Returns have been poor and delistings have been common.
Now I know the London Stock Exchange (LSE: LSE) has seen its fair share of suspect companies trading on its markets down the years. Indeed, I'm sure we can all recall a few dubious dotcoms, biotechs and mineral explorers that, in hindsight, shouldn't have been able to enjoy a listing.
But there is one sector in particular that continues to harbour shares that really have no place on the stock market: football.
Sick as a parrot
Football is, as everyone knows, a funny old game for investors. As far as I'm concerned, clubs are generally run for the vanity and ego of the majority owner, whereby success on the pitch comes first and last, and players -- and not us outside shareholders -- collect all the cash. Die-hard customers that keep paying to watch awful performances, plus the industry's taboo on takeovers, are other factors that make football the strangest of investment sectors.
Thankfully the market has cottoned on to football's awful economics and has been more than happy to wave goodbye to many teams of late. Look back at this Fool article from 2002 and you will discover no less than 20 football shares -- including Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle United -- were trading at the time.
Some of those teams, such as Man U, Birmingham City and Aston Villa, were subsequently acquired by wealthy benefactors so they could spend their fortunes without awkward questions from the City. Most of those teams, however, delisted at penny-share prices. Southampton, Watford, Hearts, Aberdeen, Leicester, Bolton -- all were relegated from the market without trace.
Dragon at the Den
Indeed, the delisting count gained another name this week when Millwall Holdings (LSE: MWH) decided to quit the market.
Famed mostly for having entrepreneur Theo Paphitis as a former chairman -- and issuing so many shares that the count once topped 37 billion -- the London club accompanied the delisting news by extending its annual run of operating losses to at least 12 years.
Right now, just OFEX-traded Arsenal, Celtic (LSE: CCP), OFEX-traded Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur (LSE: TTNM) retain public quotes. However, the haphazard financial records of Celtic, Rangers and Spurs have caused their shares to drop anywhere between 50% and 95% from the highs reached way back in the 90s.
Meanwhile, a good run of profits and takeover fever at Arsenal have helped triple its shares since 2005. However, the current price of £13,600 is hardly indicative of a quoted company that welcomes outside investors. To me, that is just another reason why any serious investor -- and the market as a whole -- should have nothing to do with this sector.
More from Maynard Paton: