There are few things people are more passionate about than their sports team. Some even love them more than their own families. However, although we love to romanticize them, the truth is these clubs and franchises are mega-money earners. Usually, there’s one person or company in charge.
Unfortunately, these individuals can often make or break a franchise. If they don’t invest or show enough interest in their purchase, everything can and does go downhill. The opposite is also true because some owners interfere too much in things they don’t understand.
So today, we’re going to take a look at 25 owners of clubs and franchises that fans loved to hate. Unfortunately, some of these men are still in business today and continue to run their teams into the ground.
25. Dan Gilbert – Cleveland Cavaliers
Gilbert isn’t the most hated man on this list, but there’s definitely a substantial number who don’t like him. While he managed to successfully scapegoat LeBron James as a traitor when he left for the Miami Heat, Gilbert has a lot to answer for. He seemed determined to never build the roster when he had one of the best players in the league.
As well as all of that drama, there was that infamous comic sans letter he once wrote. He rained down hate on James and promised to win an NBA championship before their former hero did. They didn’t. Then you can add in the fact that he fell out with one of the best GMs the Cavs ever had in David Griffin.
Under Rocky Wirtz, the Blackhawks are a rejuvenated franchise. They’ve won three Stanley Cups under his reign in charge. This is a far cry from the days of misery under his father Bill. During the elder Wirtz’s tenure, ESPN named the Blackhawks the worst franchise in the US.
He ran them into the ground and made several inexplicable decisions. Wirtz refused networks that wanted to televise home games. That’s because he thought home attendances would drop. Furthermore, he was notoriously stingy with his purse strings too.
Looking at Liverpool now, it’s insane to imagine that the club almost went out of business under these two pantomime villains. Texans Hicks and Gillett bought the Reds promising a new stadium and major investment. To sum up, neither of these things happened, and it all went downhill rapidly.
Soon everybody was at loggerheads with each other. Fans labeled the pair as asset strippers and it all escalated into a major court case that saw them lose control of the club. They left Liverpool in the relegation zone with no trophies after three years in charge as the definition of terrible owners.
Allam has been ruining Hull for 10 years now. The Egyptian-born businessman first attracted the fury of fans when he tried to rebrand the club as the Hull City Tigers. He told fans that opposed the change that they could go and die. In the end, the FA prevented him from changing the team’s name.
This was a bad beginning to the relationship between the new owner and the fanbase. Then things got worse when results on the pitch declined dramatically. They’ve suffered two relegations under his watch and attendance rates have dropped significantly. All of this has led him to put the club up for sale.
Kroenke has the unique position of making two teams hate him. The majority owner of the once-St. Louis Rams only grew up a couple of hours outside the city. But this didn’t stop him from packing the team up and moving them to Los Angeles in 2010. They were already bad on the field, so this didn’t help endear him to the fans.
Meanwhile, Kroenke also decided to invest in the Premier League. He is the majority shareholder of Arsenal, one of the biggest clubs in Europe. However, his reign in charge of the Gunners has seen them sink deeper into mediocrity. He cares more about lining the pockets of his flamboyant suits than sporting success.
Let’s start off with Richard DeVos. The patriarch of a clan of homophobes, he was one of the most explicitly discriminative owners in US sports history. While the owner of the Magic, he flung millions into groups that want to remove existing rights for gay people. Talk about a way to alienate your fans.
Naturally, the rest of his family have similar views. The DeVos family probably wish that more fans hated them because they just don’t get enough in their stadium. People in Florida are more interested in the Miami Heat and don’t take much interest in the Magic at all. A few advertisements would be nice.
One of the most despicable things you can do is promise never to move a franchise and then do exactly that. Bennett tore the Supersonics out of Seattle in 2006 and renamed them the Oklahoma City Thunders. This came about after he basically tried to blackmail the city into building a new stadium for him.
Seattle wasn’t having any of it so he did his best to extort every cent from them before moving state. Bennett and Aubrey McClendon benefited from more than $120 million in corporate welfare following the move. The only silver lining is that the Supersonics name and colors still belong to Seattle.
LeBron James is not the most hated man in Cleveland. No, that dubious honor goes to Modell, who was responsible for stealing away the city’s franchise. First of all, he turned them into a shambles of a team. They endured 30 years of purgatory under his reign before he did the unforgivable.
