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Leeds United Need a Striker Not a Concierge

by James Brown
7 August 2011 36 Comments

The fans are revolting, the manager is underfunded and the chairman's building a hotel. Why Leeds United are getting left behind.

This just in: Situation Report from the Leeds City Tourism Football Interface. There are over fifty hotels in Leeds but no fit centre forward with a year-in year-out goal scoring pedigree for Leeds United to start their first game of the season with. There are a number of critically acclaimed hotels in Leeds but no left back actually employed full time by Leeds United considered fit enough or good enough to start the new season. Instead the club borrowed a reserve centre back from Celtic to fill the role.

Summary: For a club who take millions of pounds in revenue a month this is a pretty disorganised state of affairs. What it represents is the refusal of the owner to invest in a playing squad with the sort of ambition the fans, manager and star players expect. They are the people who fund the club, the person who has to direct the team and the players who are expected to go out and compete. If you don’t have all of them onside you can wave bye bye to promotion.

Comment: But then this is just a fan’s eye view. To want a decent fit striker or a full time left back is apparently a naïve perspective when there’s a hotel to be built to make the football ground itself a property capable of generating revenue on a daily basis rather than once a week or a fortnight.

If Leeds didn’t have any hotels you could see the point of view but over the last fifteen years the city has exploded on the hospitality front. Its river and canal side developments are a commercial traveler magnet. There are thousands and thousands of hotel rooms in Leeds. No-one in their right mind has wandered through the city and said ‘F*** I wish they’d build some more hotels or apartments’ to be answered ‘Yep, they’ve not knocked up a hotel in months, whatsup withem?’

Then again maybe the Leeds United owner has a point. What’s the point in actually trying to get into the Premiership where you can make millions from television revenues, increased gates and sponsorship deals when you can be a grumpy big fish in a lower division? Especially when you can list 342 trouser presses and little kettles on your assets list?

The apparent lack of desire to reach the Premiership, as reflected in the refusal to bring in the sort of quality players being recruited by Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Ipswich, Leicester and West Ham, is bizarre. Maybe Ken Bates doesn’t want to paddle in waters where he will be nothing more than a millionaire minnow amongst billionaires.

Early on in his stewardship of Leeds United Bates gave his first manager the sort of squad that should have been promoted. Most of the players Kevin Blackwell recruited could probably still improve our playing squad today. Many of them have since been involved in promotions from this division and played in the Premiership. Right now Hulse, Derry, Blake and Pugh would all step straight into our first team. This couldn’t have been more evident than today, seeing Southampton beat Leeds with two full backs who have been released by Leeds during Bates’ rule.

In his media relations Bates has so far banned the BBC and The Guardian for prying into the ownership issue but after today’s match you can’t help thinking they’re the lucky ones. That little old lady who was banned for going on the pitch last season is probably looking forward to more relaxed Saturdays this year.

For a club with financial muscle, a massive fan base, a manager with two promotions under his belt and an owner who has been in football a long time this should be the start of an optimistic season but the word on the street, the sound of the crowd, the screech on the tweets is ominously negative.

The general perspective amongst supporters is the owner runs the club to suit himself and f*** the fans, the manager and the players. Quality players like Fabian Delph and Jermaine Beckford have been let go, others who have been coached and improved by the Leeds staff have walked out after having their contracts run down. This is a style of asset management most observers see as bewildering and short term-ist. Had Leeds United offered Jermaine Beckford a suitably attractive contract two years before he left the club, ie: a year before he entered his final season, he could well have done for the Yorkshire side what Grant Holt did for Norwich as he fired the Canaries into consecutive promotions.

As it is the manager, Simon Grayson, seems to have to sell either Robert Snodgrass or Max Gradel if he wants the funds to bring in a player who would massively improve the team. For a club this size it is again, unusual, to start a season visibly weaker than it ended the previous one.

It’s a strange state of affairs and one that is hugely frustrating for the fans who follow the team wherever they go. Essentially this seems to be a battle between those that follow their club with passion and an owner who is rapidly making Scrooge look like Bill Gates.

