The Alternative League Table – Part 4

The idea of this list is to rank Premier League clubs based on who ran each club. The focus isn’t just on the money that is spent on wages and transfers fees. Obviously finances dictate what team’s objectives are and have a large say on where teams eventually finish. This list aims to show the impact each owner/chairman has during their time at the club. The final instalment contains my choice on who I believe are the 5 worst run clubs in the division. Let me know if you agree @bewareflyingfb

16. Malcolm Glazer – Manchester United

To buy the club in 2005 Malcolm Glazer had to borrow money placing the club in huge debt. This was extremely unpopular with the fans and even resulted in the formation of FC United of Manchester. The fans who remained at Old Trafford showed their disgust at the American’s ownership by wearing green and gold scarves, to represent the colours of the club when it was first formed as Newton Heath. There were rumours of a takeover bid from a group of wealthy businessmen (“The Red Knights”) however this never came to fruition. Despite the animosity towards the Glazer family United have remained at the top of the English game. They have been able to support Sir Alex Ferguson and now David Moyes including breaking the club’s record transfer when they bought Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur for £30.75million in 2008, as well as the impending move for Chelsea’s Juan Mata. During their time at Old Trafford the debt has reduced thanks to worldwide sponsorship deals negotiated by Edward Woodward who replaced David Gill as Chief Executive last summer. This season the club have struggled in the league but the Glazers haven’t been affected by calls to sack Moyes. If the club don’t finish in the top 4 it may have bigger implication to finances than it would at clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City.

17. Ellis Short – Sunderland

Sunderland’s lowly position in this table can largely be attributed to the fact that little is reported on owner Ellis Short and the running of the club. Since taking charge of the Mackems in September 2008 Short has financed transfers totalling £177m with this being offset by sales resulting in a net investment of £55m over 6 seasons. During his time at the club they have remained in the top flight but have flirted with relegation on a few occasions. Each time the manager has lost his job as a result. Steve Bruce was sacked in November 2011 being replaced by Martin O’Neil, who came in and saved the club from relegation but didn’t last the following season. Bruce has returned to the Premier League with Hull while O’Neil has taken charge of the Irish national team. The appointment of Paolo Di Canio was risky as his only previous managerial experience was with Swindon Town. This experiment lasted less than a year with the Italian’s sacking coming with rumours of players’ unrest at strict rules and with the team winless in the first 5 games of the season. Results have picked up following the arrival of Gus Poyet with the bonus of a place in the League Cup final. Off the field Sunderland have a partnership with Invest in Africa as well as the Foundation of Light scheme which helps people in the north east of England.

18. Daniel Levy – Tottenham

“Tough negotiator” are two words which are most commonly used to describe Daniel Levy, infamous for playing hardball and getting the best deal for the club. When it became clear that Gareth Bale had his heart set on Real Madrid Levy ensured that they would have to pay top dollar to get their man, eventually having to fork out a world record £86million. When Luka Modric wanted to join Chelsea Levy stood firm and stated the Croatian was not for sale at any price, before selling the next year to Real Madrid. Despite spending over £100m the team was still under construction with the season already underway. Even if Levy and owner Joe Lewis got the best deal financially it appeared to have an impacted the team’s preparations for the forthcoming year. Levy prefers working with a technical director and head coach rather than a manager. Only Harry Redknapp could be described as a traditional manager. Martin Jol and Juande Ramos worked under Frenchman Damien Comolli and Andre Villas Boas reported to Franco Baldini. Jol was sacked in 2007 despite consecutive 5th place finishes, Redknapp left by mutual consent after twice breaking into the top 4 and leading the club to the Chanpions League knock out round and following a record points haul Villas Boas was dismissed after big defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool. Tim Sherwood has been appointed Head Coach until the end of next season and it remains to be seen which direction the club is heading.

19. Assem Allam – Hull City

As so common with many other clubs Hull City were in financial peril before Assem Allam take over the club in November 2010. Allam originally from Egypt studied in Hull so it seemed that he already had an affinity with the area and would have the club’s best interests at heart. He soon dispensed of fan’s favourite Nick Barmby and appointed Steve Bruce. This proved to be a shrewd move as his experience took the club back to the Premier League. Allam backed the manager in the summer with the arrival of a number of players with top flight experience including the club record signing of Tom Huddletone. The club has made a strong start to the season but off the field controversies have overshadowed this progress. Assem announced at the start of the season that he planned to rename the club Hull Tigers. This was extremely unpopular with the fans who have voiced there discontentment chanting “City ’till I die’. Assem’s response was ill advised to say the least commenting in a newspaper interview that the Hull City supporters “can die as soon as they want, as long as they leave the club for the majority who just want to watch good football.” This was a disgusting retort and showed a lack of respect of the fans of the club who pay vast sums of money to watch their team play.

