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Sometime yesterday, a document was published on the Leeds City Council (LCC) website outlining the possibility of a council loan being used to help Leeds United repurchase Thorp Arch. You can see the document by clicking the link below. 

Leeds City Coucil proposal (PDF)

It basically says that Leeds United have until the 10th of October to repurchase Thorp Arch before a buy-back clause expires. Although the club will have an additional twenty years use of the facility if they can’t buy it back, this will incur yearly increasing rent which is a growing burden on the football clubs prospects. 

The document explains that Leeds United has tried to find other sources of funding, but due to their poor credit rating and the current recession, this has been impossible. 

The document itself seems heavily in favour of lending Leeds United the money, or buying the Thorp Arch training complex for the council and taxpayer and leasing it to Leeds United for a reasonable fee. The agreement would include an option for Leeds United to buy the complex from LCC when their finances improve. 

After listing the facilities of Thorp Arch, the part that will most likely clinch the deal for LUFC is revealed. “Because of the high quality facilities Thorp Arch is highly likely to be used as a Team Base Camp during World Cup 2018, should England secure the nomination to host the event from FIFA, regardless or not of whether Leeds secures Host City status.” 

The 2018 World Cup bid and Leeds’ chances of securing host city status are constantly pointed to from here on in, including point III of the following, which is a list of reasons why LCC should back Leeds United FC.

  • (i) A strong Leeds United has been shown to assist Leeds in its quest to be viewed as a major European city.
  • (ii) The Club receives little national television coverage now that it is in League 1 and improved fortunes for the Club would mean more television exposure for the City.
  • (iii) When making its decision about who should host World Cup 2018, FIFA will pay particular attention to the relationship between Clubs and their local authorities. Examples of partnership working to achieve shared goals will be important.
  • (iv) A partnership with the Club may open the way for use of the facilities in association with the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup.
  • (v) The Thorp Arch facility is a truly exceptional sporting asset for the City. If the option to acquire is not exercised before October 2009 then at the end of the Club’s lease in 2029 there can be no guarantees that future planning regulations would protect its use for sport, and the facility could be lost to the City.
  • (vi) During the current recession, and at a time when the community look to the Council to stimulate the economy, a partnership with Leeds United would send a strong message that the Council is taking a pro-active role in seeking to arrest the downturn.

The whole thing is currently undergoing risk assessment, although the LCC seems in favour of helping Leeds United if only to help themselves in the 2018 World Cup bid.

There seems to be two main options for helping the club, one of which would be to lend Leeds United the money, which carries a certain amount of risk given Leeds’ history of financial mismanagement and is unlikely to be the chosen option.

The other option is to buy Thorp Arch on Leeds United’s behalf and rent it back to them. This seems to be the more sensible option and the one most likely to be chosen. If LCC became the new owners of Thorp Arch then their money is safe as they’ll own a complex worth more than the initial funds paid. Leeds United will maintain exclusive use of the complex and continue to run the facilities, whilst also maintaining an option to buy the complex back from LCC when finances improve. The 2018 WC team see the relationship between Leeds United and LCC blossoming and everyone’s a winner. 

I read the document in question last night and although I was on a high from the Walsall game, had I written about it then this would most likely be a scathing attack on Ken Bates with me constantly questioning where the money has gone. Even the most naïve of Leeds United fans can’t possibly think the club isn’t leaking money somewhere. Look at the attendance for Exeter and the price of tickets, not to mention the compensation we’ve had awarded in our favour from youth players, the transfer fees received and total lack of spending. I know Fab’s transfer was on instalments, but there’ll have been a sizeable percentage of that paid upfront.   

I’m going to ignore the disappearing funds though and look at this from another point of view. The chances are that LCC will be the ones that own Thorp Arch by the 10th of October and this can not be a bad thing. The council has vested interests in Leeds United (as highlighted above) and they only want the team to succeed. They’re not going to extort ridiculous amounts of cash from us, nor will they do anything that could harm the team. Finally, if the council own Thorp Arch then it adds security to Leeds United as the premises are secure. It also adds transparency as the fans and any potential investors know who owns it. This can only be a good thing.

8 Responses

  1. Harrogate White

    Couldn’t agree more, LCC Owning Thorp Arch would definitely be better than the current situation, and when we progress up the leagues there will be more funds for a purchase option then.

    On the negative side, know what you mean about KB, and would also be happier to see more funds invested in the playing staff, thought myself that Richard Lambert would have been a good option as only about 1m, but we’ve missed the boat there, little bit worried about where the goals would come from if JB got injured, banned or sold.

