Leeds Fans Flocking Back as New Owner Prepares to Acquire Elland Road – by Rob Atkinson


Radrizzani – master of all he surveys

Suddenly, there’s a feelgood factor about Leeds United, one that I’ve long predicted would come about when – and only when – the club became free of Massimo Cellino. Only when the maverick Italian was gone would we be able to look ahead with optimism. Only then could we start Marching On Together again, instead of being hopelessly disunited. And now it’s finally happened – Cellino has departed from Elland Road, a harmful and divisive influence whose supporters could see only good in him, and whose detractors could see only bad.

Whoever was right – and the truth, as ever, was probably somewhere in the middle – it was this dramatic polarisation of opinion in the support base that was so bad for Leeds. A support divided against itself could not be wholeheartedly behind the club. Now, the issue dividing us is gone, and it must be every United fan’s fervent hope that we can all start singing once again from the same hymn sheet.

New sole owner Andrea Radrizzani has certainly got off on the right foot, and we will expect him to maintain his positive outlook. For the first few days of his tenure, taking up the option on Garry Monk‘s extra year, with a longer-term deal to be discussed, would have been fine on its own. Add to that tying down one of the most exciting midfield prospects in the country to a four year deal, and we appear to be cooking with gas – because Ronaldo Vieira is every bit as hot a prospect as his famous names would suggest. And then, the cherry on the icing on the cake for this momentous first week of Radrizzani – it would seem that the club will once again own its spiritual home of Elland Road “by the end of the summer”.

That stadium purchase timescale lacks the immediate impact of Cellino’s “off down the ATM to get the money to buy the ground on Day One” promise. But the difference is, of course, that Radrizzani will probably deliver on his less sensational claim, whereas Cellino’s soundbite was just the first of many he failed to bring to fruition. Any Leeds fan will tell you it’s always felt better when our home was our own – it’s a reassuring prospect to look forward to and, at last, we can look forward with confidence.

And the summer as a whole is looking a lot brighter than previous summers have turned out to be, irrespective of the amount of sunshine we get. Radrizzani has stated that he is “here to make history, not money”. That’s a very sensible and realistic plan for any owner; making good on it is something else, but the intentions are spot on. It’s rightly said that the only way to make a small fortune out of football is by starting off with a large one – but the owner who has his eye on making history will inevitably find that financial rewards accrue also. Just getting into the Premier League would yield a bountiful harvest, as either Huddersfield or Reading are about to find out. The difference is that, when it’s Leeds United’s turn, there will be a new force in the top league capable of building on the financial bounty to make a mark in the game.

These are exciting times, as witness the flood of season ticket purchases for the next campaign. United have hit 15,000 already, before the old season is actually finished. That’s an impressive performance compared to other recent years, and a sign of the new feeling around the club. What divided us has gone, what has always united us is still alive and kicking; that big club buzz of an awakening giant.

Good luck, Andrea, and all your new backroom staff. As for the future – bring it on. The way things have started, it should be one to relish.

18 responses to “Leeds Fans Flocking Back as New Owner Prepares to Acquire Elland Road – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I was 11 years old when we started the 1989/90 promotion push and i remember the buzz that summer of 89 created….vinny haircuts….john hendrie a marque signing….strachan, sterland, fairclough….it just felt bloody magic and that we were on the cusp of something….i only hope 2017/18 (nearly 30 years on) history is about to repeat itself!! It would make this middle aged man very very happy !! Mot from New Zealand


  2. Philip of Spain.

    Looks like we have in position,a man of principle,intelligence and means to take us where we want to go.The man from Milan no speak with forked tongue. The 4 yr.extension for Viera was a master stroke,especially has the ink wasn’t dry from his takeover,brilliant.#”I can feel it,something in the air tonight”.


  3. It is a pity Mr Rob that you are unable to show the same grace as Mr Cellino in his parting words.


  4. Mark Vadgama

    Hi Rob,
    A well-considered article as ever. And given your past comments on Cellino (which I happen to agree with), commendably even-handed.
    I started supporting Leeds back in 1970 and like many others, have experienced the roller-coaster that is our wonderful club – and community.
    I think AR is a modern appointment for a club that should be much more of a powerhouse on the football stage. But you have to earn that right.
    I think he’ll prove to be a shrewd, intelligent and effective operator – and ‘guardian’ of the club at both a commercial and, dare I say, spiritual level. I think he ‘gets’ the club and has the right philosophy.
    So perhaps it was no bad thing we weren’t promoted this year. Now we can properly prepare to succeed.


  5. China White

    Well written as usual Rob. I enjoyed last season more than any in many long years and even the downer of not making top 6 could not take away the pure joy of being a real contender for a long part of the campaign. Things will only get better now we have this guy running our club. He has the feel of being a winner. Soon we will be back.


