Mike Ashley and the 21 Owners in World Football Most Disliked by Their Own Fans
There are many clubs in the football world owned by businessmen and women who are loathed by their own supporters.
Reasons for broken down relationships between owner and fans can be anything from consistently poor managerial appointments, a lack of financial backing for new players, rising prices of season tickets, or having too much of an influence on what the manager’s doing with the squad.
Supporters who want their club's owner axed will often stage protests to put pressure on the hierarchy to pack their bags. Newcastle United have been one of the most notable sides in England for the long-term hatred aimed at owner Mike Ashley, but there are plenty more cases.
So, in no particular order, who are the 24 owners in world football most disliked by their own fans?
The Oyston Family: Blackpool
Blackpool chairman Karl Oyston and his father Owen, the club's majority shareholder, have had protests and death threats aimed their way following the demise of the Seasiders in recent years. The failure to invest money on new players has seen his relationship with supporters sour, and last season it came to a head with protests during games causing a break in play.
This summer, the club has just eight players currently named in the first team for the new season. After scraping survival in 2013/14, many believe their relegation to League One is inevitable in 2014/15.
Silvio Berlusconi: AC Milan
Former prime minister of Italy, convicted tax evader and AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi is the scourge of many fans due to his corrupt past.
Many supporters want to disassociate themselves as the club’s name is being dragged through the mud with him being at the helm, and Milan’s failures last season has made matters considerably worse.
Vincent Tan: Cardiff City
Plenty has been said about the enigmatic owner of Cardiff City. Vincent Tan lost the love of the Cardiff supporters after changing the club’s colours from blue to red, the emblem from Bluebirds to Red Dragons and for sacking popular manager Malky Mackay last season, months after he won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in Cardiff’s history.
That's not to mention the sacking head of recruitment Iain Moody and replacing him with the inexperienced Alisher Apsalyamov, who was quickly forced to resign due to not having an eligible work permit.
Randy Lerner: Aston Villa
Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner will divide opinion with the supporters. Many are enamoured with him for the generous investment in the club upon his arrival that led the Midlands outfit to the cusp of silverware. However, he can also be viewed as the man who appointed Alex McLeish, a former manager of Villa’s biggest rivals, Birmingham City, while also significantly cutting the transfer budget in the last two years, seeing the Villans almost relegated.
This summer, he put the club up for sale, but it’s meant Aston Villa have been forced to bring in free transfers and former exiles to the first-team squad in order to keep costs as low as possible.
Shahid Khan: Fulham
Shahid Khan's arrival last summer as Fulham owner subsequently led to the club’s relegation to the Championship, two managerial casualties, and some questionable arrivals in the transfer market.
It’s fair to say he hasn’t impressed the Fulham supporters.
Aldo Spinelli: Livorno
A long-term spell at Livorno has seen owner Aldo Spinelli threaten to leave the Italian outfit on a number of occasions, while falling out with the supporters due to his blunt opinion and treatment of the fans.
It perhaps doesn’t help that Livorno haven’t managed to stay in Serie A longer than a solitary season since 2007 either.
Assem Allam: Hull City
Assem Allam irked Hull City fans by threatening to withdraw his investment if they opposed his proposed club name change to Hull Tigers.
During City’s first season back in the Premier League, Allam was making the headlines by criticising supporters who wanted him out of the club, leaving manager Steve Bruce to embarrassingly pick up the pieces when talking to the media. Success comes at a price.
Maurizio Zamparini: Palermo
Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini was the man attributed to the club’s rise in Serie A years ago, but is now the man supporters are blaming for their following decline.
Promotion to the top flight came under Zamparini’s reign, but so did a relegation back to the second tier. In between came a host of managerial casualties into double figures that has seen supporters lose faith in his ownership.
Massimo Cellino: Leeds United
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino introduced himself to the supporters of by sacking manager Brian McDermott before he’d even completed the prospective takeover.
McDermott was embarrassingly reinstated, but sacked again at the end of the campaign, and the club have now appointed a manager who was last axed from Blue Square Premier outfit Forest Green Rovers.