    On the positive side though our start to the season is getting better and better all the time, we seem to have made big steps in sorting out the defence, and the signing of Higgs looks inspired, though I was sorry to see Delph go I think we will cope as we have a lot of options and Micky Doyle looks an exciting addition to the squad, just counting down the days now until the transfer window closes and if in 12 and a bit days time Mr Beckford still has a Leeds shirt on, I will be the most confident I have been for a long time that we can finally say goodbye to 3rd div football….

    Let’s hope so M.O.T

  2. West Stand Rebel

    I would love to agree with you and say this would be a good solution after all who could lose ? Well imagine if LUFC goes bust again and rent is outstanding to the City fathers.The emotional outpouring that would follow can only be imagined if they sent the bailiffs to recover their property. You say you are going to put aside the money issues why? Bates has plenty or should have he sold Chelsea for £17m.He has said in his programme notes on many occasions that the Club i.e.Mr. Bates must own the property portfolio of ER anf TA as soon as possible and until that is achieved spending money on players and their wages is the road to ruin.As he says we have been down that road before in the Ridsdale era. Well he has achieved one aim and that is not to spend a single penny on players for two seasons and considerably reduce the wages bill.

    • TSS

      I ignored it so I didn’t end up close to a nervous breakdown, but totally agree it’s dodgy. However, if Leeds United do have problems again and LCC are the owners of our assets I sincerely doubt they’ll send the bailiffs to Thorp Arch. Wouldn’t do their public image much good for a start and come elections, they’ve already lost the support of the majority of the city.

      In the hands of LCC, TA is secure.

  3. lovesleedshatesbates

    i sort of agree with everyone. i would like to believe that old batsey isnt just banking the money and hope that its good business for leeds as in yes we havent spent any money on players but we still have the best squad in the division and if we can go up hope batsey is saving the money to really invest in some quality players to get us promoted again from the championship. on the other hand he is still a con artist and whenever he has dealings in anything you automaticly think the worst and that summat dodgy is going on. my heart says there isnt but my head says there is lol

    i doubt we are having money difficulties so dont know where this has come from we supposed to have made 4 million pound profit last year and the money he recieves form gates alone surely must cover the outgoings of the club.

    anyway come on leeds!!!!!!!!

  4. paull

    As a Leeds fan for more than forty years stories like this disgust me. The club made a profit of more than £5 million according to the last set of published accounts and that doesn’t include the sale of Delph or any of the other income since. Ken Bates is using our club as a cash cow and is laughing all the way to the bank. It is obviously his deliberate policy to keep the club asset poor whilst he milks it for every penny. If I were on the city council I would ask for the following information before giving a penny

    1, Full disclosure of who owns Leeds United 2007 and what they are taking out of it.

    2, Full disclose of who owns the company that own Thorpe Arch and what are their relationships with Ken Bates.

    3, Full disclosure on who owns the company that own Elland Road and any links with Ken Bates.

    Love Leeds Hate Bates MOT

    • Hunter'sboots

      Agree.But the biggest problem in all this, the one that gets everybody so enraged, is Bates silence.If he would only tell us where the money is, we can deal with his plans, good or bad. If he came out and said he was taking a big profit bonus from the club, fine,at least we know where we are, lets face it the criticism would not bother him. If he has genuine plans for the monies we know the club has, fine. It’s just this absurd silence he thinks placates Leeds Fans….Aaaaaargh.

  5. Hunter'sboots

    Agree.But the biggest problem in all this, the one that gets everybody so enraged, is Bates silence.If he would only tell us where the money is, we can deal with his plans, good or bad. If he came out and said he was taking a big profit bonus from the club, fine,at least we know where we are, lets face it the criticism would not bother him. If he has genuine plans for the monies we know the club has, fine. It’s just this absurd silence he thinks placates Leeds Fans….Aaaaaargh.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  6. Jon C

    The above PDF link to Leeds City Council “agenda item 8″ , which is the report that recommends if the council should fund the Thorpe Arch purchase /refinancing, makes it apparent that the financial complexities of the “Bates regime” are been withheld from the Leeds public due to the “Access to Information 10.4 Rule”…… I understand that this rule is to prevent the disclosue of information which is detremental to “public interest”……. Surely this is wrong, as this matter is firmly in the “public interest” and the ability for LUFC to self finance, along with the transparency of Ken Bates and any associated companies MUST be clarified in order to proove that the lending of “public funds” is “risk free”. Only on this basis, and with sufficient proof that Bates does not have the ability to finance the purchase through the vanishing millions generated by the club should the deal be agreed.


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