Leeds United’s Promotion Has Ripped the Life Out of the Football League – by Rob Atkinson

The Champions celebrate at the home of the play-off losers

For ten years, Leeds United has been the jewel in the EFL crown, a gem of a club amid the various also-rans, has-beens and nonentities which made up the Football League roster in any given season. Leeds was the fixture they all looked out for, everybody’s Cup Final, the club they just couldn’t stop talking about. That jewel in the crown status was always undeniable, everybody knew that United represented the biggest asset in the sub-Premier League game.

But Leeds were a diamond that was neither treasured, valued nor lovingly polished – instead they were continually chipped away at, treated with little or no respect, sniped at routinely, whenever the opportunity presented itself. Minus 15 and the golden share, Spygate, over-celebrating. The trumped-up charges kept on coming, a run of 59 games without a penalty exemplified a corrupt organisation’s determination to cling on to its biggest asset and favourite whipping boy. For the EFL, it was good while it lasted. With perennial TV stars Leeds United as its most famous, infamous and notorious member, the League retained a certain cachet, despite the sparkling allure of the Premier League.

Now Leeds United has disappeared from the English Football League and, bereft of its biggest draw, that sorry organisation must now reflect on what it has left to recommend it. And, whatever efforts might be made to talk up the spectator and viewer appeal of Derby County, Nottingham Forest or even, comically, Brentford, the inevitable conclusion will be that, without Leeds, the cupboard is pretty bare.

There was a certain karmic satisfaction, inevitably, in seeing United celebrate at the home ground of one of their most envious and resentful rivals. Binoculars of the mime variety were brandished by Leeds personnel on the pitch after United’s 3-1 success at Derby confirmed that our hungover reserves were more than a match for anything the EFL has to offer, with the pressure off and the title in the bag. Off the pitch, a jubilant Victor Orta had thoughtfully sourced some actual binoculars to help him cavort with the unrestrained joy of winners against the odds, for this title success has been the story of a club winning a league that wished them anything but success. How teeth must have been gritted, how bile must have been swallowed in the corridors of power as those scenes unfolded at Pride Park.

A guard of honour had been reluctantly formed prior to the game, with the Derby players, who had gleefully rubbed United’s noses in play-off defeat a year before, now having to applaud the Champions. The attitude of “we’ve got to do this, but we hate it” was exemplified by one silly young man in the Rams line-up who thought it cool and edgy to slow-time his clapping. He came across as a sulky kid, but his demeanour neatly summed up the attitude of the whole organisation that Leeds were now, gladly, leaving. A charge of “over-celebrating” followed, petty but typical. We reflected that, a year previously, Derby had escaped censure despite one of their number defecating on the Elland Road dressing room floor in a typically disgusting gesture of disrespect. One rule for Leeds, another for the rest. The game’s rulers were staying true to type right up to the bitter end.

Derby, of course, went on to play-off defeat against Villa, leaving that solitary win at Elland Road, after three previous defeats in the same season, as the highlight of their recent history. It’s still celebrated across their social media with unconscious irony, a determined focus on winning a battle before losing the war. A turd on the dressing room floor is such an apt symbol for that club.

But will I now feel moved to gloat over the reduced status of the Championship? Will I laugh triumphantly over the fact that Derby are currently preparing to host Barrow as United look forward to a visit to Anfield? If you think I’d be ready, willing and able to indulge in such blatant Schadenfreude – then you’d be absolutely, one hundred percent spot-on correct.

Marching On Together

32 responses to “Leeds United’s Promotion Has Ripped the Life Out of the Football League – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Christopher watson

    Does anyone have any news of Rodrigo ? It seems like the club has misplaced him or maybe he is at Bielsas talking football.


  2. paul pearson

    They still have Bora and Forest to milk but it makes me wonder if sky will still be up for injecting the same sums of cash in to the EFL. Not much point now is there!?


  3. Ropey Wyla

    Quite right Rob as always, for the EFL it is a case of after the lord mayor’s show, they should have been gracious hosts instead of vindictive overseers and their petty disdain for our great and historic club left a foul taste in the mouth on more than one occasion but we are free of their tyranny and vitriol and the championship is poorer for our departure as the premier league is richer, as are Leeds United (at least until we start paying Rodrigo’s wages ha ha ). MOT


  4. steve Emsley

    so very true Rob. to this day i still don’t think we would have been given a penalty if it was not for social media. No lets make hay in the real mans league. its just a shame that our great loyal fans cant be at every game just yet.


  5. I totally agree with everything you have said Rob and I’ve been saying most of those things for years. – Leeds have been everybody’s cup final, everybody’s verbal punch bag, everybody’s cash cow, everybody’s sideline hobby, everybody’s pet hate of envy, everybody’s biggest home attendance of the season, everybody’s sold-out away section. everybody’s team to victimise, everybody’s team to gang up against, everybody’s team to unfairly hang out to dry and everybody’s team to gain an advantage from. There’s two sayings that describe Leeds presence in the EFL and those are “There’s no show without Punch” and “A big fish in a little pond” or Ken Bates quotation, which was “Leeds subsidise this league”. – Who are the “B Team” at SKY Sports Championship channel going to to use as their box office name for their second rate live football now ? – Let’s just hope that Leeds are going straight, keep their noses clean and don’t end up back in that prison of hate.


