New twist in Leeds United ownership saga TSS March 29, 2011 Leeds United 70 Comments The Culture, Media and Sport select committee, chaired by the Conservative John Whittingham has proposed new measures to ensure there is more transparency in football. Following Shaun Harvey’s meeting with the committee last week, The Guardian has said they were most alarmed by the “ease with which impenetrable structures can be set up” – referring to the shell companies and offshore accounts Leeds United’s ownership is hidden behind. The proposals call for football licensing laws that will consist of a much stronger fit-and-proper person’s test, regulations over debt to equity and assets and more supporter involvement. It seems the ownership of Leeds United has raised the most eyebrows here, so some of the measures implemented by the committee are likely to be aimed at untangling the web of companies who own Leeds United. Details are still a little sketchy, but time in parliament has already been scheduled for this proposal to be addressed. What is also unclear is what will happen should Leeds United’s owners be judged unsuitable for ownership of a football club within the English leagues. If – as I somewhat suspect – Ken Bates is revealed as the owner of Leeds United FC then the Chairman could face some serious charges of fraud and perjury. If he does own Leeds United then not only did he lie to a court when asked that question directly, but he also repurchased the club illegally. Not least of Ken Bates’ problems would be the Inland Revenue who were owed substantial sums of money by the previous ownership (by Ken Bates). After putting the club into administration, the debts were reduced but Ken Bates had no right to repurchase. This, some have argued, is why the club’s ownership remains such a mystery. Because it was the only way Ken Bates could remain in control of the club and wipe out the existing debts. Highly illegal, but if no one can prove you’re the owner then no one can charge you with anything either. It’s hard to determine what effect the planned measures will have on Leeds United FC, due to the lack of details currently available. It could put the current owners in an uncomfortable position forcing them to sell the club before the rules come in. Alternatively, it could just mean the owners will have to devise a new plan to keep themselves hidden as they continue on regardless.