Having allowed manager David O’Leary to spend big on players, United were suddenly in a major predicament. Ridsdale resigned in 2003, but the effect have been longstanding and debilitating for Leeds. The club had to cut back massively and the effects were there for all to see on the field.
Rio Ferdinand was sold to rivals Manchester United along with a host of other star names such as Harry Kewell and Jonathan Woodgate. In 2004—12 years after Leeds were crowned champions of England—the club managed to stave off the threat of insolvency, but they were eventually relegated to the second tier of English football.
Ridsdale wrote a book called United We Fall, in which he looked to absolve himself for much of Leeds’ predicament. He criticised O’Leary at length, but the Irishman responded with anger, branding his former chairman as a a “deranged man” and the allegations as a “smear campaign”, per Sky Sports.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett
The American businessmen bought Liverpool Football Club for £218.9 million back in 2007 with a promise to build on the club’s unique history. In the end, it turned into, what author Brian Reade described as “an epic swindle: 44 months with a pair of cowboys”.
They vowed to invest heavily in the players that would expedite the Reds’ return to the peak of English football and to construct a new stadium in Stanley Park that’d help push the club into the modern era. They also made the promise that no debt would be placed on the football club itself as part of the acquisition.
Needless to say, none of the aforementioned promises truly materialized. The pair became increasingly unpopular with the Anfield faithful as the club’s debts spiraled out of control. When the club was formally put up for sale in 2010, murmurings that the banks were about to call in the toxic debt could have pushed the Liverpool to the brink of administration.
Eventually the club was sold to John W Henry’s New England Sports Ventures in late 2010, much to the delight of Liverpool supporters across the globe. There are plenty who still feel as though the club is still yet to fully recover from that turbulent time, though. Indeed, former manager Rafael Benitez thinks the pair ultimately cost the Reds the title, per ESPN.
After a divisive spell as owner of Chelsea, plenty of eyebrows were raised when Ken Bates became the principal owner of Leeds United in 2005. The hotelier was technically the Blues’ most successful ever chairman upon leaving Stamford Bridge after a 21-year spell with the club after all, but numerous controversies punctured his time with the Londoners.