20. Vincent Tan – Cardiff City

Where to start with Vincent Tan? Firstly changing the team’s colours from blue to red, the logic being it’s considered a lucky colour in Asia and would therefore attract more fans from the Asian market. Secondly, redesigning the club’s emblem with a dragon replacing the traditional Bluebird. These decisions were disrespectful of the club’s tradition, but as he owned the club Tan felt he was entitled to do so. Malky Mackay won the Championship meaning Cardiff became the second Welsh team in the Premier League. To compete in the division a number of players were bought in, however Head of Recruitment Iain Moody was fired last October because too much was spent. Surely Tan would determine how much money is available and have the final say on transfers. Manager and owner’s relationship deteriorated to such a degree that Tan emailed Mackay with the message resign or be sacked. The backlash from this was huge and Mackay was afforded a stay of execution following the reaction of the Cardiff supporters. However this was a brief reprieve and another defeat against Southampton the next week led to the end of the Scot’s tenure. It’ll be interesting to see whether Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has funds in this month’s transfer window as Mackay was told there would be no signings as he had overspent in the summer.

The Alternative League Table – Part 3

The idea of this list is to rank Premier League clubs based on who ran each club. The focus isn’t just on the money that is spent on wages and transfers fees. Obviously finances dictate what team’s objectives are and have a large say on where teams eventually finish. This list aims to show the impact each owner/chairman has during their time at the club. This third instalment contains my choice on who I believe are the 11th – 15th best run clubs in the division. Following Nicola Cortese’s departure last week hopefully there are no more boardroom dramas anytime soon. Let me know if you agree @bewareflyingfb

 11 Roman Abramovich – Chelsea

Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003 and immediate £100m spending spree had never been seen before in England. His decade at the club has seen 10 managers come and go, and in Mourinho’s case return. Despite the revolving door in the manager’s office trophies have continued to be won during the Russian’s decade at the club. Mourinho delivered the club’s first title in 50 years before repeating the feat the following year. The Holy Grail for Abramovich was the Champions League and after so many near misses they won it in 2012 beating Bayern Munich in a dramatic penalty shootout. After Roberto Di Matteo led them to this triumph he was discarded the following season showing how ruthless Abramovich can be. Rafa Benitez was bought in much to the disgust of the fans and as interim coach was already planning to make way before delivering another European trophy. The training complex has been upgraded and talks of a new stadium are ongoing after a failed attempt at purchasing Battersea Power Station. After the early spending sprees Frank Arnesen was recruited from Spurs to scour the world for the best young talent to comply with new FFP rules but there have still been the occasional big money moves, such as £50m man Fernando Torres. In a similar fashion to Sheik Mansour, Roman Abramovich has changed Chelsea from a mid-table side into one that is challenging for trophies on a regular basis.

12 Jeremy Peace – West Bromwich Albion

West Brom have been praised for not overspending and working within their means despite bouncing between the top 2 division. This has proved a diligent approach as the club now have a strong squad and established themselves in the Premier League over the last few years. The board at West Brom have established a structure more akin to clubs on the continent with a head coach working under a sporting director, who is responsible for bringing players into the club. Roberto Di Matteo led the club into the top flight in 2011 but was replaced by the experienced Roy Hodgson before the season was out. He managed to retain their top flight status before taking control of the English national team. Jeremy Peace hired the respected Steve Clarke to his first Head Coach role having been Assistant Manager at Newcastle United, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool. In what turned out to be his only season in charge an 8th place finish was above expectation. However a poor start to this season led to the Scot being placed on gardening leave and West Brom looking for a 4th head coach in 2 years. Although a well-run club it appears that the job of running first team affairs isn’t as highly regarded as at other clubs and control is maintained by the board. Pepe Mel was appointed Head Coach this month but hasn’t been able to bring in his own coaches instead having to work within the structure already in place.

