On the wrong end of a Ken Bates phone call TSS January 11, 2011 Leeds United 51 Comments Mellowing with age.... As if. Following the release of the 2010/11 Leeds United ticket prices, there was understandable anger from the fans who felt such a significant increase was unjustifiable for Championship football – especially when a little disclaimer at the bottom explained the ticket prices were subject to change if promoted. Chatting with myself and Dan from The Square Ball on Twitter, Simon decided to email the club with his frustrations. Knowing that Ken has a tendency to call fans and explain why they’re wrong, we suggested he add his phone number to the bottom of the email just in case he would be the next lucky recipient of a Ken Bates cold-call. Sure enough, a couple of days later and Simon received a call from Monaco, as he explains here; Phone Rings Thursday lunchtime, number not known, but I decided to answer it anyway – “Mr Williams?” “Yes I replied”, sort of recognising the voice, then came “Only just got your membership and only been to 2 matches this season?”. Yes you’ve guessed it, our Chairman Ken Bates had decided to give me a call following an email I sent the club on Tuesday regarding the increase in match day and season ticket prices. With him mentioning my poor attendance this season, it put me straight on the back foot, and as I wasn’t expecting the call, he caught me cold. He started by asking what I did for a living as I’d emailed from my work email address and it had a disclaimer on the bottom, something he complained about as it was a lot of printing (it does state don’t print this unless you really need to…). When I told him what the company I work for did (cash machines, standing orders, direct debits), he complained about them not always working! I could see the way the conversation was about to go. He then proceeded to tell me about why tickets are the price they are – very expensive club to run, idiots who ran it before selling the ground and Thorp Arch and it costing £100k per match just to rent the two. I asked about expected attendances and suggested making the tickets easier to attract more fans, and ultimately more money, but this he disagreed with stating that they didn’t have an expected attendance per match, which I questioned as this must surely have a bearing on costs and revenue. He also informed me a committee decided on ticket prices and he isn’t on that committee. We discussed our prices compared to others in the Premier League, though I was fair enough to concede I knew Arsenal were far more expensive, but that a fair few were a lot cheaper – again dismissed. When discussing match day prices, I did ask why it couldn’t be a figure such as £xx.25, he said others clubs don’t do it and Leeds didn’t want to mess around with pennies! All the way through the conversation, my attendance was mentioned – if I went to more matches, I’d know what was going on. Every time he said this I referred him to my comments regarding financial and family commitments. To defend myself – I accept not having been many times this season or the last few seasons in fact due to finance, but I’ve attended matches home and away since 1978 and held a season ticket for 15 years. I’m also planning to save the money to get a season ticket again next year, so I think it’s unfair for him to class my as part-time – I’ve served my time! But back to the call, he did tell me that as of the end of November, against a turnover of £17m we had cleared a profit of £500k, but that Gas, Electricity, Water costs were sky high and Leeds utility bills were massive, I did say, yes so were mine and I had to pay those before I could buy Leeds tickets, but it fell on deaf ears. As the call was coming to a natural end, I’d stopped replying to his having a go and I think he realised I still disagreed with him, he then said that we should agree to disagree, which I was happy to do, however I did point out that he had been out of order with his comments about my support, and there was no need for him to go on about it. He apologised for offending me, and at that the call ended. Whilst I thank Ken for taking the time to call, I came off the call feeling annoyed that he wouldn’t accept any of my comments, views and the way he had dismissed my support. I also felt I should have taken the chance to ask more questions – transfers, ground ownership, hotel etc., but a cold call doesn’t allow for prepared questions. I think Simon’s final point – that a cold call doesn’t allow for prepared questions – is probably something Ken banks on when deciding he wants to put some supporters in their place. Regarding the attendances, I find the idea that a business is run without any estimations on future income being factored in absolutely ludicrous. This is the first thing you do at the start of every year, every month and every week (even every day in some cases). It determines everything from the amount of staff you require, to the things you order and so forth. I also seem to recall Ken Bates explaining how the club had budgeted for 25,000 a game earlier in the season – or maybe I just imagine these contradictions? Overall, this is pretty typical Ken Bates. Opinionated, offensive, direct, stubborn, but somewhat accessible. You have to give him credit for taking the time to call fans about their concerns, but the sheer cheek of searching