When the Chairman of AFC Bournemouth took over the PA system this weekend following his sides 3-0 defeat to Chesterfield, the minutes that followed were almost as embarrassing as Ken Bates’ recent sexual analogy.

Intrigued by the problems at Bournemouth, I went in search of a fans take on recent events to see what had them all so rattled with their chairman – himself, an AFC Bournemouth fan (allegedly).

I stumbled across Court Offside – an independent AFC Bournemouth site – and after reading an article about a recent fans forum they attended which aimed to address supporters concerns, I couldn’t help but notice how similar their concerns were to that of Leeds United fans.

Take the second paragraph for example;

I say “our” club, because it is our club, the fans’ club. Yes Mitchell is the man in charge, but without the fans there would be no club.

How many times over the last seven years have Leeds United fans argued that this is “our club”, as if it needed clarification?

The argument that “without the fans there would be no football club” is pretty much cliché nowadays, such is it’s overuse in the modern game. But clichés are generally truths repeated in similar situations across the world – accurate, if not entirely original.

Another example of repetition is this;

I have always been of the opinion that a fan pays their money and therefore they can voice whatever views they want at a football match, be it booing the team or cheering the team.

Every time the support splits and protests arise, some will argue it’s our right as the primary investors in Leeds United FC to voice our concerns, whilst others will argue it doesn’t achieve anything and could unsettle things further.

Another concern ourselves and AFC Bournemouth share is public perception. As Leeds United fans we like to perpetuate the myth that we’re already hated, and therefore don’t give a crispy duck what anyone else thinks. But that’s simply not true, because if it was, there wouldn’t have been any uproar following Ken Bates’ sexually transmitted programme notes.

Eddie Mitchell is a PR disaster. He does not speak well in public and therefore should not speak in public at all, it makes a mockery of our club when he gives interviews.

We’ve been making that exact same argument on here for years, as have many other Leeds United fans.

But the biggest similarity between the situation at Elland Road and the one at Dean Court is the isolation some fans seem to be feeling. It’s the idea that the club is heading in the wrong direction, and that the supporters aren’t listened to or kept suitably informed.

I’m sure if you looked at other examples of fans at odds with the owners of their club (eg. Everton) you’d see exactly the same similarities and that’s because the underlying cause of all these problems is that we have absolutely no power any more.

In some cases, we probably never had. But when a club is actively trying to please fans by answering their concerns – like a good business addresses the needs of it’s customers – you’ll find relative peace.

It’s the reason Supporter’s Direct rose to prominence; because there’s a lot of fans out there that are becoming more and more disillusioned with the game they love.

Forcing the owners of clubs to make a percentage of the shares available to fans is an idea that’s been floated about for some time now, with absolutely no noticeable action taken by the FA or FL.

But I don’t really think it has to go that far. It’d be nice if the fans owned a percentage of Leeds United so that we had direct input into how the club is run, but all we really want is to be kept in the loop – a fans representative on the board could do that, democratically elected through an independent supporters trust.

Like Leeds, the troubles at AFC Bournemouth have been exasperated by performances on the pitch, but the underlying concerns were already present at both.

It’s generally the case that when things aren’t going according to plan, this is when we feel the most isolated. We become cynical and start to doubt the official line from the club, because we’ve seen things go wrong too many times before and the skeletons are always found when it’s too late.

It’s at times like these when you need someone on the inside without any personal agenda representing the supporters and relaying information back to them.

It has to be someone we trust, who can assure us that our failure in the transfer market was unavoidable and that there are funds available, that the East Stand development hasn’t affected the budget of Simon Grayson, and that the wage cap isn’t too low. No matter how many times Ken Bates reiterates that message, there’ll always be those who don’t believe him and it’s because he has something to gain – money. And that’s the root of all cynicism in football.

My point is that the problems of Leeds United and AFC Bournemouth are systemic of football as a whole, and not individual cases brought on by their respective chairmen. Giving supporters input is one way to relieve the problem, but to fix it entirely you’d need a time machine.

We want football to be about the football, and not about financial problems and money-making. Owning a football club used to be about guiding a team you were passionate about to success, but with massive potential for profitability comes people like Bates who want their slice.