This year in the Championship there are teams with impressive new squads (Ipswich, West Ham, Leicester),  teams with new managers of a proven quality (Nottingham Forest, Ipswich, Leicester), teams with parachute payments and rich owners (Blackpool and West Ham), teams that were improving as last season finished (Burnley, Hull, Boro) and clubs who have been promoted with ambition (Southampton and Brighton).

Nowhere is there a competitive genre called Teams With Late Booking Deals and Little Plastic Baskets With Two Biscuits And A Hotdrink Sachet In Them.

Whenever anyone who supports, works for, runs or owns Chelsea mentions the success the club has enjoyed in the last decade not one of them mentions the f****** hotel. When I go down to Stamford Bridge six times a year to have a weekday client meeting, we don’t meet in the hotel, we sit in an executive box. No-one ever says, shall we go and have a drink in the hotel? In all the time the Chelsea hotel has been operating I have never known of anyone who has stayed there. It isn’t an important part of Chelsea Football Club. Why does Ken Bates think the Leeds United Hotel will be an important part of Leeds United Football Club. We want clean sheets on matchday not on checking in.

Leeds United are a football club, they are not a hospitality franchise. If Bates doesn’t support Grayson with new funding and buy him a decent striker who can score 20 plus goals year in year out in this division, a decent centre half, and make one of them experienced enough to lead a promotion charge as West Ham have with Nolan and Ipswich have with Chopra then this year will be one of infighting and carnage at Elland Road.

There was a time when the Leeds bootboys would chant to visiting fans ‘You’re going to get your f****** heads kicked in!’ Obviously not the best news if you’d just shown up with the opposition to watch the game but a damn site more traditional than ‘You’re going to get your f****** beds turned down.’

A Better Southampton Leeds match agonisingly remembered

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Lefteye Loiner 10:12 pm, 6-Aug-2011

All the jokes in this article have been ripped from this afternoons #lufc twitter feed, but they deserved a wider audience, and all the points in this are bang on. Leeds are becoming a joke under Bates.

James Brown 11:16 pm, 6-Aug-2011

I can assure you only the comment about the old lady was borrowed from my friend @deadbloke all the other depression is purely my own. The last place I want to be whilst Leeds are losing is following #lufc.

Kempy 6:10 am, 7-Aug-2011

Sir, let me take you to the Holbeck Suite. The views are stunning.

Johnny L 7:01 am, 7-Aug-2011

Until the supporters hit Bates in his pocket he's going to do just what he wants to do. Grayson's star is fading rapidly and still he tows the party line. Maybe he fancies the Hotel managers gig?

David Lockwood 10:19 am, 7-Aug-2011

The fans need to organise themselves to force Bates out. I suppose that they have all bought season tickets based on the promises. Prediction. Leeds bottom half if they are lucky

JuanDomingo Roldan 10:21 am, 7-Aug-2011

No surprises yesterday really. Time for Bates to go - he's outlived his welcome and take the poor excuse as a manager and the coaching staff plus Harvey with him. Yes, Bates is a complete and utter tight *ss but,everytime I look at Grayson i hear the sounds of Sandy Shaw ring in my ears. Yes, Grayson isn't given sufficient funding but, that still does not excuse the fact that he is inept and clueless. The defence will never improve under him and his recent ridiculous comment that a 'striker is not a priority' is worthy of the sack alone.

Macca 10:36 am, 7-Aug-2011

Excellent article, how long before "he saved the club" brigade finally open their eyes to reality and the dire position evolving by the day. Based on yesterday it appeared Snoddy had a seat booked in the departure lounge. Dont know if I have manufactured the thought that an undercurrent of discontent is evident but I do wonder why Sky have scheduled so many of our early matches - viewing figures could be one aspect or have they been astute enough predict an implosion and resultant media benefits that can be gained??