Modell decided to move the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore. This caused fury in the city, with massive protests outside of the stadium during their last season. The only bright side was that he left the name and team colors behind. To rub salt into their wounds, the Ravens won two Super Bowls while the Browns still haven’t.
The only NFC team never to play in a Super Bowl, you have to pity anybody cursed to be a Lions fan. The Ford family has owned the Detroit franchise since 1953 but has failed to bring them anywhere near success. We’re not exactly sure what the point of them is. They just kind of exist for some reason.
You’ve got to blame them for not investing in available free agents that could make the roster stronger. Their lack of ambition is nothing short of astounding. After finishing bottom in the NFC North again, you’ve got wonder how long they can keep going like this.
The POTUS didn’t just bring down a franchise, he made an entire league collapse. That’s one of the top achievements on this list. The USFL lasted for three seasons from 1983 to 1985 and played during the spring and summer. This was unlike the NFL, which obviously plays in fall and winter.
This made reasonably smart business sense, right? Football is America’s most popular sport and there’s a lot of college players who go undrafted. But then Trump pushed for the USFL to compete directly with the NFL. This ended with an antitrust suit that the USFL won. However, the court only awarded them $3. Trump hasn’t owned a football team since.
Charlton was a decent Premier League team for a number of years before crashing down into the Championship. Belgian businessman Duchatelat is the figurehead behind their descent into madness. Over the course of his five years in charge of the club, they went into severe decline.
It got so bad that they allegedly banned youth team players from drinking free bottled water at the training ground. The team suffered a second relegation to League One but the work of manager Lee Bowyer brought them back up. In the end, Duchatelet sold up in 2020.
It’s tough being a Newcastle fan. They’ve got one of the best stadiums in the Premier League and have the biggest fanbase in the northeast of England. These two factors lead them to believe that they should be title contenders. Instead, they spend their time enduring torturous relegation battles.
Ashley is the man in charge of the club’s purse strings. The Sports Direct founder has zero ambition when it comes to winning trophies. He’s happy to sell his best players for big profits instead of consolidating and building a team that can compete with the best. No wonder fans want him gone.
The Cowboys won their last Super Bowl back in 1996. Since then it’s been years of agony for the most lucrative team in the NFL. Jones has been in charge for over 30 years and it’s fair to say that fans have long since lost patience with him. They’ve won three Super Bowls with him but those feel like distant memories now.
Jones definitely has an ego problem. Jimmy Johnson is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history but the owner got jealous of him taking all the glory. That was a terrible decision because they’ve been a basket case of a team ever since. Perhaps the nickname ‘America’s Team’ actually fits.
United is a soccer club in massive decline. No other team has won as many Premier League titles, but they don’t look to be adding to their record. Since taking over in 2005, the Glazers have drained $2 billion dollars out of their purchase. This has had a very detrimental effect on the infrastructure of the club.
Add in the fact that they don’t have a cohesive vision for their team and you can see why fans hate them. They spend massive amounts of money on very average players. In sum, the results reflect this and they seem destined to languish in mediocracy for the foreseeable future. It’s a dramatic fall from grace.
Apart from their move to the Barclay Center, the Brooklyn Nets didn’t have a good time under Prokhorov. As the first non-American franchise owner in NBA history, he came into the league with a level of mystique around him. That turned to disbelief when it became clear that he was totally hapless.
He tried to run against Vladimir Putin for the Russian presidency. In sum, that should tell you all you need to know about his decision making. He traded the likes of Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries for over-the-hill stars like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. They won one playoff series during his decade in charge – definitely not successful.
Sterling was a massive racist. Do we have to continue? Not only that, but he was also totally inept as the team’s owner. First of all, he alienated fans by moving the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles. That might have been okay if the results had followed. In short, they definitely didn’t.
In his first 25-plus seasons as a team owner, they made four playoff appearances and won just a single playoff series. That’s a grim record. Then there was that lawsuit led by former Clippers executive Elgin Baylor. Finally, the NFL forced him out and he sold the Clippers for $2 billion in 2014.
The only good thing you can say about Dolan’s reign in charge of the Knicks is that he’s accountable. But that doesn’t make it much easier for fans who have seen their team run into the ground during his tenure as owner. They’ve been worse than bad.
