Are Leeds having financial problems again? TSS August 11, 2011 Leeds United 42 Comments Something doesn’t smell right at Elland Road. Over the course of the summer, our transfer spending has been almost non-existent despite a sizeable sum received for Kasper Schmeichel and ‘amazing’ season ticket sales. It started when we lost Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny because they believed Leeds United’s extended contract offer was derisory and that they could do better elsewhere. Right they were too, with Johnson now playing in the Premier League for Norwich City and Kilkenny reported to be earning more money at Championship “giants” Bristol City! Then there’s the players we’ve failed to sign. Despite publicly stating he wanted to come to Elland Road and Simon Grayson admitting he was interested, Michael Johnson ended up at Leicester City. We apparently can’t afford to pay a third of Alan Smith’s wages, were snubbed by Keith Andrews and Lee Bowyer who favoured a move to the mighty Ipswich Town, Jonathan Woodgate decided a relegation battle with Stoke City was preferable to rejoining The Whites and we still haven’t agreed a fee for Nick Montgomery despite reports of Sheffield United desperately wanting to get his wages off their books. The list goes on and on. If the fans are frustrated by events at Elland Road, imagine how Simon Grayson must feel when he’s continuously told we can’t afford to pay the same wages as Ipswich Town and Bristol City; clubs with a significantly lower turnover. Ken Bates will tell you that greed is to blame and he’s not going to pay “over the odds” for these players, but aren’t the “odds” relative to what other teams at our level can pay? The transfer market is exactly that – a market! As such, players valuations are based upon whatever clubs are willing to pay for them, not what Ken Bates decides is appropriate. It’s exactly the same as your local supermarket – prices alter according to supply, quality and demand. If you want a bottle of fine French wine, you know you’re going to be paying significantly more than you would for a an entire case of Lambrini or Tesco’s home brand. Things don’t become expensive for the sake of it, they become expensive because other people are willing to pay that price. But the problem isn’t that we can’t afford to sip on a bottle of Château Pichon Longueville – unless you’re sitting in the best executive boxes from Manchester to Newcastle, and even then you’d probably have to bring your own – but that we are incapable of filling the gaps in our cellar with Lambrini. Take Alexandre Mendy for example, who Ken Bates is reported to have blocked a move for – this guy was a free agent for Heaven’s sake, I sincerely doubt his wage demands were over-inflated. It all makes me wonder if all is not well behind the scenes at Elland Road. Has the pointless redevelopment of the East Stand left us in yet another financial crisis? Fans should bear in mind that when Roman Abramovich took over at Chelsea, The Chelsea Village complex Bates built had left the club in serious financial difficulties, so much so that the new owner decided it was best to focus his attention back on football with Chairman Bruce Buck reasoning “all the football fan wants, really, is football.” Wise words indeed. Being the stubborn old fool he is however, Bates has never admitted Chelsea Village was a complete disaster that brought the club to the brink of financial ruin. Instead, he’s following the same path again, trying desperately to prove the concept works with his latest victim, Leeds United FC. If you can’t sell hotel rooms in the upmarket borough of Chelsea, you’re not going to stand a much better chance in a run-down part of Leeds. I mean, imagine for a minute that you’re a Whites fan travelling from overseas to see your beloved Leeds United play. Do you spend your weekend in a modern city centre hotel, with a bustling nightlife, countless places to eat and a myriad of entertainment options on your doorstep, or do you instead choose a Big Mac and a bar fight in Beeston? All depends on the entertainment you say? How does live muggings straight outside your window sound? OK, so I’m exaggerating a little, but my point is a valid one. Very few people are going to choose LS11 over LS1 – after all, there’s hardly a shortage of suitable hotels in the city centre. They build one per month nowadays. Maybe I’m looking a little too hard for signs of trouble after we all missed them under Peter Ridsdale, but seeing Ken Bates try to replicate a building project that almost bankrupted Chelsea and hearing nothing but reports of players we’ve missed out on for various financial reasons has me drawing uncomfortable conclusions.