13 Mike Ashley – Newcastle United

From manager sackings, relegation, promotion, renamed stadia, directors of football and 8 year contracts the Tyneside club have seen it all in Mike Ashley’s time at the club. When he first bought the club the Sports Direct owner moved quickly to install Kevin Keegan as manager. This was a popular decision but not entirely logical and to complicate matters Dennis Wise was made Executive Director (Football), whatever that is! This led to growing animosity and eventually to Keegan’s resignation, and later taking Ashley to court and being awarded £2m for constructive dismissal. Another club legend, Alan Shearer, was appointed on a temporary basis but was unable to save the club from relegation. With the club in disarray a quick return to the top flight looked unlikely but Chris Houghton managed it at the first time of asking. Despite wins at Arsenal and looking comfortable in the league the Championship winning manager was sacked and replaced by Alan Pardew. The fans saw him as another member of Mike Ashley’s so called “Cockney Mafia” but Pardew has proved a success at the club. A 5th place finish in 2011/12 led to him being handed an eight-year contract. The return of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football last summer looked like an attempt by Ashley to undermine Pardew and force his out of the club. In an attempt to bring extra revenue to the club Ashley renamed the stadium Unsurprisingly this was an unpopular move with the fans and only got reversed when new sponsors, Wonga, changed it back.

14 Shahid Khan – Fulham

It may be too early to judge Shahid Khan’s tenure at Fulham having only bought the club from Mohammed Al Fayed for up to £200m in July last year. The Pakistani American’s decision to remove the Michael Jackson statue was popular with the fans despite the threat by the outgoing chairman to shave Khan’s infamous moustache off. Following his reputation to fire coaches of his American football team, Jacksonville Jaguars, speculation quickly mounted over Martin Jol’s future. The club started the season slowly and Rene Meulensteen was bought in, initially as assistant to his fellow Dutchman but soon become Head Coach when Jol was sacked following a string of bad results. It would be unfair to say that the decision to relieve the manager of his duties was harsh as Jol looked like a man who had lost motivation in the job. Following the arrivals of Alan Curbishley (remember him) as technical director and Ray Wilkins as Assistant Head Coach it will be interesting to see how the club moves forward. Khan has promised money for reinforcements in the January transfer window starting with an early move to secure Clint Dempsey’s temporary return to Craven Cottage.

15 Randy Lerner – Aston Villa

When Randy Lerner purchased Aston Villa he was seen as the benchmark for foreign investors, he stayed out of team selection, financed signings and supported the manager. This led to three consecutive 6th place finishes between 2008 and 2010. A bright, young British squad was assembled with the likes of Gareth Barry, James Milner, Stuart Downing and Ashley Young managed by Martin O’Neil looked the likeliest candidates the break the top 4 stranglehold of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. They never managed to do so and the team has regressed since. That team departed for the bright lights of Manchester and Liverpool and the investment for replacements wasn’t forthcoming from the American owner. O’Neil left 5 days before the start of the 2010/11 season and was replaced by Alex McLeish. This was an unpopular selection with the fans due to the Scots links with Birmingham City, however Lerner was unperturbed despite appear to move away from appointing Steve McLaren due to a negative reaction from the supporters. In recent times the only big money signing has been for £24million Man Darren Bent when the club appeared to be drifting towards relegation. Now under Paul Lambert the emphasis is on youth and the highest aim appears to be avoiding the drop.

The Alternative League Table – Part 2

The idea of this list is to rank Premier League clubs based on who ran each club. The focus isn’t just on the money that is spent on wages and transfers fees. Obviously finances dictate what team’s objectives are and have a large say on where teams eventually finish. This list aims to show the impact each owner/chairman has during their time at the club. This second instalment contains my choice on who I believe are the 6th – 10th best run clubs in the division. Let me know if you agree @bewareflyingfb

6 Delia Smith – Norwich

One of Delia Smith’s most memorable moments at Norwich was her drunken “Lets be ‘avin’ you” rant at half time during their 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in 2005. Delia Smith is joint majority shareholder alongside Geoffrey Watling, and her husband Michael Wynn-Jones. In 2009 the club had been relegated twice in quick succession and found themselves at the foot of League One after a 7-1 mauling at the hands of Paul Lambert’s Colchester. That defeat led to the sacking of club legend Brian Gunn and the subsequent appointment of Lambert. It was an inspired move as the Scot led the Norfolk club to the title in his first season in charge. That was followed by a return to the top flight for the first time since 2005. They managed to survive but lost Lambert to Aston Villa at the end of the season. They appointed one of the most underrated managers in Chris Hughton, who led them to wins over Arsenal and Manchester United. The board released funds to bolster their squad which has seen the arrival of 8 new players including Gary Hooper, Nathan Redmond, Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer for a total outlay of £25.7m. In an increasingly globalised game it is good to see a board of directors made up of local, lifelong supporters of the club.

