Cardiff City have been relegated and as a result, the Premier League will soon lose its foremost villain. With Luis Suarez starting the season banned and invisible, then quickly burying all of his negative attributes in piles of goals and winning Player of the Year awards upon his return, Vincent Tan won promotion to the league's highest honor. His unique combination of comical fashions and the ability to antagonize his club's own fans quickly made him the star of Cardiff City's first visit to the Premier League and the subject of scorn, jokes and casual racism.
Premier League owners have long been targets of ridicule and resentment, but few have had as much flair or achieved as much notoriety in as short a time as Vincent Tan. Because of him, the usual rantings about how Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour's billions are ruining the game, how the Glazers are ruining Manchester United with debt and how Mike Ashley is ruining Newcastle by being Mike Ashley took a backseat. Even the late-season challenger to Tan's throne, Assem Allam, who is determined to change Hull City's name to Hull Tigers despite fan and league disapproval, couldn't touch this year's scoundrel king.
Given that Tan only bought Cardiff City in 2010 and saved the club from bankruptcy while also investing in stadium expansion and training ground redevelopment, the rapid decay of his reputation has been impressive. While still in the Championship, he turned a vocal segment of Cardiff City supporters against him by changing the Bluebirds' primary color to "lucky" red and fiddling with the club's crest in an attempt to increase international appeal. But it was only after the club won the second division title for the first time ever that Tan became a caricature of evil for the world to shake its collective fist at.
Upon arrival in the Premier League, his sartorial sins made him an easy target — but they could have been committed by anyone who imagines that they would look cooler in a fedora than they actually do. The Malaysian businessman told the BBC that he wears his dark glasses to protect from the glare of the stadium lights and leather gloves because it gets cold in the UK. The combination of these accessories with a pinstripe suit, slicked back hair and a mustache might be something that Don Draper could pull off, but they only make Vincent Tan look like the bad guy in a retirement community stage production of James Bond fan fiction. And it isn't any better when he makes a horrifically misguided effort to show his support for the club and appear more relatable by putting a replica shirt over his button-down and tie and then tucking that unholy combination into trousers pulled up to his nipples.
But the criticism for Tan goes far deeper than appearances. His persistent refusal to reconsider the decision to change the club's colors was followed by sacking popular manager Malky Mackay halfway through the season and attempting to install a 23-year-old intern as the club's head of recruitment. Amidst this business by bath salts, television cameras caught Tan appearing to boo his own team as results got worse and worse. Now, with one match left to play and the supporter protests against Tan still ongoing, Cardiff City sit at the bottom of the Premier League table. The bad guy has lost.
As with any newly promoted club, it was always likely that relegation would hit Cardiff sooner than later. Vincent Tan is now on his way out of the Premier League, but, for better or worse, he will remain with the club. And despite his public image and string of poor decisions, ruining Cardiff almost certainly isn't his ultimate objective. But when everyone decides someone is awful, it can become very easy for them to grow bitter and show those ingrates just how awful they can be.
In order to break this cycle of sinister expectations and misguided decisions, we have some hopes for Tan as he stares down his mustache at relegation...
We hope he realizes that his lucky red shirts didn't save the club from a terrible season both on and off the pitch and that the likes of Chelsea and Man City are fostering massive international appeal while wearing shades of blue.
We hope he sees that not everyone with experience at Manchester United listed on their Wikipedia page is guaranteed to bring success everywhere they go (these days, even if they go to Manchester United).
We hope he realizes that changing perceptions and improving communication can serve him better than stubbornly refusing to let fans have any say in club matters.
We hope he learns that business attire and football shirts should never be mixed together under any circumstances.
And we hope that he stops making the old mistake of believing that running a football club is like any other business.
Now Tan drifts back into the shadows and the wait begins to see who the Premier League will hate the most next season. It will probably be Luis Suarez. OK, it will definitely be Luis Suarez.
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