Every now and then we all get a little bit frustrated with the higher-ups at of our respective clubs. We all want to see a little more money invested, a few more players drafted in and a dose of extra ambition shown.
But there are some chairmen and some owners who have posed supporters with issues that go beyond minor gripes. Some who divide the fanbase, incite protests, make baffling decisions and send teams spiralling into a financial black hole. Here’s a look at five of the worst to have ever “graced” the landscape of English football.
Sir Doug Ellis
Nicknamed “Deadly Doug” by Jimmy Greaves given his reputation for nonchalantly dismissing managers, the former Aston Villa chairman and package holiday pioneer endured a tumultuous, drawn out association with the Midlands club.
Ellis was first named as Villa chairman in 1968, but was ousted by the board after 11 years. But he was to return in late 1982 when the Villains, having won the European Cup earlier that year, were one of the powerhouses of the English game. He remained at the clubs for decades later, overcoming health problems and various criticism to religiously take his seat at the stadium.
He became the first ever football director to pay himself a salary—just short of £300,000 in 2005—having once said that “only women and horses work for nothing”, per The Guardian. His vice-like grip on the club coupled with a perpetual lack of ambition did plenty to rile the Villa faithful; he eventually sold the club to Randy Lerner in 2006
While Ellis did little to curry favor amongst Villa fans—”Ellis Out” banners and placards were regularly dotted around Villa park during the latter days of his tenure—it’s worth noting that he has since been knighted for various admirable charity projects.
From the outside, things couldn’t have been going much better for Peter Ridsdale in 2001. He’d been chairman of his hometown club for the past four years and under his tutelage, Leeds United had gone from mid-table dwellers to the semi-final of the Champions League. The club had a host of bright young talent on their books and they looked set to mix it with the Premier League’s elite for years to come.
But under Ridsdale’s reign, Leeds endured some of the most fearful times in the club’s history. The chairman had chanced a £60million loan against the club’s gate receipts on the premise that this effervescent young side would qualify for the Champions League, which they failed to do on the back of their European adventure in 2001.