the club records to see how many games someone has attended before phoning, and then using this as ammunition to have a go is a classic example of why he’ll never be liked. Thanks to Simon for giving us an insight into the Ken Bates cold-calling phenomena. Anyone wishing to get in touch with Simon or ask any further questions can find him on Twitter @SW_Coach Steve The person in question RE:the phone call, should have said “the club over the past 6 months have consistently said that players and agents are out of touch with the economical times, and are demanding too much. Why then, does the club then neglect this statement when it comes to charging it’s fans (Which are the whole point of there being a Leeds United) matchday or season ticket prices. The club can’t have it both ways” TSS That’s the thing with being caught off-guard though. If I had time to prepare for an interview with Ken, he’d probably be lunging at me with a cold, blunt instrument after only a couple of minutes. Dje I’d double check the next phone bill, it’ll probably have reverse charges from Monaco on it. swcoach I never thought about that, no wonder the number was obscured!! swcoach I came up with loads of questions after the call. Just one of those things, but getting a proper interview with him is not easy! Matt BB I wouldnt feel too bad about being caught cold, knowledgeable and prepared people have failed to get much change out of an interview with Ken. We all know there are inequities in terms of our ticket prices, and transfer funds being made available. Having said that we do seem on an even keel currently, but its about time that we got some sort of clarity over ownership, long terms plans and so on. I too resent the pigeon holing of those who dont attend every single game as not having a worthy opinion, as you say if prices were a nit lower then we might be able to pop along more often, but things like buying food, clothes, paying the mortgage and so on tend to get in the way of that.. Whenever i go the ground still looks shabby though (as much as I love it), I sat on wooden seats with edwardian style cast iron settings in the South West Corner Vs Bristol Rovers. We dont have money to buy the ground or thorp arch… just where are these fantastic improvements? We are a million miles away from places like Pride Park, The Riverside Stadium, and further still from the Emirates and Old Trafford. You pay out the amounts we all do to go and watch Leeds and expect something gold plated, currently wse pay top whack and get something not that impressive back. Ron Although Ken has avoided one of life’s certainties (taxes) by living in Monaco, I am confident the other (death) is not that far away for the old fella. Therefore, I shall enjoy his humour and general rants until that day comes. I appreciate our administration may not be perfect, but to have a football club in the black is an admirable feat, let alone in the current economic situation. Thanks for the insight. Dje You should have asked Bates about his attendance record, and how it left a lot to be desired. When push comes to shove he can only visit for less than half the year on UK tax dodging grounds. Common sense for men of money, sure – but then he is asking 20000+ Leeds fans to throw common financial sense aside and pay upward to a grand to watch as little as nineteen home games of football (if we get promoted). Only the beautiful curse of being a Leeds fan born and bred allows us to justify this illogic, and boy how Bates exploits us for it. Most other clubs obey the laws of supply and demand, and naturally enough sharp price rises leads to half-empty stadium. May’be this is what Bates meant when he said he doesn’t bother to factor in average or breakeven attendance levels at Elland Road: he simply knows that come what may, we keep turning up like idiots. Bless us. Andrew Rodgers With all respect to the author, isn’t estimating future gates what got us into financial difficulty in the first place? ardswhite Very interesting article i have heard of Mr Bates tactics somewhere before, I have the last day or two have been very close to calling the club and asking for an explanation as to the crazy allocation of tickets for the Arsenal replay. As a member since the original striker cards were introduced i find it incredulous that members are not guaranteed a ticket, surely members have the right to expect the club to show loyalty for there support as members through two play off finals (although naively considering how were treated). How can bates justify season ticket holders being allowed to purchase 3 tickets at the expense of loyal members, yes they are also loyal and should expect so in return. But we all know that some of these tickets will end up being sold for twice the cost, as per the two play off finals. It seems now he has enough members your money is not enough, being a season ticket holder is the only way to guarantee a ticket for a big game, prepare for more for the same should we return to the premiership. I as a Northern Ireland Lufc supporter travelling on average 4/5 times a year will spend roughly equivalent to a season ticket holder , i am not expecting the same concessions but a bit of a more level playing field for all members would be nice. Mr Bates we know you are a c— but why do you continually feel the need to prove us right. Many fans will get to see the