Premier League Chairmen: The Best & The Worst
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Posted by Kia Kazemi-Nia | Published on March 18, 2016
The chairman of a football club has one of the most vital jobs, arguably even the most vital. The chairman runs all the day-to-day football operations. They are the ones who sign players, sell players, and make most of the decisions involving the club. They are the deal makers. As with any job, some are better than others. Here, I rank all 20 chairmen in the Premier League.
20. Lee Charnley
I know, I know – Mike Ashley is the chairman. Charnley is the one in the club who acts like it, however. Lee Charnley has been an absolute disaster ever since he was appointed as Newcastle United chairman. It seemed like he did a solid job during his first summer in the job. He signed 10 players, and it didn’t look like he had over-payed for any of them. However, this was not the case. Only 2 out of the 10 can be deemed as ‘successful’ transfers – Ayoze Perez and Daryl Janmaat (although Lascelles does look promising, and Colback is just… average). He then goes and appoints John Carver as interim manager for the rest of the 2014-15 season when Pardew left for Palace, and we all know how that went. He, as well as the rest of the hierarchy, fail to learn from their mistakes and sign more young, foreign players the next summer who had never played a single minute of Premier League football. Only Mbemba and Wijnaldum have been good signings, although even Wijnaldum has been poor as of late. January comes around, and everyone knew where Newcastle needed to strengthen: the defense and the front line. What does Charnley do? He goes out and signs 3 midfielders. Classic. Shelvey and Townsend have been great additions, don’t get me wrong, but other areas of the pitch were a more pressing concern, and Charnley failed to do what was needed – again. He did sign Doumbia, but the fact that Riviere was played instead of him against Bournemouth says a lot. He then handled the McClaren situation after Bournemouth horrendously. He has just managed to get Benitez, which I give him credit for. But other than that, he has done an absolutely awful job running the club thus far.
19. Randy Lerner
I know, I know – he’s no longer the chairman of the club. But he’s the one who got Villa in the mess they are in, and he will pay for it. This one speaks for itself, really. Villa are bottom of the league, 9 points from safety and look almost certain to go down. That is unacceptable for a club the size of Aston Villa. They have somewhat copied Newcastle’s transfer policy in bringing in young, foreign players with sell-on value. I have no idea why. It has worked terribly for both clubs, as they are the ones taking up the bottom two spots in the table. There’s an argument for Lerner being bottom of the list, but my anger towards Lee Charnley has saved him.
18. Ellis Short
You may accuse me of being biased, but the truth is the truth. Sunderland have barely managed to survive year, after year, after year, and there’s a reason why. Short has opted to do the bare minimum and has been content with Premier League survival (as have Newcastle). The problem is, you just can’t have that mentality any more. If you aren’t adding to your squad, you will fall behind, as other teams are constantly looking to improve their squads. Clubs like Stoke and Swansea, who used to be miles behind Sunderland and Newcastle, have now surpassed them because of that very reason. The North East take two of the bottom three slots in this list.
17. Ed Balls
Although only appointed chairman in December, Balls’ has not done very much to improve the club. He failed to sign a striker in January to score the goals that might keep Norwich up, and the club have been made to rue this, as Cameron Jerome and Dieumerci Mbokani have both struggled to find the back of the net this term. It may seem harsh to criticise him already, but he hasn’t done very great in the role so far.
16. Ed Woodward
Manchester United chairman looks to be too big of a job for Woodward. He has, for some reason, stuck with Van Gaal, when it has been obvious for some time now that a change in manager is needed. Mourinho is available and keen to take over, yet Woodward fails to act. Many Manchester United supporters have accused him of not knowing about football, and I don’t disagree with them. He doesn’t look like a man who knows what’s he doing.
15. Jeremy Peace
The West Brom chairman is a reflection of the team – average. He has notoriously fallen out with Saido Berahino, who declared he would never play for the club again after Peace refused to sell him to Spurs. In January, the West Brom chairman rejected a Newcastle United bid in the excess of £20m, and that could prove to haunt the chairman if no club looks to make a move for him in the summer. He also appointed Alan Irvine as manager in the summer of 2015, and that didn’t work out whatsoever. Not bad, but not great is how you could describe his tenure.
14. Gino Pozzo
The Pozzo family run the club quite uniquely. Gino Pozzo and his father, Giampaolo, also own Udinese and Granada, and what they do is shuffle players between these clubs, for better or worse. It may be harsh to put the him this low in the list looking at Watford’s current position in the table, but the club is ran in a very, very bizarre way.
13. Bill Kenwright
The Everton chairman has shown a lack of ambition so far in his tenure. The squad the Toffees have is a squad capable of challenging for a Champions League spot, or at the very least, Europa League. Roberto Martinez currently has them in 12th, yet Kenwright has told the supporters ‘what a manager’ they have. Farhad Moshiri has now joined the club, and hopefully for Everton supporters, he will show some more ambition.
12. Chips Keswick
Similar to Kenwright in which Keswick seems to be content with underachieving. Arsenal haven’t won the league in over a decade. Keswick, Wenger, the players and everyone else at the club seem happy with just finishing in the top 4 every year. This year, it looked like Arsenal’s title to lose. Yet they have bottled it, and now are 11 points off the top with 9 games to go (they have a game in hand). As frustrated as you get supporting Newcastle, supporting Arsenal doesn’t look so easy, either.
11. Ralph Krueger
The former ice hockey coach has been a mixed bag as chairman so far. He did appoint Ronald Koeman, who is one of the brightest managers in the league. On the other hand, after the 2014-15 season in which the team finished 5th, the club sold most of their top players, making themselves look like a selling club. They could be in danger of being used by players as a stepping stone for bigger and better things if they continue to sell their best players every year.
10. Steve Parish
Parish has been in charge ever since 2010, and they have ultimately had some of their best years as a club ever since then. However, ever since they were promoted to the Premier League, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. In their 2013-14 campaign, Ian Halloway was taking the club straight back down to the Championship. Parish did, however, appoint Tony Pulis, the man who saved them from relegation. Then Parish decides to appoint Neil Warnock as manager (no idea why) the following season after Pulis left the club, and he didn’t enjoy any success at the club. Pardew arrives in the midst of the 2014-15 campaign, replacing Warnock, and the Eagles end the season quite well, finishing 10th. This season, Palace started brightly, and fans were speaking of qualifying for the Champions League. It has gone really downhill since then, and now the Eagles find themselves in 15th. A rocky road under Parish.
9. Tom Werner
Unlike his nearby chairman in Merseyside, Werner has shown some serious ambition at Liverpool, something in which I admire. The American, who is also chairman of the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball, has shown he is not one to keep a manager because of previous achievements. Rodgers had almost won the league only 2 years before he was sacked. Werner then brought in Jurgen Klopp, a move that shows serious ambition. He also managed to get £50m for Raheem Sterling, after rejecting two previous bids, showing he is a tough negotiator. He has, however, overpaid for several players, including Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Stewart Downing, and Mario Balotelli. How much blame should lie on him is up for debate, as Rodgers might have really wanted these players. But I still feel he could’ve negotiated for less. Nonetheless, Werner has done a decent job so far.
8. David Sullivan & David Gold
The two, who are both joint chairman at the club, have been at the club since 2010. They have experienced both the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. The year after they took over, the club was relegated to the Championship. They bounced straight back up, however, winning the Championship playoff final against Blackpool in dramatic fashion, with Ricardo Vaz Tê scoring the winner in the 87th minute. Ever since then, it has been a slow, gradual rise to what they currently are – a team capable of challenging for top 6. In terms of transfers, it has been a mixed bag. They have made some great buys, such as Dimitri Payet and Diafra Sakho, but have also had made some not as good, such as Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll, and Enner Valencia. But overall, they have done a very good job rebuilding the club.
7. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
A man with one of the most fantastic names I’ve ever seen, running a club with one of the most fantastic stories I’ve ever seen. A perfect match. Some may say I should have him higher in the list, but I don’t feel comfortable giving him that much credit just yet. Was appointing Ranieri a move that has turned out to be lucky, or did he just really know what he was doing? I don’t know. If he keeps on making moves that keep Leicester among the elite, the Thai businessman could find himself higher in the list.
6. Peter Coates
I have not only chosen to put Coates this high in the list because of how well Stoke have done on the pitch, but how well he has connected the club with the fans off of it. What they have done on the pitch is quite remarkable. Peter Coates and Mark Hughes have transformed Stoke into a fantastic footballing, well-balanced team, with exciting players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan, and Marko Arnautovic. He has also decided to self fund free away travel next season, despite the Premier League bringing in way incentives with the £30 cap. Well done Mr. Coates.
5. Jeff Mostyn
The job Mostyn has done at Bournemouth has been nothing short of remarkable. With the club on the brink of extinction only several years ago, the fact they now find themselves in the Premier League is unbelievable. They look like they’re here to stay, as well, and will hope to solidify themselves as a Premier League club in future years. Mostyn deserves as much credit as anyone else at the club for believing in the project and taking on the challenge.
4. Huw Jenkins
All other chairmen should look at Jenkins as to how to properly run a football club. When he took over in 2002, the club were in the bottom half of the Division 3, now known as Football League 2. They slowly, but surely climbed up the leagues, and in 2011, they earned Premier League status. They play an exciting brand of football, one that will give you pleasure watching. All his managerial decisions have worked for the better, with Rodgers, Laudrup and Monk doing very well. This season, however, they dragged themselves into a relegation battle. This turned out to be at the expense of Garry Monk, as the manager was sacked in December. He then appointed Alan Curtis until the end of the campaign. That didn’t work, however, and that dragged them even farther down the table. Jenkins did not just sit there and watch the team struggle – he reacted by appointing Francesco Guidolin as the club’s new manager. He didn’t care if it looked panicky – he owned up to his mistake. Now the club look to be out of danger. A fantastic chairman – the man knows what he’s doing.
3. Roman Abramovich
The Chelsea owner and chairman is very passionate about the club, something I, for one, love to see. He attends almost all matches, cheering the team on. The fans love him, and who can blame them. He has kept Chelsea among the elite, allowing all his managers to splash the cash. During his tenure, the club has won Premier League titles, Champions League titles, FA Cup titles – they’ve won a lot, to put it shortly. A man with a true winning mentality.
2. Khaldoon Al Mubarak
When Mubarak took over in September of 2008, City were merely an average, mid-table side. In his first season at the helm, the Citzens finished 10th. The next season, they jumped up to 5th. The season after that, they finished 3rd. The following season, they were Premier League champions. Mubarak has done an unbelievable job transforming a mid-table side into year-in, year-out title contenders. He’s built the best football facilities at the CFA (City Football Academy), he’s expanding the Etihad, and he’s also contributing to the local community in and around the Etihad Campus. The man has kept all his promises, and thoroughly deserves his spot on this list.
1. Daniel Levy
When Levy took over in 2001, Tottenham were, like City when Mubarak first arrived, merely a mid-table side. Now, they are fighting for the Premier League title. The English businessman is most definitely the fiercest negotiator in all of football – maybe in the whole world! He will not settle for anything less than he desires. He sold Gareth Bale for £93.1m, which is the most expensive transfer of all-time. That’s outstanding, considering Bale isn’t even in the discussion when talking about the best player in the world. It has taken a long time, but he has finally built a strong squad capable of winning the Premier League. They don’t have as much money to spend as say Arsenal, Manchester City, or Chelsea, but have done better than all three of them. He’s given young, English talent a chance to thrive, examples of this being Dele Alli, Eric Dier, and Harry Kane. It seems Levy has finally found a recipe for success, and, alongside his fantastic negotiating skills off of the pitch, the club is now thriving on it.
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