Peter Ridsdale (born 11 March 1952 in Leeds) is a businessman who masterminded the brief rise and catastrophic fall of Leeds United at the start of the 21st century.
Ridsdale was initially a hero at Elland Road as within four years of taking charge in 1997 the Yorkshire side reached their highest point since the days when they used to be really good.
In 2000-01, a mostly British side reached the semi-finals of the Champions League despite the dressing room being shaken by the news that brainless midfielder Lee Bowyer and floppy-haired imbecile Jonathan Woodgate had been involved in a racist attack in a shitty old club in the Leeds city centre.
But Ridsdale, who is one of those directors who talks about a football club as a business, then decided to borrow £60m against the club’s gate receipts. It was a move that would only work if United managed to remain amongst the top clubs in Europe.
Of course they didn’t. Ridsdale allowed manager David O’Leary to spend all sorts, but Leeds didn’t secure Champions League qualification and the club melted.
Leaving United with £100m of debt, Ridsdale drove off in his Mercedes shaking his head.
For no real reason, Ridsdale goes on about a goldfish tank whenever he discusses the mess he made of Leeds.
"We were turning over £86m a year," he rambled in one interview. "We had a goldfish tank in my office and in the boardroom, which combined cost just over £200 a year. It's like, excuse me - go to the PFA headquarters, what have they got in reception? They have got a goldfish tank."
Ridsdale’s statements certainly justified the decision to have a goldfish tank, but not so much the decision to gamble fuckloads of money on a level of prolonged success that any football fan knew was hugely unlikely.
Rather than fuck off, Ridsdale bought cash-strapped Barnsley. It didn’t go so well and he had to sell the club on before they were forced to disband.
These days Ridsdale is at Cardiff City – a club that most Leeds fans hate less than Manchester United, Liverpool, Hudersfield, Milwall or Galatasaray but more than Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday, Swansea and the MK Dons.
“I love Cardiff. Even when I hated Cardiff I loved Cardiff,” Ridsdale told bemused journalists. “I have no doubts I can make the club great before I destroy it.”
Ridsdale released a book called “United We Fall: Boardroom Truths About the Beautiful Game,” in November 2007 in the hope of making money out of the misery he inflicted on the people of his hometown.
He made some huge unsubstantiated claims, mostly at O’Leary’s expense. Nobody really read it anyway because it was £7.99 and you could get a proper book like Vladimir Nabokov's 'Lolita' for the same price.