Mike Ashley, Ken Bates and more of the most unpopular owners in soccer history

The Newcastle takeover has been approved. Planet Sport looks at the owners who abused power, antagonised supporters and dragged their clubs through the mud, a long way from being fit and proper.

Newcastle United have finally rid themselves of unpopular owner Mike Ashley...or should I say former owner Mike Ashley.

The £300m Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United has been given the thumbs up, and the club now has Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in the owner's hotseat.

But which side of the owners' fence will the Crown Prince fall?

Leicester City's Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and Aston Villa's Nassef Sawiris and Wed Edens come to mind as modern owners that serve their respective clubs well.

The Midlands duo are fortunate to have owners who have the interests of their supporters at heart as they go out of their way to invest their well-earned money into their teams and the surrounding community.

Sadly, good owners in soccer are quite rare. Bad ones often far outweigh the good guys. Over the years there have been endless stories of owners abusing their power, not taking the demands of supporters into account as they drag their clubs through the mud.

One good thing is that most of the owners on this list are no longer at their clubs. Though the impact of their actions has been felt for years from top to bottom at these teams.

With that said, here are Planet Sport's five worst owners in soccer history, and we start with the most hated man in Newcastle

1) Mike Ashley - Newcastle United: 2007 - 2021

The owner of the well-known British sportswear shop Sports Direct, Ashley became the owner of Newcastle United in 2007. He bought Sir John Hall's 41% stake in the club which set him back over £55million.

Back then, the club's supporters were hopeful that Ashley could help bring the Magpies closer to their glory days. In the 90s, Newcastle finished second in back-to-back seasons in the Premier League.

Sadly, for the most part under Ashley, Newcastle have gone the other way. The highest they have finished under him is fifth in the Premier League.

Over the past 14 years, they have been relegated down to the Championship twice with the rest of their time in the top flight being spent lingering around the bottom half of the table.

Newcastle United fans have consistently protested against Ashley's ownership for the past few years with him being unwilling to invest adequately in the squad.

The likes of Chris Hughton and Rafael Benitez were well-liked as managers of the club, yet they were limited by the actions of Ashley.

A Saudi Arabian-based group attempted to buy Newcastle United in 2020. This was initially blocked by the Premier League and the reign of Ashley continued. But on October 7 2021 the takeover was approved.

2) Ken Bates - Chelsea: 1982-2003

Bates was in charge of the Blues for 21 years. He purchased the West London club for just £1 with them in serious financial trouble.

While the owner helped to stabilise Chelsea as a First Division club, he did not exactly have the best relationship with the club's supporters.

Bates regularly criticised the fans and in 2002, he described members of the Chelsea Independent Supporters Association as "parasites".

This outburst led to Bates being taken to court as the supporters threatened to take legal action against the owner.

Earlier in the 1990s, Bates had a high-profile fallout with Matthew Harding, who at the time was Chelsea's vice-chairman. This led to Harding being banned from the club boardroom.

In 1996, Harding was involved in a helicopter crash and passed away. Despite the tragedy, it did not stop Bates from describing his former colleague as an 'evil man' and he claimed that Chelsea were a "happier ship" without him.

Bates left Chelsea in 2003 when Roman Abramovich bought the club for around £140million. He later went on to take over at Partick Thistle and Leeds United - and speaking of the Yorkshire outfit…

3) Peter Risdale - Leeds United: 1997-2003

Risdale actually enjoyed a successful first few years in charge of Leeds. He was the owner when they reached the Champions League semi-final in 2001.

This was achieved by the club overspending in the transfer market to build a team capable of reaching the latter stages of the elite European competition.

The consequences of spending beyond their limits played out over the next few years. They missed out on the Champions League in 2002, finishing fifth which resulted in the start of financial issues from 2002/03.

They finished 15th that season and in March, Risdale stepped down. Leeds were relegated the season after and further struggles led to them being relegated again down to League One from the Championship.

Leeds were in disarray for many years and it took them 16 years to return to the English top flight. Despite their spending under Risdale being a big reason for their downfall, he refused to take any blame.

Risdale suggested that "it is a myth that we overspent". Thankfully, Leeds have now recovered and they are back where they belong in the Premier League.

4) Craig Whyte - Rangers: 2011-2012

Whyte, a Rangers supporter, took over in 2011 from Sir David Murray. Their debt was reassigned to Whyte's company Liberty Capital.

Celtic and Rangers were at the forefront of Scottish football and the latter had not been relegated from the top division in 121 years.

Whyte's takeover led to their downfall, though. He relied on money from the supporters to gain control of Rangers and then he did not invest any of his own money to help with Rangers' ongoing financial hardship.

The owner put the club in administration in February 2012 and this led to their liquidation a few months later in July.

Rangers were moved to the Scottish Third Division ahead of the 2012/13 season and they spent four years out of the top flight before 2016.

The Scottish giants have since bounced back with Steven Gerrard, they won their first Premiership title in ten years last season. This is no thanks to Whyte, however, as the years of heartache was largely down to the careless actions of the so-called Rangers supporter.

5) Zeljko Raznatovic - FK Obilic: 1996-1998

The career criminal was better known as Arkan. He was on Interpol's most-wanted list through the 1970s and 1980s as a result of several robberies and murders he committed across the Yugoslavian Wars.

Arkan turned his hand to football in 1996 when he took over at Serbian outfit FK Obilic. They were in the second division when he gained ownership in 1996/97, but they earned promotion that season to set up games against the likes of Partizan and Red Star.

While the club were successful on the pitch, the behaviour of the owner off the pitch did not reflect it.

At FK Obilic games, armed officials threatened opposing players by pointing guns at them - talk about making it intimidating for the opposition. A player reportedly got locked in a garage when they visited Obilic as he was considered to be their most dangerous players. That's one way of marking someone out of the game.

In 1998, UEFA revealed that they would not allow Obilic play in Europe as a result of Arkan's actions. To counter this, he stepped aside and his wife, Svetlana Raznatovic, replaced him.

Arkan was later assassinated in January 2000 and Obilic have plummeted down the divisions over the past 15+ years. Since 2015, Obilic have not competed in competitive games. They suffered seven relegations before then which ended with them being relegated to the Belgrade Second League - an amateur division in Serbia.

Read more on Planet Sport: Six Newcastle managers who were worse than Steve Bruce

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