Leeds United Owners Need to Start Playing Straight With the Fans – by Rob Atkinson


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The fans: the BEST asset of Leeds United

Whoever is currently in charge at Leeds United – and the answer to that question is quite frankly anyone’s guess – they do appear to have a dim awareness that the mood out here in fan-land is not entirely sunny and bright.  They seem a little hurt, not to say bewildered, about this.  Plaintive tweets have been seen, assuring us that hard work is going on and that the West Ham bid for our club captain of seven days standing has been turned down.  That nice prospective Tory MP Mr Haigh would like to remind us all that “we made our intentions clear in the summer” – when of course a succession of bids for Rossco from Smogland were turned down, before a new four-year contract secured the services of our lethal marksman – or so we thought.

All in all, the view from the Elland Road boardroom of the various dissident elements out here appears to be that of a rueful parent bemoaning the ungratefulness of spoiled children.  We’ve done all this for them, they seem to be crying woefully, and see how they repay us!

So are we being ungrateful?  Are GFH/Sporting Capital/Signor Cellino/A.N.Other right in thinking that their sterling efforts are being thrown back in their faces by an unappreciative rabble?  Let’s look at a couple of the main issues.

Firstly, the burning issue on everyone’s mind for some time now.  The takeover.  Now we’ve been told various things about this.  It was all done and dusted, waiting only for Football League approval, and things would be in place in time for the transfer window.  We were told this in December; then the forecast changed slightly, and word was that things might just drag over into the start of January – but that Brian’s transfer plans were not affected, and there was a list of targets for board consideration.  Things dragged on.  Now we were told that it was still on track, just i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed.  Brian was looking at four players.  Then we heard that the Football League had asked for more information, that the club was co-operating fully, oh and here’s two loan wingers to shut you lot up.  By this point we’d gone out of the Cup at lowly Rochdale, and we were about to be subjected (with the aid of our two game-changing pacy wide men) to a history-busting defeat at Sheffield Wendies.  Now, here we are in the last week of January, the takeover appears no nearer, the best news we’ve had for ages is a narrow defeat at home to Leicester, there’s been talk of a dodgy Italian convicted fraudster, we’ve had promises of good news for the week just gone (must have missed that) and transfer talk is starting to turn, with a weary inevitability, to the summer window.  Pie in the sky, by and by.

Secondly, there’s this Ross McCormack thing.  Just because we resisted the Smoggies’ overtures in summer, we apparently need our wrists smacked for daring to get all het up when a bid is received from some no-hope East End outfit for our skipper and top-scorer.  Leeds United appear to be wondering: what all the fuss is about?  Why are these people complaining and getting up in arms?  After all, it’s not as if we have a history of selling vital players for a song to Premier League strugglers in January – is it?  Oh, hang on…

West Ham will probably be back – there’s still a week to go and they may just share that annoying habit, common to clubs with some shred of ambition, of being persistent in trying to sign quality players and improve their squad.  You see this kind of thing everywhere these days: clubs splashing the cash, if you’ll pardon the vulgarity, and buying players all over the shop.  It’s enough to give a prudent outfit like Leeds United a bad name.  And you only have to look back over the past few transfer windows to notice that Leeds don’t indulge in all of this “new signings” shenanigans.  No, sir.  They just promise to, that’s all.  And promises are made to be broken.

That’s the nub of it, really.  If the powers that be at Elland Road really want to know why some of us out here are less than happy with the way things are being run, they really need to look to themselves – and try and avoid a few less-than-helpful practices.  For instance – and this is especially important for people who have set their stall out with “transparency and fan engagement” as buzzwords – could we have a bit more straightforwardness, and a few less tantalising tweets, coy hints, teasing smileys and irrelevant bollocks about coffee mornings with random billionaires?  That would be nice.  And again – if you’re going to make promises about transfer targets and takeover completions – why not keep a few of them?  That would possibly go towards filling the credibility vacuum that you currently inhabit.

What the fans really want, in the extremely short term, is to be treated like adults rather than as unruly and demanding children whose expectations have to be carefully managed, lest they become recalcitrant and ill-behaved.  All of this drip, drip of promising but ultimately false rumours will not get us anywhere.  No more Red Bull jokes, please.  Likewise, less of the details about coffee-based pre-prandial engagements – unless there’s something likely to come of it by way of solid investment and the funding of some ambitious plans.  Contrary to what you might think, you suits in the boardroom, we’re all grown-ups out here, and we want to be dealt with fairly and squarely, rather than fed a diet of condescending rubbish designed to obscure what’s really going on.

