Five Worst Football Owners

Champions League footballs.

Here are five who could be considered among the worst ever.

Bulat Chagaev (Neuchatel Xamax)

Chechen businessman Bulat Chagaev surpassed himself in bankrupting Swiss team Neuchatel Xamax just eight months after taking the helm in 2011.

He got rid of four coaches in that time and also sacked all the administration staff which meant they were unable to print tickets for their games.

Chagaev fell out with supporters groups who provided a fair bit of funding and outstanding salaries were a constant feature of his tenure.

He was eventually convicted of fraud and while Neuchatel tumbled down the leagues, they are now in the second tier of the Challenge League.

Zeljko Raznatovic (Obilic)

Paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic was regarded as the most powerful figure in Balkan organised crime, so he raised a few eyebrows when he took over at Obilic, a second division team he took to the Yugoslav top-flight title in 1998.

However, there were plenty of stories about opposition players being threatened if they scored against his team, including tales of guns being waved from the stands. 

One opponent even said he was locked in a garage so he couldn’t play.

He had been away from the club for a while before he was assassinated in 2000 and they now find themselves in the bottom division of Serbian football.

George Reynolds (Darlington)

Former safe-cracker George Reynolds made his money in kitchen worktops before he bought Darlington in 1999.

He aimed to take the north-east club into the Premier League and built a 25,000-seater stadium, which he named after himself, but the club entered administration shortly before he departed in 2004.

He was arrested for money laundering shortly afterwards and got three years for tax evasion in 2005.

Darlington, meanwhile, were reborn as Darlington 1883 and after falling through the leagues are battling to get into the National League North playoffs.

Craig Whyte (Rangers)

Craig Whyte bought a controlling interest in the club he supported, Rangers, in 2011, but the problem was he didn’t have the money to support his ambitions for the Glasgow outfit.

When the club was placed in administration the following February, it emerged he had financed his takeover by mortgaging against future revenue and that he had not invested any personal funds.

He was successfully sued by ticketing firm Ticketus who had funded the takeover and was declared bankrupt when he didn’t pay the damages.

Meanwhile, Rangers were liquidated and when the other Scottish Premiership club refused to grant membership to the new club, they joined the Scottish Football League and were effectively relegated three divisions.

Luciano Gaucci (Perugia)

Luciano Gaucci took over at Perugia when they were in Serie C in 1991 but while they did get into the top flight of Italian football, his stewardship was extremely controversial.

The racehorse owner, who enjoyed wins at the Prix l’Arc de Triomphe and the Derby, saw his team denied promotion when it emerged he had sold one of his horses to a referee who was due to officiate in a key match.

Then he hit the headlines in 2002 when he said he would refuse to pay the wages of on-loan striker Ahn Jung-Hwan after the South Korean scored the golden goal that knocked Italy out of that year’s World Cup.

When it emerged he was to be questioned over fraud when Perugia went bankrupt in 2005, he skipped to the Dominican Republic, where he stayed for four years.

He eventually got a three-year suspended sentence and died in 2020.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.
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