The Most Acrimonious Splits in Football History

Sol Campbell Spurs to Arsenal

From the Ashley Cole transfer to Arsenal, to Carlos Tevez swapping Utd for City and the famous Roy Keane Sir Alex Ferguson bust up, it’s not always easy transitioning from pastures old to new. Join us on a journey, where we revisit some of the most infamous Premier League football breakups.


Sol Campbell – Spurs to Arsenal

Sol Campbell was a fan favourite, and arguably one of the best ever players to wear the white shirt of Tottenham. However, in the summer of 2001, Campbell’s contract was coming to an end. Despite a lengthy negotiation process between Campbell and Tottenham, a lack of Champions League football meant Sol wanted out of the club.

That in itself wouldn’t have been anything out of ordinary. However, the controversy began when Arsene Wenger lodged a bid. To the surprise and shock of every Tottenham fan, Campbell decided to sign for their bitter rivals. Within seconds he went from fan favourite to one of the most hated players in Spurs history.

It’s fair to say that the atmosphere was lively in November 2001 when Campbell played for Arsenal the first time at White Hart Lane.

It didn’t turn out too badly for Campbell who ended up becoming a Premier League invincible.


Ashley Cole Arsenal to Chelsea

Ashley Cole – Arsenal to Chelsea

In 2005-06, arguably the greatest left back England has ever produced was caught up in a scandal between two of London’s biggest clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal. The situation got so messy, that Cole’s agent lost his license for 18 months. The suspension followed a meeting in January 2005 between Cole and then manager Jose Mourinho and Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon, in which they discussed a potential transfer fee. However, Cole was still contracted to Arsenal at the time. Naughty boy.

Despite this, in July 2005 Cole decided to sign a one-year contract extension. However, the relationship between Cole and Arsenal quickly broke down, when it was reported that Arsenal were only going to offer him £55,000 a week, compared to the £90,000 he was reportedly being offered at Chelsea.

In the end, the Arsenal invincible completed his transfer to Chelsea on August 31st, 2006 for £5 million plus William Gallas. He was dubbed ‘Cashley’ by Arsenal fans following the move. However, as with Campbell, you can’t deny the move was a success, as he went on to pick up 8 trophies – including the Champions League – with the West London club.


Carlos Tevez Man Utd to Man Utd

Carlos Tevez – Man Utd to Man City

In 2009, the once ultimate fan favourite and goal scoring machine, Carlos Tevez,  thought he’d swap the red half of Manchester for the blue. Manchester United tried all they could to keep the Argentinian, by offering him a 5 year deal, but the player seemed fed up of being taken off every match with 20 minutes to go, and a seemingly fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson in the process.

Following the move, City decided to erect the famous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard, on the outskirts of the City. Of course, they elected to use the ex-Manchester United Champions League winner as the iconic image.

This was a poignant moment in the history of Man City, as it was the first time they had got one over their rivals since the new ownership.


Roy Keane vs Sir Alex Ferguson

Roy Keane vs Sir Alex Ferguson

The once famed Manchester United captain looked solidified as Sir Alex Ferguson’s right-hand man, both on and off the pitch during the most successful period in the club’s history. However, that all changed in a flash. Following a 4-1 drubbing away at Middlesbrough in 2005, Roy Keane did an infamous interview on MUTV, where he proceeded to go in hard on a number of players, including Alan Smith, Kieran Richardson and Darren Fletcher. However, it was Rio Ferdinand who arguably received the most flack, with Keane stating:

“Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are a superstar” he said.

It’s fair to say that Ferguson was not best pleased, and brought it up in a team meeting, criticising the United Captain.  Keane, unsurprisingly, didn’t take too well to the criticism, and threw it back at Ferguson, claiming they needed more from the manger.

Keane was slapped with a £5,000 fine, which he disputed. The following month, in November 2005, he left the club, later joining Celtic.

I think the moral of the story is that you don’t mess with Alex Ferguson.


Van Persie Arsenal to Man Utd

Robin Van Persie – Arsenal to Man Utd

Robin Van Persie, or RVP, was undoubtedly one of finest strikers the Premier League has ever seen. Yet, his Arsenal career hadn’t seen him receive a Premier League winners medal, and he wasn’t getting any younger. In 2012, a meeting was between Van Persie, the Arsenal Board and manager Arsene Wenger. It was clear the player and club were on different wave lengths, and it looked inevitable that the Dutchman would leave the club, seeking pastures new.

Again, similar to other transfers listed in this piece, a player leaving a club wouldn’t be unusual. However, the hostility started when it was announced he would be joining Manchester United. Fans vented their frustration, not only at the player, but at the board, for allowing their best player to join one of their biggest rivals. Likewise, this seemed to coincide with an increase in fan frustration, which ultimately ended the reign of Arsene Wenger.

It didn’t work out too badly for Robin Van Persie, who went on to win the Premier League in his first season at Old Trafford, and wasn’t shy about celebrating against his former team.


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