Arsenal replay, as they did the two play off finals. Many will not have put the finance i have and others have giving our beloved club over the years, but will be afforded the luxury of getting a ticket through an inept or lazy ticketing policy. Luckily after two days pressing redial i have just succeeded in getting an overpriced ticket behind the scoreboard, but my anger has not diminished and is unlikely too while Mr Bates remains in charge at Elland Road. I Will be fully behind the team next Wednesday night that will never change, onwards and upwards. Trevor EW As for Season Ticket holders getting preferentisal treatment…come off it. We pay our money up front (well over £1k for my three tickets) months in advance not knowing what league we will play in. What ‘preference’ do we get ??? The promise of being able to buy 3 tickets (including your own) but still not being able to get through to even guarantee your own as @the Strongbow Brigade’ of loyal memebers who attend only the glamour ties have completely blocked the switchboard up. We dont even get a ‘season ticket holders day’ ahead of members to get our tickets. Result ?? When I did get through this afternoon tickets were not available. There should be a loyalty system. 1/ Season ticket holders, 2/ Members who attend regularly home and away 3/ members who attend less regularly and then non members. Let the Strongbow shirts gather dust in the drawer. Irving08 Re; Arsenal replay ticket allocation. I agree the 3 tickets policy is irrational for there are insufficient seats in the family stand to cater for all its junior members if tickets are sold and taken up on this basis. By Tuesday of this week, for example, practially all the seats were sold, save for a scattered handful of single seats. The result is that I have to pay the full whack for my grandson for a seat in the upper tier of the East Stand (whilst I can guarantee that the family stand will contain a disproprtionate amount of adults.) On my understanding, this result contradicts Ken’s libertarian philosophy, which puts entitlement rights (property, membership schemes etc) at the centre of claims on resources (land, seats etc). The more consistent arrangment would have been to change the allocation initially to two tickets per member for the family stand (his parents will not allow my 8 year old grandson to go to a match yet alone) until such time as all members may reasonably be assume to have taken up their claim on a seat. Ken considers himself a bit of a thinker (If an untrained one) and he would hate to be thought inconsistent. Yet this is the only way I can characterise his 3 tickets per member in the family stand for the Arsenal replay. Note for anyone who might be getting a call from Ken: have a go at ‘Atlas Unbound’ by A.Rand – Ken’s favourite book by his favourite philosopher. At least we have a Chairman who reads ! TSS @Andrew Rodgers Over-estimating future gates was what got us into financial problems. We budgeted for Champions League football without any guarantee which was sheer lunacy. Estimating average attendances for games you’re going to play guaranteed is how you determine how much you have to spend on wages, transfers, staff etc… Every business does this – there’s no other way. @ardswhite There are more ST holders than that allocation, so what happens if they all buy one? Then you’re totally screwed for a ticket either way. There needs to be a loyalty scheme instead of the Bates tax (membership) Dje @Andrew Rodgers I think it was the TV money windfall of Campions League football that Risdale and O’Leary were banking everything on – less so the revenue from Champions League matches themselves which is a considerably smaller level of profit. ___ Just noticed that Faye has left today. Wonder if Nunez is going to be hot on his heels? Barry Shitpeas How were you ‘caught cold’? You set the bait and he took it. Surely anyone doing the same would have prepared 2 or 3 default questions in readiness? TSS Hi Barry, to be fair to @SWCoach, by ‘caught cold’ we mean Ken called without warning and gave himself chance to prepare – he researched Simon’s attendance for a start. Ken has also rejected an interview with The Square Ball, who would have had time to prepare questions and not got caught off-guard like Simon did. Barry Shitpeas I understand what you’re saying, but still, you had a chat together and decided to put a contact number on there because of his tendency to call. I would have thought that discussion extended to ‘what are you going to ask him if he calls?’ I don’t want to criticise too much, as it was done for the right reasons, but let down by poor planning. You might not get another chance like that one again. I think the moral of the story is If you’re going to lay a trap for the silver beaver, make sure you know what you’re going to do with the quarry once it’s in the bag. TSS Hi again Barry, Just to be clear, it wasn’t me he called. We suggested to Simon that he add his number to the email and as it happened, Ken called. I think Simon doubted he would, and regardless of that, you can never be fully prepared for a random phonecall in the middle of the day, can you? TSB asked for a proper interview – Ken denied that because they would be prepared. swcoach I really didn’t expect the call, and i was on my way out to lunch when he called, he did throw me with his initial