If Ross McCormack is still a Leeds United player by the end of January, I’ll be happy, if a little worried about his future in the summer and beyond.  But don’t expect me to be all ecstatic just because one preliminary bid has been turned down – recent history has taught me, and others out here, not to be quite so gullible.  It’s taught us to expect the worst of Leeds United, for then we won’t be quite so disappointed when the worst happens – as it has over the recent past, with unfailing regularity.  And don’t expect us to be grateful when promises are made and broken, when expectations are raised and then sent crashing down.  There’s no use pouting away in the boardroom about how unappreciative we all are.  Treat us as adults, tell us straight, stop peddling crap – and then see how the attitude changes.  It’s worth a try, gentlemen, surely?

Just at the moment, all the McCormack talk dominates other matters, and we’re being invited to be happy that a bid has been turned down.  Meanwhile, the last few days of this window slip by, and while we all wait and see if the Hammers come back with an improved bid, we’re not nagging you about takeover completions and inward bound signings – are we?  Well some of us are, and we’ll continue to do so, whatever smokescreens may be put up to deflect us.

There’s an old saying from across the Atlantic: “The wind blew, and the crap flew, and for days the vision was bad.”  Count on it, Mr Haigh & Co – most of the fans of Leeds United are a lot more clear-sighted than you might wish to believe.

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30 responses to “Leeds United Owners Need to Start Playing Straight With the Fans – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Worry not Elland Rd…….Being a lifelong Hammers fan and living through the shambles our club is in at the moment, I feel sure any bid we offer will be trumped by someone else so…………If you go on to lose McCormack it will be at the hands of another oufit and not our bunch of cowboys……COYI.

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  2. Stephen Neal

    I am getting a little fed up with LUFC now, nothing ever seems settled or sorted. As for contracts in football, well they are just a waste of paper, Ross
    is only months into a newly signed extended contract, and already there are talks of offers to buy him, I am fed up of it all.

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  3. pattayarag

    Ross McC to be sold late on the last day of the transfer window so there’s no time to spend the money on replacements.

    Classic maneuver from the ‘Idiots Guide to Club Management’ by Ken Bates.

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  4. As always rob you put it better than most , on Tuesday I was looking forward to going to elland rd but do you know what , forget it , I don’t make a habit of boycoting games or advocating others to do the same , but for me personally I’m at an age where I can smell the bullshit but I have no intention swallowing it , from now on the board will have to come clean if they want my hard earnt

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    • Cheers Mr O – it’s sad to see an enthusiast like you disillusioned, but the situation is exasperating to say the least. I do think that the club need to show some willingness to earn our faith, trust and support – instead of simply taking them all for granted.

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  5. Funny that, people going round buying anyone. Mmmmm sounds a bit familiar, that’s how you ended up in all this shit in the first place.

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    • Whereas your purchase of Carroll was a sound investment that has taken you right to the top and to success in a semi-final…..oh, hang on. 0-9 you say??

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  6. I agree with HF, Macca would be just warming the subs bench awaiting the championship.

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  7. I have no doubt if Ross wishes to leave he will be out by end of the month regardless of any contract. Sorry chaps I reckon he’s on way out so it will be Varney Hunt and Smith upfront for us for rest of the season.

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  8. Whiterhino

    To be heralded as king of the pond or fodder of a wider ocean? I guess its up to Ross as where he sees his legacy being made?
    Not that I think West Ham is the “wider ocean” as a more enlightened Hammers fan eluded in an earlier post it’s likely to be another club that will cast the hook and juicy worm for Ross…..what is this drivel I can’t even stand angling!
    The thing that may carry our (once) mighty club some favour is just because Ross is our most saleable asset does it make him any good (in a premier league sense)?
    Clubs that raided in the past for Lennon, Ferdinand, Speed, Jordan et al bought with some degree of certainty a guaranteed on field return. I don’t think Ross would mind (too much) admitting perhaps he doesn’t warrant the same “no-brainer” deal credentials.
    The main point in Ross absolutely staying is this- he should be the bench mark of every future signing (or dare I say loan) we make for the next foreseeable few seasons. Potential players should be measured against his skill set, drive and passion.
    They say that if management / ownership was easy every one should be doing it? But without doubt at the moment all those involved with Leeds Utd’s ongoing farce show that common sense and indeed dignity and down right good manners are none evident?
    It is easy! Transparency, communication, hard work and high standards…..a little money helps, but the former four items will develop and encourage the fifth. I had hope Haigh and Co had bought in to some of the afore mentioned, alas, now I think differently……keeping Ross could well be the road to redemption.

