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.