comment and i did feel guilty for my lack of attendance so, at this point i did slightly doubt myself, a couple of times i tried to ask him abouts points he was making, but i was told to let him finish, and didn’t really give me a pause to respond, and when he had finished talking it was really right, lets disagree i’m going now goodbye. TheReaper08 @TSS You can’t be fully prepared but you can be be partially. At least have an idea what you going to say. A nd if your going to be overawed or fold at the first challenging question (must have known that would happen) then I would suggest someone made of sterner stuff leaves a phone number next time. West Stand Rebel I would imagine most of us would be tongue-tied if the Chairman of our club rang us up. The only way to faze him would be to have some of his own programme and radio/tv quotes to hand to throw back at him. Why for example have legal bills of £500,000 been run up by the Club. The constant ownership issue is another area and, as someone else has already said his own attendance at matches leaves a lot to be desired. Mind you, you would be only told to get stuffed or worse. Of course when all else fails he can always blame Ridsdale or Levi for all our woes. In my book though we spent two extra seasons unnecessarily in the First division thanks to his rotten management of the administration, when he tried to engineer a situation where the 10 point deduction would have no effect due to relegation being already a certainty. henry vincent lewis I think Ken Bates may be the only Chairman to ring fans on a regular basis, to tackle complaints. It is better than being ignored! Ken has made the point before that reducing prices in the hope of getting a bigger attendance is risky. Success brings the fans back. Nothing else works. Our situation is that the board (Ken!) are trying to run the club as a business to:- a. make a profit. b. invest in better players. b. follows a. We do not have a rich owner who is prepared to speculate on future success. We have to bite the bullet just now! TSS He selectively rings people Henry. The pattern seems to be that it’s those that he can pigeon-hole instantly and blame for everything, rather than TSB who his arguments would be countered by. LSD&2Es He should have said he’d been to all the home games, just not as a member. Ken would have nor records of this…..not that it’s even relevant to any of Kenneth’s reasoning or arguments. Bates reminds me of a relative (mother-in-law) that spouts down-right lies but because they are erudite and articulate, you end up starting to believe them, or at least not being able to respond at the time…. swcoach exactly how i felt! RoystonLUFC The club’s on solid financial grounds. We’ve been promoted and we’re now in the play-off zone of the next stage. We almost beat Arsenal and we did beat The Scum. Dreadful record, Ken. We should get rid of him and bring in a nice bloke, like that Ridsdale fellow or Krasner. henry vincent lewis I know Ken is fast on his feet TSS. However if you want to catch him you have to be ready with a reasoned argument, and be ready to accept defeat! “He did not get where he is today …..” Ken had all the answers and he came out punching. I read this today:- “Irish Diplomacy is where you tell a man to go to hell, in such a way that he looks forward to making the trip!! Gryff I suppose he gets to moan at somebody, and nobody can say he doesn’t have contact with the ordinary fan. For all that, though, I really don’t know what he hopes to gain by going in as a bull in a china shop and insulting ordinary, hard-working, hard-squeezed Leeds fans. The cost of the tickets isn’t of a particularly great concern to me as I only go to a handful of matches per season but surely even Mr. Bates must admit that there are many people in significant debt or significant hardship who trusted banks and economists and now have to choose where they spend whatever spare cash they can stump up. Football is an enjoyable but expensive hobby and to lambast somebody for their attendence (or lack thereof) from a villa in Monte Carlo is bordering on obscene. Dewi Powell Correct me if I’m wrong but Bates doesn’t go to every game does he? I thought there was an issue that if he spends more than 90 days in the country he’ll have to pay tax and he doesn’t want too. I’ve been to 4 games this season and I’ll be there for Scunthorpe on Saturday so Bates’ comments on Simon’s attendance offend me too as I’m in the same boat as Simon. I try to go to a game at least once a month in the season, there’s nothing more I’d love than being a die hard fan at every game but with being in uni I can’t. Bates has gone down in my opinion (if possible) …………… yet again. Jim Barnett Very interesting insight. I have been in the pro-Bates camp for a while…he runs the club sensibly whilst still backing Grayson in the transfer market…albeit mostly in loans and free transfers. He is and was exactly what we needed after the chaos of years past – a tight-up tw@t. That said, I think he is exploiting the fanbase far too much at the moment…especially with the latest increases in season tickets. He can’t use the ‘well our rates have gone up’ argument to justify putting up prices. And why doesn’t he let kids in for free with an adult in the family stand? Mike If we have made a profit in football I think its fair to say KB should be left to