7 Nicola Cortese – Southampton

Before Markus Liebherr bought Southampton in 2009 it looked like their demise would be similar to that which has played out at their local rivals, Portsmouth. The Saints were in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1978 when Liebherr bought the club. With his investment Alan Pardew signed Bristol Rovers frontman Ricky Lambert for £1million which immediately paid dividends as they won the FL trophy later that season. The day to day running of the club was led by Italian businessman Nicola Cortese. He has a strong reputation and when they missed out on promotion Pardew was sacked and replaced with Nigel Adkins. Successive promotions followed before the likeable Scouser was in turn replaced by Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino. Critics thought that the decision was harsh on Adkins but Pochettino’s side have started this season well and has implemented his style on the team. Markus Lieberr died in 2010 but his estate still finances the club with considerable investment in the summer. In only their second season since returning to the top flight their total outlay was the 6th highest in the division at £36m. Cortese has delivered on his aim to bring Premier League football back to St. Mary’s and has continued the clubs tradition of bringing youth team players into the first team.

8 David Gold & David Sullivan – West Ham

When the Icelandic banks collapsed in 2010 West Ham looked to be heading into dangerous waters. Thankful 2 local boys made good, David Gold and David Sullivan bought a controlling share in the club. Alongside Karen Brady they were able to bring the experience of running a football club from their time together at Birmingham City. At the time of the takeover they said that it didn’t make financial sense for them to get involved but it was because of their shared love for the club. They inherited an ageing squad with players on huge and unsustainable contracts. Despite relegation in 2011 they have put significant funds into the club. They appointed Sam Allardyce to take them back to the top flight which was achieved at the first attempt despite reservations from the fans due to Allardyce’s perceived long ball tactics. This summer they have again invested in the squad with the record signing of Andy Carroll from Liverpool for £15m, following a successful loan spell. Off the field the club have been successful in agreeing to move into the Olympic Stadium which will increase their capacity to 54,000. This is a positive move for the club as it should bring in extra revenue to the club and attract more sponsorship and investment.

9 Stan Kroenke – Arsenal

Arsenal are one of the best run clubs in world football. They don’t rely on an individual investor and try to run a self-sustainable model. Red & White Holdings chaired by former Arsenal vice-chairman and backed by Alisher Usmanov tried to take control of the club but eventually lost out to Stan Kroenke. The American took over in 2011 having purchased a controlling share from other members of the Arsenal board and has bought into this philosophy; they have rarely spent big in the transfer market, until Mesut Ozil’s arrival last summer. This is also down to the constraints of their move to the Emirates, having now paid that off and with a new sponsorship agreement with Puma, worth £30m a year, Arsenal may now be able to compete with the biggest spenders in the league. Stan Kroenke, also known as “Silent Stan”, deserves respect for his support of Arsene Wenger when some supporters were calling for change. He had to deal with a lot of criticism but didn’t panic as other clubs have done in the past. The price of watching Arsenal remains the highest in the English game with season tickets costing up to £1900 with the club justifying prices by saying the demand is there.

10 John Henry – Liverpool

John Henry arrived into Liverpool as a saviour after the disastrous management of John Hicks and George Gillette. The club was in a weak position and had been made a lot of false promises. After getting rid of Hodgson he pleased the fans by appointing club legend Kenny Dalglish as manager. Henry has always backed his managers financially, even if some of the transfer fees have been rather inflated when he first arrived at the club. It was thought that he would operate a “Moneyball” system which is commonly used in baseball; Henry is also owner of the Boston Red Sox. He stood firm in the Luis Suarez transfer saga when the player was desperate to leave. It was a strong move from the American as in the modern game players usually are able to push for a transfer and usually succeed. He dismissed a £50m bid from Arsenal and the clubs positive start to the season has persuaded the Uruguayan to stay, along with a new £200,000 a week contract. With Brendan Rodgers seen as the long term option at Liverpool and plans for redevelopment work at Anfield, John Henry is certainly a very popular man in the red half of Merseyside.

The Alternative League Table – Part 1

The idea of this list is to rank Premier League clubs based on who ran each club. The focus isn’t just on the money that is spent on wages and transfers fees. Obviously finances dictate what team’s objectives are and have a large say on where teams eventually finish. This list aims to show the impact each owner/chairman has during their time at the club. The first instalment contains my choice on who I believe are the 5 best run clubs in the division. Let me know if you agree @bewareflyingfb

1 Huw Jenkins – Swansea City

Huw Jenkins has overseen a remarkable rise at Swansea having taken over the team in the old Division 4 when the club needed a final day win against Hull in 2003 to actually stay in the league. Since then the club has had the most successful period in its history, being promoted to the Premier League, winning the League Cup and qualifying for the knock out stages in Europe. The meteoric rise has also seen the club move from the Vetch Field to the Liberty Stadium, it is a credit to the board that in that time the club have continued to progress on the field and the financial health of the club has remained in a strong position. The chairman has always backed his managers, breaking their record transfer last summer with the arrival of Wilfried Bony for £12m. Jenkins selection of managers has been faultless with Michael Landrup’s predecessors including Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers. They both moved onto bigger teams but the philosophy of the Welsh club has remained and that is down to the direction put in place by Huw Jenkins and the Swansea board. In a structure more similar to German football the supporters trust have a 20% share of the club.

