LUFC TSA: Takeover merry go round
Tim Steere looks at the developments over the last week with the possible takeover at Elland Road in his latest article for Vital Leeds.
It`s been a while since Leeds have been embroiled in takeover rumours and speculation.
I remember the days of Krasner and the Yorkshire consortium, and Sebastian Sainsbury and Ken Bates, amongst others around 2004/5.
When TOMA ruled the Leeds United message boards, as anything which could bring hope in the darkest days of the dire finances would be too good to be true.
£25m from Sainsbury seen sitting in the stands at Elland Road, is this the big takeover and Leeds` future saved…didn`t think so never mind, move along people nothing to see here.
Then one takeover did happen and has divided fans ever since, the Chelsea element of one Ken Bates, and it`s been his arrival that some say has stabilised us, while other say it`s taking us nowhere.
One argument for the stagnant position Leeds may find themselves in is that since Bates` arrival at the club, any possible involvement from outside investors has never materialised.
Reason for this seems to vary again depending on who you listen to. Bates says no-one has stumped up the cash when the time comes, some say they were scared off by Bates. And when it comes to a full takeover, forget about it. Bates was never going to let go easily or cheaply.
Leeds have had many ups and downs during Bates` reign, but off field there has seemingly been some progress.
The current financial situation of the club has been widely recognised as being in a decent state. Leeds were one of three clubs in the Championship in the 2010/11 season to actually make a profit according to a very interesting article found here The Swiss Ramble
The means by which Leeds got to this point are perhaps dubious with the administration process, but, overall the club is relatively healthy at this point.
A few weeks ago, Ken Bates said a potential Saudi investor was scared off by protests made by fans about the chairman`s reign. Apart from this open admittance, very little has been said by the club about whether anyone is going to invest.
Suddenly this week, in want of a better phrase, it has all kicked off. Reports of a Canadian based group in takeover talks, then a Chicago based consortium, then the seemingly annual appearance in British football of a rich Middle Eastern businessman was also talked about.
The club even said they were in talks with potential long-term investors. A very rare occurrence that Leeds would say something publicly of this nature.
At this juncture though, it seems the American group based in Chicago are in pole position. Reports from Phil Hay at the YEP says they have been shown around Elland Road and Thorpe Arch last week and have been locked in talks over investment. To have been shown around the club suggests they are serious, but we have got to this point before, TOMA.
So forgive me for not being overly optimistic. But as levels of apathy over the club by its fans reaches its highest point, I admit news like this is a huge boost, especially if it results in a change in ownership which has been the biggest crux of Leeds fans.
Again the article I linked to earlier, shows that despite a high turnover, the club don`t spend anywhere near as much on transfers. And with captain Snodgrass revealing he`s sceptical about the clubs promises on signings and ambition, there is a real fear of losing our best talent because of a serious lack of investment.
We have missed on Joel Ward because we couldn`t stump up the money, despite the fact we actually have it. We spent £500,000 on Jason Pearce, which was unheard of for Leeds, but we have lost one of the best talents at right back in the league to Palace despite Ward wanting the move to Elland Road.
It is this kind of missed target that worries Leeds fans, and people like Robert Snodgrass. One of the best players in the division could leave unless we show more desire to sign players and really push on. Where is the sign of that?
One swallow doesn`t make a summer, and Pearce`s signing won`t cut the mustard. It`s a great signing and a much needed signing, but there needs to be more. Warnock has grown frustrated and for our captain to come out and say what he has about the clubs ambition is very worrying. How often does any player come out and say that about their club? Any other player would be instantly transfer listed for making such comments, but he isn`t just any other player.
The sale of Jonny Howson started a real campaign to oust Bates, and has been picking up momentum at a great speed. The main, key argument for the need to do so is to build a team, not corporate facilities.
Leeds have fallen very short in this respect, but some people say it`s better the devil you know. Blackburn have shown that not all foreign owners are necessarily good for a club.
But in terms of nervousness and a lack of optimism around the fans at the club, this off season to me harks back to 2004. But instead of nerves about the finances and the clubs very existence, it`s about who will push us on and spend the money to make the kind of signings that Neil Warnock wants that will get Leeds back to the big time.
Leeds fans once more are looking at these takeover stories with hope and optimism like eight years ago. Where due to the levels of apathy around the club, anything would be better than what we have right now. But have that pile of salt next to you just in case, you may need a pinch of it quite soon.
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