By far the most popular sport in the world, football tends to attract a lot of billionaires to the pitch. Because of the television rights bringing in massive revenue, the wealthy want to line their pockets by getting into athletic ownership, and football is more lucrative than ever. While some clubs are run like a well oiled machine, there are others that suffer from ownership interference (or a complete laissez faire approach) that hurts them, and here are five of the most specific examples of just that.
5. Arsenal F.C.
In many cases of a billionaire buying a professional sports team, it’s because they’re truly passionate fans of the squad. Then there’s the legend of billionaire Stan Kroenke, who is strictly into sports in terms of business. Take his United States ventures for example. Both the Los Angeles Rams and Colorado Avalanche won titles in 2022, both of which are owned by Kroenke. Meanwhile, his football team in England is toiling since it’s a bit of an afterthought. After winning the Super Bowl with the Rams, one fan tweeted “Kroenke lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy may well be the closest Arsenal get to winning a major honour this season.” Ouch.
4. Ujpest F.C.
The Premier League is the main attention getter for club football, but then there are random leagues that we have to pay attention to for some fun headlines. For this one,w e turn to Hungary and NB I for the strange offerings of Ujpest FC. Back in 2011, Roderick Duchatelet purchased the team and despite promises of returning to glory, have not won any domestic or international honours since 1998, far before his ownership. In 2022, Duchatelet wanted to sell the team, but the Russia-Ukraine War caused the new owners to back out of the deal, leaving Duchatelet with a team he doesn’t even want.
3. San Jose Earthquakes
Back in 1996, the United States had their biggest entry into the professional club football world with the introduction of Major League Soccer. One of the original teams was the San Jose Clash, which is now known as the San Jose Earthquakes. SInce their inception, they have won two MLS Cup titles, but it’s been nearly 20 years since that happened. In an anonymous poll amongst those in the MLS, it was San Jose that was picked as the ownership that’s holding the team back the most thanks to their stinginess, but have been able to hold onto a team simply because of being a charter member of the league.
2. Barry Town F.C.
Heading to Wales, we find a fascinating story of a semi-professional team that was once on top of the world during the 1990s when they won multiple Welsh Cups. That was, until, businessman Stuart Lovering came along to buy the team in 2003. Lovering backed out on a lot of promises financially, causing the team to plummet in stature until there was essentially a mutiny. Things haven’t been smooth ever since, with Barry recently finishing toward the bottom of the standings.
1. Milton Keynes Dons F.C.
We finish where we started, in jolly old England, to find the MK Dons from Buckinghamshire. Owned by a music promoter, Pete Winkelman, it hasn’t gone well since his purchase. The club had a split (separating Wimbledon and MK) and the team was almost immediately relegated due to poor performance. Their highest finish since their formation is a runner-up claim in 2014-15…; Football League One.