Tag: Leeds United

2010: A Football Financial Review

You could frame it. If you wanted a short, pithy representation of all that has been wrong with football finance in 2010, you could do no better than quote a Plymouth Argyle fan known as “Sensible Surfer” on the BBC Football website over the Christmas period. “Ridsdale set to take control… good news,” he/she said, a phrase which would sit nicely as an explanation of irony…except that it didn’t appear to BE irony. And it served as fair comment on Argyle’s current state that, relatively, Peter Ridsdale – the failed former Leeds and Cardiff chairman and serial over-borrower – IS good news for the cash and panic-stricken South Westerners, with the heaviest possible emphasis on the word ‘relatively.’ If professional football entered 2010 in a state of moral and financial bankruptcy, it is leaving it in much the same manner. Certain football problems have been “solved.” Some more have emerged. While others, hello Portsmouth, look set to run forever. The “greater fool” theory still underpins much of the game’s financial strategies. The theory is about as scientific as it sounds – buying something in the belief that you will be able to sell it again for a higher price (to a “greater fool”), regardless of what has happened in the meantime (increased debts, usually), or even whether the original price was rooted in reality. Finding a “greater fool” is...

Read More

Ken Bates: Master Of PR & All He Surveys

I should be on my knees every day, thanking my God that my only experience of Kenneth William Bates, chairman but not owner – oh no – of Leeds United, was brief and indirect. And it summed him up too. In the 1990s, Chelsea’s reserves in the old Football Combination played their “home” games at my team Kingstonian’s ground. As part of the deal, Chelsea played an annual pre-season friendly against the Ks. And they treated it as a proper first team occasion. Matthew Harding once drank the bar dry. An ineffectual Gianluca Vialli was once substituted after an hour,and Pierluigi Casiraghi limped off injured shortly before half-time in his one appearance. Bates turned up once, revelling in his two favourite scenarios. He was the centre of attention, the press photo pack focusing on him rather than Kevin Hitchcock for some strange reason. And he was conning people. A tabloid newspaper was involved in some Chelsea-related sponsorship. And Bates was in his seat, proudly reading his copy… or at least looking at the pictures. But, of course, he wasn’t reading the paper at all. Tucked inside the paper was another publication entirely, the magazine he was actually reading. He was fooling them all and he was loving it. But Bates wasn’t making any point to anyone else, at least anyone else important in his scheme of things. The only...

Read More

The Christian Aid Secrecy League

Of all the football figures railing against the appointment of another independent FA chairman, Leeds United chairman Kenneth William Bates was the most predictable. An independent mind and independent voice would also have an independent eye. And Bates wouldn’t be one for independent eyes, in case they saw him for what he really is. That thought occurred as I read a report by Christian Aid, the – surprise – Christian organisation dedicated to the end of world poverty, into the secrecy surrounding football clubs in the United Kingdom. Entitled Blowing the whistle – Time’s up for financial secrecy, the report offered case studies of some of the more secretive clubs, and noted that Bates’ Leeds United “takes secrecy to a new level.” The way that Bates’ mind works, he would probably be miffed that these words didn’t translate into Leeds actually winning the Christian Aid Secrecy League which forms the focal point of the report – Manchester United fans can be assured their team won more than the Carling Cup this season. But being a voice independent of any footballing vested interest, Christian Aid are quite happy to tell things like they are, which makes for uncomfortable reading for more than just Bates. It would be easy to joke that world poverty could be near-cured by halving Premier League wages. But the report is only really using football and...

Read More

Match Of The Midweek: Leeds United 0-2 Millwall

The favourites for promotion before the start of the season, Leeds United started 2009/10 as if they were in something of a hurry to finally lay the ghosts of lower division football to rest and get back to something approaching the normality of the Championship. Their credentials seemed to be confirmed by their January FA Cup win at Old Trafford and grabbing a draw at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur in the next round of the same competition. They lost the replay, however, and since then their season has started to fall apart at the seams to the extent that some Leeds supporters are starting to worry that the nightmare scenario may be starting to unfold. The team has lost its air of impregnability. They have only won twice in the league since losing to Spurs in the FA Cup at the start of February. Norwich City are now eight points clear at the top of the table, meaning that the likelihood of a trophy being lifted at Elland Road is starting to fade into the background. Might they blow it altogether and find themselves in the League One play-offs again? Millwall, meanwhile, are showing all the signs of moving in the exact opposite direction. They started the season reasonably slowly, but since the new year have started to assume the momentum of a steamroller. Since losing at...

Read More