The Leeds United Superiority Complex


There’s been a lot of talk recently about what Leeds United should and shouldn’t be doing over the summer. More specifically what our new owner should be doing to get us back on track. My fellow writer Matt touched on this in his article this week, and fellow Leeds fans were quick to respond with thoughts of their own. Some of the comments got me thinking though – do we, as Leeds fans, have a superiority complex? Almost the opposite of small Club syndrome if you like; are we suffering from big Club syndrome? I think we might be…

Let’s start with Thorp Arch. There was an outcry like you wouldn’t believe when Massimo Cellino announced that they were considering “all options”, including moving out of Thorp Arch entirely. Now that option may very well depend on the terms of the lease, and whether either (a) a lease break exists in the near future, or (b) the current owner, Jacob Adler, is interested in ending our lease prematurely. With the housing shortage in Leeds, it might well be that he could do that, and sell the land for more than Leeds United could buy it back for.

But I digress. Every time exiting Thorp Arch is mentioned, fans hit back with how many players have said Thorp Arch’s facilities were part of a reason for them joining the Club. Really? So they’re signing for Leeds because we have plush training facilities? Sorry, but give me players like Andy Hughes and David Prutton any day – players who didn’t even know if they would get paid when they signed on the dotted line. And has Thorp Arch really improved the vast majority of our signings that much? Did Luke Varney leave a better player than when he joined? Did Paul Green? Would they have been worse players for spending the last 2 years training at Roundhay Park? Probably not!

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Thorp Arch is a Premier League facility, and costs Premier League money to run. The hard facts of the matter are that we are not a Premier League team, haven’t been for a decade, and do not have Premier League money. As a rather ropey analogy, if I was earning a million quid a year, and had a house and a holiday cottage, but then lost my job, what would be the first thing to go? The holiday cottage. If Cellino does decide that we’re turning our back on Thorp Arch I have no problem with that; if and when we get back to the Premier League, we can look at building Premier League class facilities again then.

Supporters also seem aghast at the thought of the likes of Ross McCormack and Sam Byram being sold to ease financial difficulties. Let’s be realistic here – we finished 15th in the Championship this season. Cellino, whether it be because of a lack of due diligence, witchcraft in the books, or buying the Club after one too many bottles of Peroni, HAS to sort out the finances before anything else. Because stumbling from one financial disaster to the next just doesn’t work, as we’ve seen time and time again. Every player has their price – if top Premier League players can be prized away from just about any club, then who are we kidding to think that are players can’t be? If McCormack and Byram are sold (I’m struggling to think of anyone else who might command a decent fee) and the money is used to finally get us on an even keel, who are we to complain? We have no divine right to keep our best players, and we have a duty to finally get the financial albatross off our back.

The above might sound pessimistic, but we’ve labored for too long under the misapprehension that we’re a big Club. At the moment, we simply aren’t. We can’t afford £100k per year each on three club ambassadors. We can’t afford Premier League class training facilities. And we might not be able to afford to keep our best players. None of this is Cellino’s fault; it’s the fault of previous regimes who thought that we could lumber on footing the cost of the above, and worry about it later. Well Cellino is worrying about it NOW, and if that means a season or two of transition, then we will be all the better for it in the long term.

We’ve won titles before Thorp Arch existed, and we’ve sold our best players before and got over it. Try and see the potential in any changes that happen in the coming months, because not making those changes could be even worse for the fallen giants.

Reporter – Ian Wylie

  • merkx66

    I think with Cellino we will finally be able to get rid of the rats, leaches and dead wood (including our “when I was at Reading” manager McDoughnut. Times are changing at our great club and yes we still are big but until we get to the EPL we have to live the life of a Championship club. Once we are out of there then we can finally take our place in English and world football as one of the giants of the game. For the last 10 years we have had no clarity about anything….now we have a ruthless owner who will make and do the necessary changes, we need to perform as a club in 2014…yes we honour our past, yes we are proud of our past but NOW is the time to finally make a great future….

    Merkx66 is in the house…..Long live the greatest club in the world, long live Leeds.


  • markman

    you are correct about being to pessimistic.

    At last we have an owner who actually has a decent amount of money and that was before the sale of cagliari.

    he has stated that no player has to be sold,but,obviously every payer has their price.
    he has his hands full trying to sort out the financial mess that previous regimes
    have left behind.

    I am sure that Thorpe Arch will have the financial ruler over it and then a decision will be made.

    the team will get going when decent investment is put into players.
    i am sure that the days of journeymen are over.

  • ellamforengland

    You never know, season after next we may find we are in the Premier League so TA may be a good thing. On the other hand if we actually owned it and in ten seasons time (that’s not a long time) we are not in what ever league runs the show maybe we may be able to sell it at a fast profit to developers and that my set Leeds up for the rest of my Leeds United life time.. possibly in Yorkshire West League North.. or something.

