The divide between what constitutes a bad soccer owner and a good one is purely subjective; unless, of course, your team is flirting with relegation after years and years of steadily declining league finishes.
It’s not fair to paint only Aston Villa’s Randy Lerner as bad at running a football club, right? He’s not as ignorant as Dave Whelan of Wigan, or as completely paranoid as Massimo Celllino at Leeds United. However, if his stewardship of the club keeps trending in the same direction, he will join each of these owners in the lower divisions of English football.
How do we compare who’s good or who is bad? Is it merely what happens on the pitch? Let’s take this short quiz to find out how bad Randy Lerner is:
- Does he take money from the club to pay off his debts, like the Glazer family (Manchester United)?
- Does he hand out no bid contract work to an outside company, which he’s an owner of, so that the club pays him money directly, like Stan Kroenke (Arsenal)?
- Did he purposely buy land around his stadium and allow those properties to turn into slums in order to cheaply acquire more land to renovate a stadium, like numerous Liverpool owners have done?
The answer to these questions, when asked about Randy Lerner, is no. However, is each of the aforementioned owners good at owning their clubs?
The answer to that can go beyond just what happens on the pitch. It can also be affected by what happens with a club’s business dealings behind the scenes.
What we know for sure is that when a club wins, all is forgotten, at least for a little while. Sometimes even that is not enough.
In the case of Mike Ashley of Newcastle, his actions as owner of Newcastle United aren’t exactly shrouded in mystery, and his club really hasn’t seen a lot of winning, either. At times he’s been extremely involved, like selling Andy Caroll and giving Alan Pardew that famous eight-year contract extension. And at other times he’s lent his trust to other experts, such as hiring Joe Kinnear to curse out reporters. So is Ashley good or bad?
(Should I mention he hired Alan Pardew when the media and supporters were wondering why he sacked Chris Hughton, the man who brought them right back to the Premier League after being relegated.)
I could go on about Mike Ashley; however, I want to keep this article constructive on some level.
If we look at the reign of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, there have been plenty of highs but also plenty of moments where everyone, including Chelsea supporters, is wondering how he reached his decisions to
- fire Carlo Ancelotti for finishing second;
- give Avram Grant a contract extension before that;
- reluctantly hire Roberto Di Matteo after finally winning him the UEFA Champions League only to fire him mere months later.
Pattern? Of course. Bad owner? Check his trophy cabinet. The types of standards can be used against Manchester City.
The issue with every club is that all of them don’t win enough. That’s a completely irrational statement and belief, but it’s one that often rules football. Unfortunately football has a tendency to reside in that zip code no matter a win or a loss.
For Aston Villa, life after Doug Ellis isn’t exactly what they thought it would be.
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