2. Leicester, 2003
As the 2002/03 campaign kicked off, Leicester were mired by financial turmoil off the pitch and still licking their wounds from top-flight relegation. They were a stricken club – so much so that new signings Billy McKinlay and Nicky Summerbee were playing for free – yet booked an immediate Premier League return with an impressive points haul of 92.
But points and results don’t tell the whole story. The Foxes went into administration in October 2002 with debts of £30m, which would have been more problematic for them in later seasons. Rival managers, led by then Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock, complained to the Football League and measures were later introduced (from 2004/05) that docked clubs in administration 10 points.
“I find it quite immoral that they’ve been allowed to do what they’ve done off the field,” the Blades boss wrote in programme notes. “Otherwise, everyone who has huge debts will do exactly the same and it leaves clubs like ourselves – who run a tight financial ship – at a huge disadvantage.”
He had a point. In fairness, Leicester would still have finished above Warnock’s third-placed Blades in the automatic promotion places had they been docked 10 points that year, but the Foxes’ administration took the shine off their accomplishments.
The company that built their new stadium in 2002 was forced to write off a final payment of £5.5m, and the East Midlands Ambulance Service was left with a shortfall of around £16,000. The relative success of the Micky Adams era came with a darker undercurrent.
Weird how they don’t bother to mention why we were in administration as two of the factors (ITV and Dennis Wise’s agent) were completely beyond our control. And while our stadium situation was difficult there are other clubs (Man City £140m and West Ham £700m) who were gifted world class stadiums at the cost of the taxpayer with hardly any contribution or consequences whatsoever. We didn’t break any rules and even the punishment for breaking the rules that were brought in the following season wouldn’t have stopped us getting promoted anyway.