Whitemafia 10:46 am, 7-Aug-2011

Great article James, a telling portrayal of what is happening at ER. I am a fan of 38 years watching, and never have I felt so out of touch with my own club, sorry, it's not my club anymore is it, it's Ken Bates property pension fund vehicle. Saddening and sickening that a once proud club is allowed to be used this way by this conman.I think we should all take a red card to games with Bates face on it, and when we sing marching on together, or the opposition score a goal,(which I am sure will be a regular occurrence) we should allwave our red cards!! I don't know, any suggestions, let's get the bastard out of Leeds.

Killing Joke 11:07 am, 7-Aug-2011

Great article and worthy of a ban from entering Leeds united by Ken Bates.

David Lockwood 11:07 am, 7-Aug-2011

Grayson's days are numbered. Bates is not a plonker, he will need someone to blame. They should all go

Richard 11:10 am, 7-Aug-2011

The frightening thing is Bates is flogging talent to fund his resort in Beeston. No contract for Gradel yet!!!! What is going on...........we all know negotiations will go something like this............. - GRADEL FAILS TO SIGN NEW CONTRACT - Ken Bates today launched an attack (on Yorkshire Radio as he has banned the BBC) on Max Gradel and his agent branding them "greedy" he added "Gradel has ideas above his station and is asking for a contract that is completely ridiculous - only I am going to rip off this club!"............... Max Gradel commented "I only asked for a contract on the same level as the best paid players in the club and an improvement if we are promoted, I want to play for Leeds.".............. Bates in his usual elegant and considered manner befitting of a Leeds United Chairman commented "Greedy ba.....d!"

Alberto 11:16 am, 7-Aug-2011

Short sighted Leeds fans winging again. The club went broke, half of Europe is going broke. A cautious approach & rebuilding finances and revenues is important to future success. That means we may not have funds to build a title challenging team for another year or two. We all want success, be patient & we'll get there and stay there!

James Brown 11:35 am, 7-Aug-2011

I don't think we should be dumping Grayson, just using some of the money generated week in week out to make sure we've the best squad possible and starting a new season with a left back who'd only had one training session and a striker with one goal to his name isn't good enough.

David Lockwood 11:38 am, 7-Aug-2011

It is not short sighted to see that the team is average and that there is a shortage of real tallent in some areas. Other Championship teams are buying players that will give them a push for promotion. Even Grayson is saying that a play off place may be possible - I don't think so on this evidence!

shaun 11:48 am, 7-Aug-2011

not short sighted at all, fed up of broken promises and having a twat as chairman

Varkko 11:59 am, 7-Aug-2011

Im no Leeds fan and didn't like them much when they were doing well, but i sympathise with your plight. Bates is a tw@t, always has been. You should send this article every day until he leaves.

Roz 12:04 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Alberto - a cautious approach? £7m going on an East Stand development with absolutely no guarantee of success?

Paddy 12:08 pm, 7-Aug-2011

The amazing thing is it has taken Leeds fans years to wise up to Bates. Even now there are some halfwits who believe he 'saved' the club. Prices under Bates have consistently been among the 5 most expensive in England, even during 3 years in div 3. Crowds have been driven to well under 20,000 on many occasions (and will this season), there was even a gate of 16,000 Vs Wolves (inc. 2000 Wolves fans). Ken Bates certainly knew what he was doing when he picked this football club. He'd have been driven out of Newcastle or the Liverpool and Manchester clubs within weeks, yet in Leeds our weak minded servile fanbase has been bending over and calling him cute nicknames. He must have known how thick and gullible most Leeds fans are. But finally, years after it became obvious to anyone with a brain what Bates was in it for, the workaday Leeds fan has finally had enough with the old goat. What a shame that these people probably wouldn't be whining if we won at Southampton, as if it's alright to charge 8 year olds 240 pounds for a season ticket if you can screw a few lucky results. One day I hope to be proud of my football club again, but the stain that the Ken Bates enablers on sites like WACCOE have put on supporting the club will take years to wash clean

Leeds faithful 12:31 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Absolute truth.time the bootboys,get there boots on.cos if we carry on this way div 1 beckons.we are leeds.of course we are?

leedshippriest69 2:13 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Another great read James, consider yourself a LUFC Dissident. Bates will not approve, sadly he does share one approach to life as we Leeds fans do. We're dirty Leeds and nobody likes us, but we don't give a fuck. Ken Bates is a foul smelling cockroach bleeding our club dry, but he doesn't give a fuck.