deal with the business side. At the end of the day would you choose to pay £30 for championship football or £40 to watch the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea come to ER. Personally I would put some overtime in to cover it off. At the same time the emirates should be a warning, a ground half full of tourists (it seemed). If you outprice the faithful you would lose the heart of the club. To be fair I would not want KB’s job of challenging for the top end of the Premiership (which is what would be expected from the fans) and at the same time keeping ticket prices low. I do agree that for supporters that travel from Ireland and Norway and for that matter have journeys in the UK that equate to a round trip of 5+ hours that its unfair (from a financial perspective) to expect the average working man to make 20+ trips each year + the added costs of bringing children. You have to reward the seasons ticket holders for loyalty, but maybe a solution could be to have a half season ticket that allows a so many category A games, B games…. ect to be chosen with costs spread over 4 months … a 10 game ticket with a concession. The reality is its the corporate side that makes the money, just look at the prices for the Arsenal game £250+ If we ever get a new West Stand, I would not expect the capacity to go above 45,000 as it would be full of boxes. A difficult balancing act, but an importnat one to get right, we have something special at Leeds (even some of the non-leeds fans that I have taken to the odd game – recognise that). The atmosphere we create at ER ….. well I have only witnessed Anfield (as a nuetral) in 35 years of following football that comes anywhere near it. I would not like to think we would lose that to Japanese tourists eating king prawns. I personally like KB – what you see is what you get (its fairly yorkshire from where I am) – we were beaten by Histon two years ago now we play Arsenal in a replay.. enough said he is moving us forward. I dread to think what would have happened if he had not stepped in when he did, people should remember that. We are Leeds Loved them diamond floodlights I too have only been to 5 games this season and have a membership card so I am not been funny here but maybe bates sees you have been to 2 games and have just got a membership in his eyes he thinks first half a season you have gone to 2 home games so why buy a membership? Are you now going to go to 2 away games. in the second half a season when you could have gone to maybe 6 home games when price of membership travel , food, ale , etc are factored in , or as some or bates in particular are concerned a person who acts like this is just gearing up for the potential big games at the business end of the season that are looking increasingly likely and as we all know uncle ken don’t like them types Colin Hiking of the Leeds ticket prices – is it fair? No it’s not. But get on this, life’s not fair. Significant increases? I’ll tell you what massively significant increases mean to me: 20% tax on everything you buy £1.32.9 for a litre of diesel £6.75 for a packet of fags £312 for my last gas and electric bill, for a quarter From living in an area with no crime, having 2 houses burgled and cars getting broken into on my street in the last month – my council tax goes up, including police services. I’ve not seen a policeman for a year Pension age rising And my wage has stayed the same but cost of living has gone up by 4.5% and mortgage rates due to rise rapidly, and I’m supposed to be one of the lucky ones because I’ve still got a job. But I can sleep soundly knowing that my money has been spent on saving banks and lending some money to bail out Ireland. Life is one big rip off and moaning about it makes zero difference. The only way to make a difference is to take a stand. And I’m the first to put my hand in the air and admit that I just put up with it. There’s only one way to lower season ticket prices and that is for disgruntled fans to make a stand and not buy season tickets. Stay away from the club. But we’ll never do that. There’s only one thing we can do – put up or shut up. Moaning makes no difference. And I’m guilty as charged, I’m in the shut up camp. TheReaper08 @colin I have spoken to local and national Government, energy suppliers and petrol companies. They all say the same thing…… It’s all Ken’s fault. Colin ellamforengland Just picked my little pooch up from the vets. 350 quid……Kens fault. EYLeeds Regardless of what KB had to say, or even his motives, I find it quite pleasing that we have a Chairman that is a football man and has enough interest to personally ring up a fan. Can’t imagine the Glazers ever doing something like that. For what it’s worth I think we would have bounced back to where we are with any Chairman running the club on a sound financial footing and don’t think Bates deserves any special credit. Paul C Come on guys get off your knees to Bates he did not save this club , Bates did not keep it going.. YOU DID!!! . The damned cheek of the man .. who the F**K does he think he is trying to bully people on the phone. It’s the fans who have coughed up and certainly not Bates. Whether for one game or a hundred, you paid top prices for dire third division football in a ground that has not had any decent investment in over 15 years. It is the fans who have ploughed in millions over the last few