By Chris Wright
With an incredibly tenuous doff of the cap to Mr Obama nailing himself a second term last night, here’s Pies’ timely run-down some of the most clinically off-kilter chairman, owners, executives and presidents in football…
10. Ken Richardson, Doncaster Rovers: The year was 1995 and Doncaster’s ‘saviour’ Richardson hired two local criminals, one a former SAS operative, to burn down Rovers’ Belle Vue stadium for a princely £10,000 after having his plans for a new stadium thrown out by the local council.
The plan was to raize the stadium, claim on insurance and then sell the nearly-cleared lans to property developers for a nice little profit. The stadium was burned down as per requested but there was once small yet ever-so-significant hitch: the ex-SAS man-turned-pro arsonist dropped his mobile phone at the scene. South Yorkshire police didn’t take long to get in touch. Richardson was later sentenced to four years in prison.
As well as the botched fire, Richardson also made perhaps one of the stupidest managerial appointments in the history of British football while at Doncaster. With the club penniless, he hired the cheapest manager possible – the former manager of Stockport County’s club shop.
Donny were duly relegated from the Football League and into the Conference with a goal difference of -83. Richardson (described by detectives as “the type that would trample a two-year-old child to pick up a 2p bit”) withdrew his financial backing almost immediately.
9. George Reynolds, Darlington: With the club in need of stabilisation and growth, Darlington took the executive decision of hiring Reynolds – a former smuggler, burglar and safe cracker who had done two stints inside for theft in the 1960s and 70s. This, it won’t surprise you to learn, was five years before the ‘Fit and Proper Persons’ test was introduced.
Reynolds’ first order of business was building Darlington (who were in the equivalent of League Two, the Football League’s bottom tier, at the time) a gigantic 25,000-seater stadium named after himself, which swiftly bankrupted the club and sent them into administration. Reynolds then buggered off, only to be imprisoned for a third time in 2005, this time for tax evasion and money-laundering. Good egg.
8. Aldo Spinelli, Livorno: Despite threatening to sell the club on an almost yearly basis, Spinelli has been at the helm for almost 14 years now – not that he appears to have remotely enjoyed his time in Tuscany. Volcanic rants about how much he hates his life and wants to ‘sell up and f**k off’ are commonplace.
Spinelli once attempted to address a problem with dwindling attendances by publicly chuntering that it was no wonder the people of a ‘Commie town’ (Livorno) didn’t want to come to a ‘420-year-old, lousy, cess-pit stadium’. Hardly the kind of PR required to get people swarming through the turnstiles come matchday.
7. Maurizio Zamparini, Palermo: A dangerous mix of cranky impatience and hair-trigger ferocity, Zamaparini is widely regarded as the most tempestuous president in Italian football – going through coaches like Tic Tacs. At the last count, we’re at 23