Aurelio De Laurentiis: Napoli
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has threatened to uproot the Italian side and move to England this summer due to the lack of investment being made in the club’s stadium facilities, currently owned by Napoli city council.
His outspoken nature has unsurprisingly led to his relationship with the fans turning sour, while a past angry confrontation with a supporter has somewhat worsened his reputation.
Fawaz Al-Hasawi: Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest had dreams of reaching the Premier League upon the arrival of the Al-Hasawi family, but questionable managerial appointments has seen such hopes shattered, and now promotion from the Championship appears more of a passing fancy than a genuine aspiration.
Supporters aren’t holding out hope for any success under Fawaz Al-Hasawi.
Suleyman Kerimov: Anzhi Makhachkala
Anzhi Makhachkala supporters were dreaming of league and European success after owner Suleyman Kerimov invested millions into the recruitment of stellar talent, but he was soon left to cut the budget and watch as big-name players left the Russian side in a mass exodus, while managerial casualties have become a common occurrence in recent years too.
Venky’s: Blackburn Rovers
Blackburn Rovers supporters lost all faith under Venky’s ownership, as their arrival saw the sacking of experienced manager Sam Allardyce and the appointment of coach Steve Kean in his place, who endured relegation to the Championship.
Debts continue to cripple the club’s finances as second-tier football has now become familiar.
Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani: Malaga
Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah Al Ahmed Al Thani's arrival as Malaga president saw lucrative investment in the club, with hopes of finally ending Real Madrid and Barcelona’s stranglehold on the La Liga title, while becoming a long-term force in Europe.
However, the club racked up crippling debts, found themselves banned from European competition as a result and were forced to sell their stars to get money back. Supporters have understandably lost love with Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani.
Steve Morgan: Wolverhampton Wanderers
With double relegation and a questionable managerial appointment coming under Steve Morgan’s ownership at Wolverhampton Wanderers recently, it will take more than last season’s promotion back to the second tier to have the supporters on side again.
Ellis Short: Sunderland
Sunderland owner Ellis Short is another man who has made controversial managerial decisions which has seen the club’s objectives greatly change.
Surviving relegation is one of the Black Cats’ recent achievements, but a trip to Wembley, albeit ending in a League Cup final defeat, lessened supporters anger at Short somewhat. He still remains a man who divides opinion with the fans.
Claudio Lotito: SS Lazio
Questionable player sales and being twice banned from football for scandal and third party ownership of two players has done nothing to amend his relationship with the Lazio supporters. Poor league finishes in the last two seasons and the sale of talented players has seen fans question his ambition.
David Gold and David Sullivan: West Ham
Co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan lost support following their unwavering loyalty to manager Sam Allardyce, despite constant dispute from the fans about playing style.
With West Ham becoming embroiled in a relegation battle last season, their decision to keep Allardyce was justified in the end after the club achieved Premier League survival, but made them more unpopular.
This summer’s objective of instilling a more attractive playing style won’t appease the fans.
George Becali: Steaua Bucuresti
George "Gigi" Becali’s outspoken nature has seen him lose a lot of fans during his ownership of Steaua. His views on sexual preference, women and religion has alienated himself with the supporters, despite the club winning last season’s title.
His inflated ego and questionable methods of raising his fortune won’t be forgotten about either.
Pete Winkelman: MK Dons
MK Dons owner Pete Winkelman was the man who uprooted Wimbledon from London to Milton Keynes and changed their name, becoming a target of abuse in the process.
His decision has led to a divide, but while he’s shouldered the blame, he lost a host of fans in the process.
Dale Vince: Forest Green Rovers
Dale Vince’s arrival as owner of Forest Green Rovers saw him abolish red meats being eaten at the ground, while plunging a lot of money into the club to ensure promotion, but questionable managerial appointments has seen the club remain in the Blue Square Premier four years on.
Fans are unsurprisingly not impressed with Vince’s reign at the club.