Johnny L 3:24 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Alberto you're either on a wind up or delusional. The team has regressed over the last season. Quite an achievement for a team that was playing third division football prior to that. There's no slow steady building. We could all get on board with that concept but that's not what's happening.

Charlie 6:29 pm, 7-Aug-2011

James, We need to launch a serious campaign against Bates. I know there is a campaign started on Waccoe and Facebook but in order for this to work we really need the media onboard and it is people like you (and others) that can help with this. Bates won't be bothered about a few fans protesting but if the local and national media are regally reporting it then he may start to get rattled. I think the YEP will be instrumental to ensure there are enough Leeds fans involved but will they have the guts to get involved? Now is the time to start pushing against the old man that hates Leeds and loves his own gain. Please help!

Andy Kaye 6:38 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Good article. It really is time to take action and attempt to rid ourselves of Bates once and for all. We will never achieve anything with him milking the club for his own profit.

Sid Slick 7:27 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Yeah brilliant James.... Bates out..... who's coming in? Can we get that bloke from Birmingham when he's released from Jail, or maybe the guy from Hearts, he must be looking for an exit now he's fekked them. Oh hang on, the lovely people who used to own Portsmouth must be keen for another top up. What about some wealthy fans to take over, do Ridsdale and his cronies fancy another hack? We should definitely have broken the bank for Nolan and Taylor, they looked so impressive today. With better man management pitch side, not at director level, we could well have gone up last year and none of this sneering to rip the heart out of Leeds would be going on at all.

Alberto 10:35 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Bates out & what is the solution? There's no line of sheiks at the door waiting to plough the cash in, and if there was we'd all be complaining about them anyway.

Bob Shed 11:09 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Ok Alberto and Sid Slick, Bates is our saviour, even if he's our only saviour, that doesnt' mean he's above criticism for putting questionable infrastructure investment above even a modicum of team investment. The balance sheet over the last few years are a joke, in Lg 1 we'd have made a hefty loss if i remember correctly but for the sale of Delph.

James Brown 11:17 pm, 7-Aug-2011

Sid not sure if you read my article, that's normally what people do before passing a comment, but the main point is that Bates generates a lot of money from the fans and should re-invest it in the area they care about, ie on the pitch. Enough to field a centre forward with form in this division last season and a left back who didn't join the club 24 hrs earlier. If you need any other help with reading or understanding anything on this thread let me know.

HANRO 11:32 pm, 7-Aug-2011

@Alberto whats the point in going on about how we are in a recession and we need to spend money carefully and wisely etc when it is an argument with no depth. If it's such a hard recession and we can't afford players then why are we able to afford to build a £10 million or whatever the exact price is hotel and facilities. What's the point in building a premier league stadium for a club who isn't in the premier league. The fans are asking Leeds to spend £20- £30 million on players but what we've spent so far on the likes of lonergon and brown can be no more then £500,000 and weve lost three first team players and haven't really improved in the areas where the most improvement was made. Bates is ruining our club making Leeds fans footballing lives a misery and sucking out the ambition which a club like Leeds should have. If the money which is being spent on the hotel etc was being spent on the team then I'm sure the Leeds fans would be much more cheery about things. As they stand money is going towards something which is unecessary and pointless

HANRO 11:34 pm, 7-Aug-2011

I meant to say the fans AREN'T asking for Leeds to spend £20 - £30 million on players..... Typing error there

David 2:51 am, 8-Aug-2011

Yes very good article. Spot on. Read an article recently about 2 Brighton fans who had joined together and campaigned to get their new stadium. We need this kind of determined, intelligent campaign to change the face of Leeds. Having been a Leeds fan of 40 years and now living in Japan, I recently took a journey back to elland road to see the my favourite place on the planet. It looked an absolute mess . The new banqueting suit out of place, the new facade of the east stand dated and entering the ub shop was like a trip to pound stretcher.., with bates prices. The hotel is not needed in this location. I I empathize with Grayson. He hasn't had investment but his comments are wearing thin. His lack of willingness to play Nunez and persist with paynter leave me dumbfounded. I can see the good people of Leeds turning their back on the club. Economics will dictate that. However, one of the things that makes us Leeds is our fan base. I hope someone like you James can lead an intelligent call to arms and show that Leeds fans deserve more.

