“History is written by the victors” a famous quote from Winston Churchill.. and if anyone walks away from Elland Road in a fortnights time feeling pleased with themselves, then that would have to be `President for life’ Kenneth William Bates.
It certainly wont be the 25,000 or so Leeds fans, or most of the playing staff who have paid for, and indeed played for a side that has been woefully short of the required quality to escape the second tier.
Ken Bates in his interview on Friday with the Yorkshire Post describes the season as `Wasted’
And whose fault was that?
Well it wasn’t Ken Bates (according to Ken anyway)
He lambasts the amount of time the takeover by GFH Capital took, citing the exclusivity period which expired in August, but that didnt result in any takeover materialising until after mid December. Worse still he points to the obstacles to success. Namely the requirement for Salem Patel to veto any transfer activity from June 2012 onwards, more importantly the insistence that Neil Warnock stayed as Manager, a manager, it turns out he wanted to sack in October.
Hindsight of course is a wonderful thing and Ken Bates exercises near 20/20 Vision in these circumstances. His interviews set twitter and facebook alight, and this is of course exactly the reason he has failed to keep quiet until his formal departure, namely his relative anonymity post takeover until now has seemingly driven him to boiling point. Bates has clearly exploded, his need for publicity simply taking over wholesale.
His other topics of discussion relate to his other 2 favourite topics, Greed, and his ‘salvation’ of Leeds United. The former topic sees none other than Luciano Becchio slated as his agent apparently was seeking £1,5m a year in wages for someone already the highest paid player at Leeds, surely something in kens words even the `thickest’ (thanks for the insult Ken it just wouldn’t be the same without one) Leeds fan could tell was not sustainable..
He takes a pop at Messrs Johnson, Snodgrass and Kilkenny too. Johnson apparently is a good `squad’ player in the premier league – funny Ken he seems more often than not to be in the starting XI when I look at the paper? And cites the fact that apparently a deal was engineered to allow for Snodgrass’ exit/ release from a contract should we fail to get promoted (coughs loudly) in the unlikely event I mean… no I cant do it…
Snodgrass’ response apparently was that he wouldn’t want to be left high and dry without a contract should he become seriously injured (the selfish swine eh??) Bates then can’t help but to mock Neil Kilkenny’s plight with basement dwelling Bristol City. Greed eh? Its a terrible thing, but there is of course hope in Kens world..
That hope of course come s from, well? Ken of course.
He saved us in 2005 when no one else would. He waxes lyrical on this, and then the fact that his `syndicate’ (again coughs loudly) lost £30m when we went into administration in 2007.
I shall go on no further quite frankly because I cant bring myself to type too much more fiction.
Luciano Becchio and Brad Johnson both tweeted their responses today
“Haha ken bates up to his old tricks again in the Yorkshire post…” – Tweeted Bradders
“Is not true the news about me today in the evening post” – was Becchios typically succinct response.
I think theyre blunt enough though lacking in some poetry. But In short who believes Ken Bates now?
In further revelation Ken would’ve sacked Warnock in October, and mid-takeover just who’d take that job? GFH Capital have already cited notable cashflow issues upon takeover, which needed plugging. Surely those holes would have been in place for a Warnock successor in November? And what of his squad?
Well Ken seems to gloss over the fact that we were `on’ to sign Joel Ward immediately after Jason Pearce. The former of course has been a key player for Palace – theyre in the play off places Ken – you might have seen that.. and yet we failed to raise the transfer fee to do that..
Ken Bates’ revisionism of history continues though as he points instead to the fact `we’ `found’ the money to buy Varney, Austin, Pearce, Peltier.. strange as a claim in light of his claim moments before that GFH stymied any transfer activity? I digress.
The point(s) apparent being that the takeover dragged on for several months, and that we were apparently short of cash during that period. The suggestion seems to be that had Ken Bates held the reins fully neither would have been an issue? Really?
This is the same Leeds United that had mortgaged off corporate revenues from the corporate catering contracts in the new east stand? That loaned money from ticketus mortgaged on future season ticket sales? That borrowed monies from Enterprise Insurance? Seems we were pretty `stretched’ before GFH Capital came on the scene.
And our transfer record? Well let me ask anyone stil in doubt about the Ken Bates reign a simple question. How happy were you with the players we sold – and those we bought – what was that? not at all? A side that sold Delph, Lennon, Snodgrass, Schmeicel, Howson, Gradel, Beckford, Johnson…need we say much more? Well possibly.
For all of Bates seeming moral indignation over Tom Lees treatment, a point on which few would disagree, think back to his treatment of Leeds supporters, `morons’ `dissidents’ `sickpots’ even today he refers to `even the thickest Leeds fan’ understanding his points of management? He just doesnt know when to stop.
But lets think about the future under Bates that we avoided. Under a Ken Bates led Leeds we would almost certainly have sold Byram, McCormack, and god alone knows what we’d have got back from Norwich for Becchio.. If GFH wanted to veto such involvement then quite frankly – good.
This is after all the man who sold Howson in the January transfer window.. a club hero, home-grown leader, that act on its own was unforgiveable. Just how would he have responded to a £4m bid from Newcastle in January for Sam Byram? Or £2m from Sunderland for Lees? The mind boggles
Think back to life under Bates.
You pretty much knew your best players would be sold, and that their incoming transfer fee would not be spent on – another transfer fee. You knew if Leeds went up for a quality free signing, that we may well end up beaten on wages by a Palace, a Blackburn or even a Bristol City.. That our cash was being spent on ruinous infrastructure projects.. not on the squad.
So for Ken Bates to blame GFH for where we are now after 8 years of his own control seems rich to say the least. The noises made by our good players as they left all speak of a chairman who was instrumental in their wage negotiations, who wasn’t above criticising players for their desire to leave, or to better their wages. SO again for him to criticise Warnock for lambasting Tom Lees for his red card seems rather implausible, even in the same statement he’s calling players who left for Norwich.. He can even be consistent in the same article.
If Bates is to remain President he poses an enormous destabilisation risk too to GFH Capital, if he feels they are not above commercial criticism. He then becomes the maverick element frightening off investors, so it will be interesting to see if he retains that role.
GFH on Friday announced Peter Lorimer’s move to an `ambassadorial’ role for the club, and that they will look to appoint other former players to such roles, so it looks very much like the Bates infrastructure is going.
Ken Bates tells us proudly how we are in a better state now than when he bought us in 2005. And to be fair he’s right. We were on the verge of liquidation. Now someone has bought us with money to invest, but had they not one suspects the ruinous commercial and playing decisions made under the Bates regime would not have seen us survive much longer..
For me in 2007 the threats to wind up the club made by Bates unless his re-purchase of the club were the most unforgiveable acts he made as chairman. He showed his true colours then to us, he was not a chairman who ever loved Leeds United or its supporters.
I’ll round off with a final quote from Churchill – who famously was reprimanded inthe halls of the house of commons by a Housekeeper when drunk. “You Sir are Drunk!” she exclaimed, his retort “Yes madam, but In the morning I will be sober – and you will still be ugly”
I’ll paraphrase that. Leeds United are in the mire now, thanks to Ken Bates. But one day we’ll be back inthe Premier League. Ken Bates’ reign will always be ugly.