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Farhad Moshiri, Mike Ashley, Ken Bates and more of the most unpopular owners in football history

As Everton supremo Farhad Moshiri takes on the mantle of the most unpopular owner in English football, we take a look at others who have got on the wrong side of supporters.

For all it was Rafael Benitez who took the brunt of the flak from Everton fans this season, there can be little doubt that it is owner Farhad Moshiri who has turned the Toffees into a basketcase of a football club.

The Iranian has controlled Everton for six years now and, although he has spent heavily, his total lack of vision and pragmatism has seen the club hurtle backwards in that time.

Leicester City's Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha and Aston Villa's Nassef Sawiris and Wes 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 and 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 are still being felt.

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

Mike Ashley - Newcastle United (2007-2021)

The man behind the well-known British sportswear retailer Sports Direct became the owner of Newcastle United in 2007, buying Sir John Hall's 41% stake for more than £55million.

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

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

Under Ashley, Newcastle were relegated to the Championship twice with the remainder of their time in the top flight mostly spent lingering around the bottom half of the table.

Newcastle fans were in an almost constant state of protest against Ashley's ownership, blaming him for a failure to invest in the squad.

Chris Hughton and Benitez were well liked as managers of the club, yet they were limited by the philosophy of Ashley, who was determined to ensure the club lived within their means. As a policy it was sensible yet highly restrictive, and him splashing Sports Direct signs all around St James' Park without the club receiving sponsorship income only angered fans further.

A Saudi Arabian-based group has now bought Ashley out and made Newcastle the richest club in the world, but the anger twowards their former owner still runs deep.

Ken Bates - Chelsea (1982-2003)

Bates was in charge of Chelsea for 21 years after purchasing the financially stricken West London club for just £1 in 1982.

While Bates 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, 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, leading to Harding being banned from the club boardroom.

In 1996, Harding died in a helicopter crash. 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 control of Partick Thistle and Leeds United with little success.

Craig Whyte - Rangers (2011-2012)

Whyte, a Rangers supporter, took over in 2011 from Sir David Murray. As part of the takeover deal, the club's debt was reassigned to Whyte's company, Liberty Capital.

At the time, Rangers had not been relegated from the top division in 121 years after dominating alongside Glasgow rivals Celtic.

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 to help with Rangers' ongoing financial hardship.

In February 2012, Whyte put Rangers into administration and this led to their liquidation the following July.

Rangers were demoted to the Scottish Third Division ahead of the 2012/13 season, and they spent four years outside the top flight before returning in 2016.

It wasn't until 2020/21 that they could really say they were back however, Steven Gerrard leading them to their first Premiership title in ten years.

Venky family - Blackburn Rovers (2010-)

Blackburn were a club that lived the dream. They were bought by a local businessman who was more than happy to pump seemingly endless sums of money into the transfer coffers and it won them a Premier League title.

When those glorious Jack Walker, and Jack Walker Trust, years came to an end it was Indian poultry magnates the Venky family who purchased the club.

However, while they were blessed with plenty of enthusiasm for the task in hand, they had little actual expertise at running a football club.

First, Venky's parted ways with proven Premier League boss Sam Allardyce and appointed an unknown manager in the shape of Steve Kean. Their subsequent relegation proved Venky's had a lot to learn about when it came to managerial appointments.
However, their relegation from the top flight was not before a chicken in a cape emerged onto the pitch in what was arguably the best action to be seen from a game involving Blackburn that season.
The owners went on to promise Ewood Park would become a glamorous place to visit. On the pitch they promised Champions League soccer, players like Ronaldinho and a manager like Diego Maradona. Off the pitch they were talking of appearances from global music stars Kelly Rowland and David Guetta.
Team sheets were sent to Pune for approval and club advisor Jerome Anderson from Sport Entertainment and Media Group even got the club to sign his son Myles, whose previous experience amounted to two minutes at Aberdeen.

A year after buying the club, they took Blackburn on a mid-season promotional tour of India. One of the club's ground staff reported that the grass on the pitch for an upcoming exhibition was too long. Later that day, he found an army of female Venkys employees on their hands and knees, beneath parasols, cutting the grass with scissors.

They look to be learning from their mistakes, however. Now in their 11th year of ownership, things are starting to look up with Tony Mowbray's team sitting third in the Championship.

