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Leicester City: Sir Dave Richards, a man who divided opinion


Sir Dave Richards seems to be a man who divides opinion in football.

The merits of Richards, who is standing down as chairman of the Premier League and is set to take over as senior management role at Leicester City, certainly evokes debate among supporters of Sheffield Wednesday, the club he ran for a decade.

And media commentators are also divided, with some writers heavily critical of his conduct as deputy chairman of the FA's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, and comments he reportedly made during official visits to Qatar.

Born in 1943 in Sheffield, Richards became a director at Wednesday in 1989 and was appointed chairman five months later.

Under his leadership, and the management of Ron Atkinson and captain Nigel Pearson, Wednesday won promotion back to the top flight and lifted the League Cup in 1991 as they embarked on a nine-year stay in the Premier League.

But with Wednesday facing relegation in 1999, Richards left to become chairman of the Premier League.

Wednesday declined after that, saddled with debt as they struggled to cope with players on big contracts.

Under Richards' guidance, the Premier League went from strength to strength, to become the richest league in world football.

He has held other positions, such as deputy chair of the Football Association, chair of the FA's Club England, which runs the national team, and represents the Premier League abroad as chair of the European Professional Leagues.

He has been criticised for being outspoken, especially when he accused FIFA of stealing football from the English in March 2012, although Richards insisted afterwards he was joking.

He was also criticised for walking out of his role as deputy chairman of England's World Cup bid, when he was given the responsibility for international relations, after a restructuring of the committee.

However, despite the controversy, and the current problems at Wednesday which some Owls fans still believe emanated from Richards' reign, Nigel Short, chairman of the Wednesdayite, the Sheffield Wednesday Supporters Society, says his arrival at City will be good for the club.

"Sir Dave Richards certainly evokes heated debates in the pubs and clubs of Sheffield among Wednesday fans," he said.

"He splits opinions. Many blame him for the financial problems the club has been battling since he left and we were relegated from the Premier League, while he went to the Premier League.

"Others would point to the fact that, under his guidance, we won our only trophy in 70 years, enjoyed some great times in the Premier League watching players of the quality of Chris Waddle and Des Walker. We haven't seen players of their quality since.

"That success back then is basically the reason why we get the good crowds we get now.

"I sit somewhere in the middle. I was disappointed with the way he left the club and we still haven't recovered.

"We have had a hangover from the 10-year party in the Premier League under him.

"But I think he will be good for Leicester. He is incredibly well connected in the game. And you only have to look at the success of the Premier League under his chairmanship. People can dig up dirt on the guy but he did a great job with the Premier League.

"He is also the sort of chairman who will listen to the supporters. He will sit down for an hour and talk to anyone about football. He is not going to criticise fans for having an opinion.

"He is also good in the media. He will communicate with the supporters and let them know what is going on.

"This is a good move for Leicester."

Leicester City: Sir Dave Richards, a man who divided opinion

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