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5 football projects that fell through

FEATURED WRITER
Top 5 / Top 10
3.13K   //    Timeless

Football fans around the world are usually elated when news of a possible takeover at the club they support surfaces. The excitement is huge if the takeover is done by rich owners from the Middle East or Russia.This is understandable considering how successful clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG have been since they were fed with money by their rich owners.However, such scenarios don’t work out perfectly for all the clubs who get rich owners. Many clubs have been left in the dark due to their owners and have gone through a lot of ordeals because of the same.Take for example the case of Cardiff City who reached the Premier League thanks to the money provided by Vincent Tan. Cardiff fans were frustrated by many actions taken by their owner. Tan isn't the worst to be honest as there are bigger examples of clubs left in deep water because of inept management. Such stories are rarely given enough attention.

#1 Malaga

malaga cazorla isco
Cazorla and Isco played for Malaga before leaving for greener pastures

Spanish club Malaga were one of the teams that played in the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League in 2013 and were only knocked out by a very late goal from eventual finalists Borussia Dortmund.

There is a lot to say about the club’s fortunes before and after their incredible season in the Champions League back in 2012-13.

Malaga were relegated in the mid-2000s and returned to La Liga for the 2008-09 season. However, due to financial problems, the then club president Fernando Sanz found investors from Qatar. Finally in June 2010, Sheikh Abdullah be Nasser Al Thani became the club’s new owner and president.

Significant changes were made to the Malaga squad under their new management. Over the years, the club signed prominent players like Nacho Monreal, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jeremy Toulalan, Isco, Joaquin, Salomon Rondon, Eliseu, Martin Demichelis, Julio Baptista and the club’s most expensive signing – Santi Cazorla.

The changes gave the desired result as Malaga qualified for the 2012-13 Champions League after finishing fourth in the league in 2011-12.

Following their heartbreak in the Champions League in the next season, things got worse for the club. For the subsequent season, the club was banned from European competitions for failure to pay wages and tax bills on time.

Malaga had lost Cazorla and Monreal to Arsenal during the 2012-13 season and in the summer of 2013, they lost Isco to Real Madrid, Joaquin to Fiorentina, Toulalan to Monaco and Demichelis to Atletico Madrid. 

#2 Liverpool

liverpool
Gillet and Hicks were forced to sell the club
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In 2006-07, Liverpool were taken over by American businessmen George Gillet and Tom Hicks. Liverpool finished as runners-up in the Champions League that season and the new owners gave Benitez money to make signings that would help the club push for a league title.

With the backing provided by Gillet and Hicks, Liverpool signed Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun Martin Skrtel, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva and Ryan Babel among many others.

Financial trouble was brewing at the club prior to the 2010-11 season. Liverpool sacked Benitez after he fell out with the owners and he was succeeded by Roy Hodgson.

Liverpool sold Mascherano and Benayoun in the summer and Hodgson’s signings like Paul Konchesky, Christian Poulsen, Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic made very little sense. Despite the money received from the sale of players, Liverpool spent very little in the summer transfer window of 2010 as the club were found to be in £350m debt with losses of £55m.

The bank of Scotland, who were the club’s creditors, took the owners to court to force them into selling the club. The club was sold to present owners, Fenway Sports Group, for £300m. This was far below the valuation between £600m and £1 billion.

The effects of Hodgson’s tenure and the lack of ambition showed by the club under Gillet and Hicks eventually led to the sale of Fernando Torres as well in the window transfer window. The new owners of the club were ambitious and spent over £57m on Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll to replace Torres.

FSG have cleared the debts created by the former owners and recently announced that the club was making profit. 

#3 Portsmouth

portsmouth defoe crouch
Former England internationals Crouch and Defoe played for Portsmouth

In 2008, the giants of English football watched as Portsmouth lifted the FA Cup. In fact, Portsmouth even defeated that season’s eventual Champions League winners Manchester United at Old Trafford en route to lifting the prestigious trophy under Harry Redknapp.

The success the club enjoyed under Redknapp was due to the funding of Alexandre Gaydamak who purchased the club in January 2006. His timely intervention allowed the club to almost replace their entire squad midway through the season.

Over the years, Portsmouth made some big signings which included Lassana Diarra, Peter Crouch Sulley Muntari, Jermain Defoe, Sylvian Distin, Younes Kaboul, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Nwankwo Kanu, Milan Baros, Glen Johnson, Niko Kranjcar and Sol Campbell among many others.

On 26 May 2009, the club accepted a bid from UAE-based businessman Sulaiman Al Fahim to buy the club. However, due to financial troubles the club were forced to sell some of their star players including Crouch, Distin, Kranjcar and Johnson.