years not Bates, it’s the fans who are the biggest investors not Bates. Bates would be sat on his backside in Monaco 100% of the time if you guys did not support the club Can I suggest that if anybody else gets a call ( after he has done his research of course!! ) just remember that you have probably invested more in the club than he has! Andy (Rotherham White) As a Leeds fan since 1976, I can see both sides of the argument here, and yes, the ticket costs have gone to high over recent years – other areas open for discussion are the cost of membership and its perceived ‘benefits’, the cost of on line sales ‘per ticket’ rather than per transaction (how much is a stamp these days ?), the fact that my 15 year old son will soon become an ‘adult’ in the eyes of the club despite being still at school/college, lord knows how I will try to afford tickets when buying for two adults ! the list goes on, but just to throw something else in to the discussion, I work with a Sheffield United fan…his season ticket this year cost just £300 (and that is not the cheapest), whilst his son was bought a season ticket at the princeley sum of just £10 (It was actually free to members of a club that costs £10 to join). I do not wish to become a tourist club like arsenal, neither do I wish us to become a small time club like Sheff Utd, but the difference in costs make my eyes water – Another small point, season ticket holders at Bramall Lane were only charged £12 for their recent FA Cup game v Aston Villa, with the general public charged just £17. – Makes you wonder doesn’t it ? Quarry Hill King Fair do’s if you don’t go that often you do need to really take a backseat on such matters. Nowt wrong with that. Can’t believe he dug that up before giving you a call though. What was the game? Sir Quej Just compare the season ticket prices to the same prices from 2006 (the last time we were in the championship). Apart from the North Stand, which stands out. I dont think that the increase in prices is that bad really. We are talking about a 5 year period with a max increase of 10.5% over the period (Not including the North Stand, which is the only extreme one in my view) 06/07 11/12 Increase Family Area Adult 470 522 10.00% Child 205 228 10.50% North Stand Adult 475 582 18.38% Child 275 300 8.33% West Stand Adult 670 711 5.77% Child 475 483 1.66% These prices do not include discount for early renewal. TSS @Sir Quej How can you just ‘not include’ a stand and say there’s a ‘max increase of 10.5%’? Has Ken Bates hired you to work as his spin doctor on TSS? The fact of the matter remains, that our prices are now comparable to those fighting for European places in the Premier League. You can spin that however you see fit, but let’s not blatantly ignore evidence you yourself have presented in order to put across a more palatable argument. Marc Butterworth TSS It’s not about spin and I didnt have you down as one of tho’s who claim anyone who doesnt share your opinion is a member of the secret Bates SS. I signed up here because I thought you were one of the few that held that opinion. I am no Bates fan by any stretch of the imagination. I am simply not a whinging piss whiner, and I still remember with a lot of pain, the financial hardship that our club has faced in the past. It’s about time people realised that a solid financial and league recovery from the depths that we sank to is not built on knock down season ticket prices and popularity winning choices. Im not one of those fans that think Bates rescued the club, but he also didnt fuck us up either. If there is one thing that Bates brings to the club that we desperatley needed, it is someone who is not scared to make unpopular decisions. If you want nicey nicey decisions and season tickets at throw away prices, then go support Huddersfield back in league one. Whatever your decision, stop spreading negativity while we are flying high. Elvis Why so much negativety when we are on a roll? 1. Why does everyone worry about knowing who owns the club? We knew who owned it when we built up 100M debt. But nobody was held to account so who gives a f-? As long as we are going forward, who cares. 2. We all need to grow up, including Ken, and accept that we can’t all afford time or money to attend every game. It’s Ken’s job to make us want to attend as often as possible by making the entertainment (yes, that’s what it is, or you wouldn’t go) attractive enough. We all find entertainment that is within budget and at a time that fits our lifestyle. Pay up, shut up or go and entertain yourself elsewhere. If money is tight, then listen to the radio/LUTV and save up to go to the games you can afford to attend. But please stop moaning. 3. We will never get a stadium full of Jap tourists because for those not aware, Leeds is not yet on the international list of “must see” places. Yes we have tourists but not in the same numbers as London. 