Over the last thirteen years, this website has been keenly interested in the goings-on at football clubs that have found themselves in difficulty. Sometimes the circumstances are beyond the club’s control, sometimes it’s malign or incompetent ownership, sometimes ownership of the ground or even the very existence of the club comes under threat. We’ve grouped the stories of some of them together right here (in no particular order.)
When Birmingham City climbed upon the New Shiny Owner bandwagon, supporters probably wouldn’t have believed that he would end up in prison and that the club would end up on the verge of financial breakdown.
They could have been heroes, the Oystons. As the owners of the club as it sailed into the Premier League they could have written a place in history, but they just couldn’t help themselves, and this led to one of the game’s longest supporter boycotts, as the fans said “enough.”
Purchased by someone with a shady history, Chester City supporters found themselves in the unusual situation of willing their club to go bankrupt. It did, and they reformed, but they then found that the road back to where they’d been before wasn’t necessarily going to be straightforward.
Former winners of the FA Cup and top flight inmates for almost three and a half decades until the start of this century, Coventry City decided to build themselves a new ground which earned them the interest of a rapacious hedge fund. Their story remains one of the most shameful in the recent history of football in this country.
Another club burned by spending money they didn’t have in the Premier League, Leeds United found themselves in League One, practically bankrupt, and eventually owned by Ken Bates. Things couldn’t get worse than this, could they…?
In one of the more peculiar football coincidences of recent years, three different Northamptonshire clubs all found themselves at risk. Kettering Town lost their ground. Rushden & Diamonds lost their ground and went out of business, and Northampton Town found themselves in the middle of a story of financial intrigue and a half-built stand.
Once owners of the oldest football ground in the world, Northwich Victoria were a well-repsected non-league football club with a proud history. They moved into a new ground, and now both grounds have gone and the supporters broke away to form a new club.
The oldest professional football club in the world, Notts County’s slow decline accelerated in 2010 when the club’s supporters trust ownership accepted the offer of a mysterious overseas consortium with big plans. They turned out to be scammers, and Notts have never quite recovered.
There’s intrigue on the south Devon coast, as Plymouth Argyle find themselves in deep financial trouble, whereupon they unexpectedly find themselves getting advice – and much more – from a disgraced former Premier League chairman.
Winning the FA Cup in 2008 turned out to be a high point for Portsmouth that would have a long-lasting effect upon the club, which went on to become the first (and still to date only) Premier League club to enter administration, followed by a tumble down through the divisions.
As Stoke City rose to the Premier League and stayed their, Potteries rivals Port Vale found themselves deep in the mire. Having dug themselves out of the financial mire, they’re currently fighting to preserve their Football League status.
It was messy, convoluted and highly partisan, but the collapse of Rangers was the biggest financial collapse of a football club in the history of the game in Scotland, and its ramifications continue to echo through the game there to this day.
Not long after their local rivals went bust, National League club Wrexham found themselves in financial trouble, with a cast of ne’er-do-wells circling it. They ended up safe, in the hands of their supporters trust, but it was a close call, at times.