Tag: Leeds United

Ken Bates’ Grand Game Of Divide And Rule

Sometimes, the oldest ones are the best – or, in this case, the worst. There are plenty of rogues operating in and around football clubs these days, but the old master, Ken Bates, can still teach others a thing or two about dealing with those that they hold in contempt with an almost breathless degree of disrespect.  Elland Road has not been a happy place this season. Leeds United are performing much as we might have expected on the pitch. Although it was not enough to save manager Simon Grayson his job in January, the club currently sits just below the play-off places in the Championship in tenth place in the table and there is still all to play for, but crowds are down and discontent is in the air. For some Leeds United supporters, the tipping point, as far as Bates is concerned, came with the sale of club captain Jon Howson to Norwich City for £2m in January. Howson had come to represent the very best of Leeds United during a period in the club’s history that most supporters would prefer to forget. His sale, in the middle of a season in which promotion ambitions remain on the agenda, has come to represent a toxic culture at Elland Road of cost-cutting and a lack of investment in the playing squad while ticket prices remain very much at Premier League levels. The...

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Is The Tide Beginning To Turn At Leeds United?

We have noted before on this site that football supporters can be considerably more patient than we are ever given credit for. Indeed, some might even say that we are too patient. In recent years, we have put up with increasing ticket prices, the desecration of the atmosphere inside grounds and policing methods that would raise an eyebrow were they to be practiced in a totalitarian state. It is also worth remembering, however, that everyone has a tipping point, a moment at which a penny seems to collectively drop amongst a support base which triggers feelings that may have been suppressed or ignored for a considerable period of time. That moment may just have come for the supporters of Leeds United. The Yorkshire club has had to tolerate the ownership of Ken Bates for four and half years now, at least. Bates’ hard-headed policy of pushing ticket prices through the roof, using official club media for baseless attacks on those that he deems to be his “opponents” and labelling those amongst his club’s own support that oppose his methods with language that goes beyond being merely derogatory and into the realms of merely being abusive. Set against this, the decision to sell club captain Jon Howson to Norwich City may seem, from the outside, to be relatively small beer. Howson, however, more than merely the club captain at Leeds United. Born...

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Match Of The Week 2: Arsenal 1-0 Leeds United

There remains a sense of great expectations surrounding Leeds United. To get a feel for the root cause for this, we only need to spin back four decades, when Don Revie’s team lost out on the Football League Championship to Derby County but managed a little solace in winning the FA Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley. Times have changed since then, of course. In the intervening forty years, Leeds United have been relegated, bounced back, won the last English title before the induction of the Premier League, plummeted back to the third tier of the English league system and only narrowly avoided closure before resurfacing in the Championship, their ambition thwarted, yet undiminished. Perhaps it is this sense of grandeur which, in recent years, seen the club over-perform against superior opposition. Two years ago, they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and gave Spurs a game and a half before succumbing after a replay. This time last year, they faced a trip to The Emirates Stadium to play Arsenal and again managed a draw before slipping up at home in a replay. Whatever limitations the Leeds United teams of the last couple of seasons may have had, they always seem capable of giving those bigger clubs a game in a one-off cup match. If psychology counts for great deal in football, then it could even be argued that,...

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Is The Worm Starting To Turn? Cardiff Fans Walk Out Of Elland Road

In some respects it was inevitable that a group of fans would collectively reach a breaking point, and take a stand at the way supporters are treated by many professional clubs. However the fact that it happened at Elland Road yesterday, and the Cardiff City fans concerned ended up boycotting the end of a game where they had already paid was still a surprise. Cardiff City fans don’t have the greatest of reputations, most notably due to the actions of the Soul Crew – one of the most notorious of the hooligan firms of the 70s, 80s and 90s – and matches between the Bluebirds and Leeds United have had flashpoints in the past (most notably the FA Cup Third Round game between the two in 2002. However, while I would never defend nor condone hooliganism, not every Cardiff City fan is a hooligan. In fact the vast majority of Bluebirds fans are law abiding citizens, and most of their away following just want to follow their team round the country, like fans of most teams. In fact, the club has brought in so many effective measures designed to reduce hooliganism at Cardiff games, that they are the current holders of the title “Football League Family Club of the Year” However, unlike fans from most other teams, Cardiff City fans have to jump through the more than the occasional...

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Who Owns Leeds United? How Football Documentaries Should Be Made

Many years ago, I listened to prize-winning author and ultra-famous Arsenal fan Nick Hornby reading extracts from the book which made his name, Fever Pitch. And the reading was a disappointment. Hornby was good, but just not as funny as the voice, indeterminate and certainly not my own, in which I’d read the original. The same disappointment arose when listening to speeches by Guardian journalist David Conn. Conn is a decent speaker – even when “10-minute” speeches to Supporters Direct conferences exceed half-an-hour, but his words spoke louder from the page in the voice inside my head. This I know to be unfair, after watching the long-heralded documentary Who Owns Leeds United, which aired on October 10th in the BBC’s Yorkshire and Lincolnshire area. For the core material of the programme overpowered concerns about presentation, and the presentation itself was of a standard to which all football documentaries should aspire. The twenty-nine minutes on Leeds’ recent ownership history focused its attention, for reasons lawyers may be best-placed to describe, on the club’s current owner, Kenneth William Bates. Conn told the story of their ownership, since the departure of former chairman Mr Peter Ridsdale esq, with a refreshing clarity. And while the story contained nothing new to close observers of Leeds since 2004 – which would include many readers of this site – it would have provided valuable insight to...

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