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Spanish FA was right to fire Lopetegui


How Panama made World Cup dream a reality


You thought Arsenal fans had it bad? Here are football's most suffering fans

Arsenal might just be the most frustrating football team in the world to support. Not the worst team to support, obviously. Millions of fans would love to watch an attractive, attacking side that always qualifies for the Champions League. But frustration in football is not the same as despair or despondency.

Frustration comes from repeated, apparently avoidable errors that forever leave a club lower than it should be. And if it's only slightly lower, if success always seems within reach, doesn't that just intensify the frustration?

Yes, Arsenal have everything they require to rise up and conquer Europe, laying down the foundations of an empire that could challenge the Spanish and German powerhouses. They have the stadium, the facilities and by thunder, they certainly have the money. They are located in the richest city in England and play in the richest league in Europe, giving them the power to charge eye-watering prices, safe in the knowledge that in London, there's always someone who can afford it.

So you can understand why the fans are angry. You can understand why the fans are protesting. What you can't understand, however, is the mentality of those supporters who chanted, "Arsene Wenger, you're killing our club!"

For the benefit of those supporters who have clearly marched over the line of common sense and into a zone of throbbing, self-pitying hyperbole, here are five sets of fans who have rather more reason to accuse people of "clubicide."

Blackburn Rovers

Years before Manchester City and Chelsea started to splash the cash, Blackburn Rovers were the free-spending arrivistes buying their way to the title. Fuelled by the love (and not inconsiderable spending power) of local-boy-done-well Jack Walker, they won the title in 1995 and recovered from relegation in 1999 to bounce back and reassert themselves with three top eight finishes in six years. But they won't bounce back from their current plight.

Hapless Indian chicken magnates Venky's bought the club in late 2010, announced plans to sign Ronaldinho, sacked Sam Allardyce, replaced him with untested coach Steve Kean and plunged into the Championship in 2012 amid furious protests from their supporters.

Ronaldinho never did turn up and the club is now perched perilously above the drop zone in the second tier, in serious danger of reacquainting themselves with the third flight for the first time since 1980.

Coventry City

For 34 years, Coventry City held their position in the top flight of English football while European Cup winners like Manchester United, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest were relegated around them. It wasn't until 2001 that the Sky Blues finally slipped beneath the waves but that was only the start of their problems.

In 2007, they were bought by hedge fund Sisu, then in the English Championship, as a "commercial investment" and were accused of "seriously mismanaging" the club to the tune of $40 million since 2008. Next season, it is almost certain that they will drop into the fourth flight like a weighted sack of unwanted puppies.

A club with as proud a history, hailing from so large a city (the ninth-largest in England), should have no problem rebuilding and rising again, but Coventry looked doomed. They don't own their stadium so even if people were still turning out in high numbers, which they are not, the club wouldn't be able to profit from their spending. (Sisu even refused to pay rent in a bid to financially distress the stadium's owners.) Indeed, the situation now is so parlous that it has been reported that Sisu are open to selling off their training ground. At that point, Coventry City will be effectively little more than a badge.

Charlton Athletic

Charlton protest
Charlton Athletic fans have taken to the streets in protest against their club's current owners.

For six successive seasons under Alan Curbishley, Charlton Athletic finished somewhere between seventh and 14th in the Premier League, never in any real danger of relegation and never likely to push for a Champions League spot. And then Curbishley stepped down in 2006 and it all went horribly wrong.

The Addicks went through three managers in a season (Iain Dowie, Les Reed and Alan Pardew) and were relegated in 2007, but the real trouble hadn't even begun. In 2014, the club was bought by Belgian businessman Roland Duchâtelet and then life got really difficult.

Duchâtelet, who also owns four other clubs (Sint-Truidense in Belgium, FC Carl Zeiss Jena in Germany, Hungarian side Ujpest FC and AD Alcorcon in Spain), had a masterplan. He would draw on the resources of all of his assets to bring the best of the best to South-East London. But the best really weren't very good at all and the manager, club hero Chris Powell, was entirely un-amused to see his squad overhauled from above.

Not that he was around for very much longer, of course. Nor were the six men who replaced him. After a brief improvement under new manager No. 7, Karl Robinson, Charlton now have only one win in their last nine games and will be sticking around for at least one more season in League One.


It has been a little over six years since Blackpool did the double over Liverpool, beating them 2-1 at Bloomfield Road three months after beating them 2-1 at Anfield. To say that it has all been downhill since rather understates the matter. It has been as downhill as a short gentle slope leading to a sheer cliff face.

Blackpool were relegated from the Premier League in 2011, missed out in the playoffs in 2012, went through seven managers in three seasons and were relegated again in 2015 and again in 2016. During this period, Blackpool majority owner and convicted rapist Owen Oyston took a £11m payment from the club to Zabaxe, a company he owns while his son, chief executive Karl Oyston, successfully sued fans who libelled him online.

Blackpool currently sit in mid-table in League Two, but any hope that the Oystons might further fund a push for promotion were dashed when they lost a court case with one of their own investors and found themselves on the wrong end of a £3m bill.

Leyton Orient

At half-time in the League One playoff finals of 2014, Leyton Orient were beating Rotherham 2-0 and their fans were dreaming of their first taste of second flight football since 1982. But Rotherham came back to win on penalties and owner Barry Hearn sold the club to Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti, who had promised to spend big in an effort to take the club to a new level.

He certainly has delivered on the last bit.

Orient are now on the brink of relegation from the Football League to the badlands of non-league. It's not a "new" level, strictly speaking, but it's certainly somewhere they haven't been since 1905. In just two and a half gut-wrenchingly awful years, Becchetti has appointed 10 managers, been relegated once, fought extradition charges to Albania, received a six-match stadium ban for kicking his assistant manager up the bottom after a game on Boxing Day of everyone and is now desperate to sell the club (but not at a loss) before either relegation or a winding-up order from the tax authorities reduces its value to the sort of small change you might find down the back of your sofa.

On balance, you suspect that even Arsenal's most frustrated supporters would now reflect that their situation is not as grave as they have made out.

Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.


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