  • merkx66

    This site is way better than the YEP site…there they actually ban the Leeds fans but let the wums have a field day. However I do miss talking to Legends like Woody68, Hazmataz, Leedsthruandthru and Premierleeds. …


    • RITGK

      Don’t worry Merkx66 you won’t be banned in our gaff.

      • merkx66

        Thanks pal


  • henrymouni

    In recent times I feel more embarrassed than superior.
    Most fans do.
    We have had so many thrashings and humiliations (Rochdale!) that
    cockiness would be crazy.
    We are always optimistic that ‘next season’ will be better, but we have been shot up the backside too often, to let our guard down.
    I live in Lancashire, surrounded by City & Man U fans.
    They don’t hate me any more!
    They feel sorry for me and our plight!!
    They are a million miles above us, with little sign of us closing the gap.
    All I ask is we get a team to be proud of, who give 100%, and play football!
    With Thorpe Arch, Mr C has two choices.
    1. He buys it.
    2. He builds another facility somewhere else.
    He won’t want to pay rent.
    He claims to be big on youth development. Let us see?
    It is not just for training and Youth team and reserve games.
    It has top medical facilities for the physios to work.
    Our opinion matters little, and Massimo will already have decided what he is going to do.
    My only real interest is the squad for next year, and the manager’s situation!
    One suspects it will be Carbone?

    • RITGK

      I’ll hold my hand up Henry and say im guilty of. Every summer we collectively as a site, map out our predictions. Each season i say this is our year. This touches on the ‘big club’ mentality i have itched in myself about Leeds United.

      • henrymouni

        I’m the same, like all fans at this time.
        It tends to fade, as other clubs snap up the players, and we end up with the leftovers!
        Massimo is difficult to predict, and things look crazy just now.
        We are always linked with lots of players, and that whets the appetite, but as you see them going elsewhere,the balloon starts to deflate!

  • Yeboah Constrictor

    Leaving may not have an effect on the seniors signing for the club but it will have an affect on the youngsters in the academy. There are a lot of teams in the area, Huddersfield, both Sheffs, Barnsley, Hull and even Middlesbrough, TA currently helps us stand out from the crowd in signing these youngsters who we can then sell on later. If we sell Byram for £5 million that’s two years worth of rent at TA paid for.

  • theseagullbus

    What a great article-nail on the head.Too many people were calling for previous owners to invest-where MC said we’d been paying over the odds anyway.Time to stop protesting,moaning and get behind the club!

    • RITGK

      The fanbase of Leeds United is so divid right now. 8 -9 years of Ken Bates tenure hasn’t helped the mental stability of the majority of them. It is time we lowered our expectations, admit we are not the force we was and stay United as one once again.

      • henrymouni

        Our expectations are lower than a snakes belly RITGK.
        We KNOW we are not the force we were many years ago.
        You only have to watch us play!

  • henrymouni

    I think it is about time the club got behind us!

  • Les Ives

    agree with most of what you say but can never agree to selling Ros and Byram. Weve sold all the family silver in the past and not moved a single inch further forward. True that the rubbish that used to run the club put all the money into insane east stand building projects and off shore bank accounts but the effect on fans (season ticket sales) would be devastating if we let these players go.
    Build a new era around these players, sell all the dross and let us all having to stop watching teams with half the fan base get to the premier league.

  • Lars

    Agree with this, even selling Ross/Sam. The biggest reason we’re afraid of selling is because Ken allowed us to get our pants pulled down on the selling price(s) of players and then didn’t use the money to buy anyone because the little he took was enough to “balance the books.”
    We are a big club, too big for the Championship(look our stadiums capactiy if we didnt have disgruntled fans and filled it and our away support for example). Facts are facts though that we’re in the Championship and unfortunately until we manage to climb out we have to accept the mantle for the time being and be realistic in our expectation.

    I know i’m oversimplifying but most of the equation is simple in my opinion, fan support and cutting squad size because honestly those are the two biggest drivers of financial clout and sticking within FFP. If we filled the stadium every home game and signed quality over quantity and only had 21 players in the squad instead of 30-32 just imagine what our books would look like.

  • Ian Wylie

    Thanks for the comments, please keep them coming. For those on social media saying that a Club of our size should be able to afford Thorp Arch – well the key word there is ‘should’. Clearly, at the moment, we can’t. Hence it being closed right now, and all options being looked at. That’s the view this article was written from, not the ideal world view that some people might prefer. We can still invest in youth with or without TA – and surely the quality of the coaching staff is more important anyway? But that’s a whole other article 🙂

    • theseagullbus

      Good stuff Ian. Elsewhere I see the world of a Leeds a United is in meltdown with rumours of Dave Hockaday being bandied around.What we need is the right man rather than a big name and an owner experienced in his field,so this could be the right solution for the club. Wilko came from Boston and Mossley but the superiority complex ended with the sacking of our 2nd greatest manager.