Roland Duchatelet - Charlton Athletic (2014-2019)

There was initial excitement when Belgian Duchatelet bought Charlton for £14million. His vision was one not a million miles away from other successful models. He planned on integrating Charlton into a network of clubs, similar to how Watford operate.
The problem was that all those other clubs were rubbish, meaning a parade of obscure network nobodies were sent to Charlton in the name of saving money.
Eventually it evolved into an all-out war between owner and supporters, with Charlton fans arranging protest marches before games, occasionally even at Duchatelet's Belgian clubs.
Before one match against Coventry in 2016, protest group CARD (the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet) tweeted "Will the owners of Charlton […] change their ways? Pigs might fly!"
True to their word, the game had to be delayed midway through the first half to clear thousands of plastic toy pigs from the pitch after fans had thrown them in protest.
Duchatelet eventually sold up in 2019 after Charlton fans travelled to Belgium and vandalised buildings belonging to him.

Oyston Family - Blackpool (1988-2019)

The Oyston's owned Blackpool for a long time and delivered Premier League football as recently as 2010/11.
It was Karl Oyston, the third person from the family to be the chairman of the club, who really angered supporters, though, and rightly so.
Oyston had a habit of taking money out of Blackpool and 'loaning' it to his other businesses. When fans protested, he sued them personally for libel.
It was so deplorable that, when retired pensioner Frank Knight was targeted by Oyston, fans from around the country clubbed together to raise the £20,000 needed to avoid going to court.
Ironically, it was the courts who eventually forced the Oystons out of Blackpool. The family owed debts of £22million to Latvian banker Valeri Belokon.

The court ruled that the Oystons 'illegitimately stripped' Blackpool of £26.77million after moving it to their other companies. It was decided that money was owed to Belokon for his 20% investment in the club, plus a hefty compensation sum too. The Oystons didn't have it, so were forced to sell the club to settle the debt.

Blackpool as a club were deeply scarred by those events and the Oystons in general, but are now on the way up again after promotion to the Championship last season.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr - Liverpool (2007-2010)

Liverpool are one of the greatest institutions of English football, but it was brought to its knees by Hicks and Gillett Jr.

The American duo bought the club with loans and saddled the club with so much debt that interest repayments alone eventually amounted to £100,000 per day.
To make matters even worse, the pair fell out with each other within a year of acquiring the club and could barely work together, leaving Liverpool rudderless and penniless. Administration was a very serious possibility.
As with the Oystons, it was the banks and the courts who forced them out. In 2010 Royal Bank of Scotland were owed the majority of Liverpool's colossal £237million debt and they took Hicks and Gillett to court for breach of contract.

The judge ruled against the owners, branded them "untrustworthy", and ordered them to sell to Fenway Sports Group in a £300million deal that would see the pair lose more than £100million in loans.

"It's a victory but it's a hollow victory," the Spirit of Shankly fan group said. "We shouldn't have been in this situation in the first place. We are starting afresh now, but a club like Liverpool shouldn't be in this situation."

The Allam family - Hull City (2010-2022)

The Allam family took over Hull City in 2010, with Ehab Allam saying: "It's a fantastic opportunity for myself and Assem to give something back to the city."
Unfortunately, despite promotion to the Premier League in 2013, the 'city' part proved the new owners' downfall. In August of that year, Assem Allam announced that the club would discard its 109-year old name and be "marketed" as Hull City Tigers locally and Hull Tigers to national and international audiences. Justifying the move, he said 'City' was "common" and "irrelevant" and had he been the owner of Manchester City he would change their name to "Manchester Hunter".

Understandably, the plans met with strong opposition from fans (and not just of Hull), with an opposition group, "City Till We Die", prompting Allam to repond that they supporters involved "can die as soon as they want".

The FA subsequently rejected the Allams' request for the name change and the owners promised they would sell the club for a £1.

Nevertheless, Hull, under Steve Bruce, were promoted back to the Premier League in 2016. However, long-running issues over their running of the club came to a head, with Bruce resigning in the close season. Hull subsequently went into their first game of the Premier League campaign with only 12 fit professionals. They were relegated at the end of the season.

A controversial membership scheme further angered fans and with the relationship between the owners and the supporters fractured beyond repair, attendances plummeted and Hull were relegated to the third tier in 2020.

They bounced back by winning League One in 2021 and finally saw the back of the Allams in January 2022, with the Acun Ilicali-backed Acun Medya purchasing the club.

READ MORE: When did the wheels fall off for previous Premier League surprise packages?

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