Top 10 football financial disasters

Posted by - April 26, 2009 - Lists

In the wake of Southampton’s point deduction and relegation this week, OTP looks at the English clubs which have been left looking like a bunch of bankers.

1. Leeds United
Peter Ridsdale led Leeds to football’s archetypal financial meltdown. While they only cost small change compared to the millions spent on managerial compensation and outlandish wages, Ridsdale’s financial prowess was neatly summed up by the £240 he spent on goldfish for his office. Ken Bates rode to the rescue and raised the £35million that Leeds owed by selling his image rights to KFC.

2. Leicester City
After years of good work by Martin O’Neill, the Foxes found themselves crippled by Peter Taylor’s bizarre signings and a £37 million stadium to pay for. If Ridsdale’s downfall was his goldfish, Dennis Wise was the figurehead of Taylor’s road to ruin. The 35-year-old was signed for £1.6 million, reportedly placed on huge wages, and was later sacked for breaking team-mate Callum Davidson’s jaw.

3. Wimbledon aka MK Dons
A series of relegations, a season being run by administrators, and a boycott of their games by away fans over plans to relocate left Franchise FC so embarrassed by their situation that they even changed their name. You can’t hide forever – we know who you are really!

4. Southampton
The most recent team to feel the wrath of the FA for their financial failings. The Saints were initially holding on to their Championship status by hiding behind their holding company, but are now certain to drop into League One without any points deductions and will start next season with a 10 point penalty.

5. Halifax Town
Who gives you extra? Not Halifax Town. Despite hailing from the same part of the world as the well-known building society they found it very difficult to look after their money. The club has been Halifax Town FC, Halifax Town AFC, and now FC Halifax Town in recent times after folding and being forced to reform with a new name.

6. Bradford City
No club is better at dealing with administration than Bradford; they enjoyed it so much the first time around that they went back for seconds. The Bantams didn’t learn from their mistakes in 2002 and the club’s creditors had the club back in administration in 2004. On-field woes have followed financial troubles with the former Premier League boys now in League Two.

7. Luton Town

That Hatters recently lost their Football League status, and there is no doubt that their fans blame financial mismanagement for their problems. The club is apparently scheduled to be out of its financial crisis by 2020. Indeed, that number is the name of the consortium, fronted by TV personality Nick Owen, which took control of the club. Owen is famous for his bad jokes, but even he won’t be forgiven this one.

8. Ipswich Town
Unlike many of the poor clubs who have fought to stave off the creditors, the Tractor Boys actually pleaded to go into temporary administration as they struggled to cope with relegation from the top flight. Season ticket sales didn’t slump that bad surely? The club found themselves in the Championship but still paying top-flight wages to Premier League legends Finidi George and Martijn Reuser.

9. Darlington
The Quakers’ first went into administration in 2003 and was on the verge of going out of business when a charity game involving Paul Gascoigne, Bryan Robson and Kenny Dalglish helped to keep the club going. They came out of administration in 2004. But the club’s classy brand of football failed to attract fans the Darlington Arena and they went back into administration in February 2009. Well, the local council prevents them from filling it anyway due to planning regulations.

10. Bournemouth
When the Cherries were served with a winding up order in 2008, England striker Jermain Defoe expressed his sorrow and Bournemouth resident Harry Redknapp vowed that he would not let the club go out of business. As it happened the club staved off the creditors. Life has not been easy since, but they did ensure they stayed in the Football League this weekend.