismanagement.

Bolton face an uncertain future despite managing to avoid being liquidated in the High Court this week following a breakdown in talks to sell the club. The Championship club should be enjoying similar success to the likes of the two Sheffield clubs and, Leeds given the size of their ground and support base but they lie next to bottom of the league, eight points from safety.

Oldham fans currently believe that they are hard done by with owner Abdallah Lemsagam apparently interfering with team selection, however, he is a veritable saint compared to some of these rogues.

Owen Oyston – Blackpool FC

Oyston’s ownership is a staggering tale of neglect going back to 1988. He sued Blackpool supporters who had dared to criticise his regime and, he paid £26.77m out of the club with his son Karl after the club’s promotion to the Premier League.

Late in 2017 Owen Oyston and Karl Oyston were ordered to pay £31m to minority shareholder Valeri Belokon for his shares due to their “illegitimate stripping” of the club. Oyston was removed from the Blackpool board in February.

Francesco Becchetti – Leyton Orient

Italian Becchetti managed to steer the East London club from the verge of the Championship to National League football after 112 years of existence. Worse still, Orient’s free fall wasn’t caused by mismanagement but by the spite of the owner.

The waste-management magnate’s reign featured one expensively funded relegation, an unsuccessful reality TV show, a failed attempted extradition of the owner to Albania as part of a fraud and money‑laundering investigation, a six-match ban for Becchetti for kicking his then assistant manager Andy Hessenthaler, 10 managers, persistent reports of meddling in team affairs, a chaotic player-recruitment policy and a general sense that no one senior at the club has the first idea of how to run it.

Orient are now on the brink of returning to league football from the National league.

Ken Richardson – Doncaster Rovers

When the Doncaster Chairman’s plans to build a new stadium came up against objections from the local council, he decided to take matters further and paid someone £10,000 to burn the stadium to the ground so he could claim on the insurance. The hired arsonist left his phone at the scene however, which had a text message on it to Richardson saying “Job’s done”. The law caught up with him and he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Roland Duchatelet – Charlton Athletic

The Belgian millionaire has become the focus of the fans fury with his asking price for the club of £40m. The apparent lack of buyers is blamed on the protests of the fans. An uneasy impasse exits in South London.

SISU Capital – Coventry City

Being taken over by a hedge fund should have raised alarm but they saved Coventry from administration and a points deduction. However, they then showed that their knowledge of how to run a football club was severely limited. With one scheme being to allow supporters to text a premium rate number to vote on which player should be substituted. The manager would then have to abide by the decision!