4. Grayson is a master and Mr Bates has to take some credit for employing him. Just like Silver should be remembered for bringing in Wilkinson after years of ex-players and crowd pleasers. Liverpool have just fallen into the same trap. 5. It’s all about on the pitch activities. I don’t care what Bates does off the pitch, who he upsets, or who he offends. As long as we are going forwards after years of freefalling backwards. Elvis is alive and following Leeds! But only when he can afford it and if his family committments or cash flow doesn’t allow, he connects to LUTV to hear live commentry from his Uncles Eddie & Peter. Wake up and smell the cheese. Be proud and follow the Leeds whenever and however your lifestyle allows. And stop moaning. DanO Nice one Captain and I thought Elvis was dead. No point moaning we are stuck with what we’ve got. I am disillusioned with Chairman of football clubs generally. I think they have self interest and putting money first. However Grayson is a good manager so we should be grateful for that, although don’t know how involved Bates was in the decision from Monaco. We are on the way up. It is a bummer about season ticket prices, especially for a family but its probably to do with market forces and sky.(and Ken Bates being a gready t**t) Marc Butterworth TSS It’s not about spin and I didnt have you down as one of tho’s who claim anyone who doesnt share your opinion is a member of the secret Bates SS. I signed up here because I thought you were one of the few that held that opinion. I am no Bates fan by any stretch of the imagination. I am simply not a whinging piss whiner, and I still remember with a lot of pain, the financial hardship that our club has faced in the past. It’s about time people realised that a solid financial and league recovery from the depths that we sank to is not built on knock down season ticket prices and popularity winning choices. Im not one of those fans that think Bates rescued the club, but he also didnt fuck us up either. If there is one thing that Bates brings to the club that we desperatley needed, it is someone who is not scared to make unpopular decisions. If you want nicey nicey decisions and season tickets at throw away prices, then go support Huddersfield back in league one. Whatever your decision, stop spreading negativity while we are flying high. Neil SW_coach is a legend…Power to the people! Neil I had my own called call from Mr Bates last year when I wrote him a letter about the Levy libel debacle. I didn’t leave my tel number on the letter but sure enough he got my details. Having been an ST holder for 20 years he didn’t have any of that kind of ammunition to hit me with. My one big regret though was that i’d never expected getting a call back and thus not planned any questions, ie Thorpe Arch, Ownership etc. Needless to say he had me on the back foot for most of the 40 minutes (!!!!) we (HE) chatted on the phone. I did get the odd word in but he’s not the kinda guy to engage in a “discussion”. It’s been a good while now since the phone call and what I would say is that whilst my opinions of Ken Bates the man haven’t changed I do think my opinions on his motives for buying Leeds United probably have. Whilst recent ticket hikes have upset me as much as eveyone else this has been tempered by the fact that our 24,000 hardcore support isn’t really sufficient to see us become the big fish in our division when compared some of the other clubs who get the parachute payments. I honestly believe Bates wants the club in the PL. As much as I dislike him as a person I do think he’s the right man for the job in hand. stef what a dick u r. ken bates as done a good job at leeds n will make sure the club don’t get in a financial situation has before. bates is the right chairman n under him n grayson we will b promoted debt free Elvis Paul C. You are crazy. How can you say WE saved the club and Bates had nothing to do with it. This is a business based around entertainment. Just like a West end Show, a film or a TV channel. If “YOU” saved the club then perhaps you are the owners we know nothing about. Please identify yourself! Bates was prepared to put up some guarantees or take responsibility for the debt outstanding. Obviously it was in his best interest to minimise the debt he took on prior to signing up and to offload as much as possible. Why wouldnt anyone do that, especialy since it wasnt his debt in the first place. I think from a busines perspective his delalings on that front were quite skillfull. He is a master at taking on a liability, reducing his debt and then resotoring the company back into a valuable concern. He did it at Chelsea and is soon to do it again here. The guy should be given some credit not constantly be shot down by those who have no idea how to run an entertainment business. Running a big entertainment business – YOU can’t do that, WE can’t do that. But Bates can…..thats why he is at the helm. I say well done to him. When there is debt around and people will loose money you can expect some people will get upset. There are no prizes for being nice in this game. WE are entitled to our opinions. It’s a free world. But YOU need to realise that this is not YOUR Club, Just like it’s not your TV Chanel, or your West End Show. If you don’t like what’s on offer then P&*S off to watch something else. Just be thankful we have a person at the helm that is offering us something worth watching. The league is full of clubs offering poor entertainment every week. Bates is Mr Entertaining, both off and on the field. Never a dull moment………that’s entertainment. I’m thinking of starting a “WE LOVE KEN” website. Any supporters? The Fresh Prince of Belle Isle Ken’s called me before, ordered a special calzone with extra mozarella.. Looked at my kingdom and pondered for while. To sit on my throne as the prince of Belle Isle.