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  9. David Lambert

    Thanks for the post Rob. As i read through it i could imagine the voice in your head occasionally rise a few decibels as the piece unfolded on the screen in front of you. But here’s the thing. During this, the latest of our ownership / takeover issue’s, not only have we had silence from the current owners over the situation with the dodgy Italian, given that fully four days had passed before any official quote was given, and this was from the Italian himself making the statement that he was ” assisting the prospective purchasers of Leeds United as an advisor “. So, unless I have misunderstood the last couple of weeks, the owners are not in any negotiation with the Mafia, but chose not to clarify this position ?. And the prospective owners, who were supposedly merely picking the brain of the very same, and afore mentioned Mafia, also chose not to reveal this, rather insignificant piece of information to the very people who decide the future of ANY football club, the fans. So we have to ask ourselves ” WHY “.
    Having tried to pick through the countless guess work, the ” I know somebody with insider knowledge”, and the various other pieces of speculative detritus, I have come to the only sensible conclusion on offer. This is, that the Italian appeared as if by magic, to muddy the waters a bit to deflect from the delay with the takeover. This works for the Tory boy, who will at some point say that he needed to make sure that they were getting the best deal for the club and the fans. Why? I hear you ask, does this suit the Haigh consortium ?. Well, GFH, just prior to the Mafia getting involved, made various statements to the stock exchange with regard to the sale of 75% of our beloved club, and this in turn triggered a sharp spike in the market. This now puts extra pressure on GFH to complete the deal and make good it’s statement to the stock exchange. And so the power of negotiation passes back to Haigh. In the long run this may turn out to be the best way forward, and then again, it might not, only time will tell. But one thing is for certain, if the various people in suits, or whatever else they wear around the negotiation table, don’t get a move on, then the uneasy relationship with the fans will intensify, and that will mean lower crowds, which will mean reduced revenue. This in reality, is a situation where both parties are effectively reducing the value of the asset in question. Now I am not a business man, or of any academic learning, but that just sounds insane.
    And now just a short observation on the Ross situation. The speed in which the board responded to the media following the rather feeble offer was possibly the fastest response with regard to anything from the club in over ten years, and given that the offer could only be described as derisory, I have little doubt that this is little more than another smoke screen in the takeover delay. After all, to sell a prized asset of a whole, during negotiation to sell the whole could only force through further delays. This would appear to mean that for the sale of Ross to go through, firstly, the sale of the club would need to go through, and given that this currently looks unlikely in this transfer window, well, we can all draw our own conclusions.
    I await news with the expectancy of a soon to be father in a maternity ward, hoping, that when it finally arrives, all it’s bits work, it wont let me down in later years and that which ever god or gods they follow they blessed them with the DNA of a Leeds fan.
    MOT

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  10. sniffersshorts

    If not a boycott of game(s), some sort of organised demonstration without aggro or violence should be staged, at ER Tuesday night. Alas I think it would turn nasty as vented steam often turns out this way. But as Mr O has stated it all stinks to high heaven, and once the transfer wheels start turning its a matter of time, as sure as eggs are eggs, Ross has been given assurances of his future at ER. however like us fans he must be thinking what is keeping me from moving, I know he is on twitter I don’t follow it anymore because its Vile. but does anyone have any response from him via twitter. its hard not to swear and I try to contain expletives, I was going to expel but buts the point. its just blood boiling, on top of all the bullshit to hear about McCormack ….. my passion wont ever fail but the patience has gone…. if we get beat on Tuesday and no investment comes in and nothing is spent and if he goes, we are staring at a possible drop and forget about a resurgence in my lifetime.

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  11. West Ham signed 2 Italian strikers today so hopefully that puts an end to any further Ross bids

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  12. ropey wyla

    Excellent article, really on the money, or at least on the gaping chasm of nothingness where the money should be.

