Football’s biggest takeovers and how they turned out

January 01, 2018

- Grant Whittington

In the modern age, football takeovers are as commonplace as defensively minded performances from a Jose Mourinho team.

While some of these have delivered exceptional results, others have proved to be disastrous. In fact, there seems to be no middle ground when it comes to football takeovers, which is why they’re often treated with such trepidation by fans.

In this post, we’ll look at some of football’s biggest takeovers and ask how they turned out for the respective clubs.

1. Chelsea
When Roman Abramovich bought out Chelsea in July 2003, he started the modern trend for high profile takeovers and big money buy-outs. The Russian billionaire paid around £140 million for the club, with much of this being invested in clearing the debts that been accumulated over the years.

Despite numerous ups and downs however, this investment has proven to be money well spent for the oil tycoon, while it has also helped the West London club to become a part of the European elite.

During his tenure as owner, Chelsea have won a total of 14 honours, which is the most of any English club in this period (Manchester United are second on 12). This includes five Premier League titles and an iconic Champions League triumph, achieved against all odds against Bayern Munich in 2012.

Abramovich’s wealth has also helped the club to attract some of Europe’s top players during the last 14 years, including stellar names such as Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben, Claude Makele and Eden Hazard.

This is one takeover that really worked out and it’s easy to see why so many clubs have blazed a similar trail during the last decade or more.

2. Manchester City
If Chelsea set the benchmark for successful takeovers, then Manchester City may be on the cusp of establishing new standards. Pep Guardiola’s current team is already setting all sorts of records in the Premier League, while the club’s facilities and costly academy are also beginning to yield genuine rewards.

It was back in 2008 that the Abu Dhabi United Group (led by Sheikh Mansour) took over at the Etihad Stadium. The club soon began investing millions on new players. City suffered a false start under the stewardship of Mark Hughes, however, with lavish but ultimately unsuccessful signings such as Robinho, Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor failing to power the club into the Champions League.

The Citizens signed better players under the shrewd leadership of Italian Roberto Mancini, however, winning their first major trophy for 25 years when they lifted the FA Cup in 2011. This was followed by the most dramatic league triumph of the Premiership era the following year, as two stoppage time goals by Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero beat QPR on the final day of the season and nicked the title from rivals Manchester United.

Although the club has only managed to win two further trophies (and one league title) in the five years since, the appointment of Pep Guardiola represents a watershed for the club and one that looks likely to precede an era of sustained dominance.

3. Anzhi Makhachkala
2011 saw arguably the most dramatic takeover of the last decade, while it also happens to be the most unsuccessful. Make no mistake, this is an example of how big money takeovers can go awry and should serve as a warning to prospective owners who are looking to invest in a football club.

Six years ago, Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov purchased the little known Anzhi Makhachkala and promised to turn them into a European force. He certainly hit the ground running with high profile signings including Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto’o (the latter on a weekly salary of £350,000 per week) joining the club in the summer of 2012.  World class manager Guus Hiddink soon followed them.

Such investments were unsustainable without a viable plan or Champions League football, however, and despite a solid league run and respectable showing in the Europa League, the money quickly ran out.

As soon as 2013, it was announced that the club would have to start selling their best players if it was to remain solvent, with Eto’o departing almost as soon as he arrived and Willian joining Chelsea.

With that, Anzhi Makhachkala’s incredible journey came to a shuddering halt. The club returned to obscurity and the takeover served as little more than a footnote in history.





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