  6. It would be fantastic if this week’s takeover news could be followed by an announcement that our club has once again taken ownership of its own stadium, but here’s a thought.

    As it stands, we don’t know the extent of the financial clout that Andrea Radrizzani has at his disposal for the club’s benefit, but in some quarters it’s been suggested that it may be wise for fans not to get carried away and expect too much. If that actually is the case, and buying back the stadium is going to cost the reported £17m (yep, Massimo’s favourite number), I just wonder if that money would be better spent in the short term on team strengthening. This would self evidently improve the chances of promotion, and then with the income that being a Premier League side would provide the purchase of the stadium would be a less significant drain on resources.

    As I said just a thought, and promotion can’t be guaranteed no matter how much is spent on new players, but what’s your view Rob?


    • I’m in favour of a stadium buyback as it enhances the capital value of the club, which would then appreciate, especially with long overdue development plans. It also rids the company of the annual rental millstone – and just makes everything about LUFC feel better.


  7. Peter Proky

    Seemed like the Cellino ‘fors’ based their opinion on performances, signings and results and ‘againsts’ formed opinion on court cases and sackings. Takes your pick I guess.

    Also, disappointed to read LUST’s statement yesterday, (if genuine). They don’t seem ready to join the party and could continue to be an irritating, noisy and divisive minority.

    The news of the ground purchase has got me thinking AR has a sizable piggy bank and is keeping it under wraps so that player prices don’t double over night. If that’s the case, he will probably buy the low priced players first so as not to show his hand. I’m currently somewhere between optimistic and giddy………. MOT.


  8. NickB(50yrsLU)

    The above comment rather proves your polarisation point, Rob ! Yes, Radrizzani does seem to have his head screwed on. There were Bates, GFH and Cellino tinkering around with peripherals such as sacking tea ladies and adding ticket surcharges to include a pie, when this guy could see the most significant drain on income was the rental, and the appalling 3% increase per annum, which may have seemed reasonable when set in 2004 but which has been ever more extortionate each year since the 2008 crash. Also, unlike the others, he has the liquidity to do something about it.
    You probably read that article – Express, I think – the other day, which stated the deal was that Cellino would sell his 50% to Radrizzani only if Leeds failed to go up. It lends weight to my suspicion that the players were told, around the time of the last Internationals break, that it was imperative for the future wellbeing of the club that they didn’t gain promotion this season. If we had gone up, Cellino would have hung around our necks like a maggot-infested albatross, vetoing any sensible suggestion from his partner. Now is an excellent time to be buying back the ground, when we seem to have in place a manager who can take us to the Premiership next season avoiding the play-offs, if given the modest resources that gained Bournemouth and Brighton promotion. It would be a powerful statement of intent, now Radrizzani is sole boss, if he could demonstrate his football-first credentials by elevating Garry Monk from Head Coach to Manager. It’s already clear that he wants to remain behind the scenes, where all good owners should be. I was considered a doom and gloom merchant on the YEP forum – I note that Phil Hay is still posting articles without reading them back – but I believe I was simply seeing the situation as it was. Hordes on there hailed each new owner or manager as the saviour who would take us to the promised land in one season. For once, if that epithet were to be attached to our new owner, I might be inclined to dust off my tambourine and wave my arms in the air along with them ! M.O.T. and G.U.T. (Going Up Together).


  9. Brad Twersky

    Love your writing, Rob…but I wish you would have waited until tomorrow to write this article. My guess is it would be slightly different in tone!


    • I wish the same. Just have to reflect on this, and maybe write a different article tomorrow. Then again, I’m going away for a couple of weeks, so I might just chill and let the dust settle.


  10. China White

    Just when I get that feel good factor that all is finally coming right in our world, the reality that this is Leeds United comes raining onto my parade in the cruelest way. We are cursed- no question!


  11. needs to find a new manager now though 🙂


  12. Hi Rob,
    Are you you still so so sure about our new owner? I would say Monk has been constructively sacked it has saved Leeds a fortune for him to resign .I responded to an earlier post from you about you praising monk and you took thie piss .,I ask again have you considerd why Swansea got rid? Why all the positive vibe we played really well for 4 matches in the whole season got beat by a non league team in the cup for gods sake Rotherham played us off the park at home for the first halve .wendies at home was so lucky and as for last few matches appalling What are your thoughts ?


    • I’m not sure what point you’re making here. You seem to be having a go at both the owner and our lately departed manager. For what it’s worth, I think Monk is at fault here, but I remain unclear as to your position.


      • My position is Monk had too big an ego made choices against the well being of Leeds Unied got rid of players who he he considerd a threat to his own ego. As of yet I have no issue with the new owner. I
        I also disagree with your statement re polorisation of leeds fans the vast majority where not ,they are the by far and away the vast majority. mot
        I enjoy reading yr stuff on news now, its the only thing worth reading there now.


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