Yoshi Yamamoto 7:30 am, 8-Aug-2011

I think this article sums up a lot of feeling at the moment...growing unrest. Will we do something about it?

Grenville Hair 10:31 am, 8-Aug-2011

The truth is in the numbers - in our last published accounts we posted income of £27m - and a wage bill of £7m. Which means by accepted football standards the wage bill could at least double and the club would still be comfortably viable financially. You don't have to be a chartered accountant to deduce why Bates is paying peanuts in wages as fans continue to pour money into the club, paying (arguably) the highest ticket prices of any second-tier football club in the world. It's a rip-off, and hardly a subtle one.

Alberto 1:04 pm, 8-Aug-2011

Rest assured fair people of Leeds, Ramon Nunez shall be unleashed & cause havoc upon the entire Championship! .... and then Luciano shall return... We could use a decent centre half :-)

David 1:29 pm, 8-Aug-2011

A complete picture of the situation we at Leeds United find ourselves in, your article is factual, a great read. For so many reasons, my main beef is the fact that said custodian believes the visiting masses to Leeds on a regular basis will opt to stay in a hotel in Beeston, with the utmost respect to the goodly folk of Beeston and with the best will in the world, its hardly Chelsea, complete with village and marina!! Silly man could've got away with making vastly more millions if he'd invested this season at a concerted effort to get us back to the prem. All the money that makes plus the inevitable buy out that would come, no instead he choose the non investment route, and fights with sir Norman and west Yorkshires finest, a gaggle of irate MP's, the customs and excise man, the BBC etc, etc... I think that's one or two big lads in the playground to many to take on, even for a hardened business brawler like Ken, no, his lots looming i think, the sad thing, and historically always the way, the victims will be Leeds United football club, the put upon fans and the city. How they'll laugh in all the corners of the Leeds Hating globe. We are however The perennial phoenix, Loved with passion and heart, always on the edge of mythical greatness as far as a football club goes, soon i hope we'll finally tip over the edge of that welcome precipice. His greatest weapon was the disunity of the chelsae masses,divided we fall? Our mantra is "Marchin on together!" Never in our history has that chant been more important. The coming weeks hold perils for this club like no other, protests could turn into riots, a great young manager sacked, bans by the hundreds, punishments from the FL/FA always eager to hurt our great club. We have to stay focused, we HAVE GOT TO STAY UNITED "Marchin on together must mean that, together. The custodian is a clever manipulative man. If we do this right we can have him out and gone. If we do it wrong, well then,look back at our history...

Martin 12:17 am, 9-Aug-2011

Great article James, and it's about time that Leeds fans revolted against Bates. I am not a Leeds fan at all, but I have been going to Stamford Bridge for the past 46 years. Bates is an opportunistic profiteer and his building of a hotel to add to his property portfolio at the expense of investing in the club is typical of the shyster/conman/thief. He bought Chelsea from the feeble minded alcoholic playboy Brian Mears for £1 and made a fortune. Built a hotel, hid the clubs debts and then sold out to Roman Abramovich who at least pretends to have the best interest of Chelsea FC at heart. Bates will simply milk Leeds because it is in his nature, your club would be better off without him.

DjLowfields 4:56 pm, 10-Aug-2011

Only way of getting through to old pxxx stain is by reducing the money he takes, folk want to support the team which means buying a match ticket. It doesn't mean buying programs and merchandise and food and drinking in his bars and restraunts etc, support the team by all means but a total boycott of bates other outlets would soon hammer the message home. your not welcome ken, you never were, all the way back to southend away in championship.

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