Tag: Leeds United

The People’s Republic Of Elland Road

What on earth is happening at Leeds? I was at Elland Road last Saturday among 600 Pompey fans and the change in atmosphere since last season was palpable. Last year, the atmosphere impressed with fans in good voice and scarves whirling. This year, though, Elland Road is not a happy place, evidenced by the draconian, 1980s style crowd control methods and the strangely messianic images of the club’s chairman in his seat flashed onto the big screen above our heads. It somehow felt we had intruded onto someone else’s battlefield. Ken Bates seems to be stirring up something of a furore among the Leeds faithful since somehow finding the cash to name himself owner of the club at the end of last season. In a flurry of accusations regarding, “The scaremongering arising out of the football governance enquiry” in The Guardian last May, the suggestively pictured Mr Bates did the right thing and married his name to the club. All very well and good you might think – at least he’s made an honest club out of Leeds and maybe now it will be a case of happily ever after. Since then Mr Bates has seemed keen to stamp his authority on the marriage. He is unhappy with media intrusion into the matter and, having taken a side-swipe at the already banned Guardian’s David Conn, ‘the ‘international enemy of Leeds United’...

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Supporters’ Trusts: Some Hard Questions

This weekend the saga of Trust ownership at Wrexham extends. Plymouth Argyle struggle to find an ownership solution to coming out of administration. In the tales of duplicity and ineptness that abound behind these stories, the arguments in favour of the Supporters Trust movement are strengthened. Supporters’ Direct have made clear and cogent points that substantiate these arguments in their recent briefing papers. Yet are Supporters’ Trusts always best placed to take over at their clubs? The current state of financial governance in football does not make for an even playing field for supporter owned clubs. It takes tough customers to have the tenacity to stick with the principles of the Supporter Owned Model when the financial structure of the game allows your business opponents a head start in the competition, despite the fact that they often put the very existence of their ‘business’ at risk, as Supporters’ Direct’s analysis shows. The recent government enquiry into football governance opened its evaluation of supporter ownership with the bald statement, ‘The examples of bad ownership are sufficiently numerous to point to systemic failure. A case can be made that, rather than tighter regulation, a more fundamental ownership change is required.’ The report continues,  ‘The supporters trust ownership model appears to us to be one of the positive developments in English football.’ This is encouraging but the recommendations of the enquiry do little...

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Football’s Values: Unethical, Dishonourable or Ill-Advised?

Currently appearing in the high court are an ex-Pompey director, past owner and recent manager on various charges of tax-evasion. Charged with fraud and unfair trading practices at  court an ex-Cardiff City director and Plymouth chairman, whilst at Wrexham a consortium containing a solicitor debarred on eighteen counts attempts a take over. That’s just so far this month. Not to mention the shenanigans at Port Vale and Plymouth reported by m’colleagues elsewhere on this site. The values demonstrated by the West Ham trio of Gold, Sullivan and Brady with their ‘tactful and understanding’ management style also made interesting reading this week. One comment on Phil McNulty’s blog after the insensitive manner of the sacking of Avram Grant by this conglomerate shows the esteem in which they are held. It suggests that Sullivan’s ‘abuse of the players … is typical and it won’t be long before he gets stuck into the fans who, in his mind, never appreciate his largesse and mastery of the football business.’ I gather fans at Birmingham (what IS going on there?) nurture the same level of affection for their ex-owners. That the largesse so described is derived from the porn industry is a matter often used to deride any team they are involved with and often seems more of a joke than a moral issue. Meanwhile at Pompey in recent times we have had...

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Bates’ Caterwauling Doesn’t Disguise Questions That Should Be Answered

At least Ken Bates now knows who owns the club he’s chaired for the last half-decade, as he’ll have written their name on the cheque for the “undisclosed sum” which has bought him majority ownership of Leeds United. Unless, of course, he’s just put a blank cheque in an envelope, addressed it to “Leeds United’s beneficial owners, Cayman Islands, West Indies” and trusted that the local postie is better informed about the club’s owners than, well, the club themselves, apparently. There’s some sort of irony in the news of Bates’ “purchase” of 73% of Leeds coming out just as Leeds themselves all but came out of promotion play-off contention in this year’s championship. The greatest pressure exerted on Leeds United to become transparent about their ownership appeared to be that applied by Premier League chief Richard Scudamore’s threat to apply ownership transparency regulations to individuals, should Leeds have won promotion via this season’s play-offs. The “deal” for Bates’ company Outro – registered in the West Indies, oh surprise me do – was done on April 26th, at which point the Whites could still have pipped Nottingham Forest for sixth place. By the time Bates’ accession to the Leeds throne was in the public domain, Forest were all-but-mathematically sixth. And not even QPR suffering a 15-point deduction (to take a figure purely at random, as happened to Leeds themselves after...

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Match of the Week: Leeds United 4-1 Nottingham Forest

It feels a bit blasphemous reporting on a match in which a club associated with Ken Bates performed well, but since he’s one of football’s greatest chairmen, a good scrub in the shower should eliminate some of the guilt. Certainly, the Championship fixture between Leeds United and Nottingham Forest weighed heavily upon those at Elland Road on Saturday–both in terms of history and contemporary significance. While managers Simon Grayson and Billy Davies walked down those halls, through those doors, and onto that pitch, the ghosts of Revie and Clough floated along in their wake, anxious to see how today’s squads would rise in a match of near eternal foes. With promotion playoff potential at stake for both clubs, passions indeed ran high on the field of battle but in the end, quality won the day. The opening fifteen minutes were a flurry of  fits and starts as each side wanted to be the first off the mark. Indeed, it was difficult to devise a strategy for either club during this time, although Forest’s initial attack seemed geared toward flooding the Leeds half with as many bodies as possible and forcing them to concede set pieces. Shots by defenders Chambers and Lynch from the channel carved out on the right side were dealt with while Leeds attempted swift counter attacks via Aston Villa loanee Barry Bannan as Forest’s defenders were...

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