Al Fahim completed the takeover and was also appointed as the non-executive chairman of the club. As the season progressed the funds dried up and on October 1, the club admitted that some staff and players were not paid their wages.

Two days later the club was taken over by Ali A-Faraj with a 90% majority share. Al-Fahim held the remaining 10% and the title of non-executive chairman for two years.

Due to the financial problems the club were going through, the Premier League put a transfer ban on the club. Things went from bad to worse from there on and in the end, Portsmouth went into administration on 26th February 2010. They finished the season as runners-up in the FA Cup but were denied entry into the Europa League due to their ongoing financial problem.

Portsmouth were relegated to the Championship, and in 2012, they were relegated to the English League One. A year later they made the drop to the fourth tier in English football, where they currently play and they also went into administration again during this period.

During this period of turmoil the club’s ownership changed several times and now it is owned and run by the Pompey Supporters Trust, which a trust run by the fans of the club. 

#4 Monaco

monaco falcao james moutinho
Falcao, Rodriguez and Moutinho were signed for hefty fees in 2013

Monaco were the losing finalists in the 2003-04 UEFA Champions League and the French club achieved this remarkable feat when they were in a terrible financial situation. Years of struggle in the mid and bottom end of the Ligue 1 table followed before they got relegated in 2010-11.

In December 2011, when the club was at the bottom of the Ligue 2 table, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased 66.7% stake in the club. Under new owners, the club was able to finish 8th in Ligue 2 and in 2012-13 the club earned promotion as the Ligue 2 champions.

Having earned promotion, Monaco spent heavily using the funds provided by Rybolovlev. Players like Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho, Jeremy Toulalan, Eric Abidal, Ricardo Carvalho, Geoffery Kondogbia, Lacina Traore and Anthony Martial signed for the club. Their spending in that season exceeded €150 million.

Monaco were able to live up their expectations in that season as they finished second in the league with 80 points behind PSG who had 89. The club also earned direct qualification to the group stage of the Champions League in the process.

However, prior to the next season, the club changed its approach on transfers. They wanted to bring in young promising players and groom them into stars. For this purpose, Claudio Ranieri was sacked and Leanardo Jardim was hired from Sporting in Portugal. Jardim was hired because he finished the previous season in second place with a very young Sporting team.

In the summer of 2014, stars like Falcao and James Rodriguez left the club and they were replaced by some very young and promising players. Monaco finished third at the end of the 2014-15 season and prior to the ongoing season, more stars left the club for huge fees.

Anthony Martial made a record-breaking move to Manchester United, Geoffery Kondogbia moved to Internazionale, Layvin Kurzawa moved to PSG, Yannick Carrasco moved to Atletico Madrid, Lucas Ocampos to Marseille and Aymen Abdennour moved to Valencia. Their replacements were either loan signings or young players. 

#5 Anzhi Makhachkala

anzhi makachakla diarra eto'o willian
Lassana Diarra, Samuel Eto’o and Willian played for Anzhi before their sudden sale in 2013

In 2011, Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov received 100% stake in Anzhi Makhachkala and Kerimov was planning to invest over $200 million into developing the infrastructure alone.

The club started to splash money heavily and their first signings included Roberto Carlos and Moroccan winger Mbark Boussoufa. Later on, the club spent more money on well-established players like Samuel Eto’o from Inter for nearly €28 million, Yuri Zhirkov from Chelsea and Balazs Dzsudzsak from PSV for fees in the region of €15 million.

Anzhi also appointed the experienced Guus Hiddink as their manager in 2011 and his first signing for the club was Christopher Samba for £12m from Blackburn Rovers.

In 2012, Roberto Carlos retired as a player and became the club’s director. Later in the same year, the club also opened a youth academy. At this point, it looked like Zenit and CSKA Moscow would have competition from Anzhi for the league title.

However, in August 2013, things took an unexpected turn at the club. Kerimov decided to reduce the team’s annual budget by two-thirds. What followed at Anzhi was shocking.

The club put its entire first team up for sale and this list included players like Igor Denisov and Aleksandr Kokorin who had joined the club in the same transfer window.

The reason cited for this move was the sharp deterioration of the health of Kerimov, because of the club’s lack of success.

Samuel Eto’o and Willian moved to Chelsea, Lacina Traore to Monaco, Lassana Diarra and Mbark Boussoufa moved to Lokomotiv Moscow, Denisov, Zhirkov and Kokorin moved to Dynamo Moscow.

Anzhi were relegated at the end of the season with just three wins and 20 points. This made them the worst last placed team in Europe in that season. They also returned to the top flight in 2015 with their first attempt. 

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