Tag Archives: New Den

The Mirror: Leeds United “Now Charging Players to Train and Play” – by Rob Atkinson

Paddy Kenny - naturally fit

Paddy Kenny – naturally fit

In the latest cost-cutting move by owner Massimo Cellino, Leeds United players will now have to purchase gym-membership style passes in order to be able to use the club’s training facilities, reports the Mirror.  This radical measure has been taken in addition to previously announced steps whereby the players have to bring their own packed lunches to training, and pay for the privilege of hand-washing their own kit, using a washboard and a mangle, “just like-a Grandmama used to have”.

According to the Mirror, the training fees are likely to be at the higher end as compared to well-known health clubs such as LA Fitness or Nuffield – but the club owner feels that a premium price is appropriate as several of his players are earning quite high wages, some of them well into four figures. The innovation has been coolly received by some of United’s top profile stars, many of whom are now considering their contractual positions with the club – with the possibility even of opting out of the training aspect altogether.

Goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, no longer a first team regular towards the end of last season, is one who has decided that, if he has to pay, he’ll simply not train.  “It just doesn’t feel right to me,” the former QPR custodian was quoted as saying, through a mouthful of chips. “Surely, it’s the responsibility of the club to get us fit and keep us in match trim?  Luckily, I’m a naturally fit sort of guy anyway and I don’t need all this intensive pre-season stuff.  Besides, training just makes me tired.”  Elsewhere in the squad, the idea of charges to train have been enough to convince one prospective signing that he should take the desperate option of a move to Ipswich instead.

Future measures communicated to the Mirror include a requirement that the match-day squad will have to hire Elland Road in order to fulfil home fixtures. Again, a parallel with real life is being drawn, and it is being pointed out by the club that no sports centre would simply allow use of its five-a-side hall for nothing, nor yet of its all-weather or grass pitches outside.  “Times are hard, and sporting institutions have to make ends meet. Thorp Arch and Elland Road are world-class facilities, and the players have used them gratis for far too long. We have to make respect, my friend,” said a club insider who wished to be identified only as “Big Mass”, in order to preserve his incognito status.  This is thought to be a reference, however, to either Signor Cellino, or the nickname for Paddy Kenny himself.

It is thought that all charges incurred by players for using the club’s facilities will, in the first instance, be deducted directly from their salaries. As and when a review of the archaic practice of actually paying the players is conducted, this too may have to be re-thought.

Leeds United are due to open their league programme at Millwall on August 9th (kick-off 3pm as well as a few outbreaks earlier in the day).  Cut-price coach travel to the New Den, complete with an overnight stopover and breakfast, is being offered to the first team squad at an unbeatable £399.99 a head.  It’s onwards and upwards to a new era at Elland Road.

Millwall Defender Dunne Can’t Wait for Cup Final Opener Against Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

Alan Dunne anticipates the visit of Mighty Leeds

Alan Dunne anticipates the visit of Mighty Leeds

Last season’s relegation strugglers Millwall have been granted the best possible reward for their achievement in avoiding the drop back into League One. Despite the undoubted attraction of a local derby against ex-Premier League Fulham in the season’s second week, it is the visit of Leeds United on the opening day of the campaign that has the Lions salivating. There’s nothing like a Cup Final to bring out the fans, and Millwall will confidently be expecting a bumper attendance for what is the biggest home fixture for any club in the Championship.

Millwall veteran Alan Dunne – sent off a record nine times in his Lions career – happily confirmed that the opening game simply could not have been any bigger for the tiny London outfit.  “To start with a game at The Den against Leeds is exciting,” the defender said. “It’s the perfect opening day game. The fans will be there in numbers so it promises to be a cracking atmosphere. As a player you look to all the really big games.”

It’s an attitude that Leeds United will need to be wary of, having slipped to defeat at the New Den last season, despite the fact that Millwall proved themselves over the course of the league programme to be one of the weaker teams in the division.  A tendency to slip up against inferior opposition was a hallmark of United’s failure to make any impact on the promotion race and, along with the lesser Yorkshire clubs, the Pride of Bermondsey have long been a thorn in Leeds’ sides – passionately encouraged by a small but violent following for whom a victory over the Yorkshire giants counts as Christmas, a few birthdays, a knees-up with Mother Brown and a first date with a close relative, all rolled into one.

Taking into account all the factors that normally affect this fixture, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything will predict the following: a score draw at best for the travelling Whites to open the seasonal account; at least a dozen grinning apes proudly wearing the shirt of a club in Turkey which is Millwall’s broad equivalent in terms of sickness and violence; Millwall club officials standing by and doing nothing while this goes on, as the illiterate hacks in the local press turn a blind eye also; and lastly, Millwall’s highest gate of the season as early as this opening day, with a steady decline thereafter as the Cup Final recedes into memory.

Leeds for their part will hope for a win in what should be one of the easier away fixtures on the calendar, but as we have seen, other factors come into play.  A point would be a decent haul, especially as a routine victory can be expected in a St. Valentines Day massacre of an Elland Road return, where the brave Neanderthals who so faithfully follow their team around the country can be expected to muster no more than a dozen or two, against a chorus of the usual excuses about “bubble” fixtures.

So, a new season draws that bit closer – and, even while the World Cup is still being played for in Brazil, thoughts at home are already turning to the league battles ahead.  Just ask Alan Dunne, who simply can’t wait for the massive Leeds United game – and perhaps a chance to hit double figures in his red card tally? Time alone will tell.