At least the worst teams get the best draft picks. But Dolan’s Knicks have floated along with 13 coaches in 18 years. You have to go back all the way to 1973 for the last time they won a championship. This is despite being the most valuable franchise in the NBA today. There is just no excuse.
Things might be starting to come together for the Yankees finally, but it’s been a long slog of a decade. After George Steinbrenner passed away, his bumbling sons Hank and Hal took over the ownership. They’ve presided over one of the worst decades in the history of the franchise.
They’ve spent most of the time throwing money at problems without any real idea how to fix them. Obviously, this isn’t a recipe for success. They’ve lost the American League Championship four times in the past decade. The Steinbrenners just haven’t had a strong plan.
The definition of a snake oil salesman, Loria’s ownership of the Marlins has been horrendous. After winning the World Series in 2003, he oversaw a complete overhaul of his roster. He did everything he could to increase his bottom line, totally gutting the team. The results reflected his actions.
In the late 2000s, he went full oligarch and held the city hostage for a new stadium. He pulled the classic tactic of threatening to relocate if they didn’t pay. Ultimately they succumbed to his demands and funded the majority of the construction. He even lied and told Jose Reyes to buy a house in Miami four days before sending him to Canada.
Owen and his son Karl are definitely the two most despised owners in soccer history. It’s a tale of harrowing neglect that stretched back to 1988. First, there was a rape conviction for Owen in 1995. Then they sued supporters who dared to criticize them for their handling of the club. But that wasn’t all.
Their illegitimate asset stripping is what really got the fans furious. When they went back down that cost them dearly and the team suffered badly. Fans protested and stayed away from the stadium. A court ordered the Oystons to pay $35 million owed to their minority shareholder. Finally, they put the club up for sale.
This father and son duo definitely riled up the masses. First of all, Robert moved the Colts in the dead of night from Baltimore to Indianapolis to avoid the city seizing the franchise. In short, this made him a major hate figure in Maryland. To this day, the Ravens won’t display the Colts name when they host Indianapolis.
After the death of his father, Jim became the youngest ever NFL owner. He helped to bring his franchise a Super Bowl, but his overall lack of class has seen him earn the disgust of many fans. When his mistress overdosed in a house bought with Colts’ money, it really set things off.
When a new owner comes in, the first thing that fans want to know is, how much money does he have? It quickly becomes clear that they’re more than willing to overlook shady pasts or dubious morals if they’re going to invest heavily in their team. But if they don’t, it’s unforgivable.
Enter Spano. It quickly became clear that all of his promises were lies and that he didn’t have the money for a new suit, nevermind investment in his franchise. Finally, in 1997 the NFL forced him out of the Islanders. Then a court convicted and jailed him twice for fraud.
The former Dodgers owner is one of the shadiest figures to ever own a US franchise. According to the LA Times, he was the most hated man in Los Angeles. He pulled over $100 million in team assets to fund his lavish lifestyle. That definitely won’t help you win the love of the fans.
He managed to run up massive debts, even owing money to legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully. Then there was his messy divorce with his former wife Jamie. After the MLB raised concerns over the franchise’s finances, he finally reached a deal to put them up for sale.
One of the worst owners in the world, Snyder has made a total mess out of the Redskins. Fans totally despise him and want him gone. You can’t blame them either. In 2008, many season ticket holders couldn’t afford to pay because of the recession. Snyder’s response was to sue them.
The team has also been dramatically unsuccessful on the field. You can get away with being a terrible person as long as the franchise is winning. You could call them consistent, but consistently awful. From ineptitude on the field to the dysfunction in the board room, his reign of terror is crippling the franchise.
The Raiders are one of the most distinctive franchises in the US. With their black and silver colors, their fanbase is famously fanatical. They’re part of Oakland’s fabric or were until Mark Davis lost patience with the city. From 2020 forward, they’ll be playing their home games in Las Vegas.
After struggling to get support for a new stadium, Davis gave up trying. Against the will of the fans, he decided to move the franchise to Sin City. After their final game in Oakland, a defeat to the Jaguars, he showed no remorse or sympathy to the plight of those left behind. He’s heartless and has a terrible haircut.