Top 10 Football's Financial Screw-ups

‘A pound coin was thrown onto the pitch at Ibrox. Police are trying to determine whether it was a missile or a takeover bid.’ The Celtic fans maybe laughing at the situation at Rangers, but no-one ever likes to see clubs going bust. Unfortunately, as foreign owners come and go as they please, more and more traditional clubs will suffer financially and perhaps even go bust. For now though, here are The Top 10 Football’s Financial Screw-ups:

  1. Glasgow Rangers – It’s been coming for a while, but Rangers have finally slipped into the financial abyss. Scotland’s most successful domestic side, with 54 titles, finally entered administration and the club fear that liquidation is inevitable. Redundancies are happening at the moment as the club look to slash £1 million off their monthly bills. It would be a tragic shame if Rangers were to close, indeed only one team in Scotland would win any trophies now…
  1. Portsmouth– Portsmouth have suffered from what can only be known as Harry Redknapp syndrome. The club from the South Coast fancied a bit of the big time and succeeded to some extent, winning the FA Cup in 2008. It’s fair to say that Pompey assembled a fair squad during that period, indeed the likes of Crouch, Defoe, Kranjcar and Muntari added some serious class to Fratton Park. And some serious wages. Following numerous takeovers and numerous administrations, Portsmouth are in a serious pickle and heading fast towards the League One trapdoor.
  1. Leeds United – The first testers of the high risk, high reward spending policy that Premier League Chairman began to adopt to try and bring glory to their club. Except there was no reward for the Whites. Yes, they reached the Champions League semi final, but also spent three years in League One to pay for it. The days of Peter Ridsdale have become urban legend, including the tropical goldfish, paying Robbie Fowler’s wages three years after he left Elland Road and the Seth Johnson contract negotiation saga. The worst thing about Leeds’s financial woes? Ken Bates is now Chairman…
  1. Darlington– Another madly ambitious Chairman, another bankrupt lower league club. The Quakers entered administration three times in nine years and were only just spared liquidation after a supporters’ whip round raised enough cash to keep them afloat. Former owner George Reynolds went a bit mad, built a 25,000 seater stadium named after himself before trying to buy Tino Asprilla, shotgun and all. The club have subsequently dropped out of the Football League and rumours of a Mario Balotelli takeover proved to be untrue.
  1. Accrington Stanley – The original story of footballing financial woe, the club folded in 1962 after enormous debts of £40,000…While that might only pay half of Stewart (1 assist all season) Downing’s wages nowadays, back in the swinging sixties, this amounted to unpaid transfer fees and sums to the Inland Revenue. Their closure acted as a warning for all, and although the club reformed, it has taken them a long time to claw their way back into the Football League.
  1. Chester City– Not the most glamorous side ever to grace English football, nor the most successful, but it was still a shame to see Chester go out of business. Financial problems hit them hard in 2009/10 and the club never recovered, winding up debts of around £7 million that saw them shut down eventually. Further attempts to play in the Welsh divisions fell through and the club has now reformed and started all over again. Bring on the Sunday League boys…
  1. Halifax Town – The Shaymen were always traditional financial strugglers, having problems throughout the 60’s and the 80s and the club were wound up in 2008 after racking up debts of more than £2 million. The club was in fact reformed by the directors, but a lot further down the league pyramids.
  1. Bradford City– Ah, Bradford City. They tried so hard to follow in their illustrious neighbours’ footsteps;  even copying their financial model. Bad move. When they reached the Promised Land in 1999, they brought in big name players on high wages, who simply didn’t care enough to keep the side in the Premier League. Players like Benito Carbone and Dan Petrescu cost the club a fortune and relegation upon relegation now sees the Bantams struggling to avoid the drop into the Conference. Valley Parade is a massive problem for the club, they can’t afford to keep it going and the future does not look good.
  1. Plymouth Argyle – Although Plymouth have officially exited administration, the future looked bleak for the Pilgrims for some time. Once again, Peter Ridsdale was involved in the ruining of a football club as Plymouth spiralled down the leagues in a tale of financial woe. Manager Peter Reid took the flak, paying the electricity bill out of his own pocket on a number of occasions, before they brutally sacked him for poor results.
  1. Rushden and Diamonds – The side with the best name in football became no more in 2011 as they were liquidated thanks to their unstable financial position. This is no surprise if you take control of them in Football Manager 2001, indeed one gets an absolute fortune to spend to try and get the club out of the Conference. In reality, the Diamonds did shoot through the divisions, reaching a high of League One. The dream ended though after a couple of poor seasons and the club is now no more.

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