The history books have witnessed numerous attempts by rich & passionate people to try their hands at running a club.
Football clubs often have a hard time at transferring ownership to one party from another. There are regular disagreements in terms of the valuation of the entity and other factors that come along in such a scenario. Most recently, the news of the Premier League club Newcastle United’s lengthened yet failed attempt to alter the holding rights of the club gained a lot of traction.
However, this is not the first time that such an incident has played out in the English football circuit. Football teams from every stratum of the system have had to deal with similar scenarios in the past. Prospective deals have fallen apart due to various reasons and here, we take a look at five such occurrences from the Premier League.
5. Manchester United-Michael Knighton
English businessman Michael Knighton had presented a bid of £20m to takeover Manchester United in August 1989. The Red Devils were in the search of new investors too and hence owner Martin Edwards readily accepted Knighton’s offer.
However, what followed was an absolute hysterical. In the first game of the season, Knighton appeared at the Old Trafford pitch and showed off his footballing skills to make the supporters aware of his intentions to achieve proprietorship of the club. Famously, the entrepreneur had pledged to put in an additional £10 million to renovate the home stadium too. However, Knighton’s co-investors Stanley Cohen and Bob Thornton pulled out of this deal in September. The 68-year-old’s attempts to rope in other financers were of no avail. Eventually, he had to terminate this offer and took a post in the Manchester United board in exchange.
4. Derby County-Peter Gadsby
Peter Gadsby is a property developer and an avid supporter of Derby County. In 2006, the club was languishing in debts in excess of £52m when Gadsby took over the control of the club. He was instated as the Chairman and the team sparked a turnaround that aided them to secure promotion to the Premier League. However, several disagreements with manager Billy Davies meant that they were relegated yet again after shambolic performances in the top-tier.
American group General Sports and Entertainment (GSE) group became the new owners of the Rams in 2008. In 2010, Peter Gadsby made yet another attempt to gain a controlling stake of Derby County. He made an overall offer of £37m and promised to assign £5 million to tactician Nigel Clough to make urgent signings in the summer transfer window. Furthermore, the investor was willing to give out 10 per cent of the stocks to the club’s supporters’ trust. However, Gadsby’s offer met an outright dismissal by then-Chairman Tom Glick, as he was informed that Derby County was not for sale.
3. West Ham United-American consortium
Recently, it emerged that West Ham United’s owners have warded off multiple interests from a US-based consortium that displayed an interest in purchasing the London-based club. The company had initially made an offer of £350m to take over the Hammers in August 2020, which met a straight refusal from the incumbent holders.
The party again offered £400m to attain ownership of the Premier League outfit in September. Now, the prospective buyers are entering a cooling-off period after their initial moves were discarded. They plan to make a fresh attempt yet again, and the Guardian reports that they have prepared a seven-year plan to improve the club’s finances.
David Gold and David Sullian own West Ham United presently, but they have not been immune to the wrath of the fans of the club. The group apparently acknowledges the difficulties in finalizing the deal considering the complicated scenario with regards to the finances of the team’s home stadium. The bidders believe that they will have a chance if the club’s performances on the field deteriorate in the coming months.
2. Newcastle United
Premier League officially rejected the Newcastle United takeover bid submitted by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) last month. “This conclusion has been reached despite the club providing the Premier League with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent and autonomous of the Saudi Arabian government,” the Magpies revealed in their official statement.
It has come into light that the interested party withdrew their offer due to the prolonged process of the whole incident. They had presented an offer of £300m for the same, something that arguably had the potential of overturning the club’s fortunes. However, the falling apart of this encouraging development has grabbed all the headlines in recent weeks. The supporters have been left frustrated with these delays and aspire for something constructive to take place. They have been pressurizing current owner Mike Ashley to sell the club and hence these constant calls might result in a deal actually materializing in the near future.
1. Liverpool-Steve Morgan
Steve Morgan, one of Merseyside’s famed entrepreneurs has made several attempts to secure the ownership of Liverpool FC in the past. Being an ardent supporter of the Anfield-based club, Morgan is reported to have submitted four offers to acquire possession of the Reds.
However, his valuation of the six-time European champions often fell below the expectations of the then-incumbent owners. For example, his tender in 2004 for this purpose was worth £61m. However, the duo of George Gillett and Tom Hicks procured the ownership of Liverpool at a speculated £170m in 2007.
Nevertheless, Morgan went on to purchase Wolverhampton Wanderers FC in 2007 and continued to be a part of the board until 2015. Under his stewardship, the Wolves even played in the Premier League for three consecutive campaigns. However, his aspirations to obtain the controlling stakes of Liverpool have not transpired so far!