2 Peter Coates – Stoke

Having supported the club since he was a boy local businessman Peter Coates became the majority shareholder at Stoke City in 1989. He oversaw the club’s move into their new stadium in 1997. The Brittannia cost £14.7m to construct and has arguably the best atmosphere in the Premier League as well as possibly being the coldest due to a lack of corners. After selling the club to an Icelandic consortium for £3.5m in 1999 Coates returned 6 years later buying the club back for £1.7m as well as clearing debts of £3.3m. Coates said he bought the club back against his better judgement as the club was in a mess. He was disappointed with his previous time there and felt there was unfinished business. Tony Pulis returned to the club as manager for a second time which at the time wasn’t a popular decision. However the Welshman oversaw promotion to the Premier League and establishing Stoke City as a top flight side. The appointment of Mark Hughes to change the style of the club could be questionable but Coates has always backed his managers with cash including a club record £10m for Peter Crouch in August 2011. His commitment is unquestionable as is his desire to see the club doing well in the Premier League for the local area which has been hit economically in recent times.

3 Sheik Mansour

It is hard to look beyond the vast sums of money that Sheik Mansour has poured into Manchester city since taking over in 2008 but off the field there are large scale projects with the academy and training facilities at the Etihad. The superstars that have been bought in helped delivered their first trophy in 35 years and was followed by the league title a year later. The club is looking to expanding on a global stage and compete with the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal and have announced the formation of a new team in the USA, New York City Football Club. Foreign ownership can often be looked on with suspicious but Sheik Mansour has pumped a lot of money into the club and appears to be in it for the long haul. However the implementation of UEFA’s financial fair play initiative will certainly affect the amount of money that can be thrown around, however the team recent progress in the Champions League will bring additional income. Another source of additional income came from selling the naming rights of the City of Manchester Stadium to Etihad Airlines, who were already kit sponsors. The £40m a year agreement appeared to be rather inflated especially in comparison to Arsenal’s contract with Emirates, which includes a shirt deal worth £150m over 5 years with stadium naming rights until 2021.

4 Crystal Palace

Steve Parish headed a consortium of local businessmen who took over from the flamboyant Simon Jordan, after the club had been placed in administration. Parish’s first objective was to buy back Selhurst Park from Lloyds Bank, much to the fans pleasure. Following Dougie Freeman’s departure to Bolton last season Ian Holloway was bought in and guided the club to an unexpected promotion via the play-offs. They didn’t have the same financial clout as their competitors so had to source players from the lower divisions and outcasts from their rivals. They found the league tough which resulted in Ian Holloway offering his resignation, the following press conference with the departing manager showed that both he and the chairman felt it was the best move for the club. Parish moved quickly after the debacle at Cardiff to appoint Ian Moody as Director of Football, quickly followed by Tony Pulis, as Holloway’s successor. Pulis’ was quickly linked with the job and Parish even alluded to him as being the ideal candidate having experience fighting relegation in the Premier League. The move took longer than expected which suggests that Parish had to convince the ex-Stoke boss of a move to Selhurst Park. Both he and Moody could prove to be shrewd moves by Parish with the team showing signs of improvement giving fans reason to be optimistic about the future of the club.

5 Bill Kenwright

Everton are a club which spends within its means, therefore the money that the fans want to spend isn’t alway available. This has kept the club on a sound financial footing and when there is the opportunity to back his manager in the transfer market Bill Kenwright has done so. For example Mourrane Fellaini arrived for £15m in 2008 before leaving for Manchester United at a £12m profit with the money being reinvested with the purchase of James McCarthy from Wigan for £14m. The fact that Everton have established themselves in the top half of the Premier League despite not have the financial capabilities of their rivals can be put down to the backing of previous manager, David Moyes. In the 2003/4 season Everton had a poor season finishing 17th, other chairman would have sacked the manager but Moyes kept his job and the following year they were rewarded with a 4th place finish and champions league qualification. Once it was established that Moyes would be replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford Kenwright moved quickly to appoint Roberto Martinez as the Scot’s successor. This represented a bold move by the Everton board as Martinez had just overseen Wigan’s relegation to the Championship but the gamble has paid off as Martinez has built his playing philosophy with the solid foundations left by David Moyes. This season the new design of the club’s badge was released but the feedback was negative so the club agreed to edit it and gave the choice to the fans.