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.