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  13. mr a you r stating the bleedin obviose i for one still believe that k/b owns the club .but the drones out there swollowed and gave the so called takeover by gfh the thumbs up .and here we r 12 months later in a worse state than ever.who sold snoddy who sold the rest of our half decent players to norwich .we need a bleedin billioniar to get ou of this mess

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  14. rob ken bates once said he would ruin our great club when he sold the club he said he wanted to leave the club in good hands by this does he mean the new owners carry out his legacy and finish the job of ruining us i am begining to think so

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  15. Nicely put there Rob good read.
    My only hope is that er board actually read it too, even if it’s just one of them to put our thoughts in there.
    May be just may be.
    Always mot even if not so happy mot!!

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  16. john palmer

    IT’s one of those situations, where if Ross stays weare all happy and weve overlooked the fact nobody came in(so they think)

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  17. john palmer

    Cant we get FatSam to sign Austin( more to eat)

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  18. alwaysleeds

    Why would Ross go to West Ham anyway, he’s only going to end up back in the Championship

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  19. @17.10 “Why would Ross go to West Ham” ? mmmm let me think…possibly doubling his wage and a substantial sign on fee!
    and the chance of premiership football….

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  20. One question. How do you stop teams putting an offer in for one of your players? You are putting this as a fault of the owners? All they can do is decline or accept the offer.

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    • Read it again Chris. I specifically stated that you can’t blame the club for the fact that West Ham made an offer, but that they are to blame for that being the only item of news we had to chew on.

      Sheesh.

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  21. Left to find what is to follow, that in said I am finding this relationship with the whites for which I have loved for 42 years being that of a broken heart…. What am I receiving now? Darkness and depression and even the hope is always followed by a scraping from the depths of despair. I have a family which I discipline my love and ambition to, this leeds united sadly offers nothing for me anymore. To those who persist I love you more now than the past of currie and bremner but I cannot. Sadness dissipates me there over. Love and leave x

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  22. Kevin Wilson

    Boycotting games is not the answer, just the opposite in fact. We should all be going and be prepared to give Haigh and the rest of the idiots at GFH the same treatment we gave Bates. I hate to say I told you so (check my Facebook page!) but this is oh so predictable and I said in the summer that if GHF didn’t deliver we should be organising demonstrations as we did with Bates. The only way football fans are going to ‘treated like adults’ Rob is when we have a seat on the board. That’s what we should be demanding. As the sign says we should ‘Keep Fighting’. I’ll NEVER boycott Elland Road. Football fans are in the unique position of confronting our clueless and ignorant ‘money men’ before, during and after matches.

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  23. john palmer

    it’s a case of trudging along in asarcastic frame of mind to games, when we deserve to be striding along with excitement for a play off push D,on’t be too worried about investment though,( any money given to last 2 managers have been wasted) ,a really good manager could get present squad winning.At least rumoured players are improving Graham,Fryatt,Waghorn ALL quality but they are Only talk as usual

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  24. Rob, the points are well made, with the exception of the takeover. I have some sympathy here. These are very difficult and protracted negotiation involving a lot of very serious and complex issues. There are also a lot of private related issues involving other businesses and positions. David is between a rock and a hard place. He would probably like to say more, but he is legally bound to keep the silence. I am pretty sure that he is working very hard to get the best deal he can for Leeds United. This takeover could have serious ramifications for years to come and effect our aility to compete on and off the field. I think that we should give him a bit of support by being patient. We don’t want a quick takeover that is not in the clubs best interest.

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  25. Another good article Rob.
    Rob I see your mate Paul is gobbing off at you in the comments section of another blog (e-football)!! It seems you have conjured your very own stalker! And he seems more than just a little bitter! As they say, “Hater’s gonna hate”!
    Thought you’d be amused by that news 🙂

    Isn’t life depressing at Leeds at the moment tho? It’s incredible how we have gone from pre-Xmas talk of promotion, our best manager since Revie, having near the best form in the league & the prospect of a tantalizing transfer window, the like of which we’ve not witnessed for several thousand moons, to having the worst form in the league bar none, FA Cup humiliation, our biggest lrague defeat for some 55 years to none other than our pathetic yet superior rivals the Wendies, a now seemingly inept manager out of his depth & drowning fast and our captains resignation & the fresh prospect of losing his successor & best player to boot. And the icing on the cake, more botched takeover attempts with the prospect of having our very own Italian Ken Bates buy us. I mean, you couldn’t make this up could you? It’s a wonder there haven’t been 50,000 suicides in the first month of 2014. But still, we are Leeds United and on we will march, together! Only at Leeds I tells ya, only at Leeds.

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