  6. saintyboy1

    A little self indulgent and to the point but, nonetheless, i couldn’t agree more!


  7. Absolutely. You can see the news interest is now non existant in the Championship and revenues will drop away. A nice leaving present for all those miserable dishonest EFL chief executives from Hardaker onwards. May we never return.


  8. Gordon Baxendale

    I do hope that this time around that we as true supporters don’t try to “live the dream” but actually realise “Radz project “ and end up as a genuine contender for all awards given by the Premiership to the best club in England.
    Support must be genuine as it became under the great DON and please don’t start knocking the members of the team when we occasionally lose points, Motivate, then analyse, then the team should earn the respect of all.
    M. O. T.
    74th season supporting


  9. Stephen Taylor

    Absolutely Bob on. Leeds pull more viewers on TV than 13 other premier lge teams even when we were in the championship. Without us in that lge its lost its biggest cash cow. And like the fella above says, they have thrown every obstacle at us along the way. Its an utter joke that Derby will not now be facing a deduction of points or face any recriminations over the illegal sale of their ground.
    We will return to everyone’s second favourite team in the premier lge, Just like O’Leary’s babes, through honest endeavor, Bielsa’s infectious demeanour, and an exiting style of play. This club is still one of the big 6/7 without a doubt, when West Ham and Spurs can fill a 60K stadium, we can fill an 80K, we just need to tread slowly and let momentum takes it course. In 3 years time we will rise like a phoenix from the ashes to take our rightful place among the elite. Its just a shame its taken us this long. But with owners like Bates, Cellino, GFH long banished and Radz and Orta and Bielsa at the helm the futures bright. Bielsa will stay another 3 seasons you wait and see! he’s putting together a legacy behind the scenes, that when he leaves he will leave a team of superstars. Some of the young players that have been recruited lately will come through the ranks under Bielsa’s tuition and become brilliant. Its never felt better for many a year to be a Leeds United fan. The passion still never dies even after 55 years. Viva Bielsa’s revolution!


  10. Steve Atkinson

    Brilliant Rob👍…. I’m not gloating either😁


  11. Fuck ’em all, we are premier league.


  12. Eddie OReilly

    You should crowd source to get enough for a full page spread in the daily rags and get that published its as true as true can ever be MOT


  13. Well done to the whites and sour grapes for the EFL should have shown a bit more respect your prized asset and major cash cow has now departed for greener pastures and deservedly so


  14. Reality Cheque

    Amen. Rob
    take a bow son


  15. andrew hinks

    Derby & clough deserved each other back in the day!
    a defecating team in every sense & a corrupt drunk in charge!

    plus we GAVE them their title in 72 thanks to hardaker the LUFC hater!
    glad they enjoyed the knees up @ ER in there cup final (ooops semi sorry after 3 defeats the same season!…nice!)

    well done rob & hope your getting to grips with the loss of your brother now?

    Andy H
    Kent White since 69 !


    • Thanks for that – still hard times mate, but the LUFC thing has helped, especially knowing how pleased my bro and dad would be. Football was always one of the few things we could ever agree on. MOT


  16. David Wake

    This is before the thrashing that is awaiting at Liverpool. You would do well to hold your horses and brag that you belong in the Premier League at the end of the season when you have deserved it.


    • Don’t be so silly. We belong in the EPL because we won the Championship at a canter. Try not to let bitter obsession cloud your judgement (for want of a better word). You’re too timid to say who you support, but it’s clearly one of those clubs whose fans define themselves by their hatred of Leeds.


  17. So true, as ever, Rob – and all the more important that we stay up. Let the EFL sink to oblivion in our wake!


  18. Mike Durham

    Brilliant as ever Roberto and leaving the EFL is much akin to getting the all-clear after a biopsy! It’s malignant talons have been grabbing and prodding the beast that is Leeds United for many a year now and I look forward to their timely demise when trying to govern the fodder that remains within its ranks.

    Try not to be too hard on David Wake/ Woke/ Wa*k ; I think the word “awaiting” is a pretty good effort for a 3 year-old.


  19. Gus Quigley

    After reading this article 3 times I have enjoyed it more each time.
    I am further delighted that Rob Atkinson refers to leeds united as United. 😁


  20. Mick Easingwood

    You forgot to mention Derby getting off the hook with their blatant over valuation of Pride Park. It incredibly increased in value by 100%, £40M to £80M. £40M of wriggle room on their balance sheet. No wonder they could afford all the Premier League loanees and the Rooney deal as well.


  21. William ritson.

    Rob every word you said is true, it’s been said before nothing ever came easy for Leeds, but this wonderful club never gives up.


  22. A dream come true but so sad that those who love this great club could not be there to shed their tears of pure joy. The EFLs loss is the Premieres golden goose because we are going to fill to capacity every stadium in the land. Whether it’s through misguided hatred or the fact that we are the greatest club and the biggest draw in Britain there just won’t be enough tickets to go around.
    So roll on normality and let’s all start to really live the dream we have been praying for.


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