For big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala the good times are over after the club put their entire squad up for sale as part of sudden and drastic belt tightening.
Whether hard times in the international potash market (from whence their money came), sporting underachievement or chairman Suleyman Kerimov’s rumoured ill-health are behind his decision to massively downgrade his financial contribution to the running of the club, it got us thinking about some other clubs for whom the gravy train to glory was – in the immortal words of Gram Parsons – “a dream too real to be leaned against too long”.
Pompey had been keeping their heads just above water in the Premier League until the club was bought by French-Israeli businessman Alexandre Gaydamak, who bank-rolled the signings of David James, Sol Campbell, Glen Johnson and Lauren as part of a bumper new defence.
An FA Cup and a famous 2-2 UEFA Cup draw with Milan were among the good times to follow, before the smoke and mirrors nature of the club’s financing begun to unravel. A free-fall through the divisions followed, with the club currently rebuilding in League Two.
Monied backer Brooks Mileson took over shortly after the eloper’s haven succeeded in getting a team voted into the Scottish League in 2002, with successive promotions from 2005-2007 taking them all the way to the SPL.
Ill-health struck first manager Rowan Alexander, then owner Mileson, who withdrew all financial support and disaster followed. With the club having no wherewithal left to pay its debts, it had dissolved before the 2008-09 next season had began.
David O’Leary’s Whites combined muscle with class in time-honoured Leeds style as they swept to the UEFA Cup and Champions League semi finals in successive campaigns, with a defence bossed by Jonathan Woodgate and the goals of Harry Kewell, Michael Bridges and Alan Smith.
However, repayments on loans taken out against Champions League TV returns early in chairman Peter Ridsdale’s tenure were missed, as the club narrowly missed out on qualification on various occasions. Forced sales subsequently eroded the playing staff, precipitating a slow slide towards relegation and eventual administration. A decade on from that demotion, the club are on the rise once more under Brian McDermott and can be backed at 20/1 to win the Championship.
Heart Of Midlothian
For the Jambos the boom time under chairman Vladimir Romanov was particularly short, reaching its zenith in mid-September of the Lithuanian’s first season of ownership as – thanks to some quality new signings including Rudi Skacel – they planted a maroon flag atop the SPL.
Shortly afterwards manager George Burley was sacked, beginning a chaotic period of financial and managerial upheaval at Hearts which recently culminated in the club being put into administration at the end of 2012/13, with debts of circa £30m in the ownership of one of Romanov’s companies. He is currently on the run from the authorities in Lithuania, where he faces up to seven years in prison.