I hope someone, one day comes up with a way to redress that balance. To give football back to the community of fans that are so passionate about the game and take it away from the people that sense an opportunity to make money, because while ever that culture exists, people like Ken Bates will capitalise on it – and in all honesty, I can’t really blame him.

  • MrsBates

    Boring,Boring,bloody BORING!
    Givover.

    • TSS

      Oh I so wish you were the real Mrs Bates. I’d love to know what she sees in him. 

      • Lee B

        Question from Mrs Merton to Debbie McGee:
        “Tell me, what is it that first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

        • Paul South Wales

          And also one more thing, were you chasing his hairpiece around all day today?

      • MrsBates

        I can tell you boring bugger, he is not concerned with what he can’t change like you are, he is concerned with doing as he likes and not wasting his life whining.

        • TSS

          So if I’m wasting my life, what would a person who spends their time reading the stuff written by me, then criticising it, be doing?

          • MrsBates

            I come here for your excellent match reports not your infatuation with the chairman, you are wasting your life because the word count on your rants often exceeds your match reports , do you really think ken gives a fuk? or that your whining will make a difference?

          • TSS

            Is that really any different from complaining about the performance of the team and/or individual players? You must feel it makes some difference otherwise you wouldn’t be so bothered by it – I don’t spend my time complaining about something I consider pointless. Perhaps you think all the criticism of Bates, not just from us, but Leeds sites in general, is what has the fans divided? Meanwhile, Bates can criticise anyone he likes and you’ll run around defending him by abusing the fans that take exception to it. 

            Can’t really figure out the point of your rant, or indeed why anyone would spend so much time on a subject they find so pointless. 

  • Ol

    This website has turned into a full on anti-bates forum recently, though I personally can’t stand the guy he isn’t going anywhere and the protests and constant negativity is really boring me and most of my friends who go to ER.

    • TSS

      Wasn’t really an anti-Bates rant – not intentionally anyway – it was meant to show the problems some fans feel we have at Elland Road are systemic of football as a whole, with other clubs in exactly the same situation. 

      I felt I’d been quite nice to Bates lately!

    • He_mase

      Stop coming to this website then, dont come here then complain that you are here.

    • He_mase

      Stop coming to this website then, dont come here then complain that you are here.

    • Oshea Paul

      Totally agree mate, it’s 85% of the content these days zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • TSS

        Not really. There’s been two articles related to Bates in the last week, neither of which were particularly negative – this one wasn’t even directly about him, but football as a whole. 

        There’s just no middle ground when it comes to Bates any more, it’s ridiculous. You can’t mention his name without upsetting one of the extremes. You’ll either get accused of pandering or negativity. We either agree with him and are apologists, or disagree and have a vendetta. 

        Discuss any other issue related to LUFC and no one bats an eyelid. Discuss Bates and we get the overly sympathetic with their well thought our replies, and those that hate him with utter bile. Neither are constructive because no one will give an inch.

        It’s like you’ve been brainwashed to believe anyone who dares to question anything he says (and we’ve agreed with as much as we’ve questioned) is not anti-Bates, but anti-Leeds. It’s all coming from Bates and his ridiculous responses to anyone who raises concerns. He’s just deflecting and creating divide – it’s like right wing, left wing politics. Both have their merits, but the middle ground generally prevails. Both sides need to give a little.

        • Anonymous

          unfortunately TSS represents the vast majority of Leeds fans who are incredibly frustrated at Bates management of our club and we have a right to express our anger. Bottom line is we are paying for something we arnt getting……..AS simple as that.

        • Oshea Paul

          Brainwashed? That’s a bit harsh I don’t agree with selling players and spending out zero the same as everyone else, but we’re stuck with him. I enjoy reading the majority of articles on here, but it’s starting to consume you to the point that it’s taking over the site. At the risk of being misconstrued I think OI is entitled to his opinion, and shouldn’t be shot down for voicing it. I enjoy this site and as everyone else is am frustrated about the lack of transfer activity, but Bates will stay on for as long as wants and no protest will shift him. The grim reaper will probably be the only person to persuade him to go somewhere he doesn’t want to. Who is going to buy us? Who has shown any interest? I paid £60 and drove 500 miles Saturday to watch that shower of a fist half, but I still think we’ll make the play-offs !! MOT

          • TSS

            Is what people on here did any different from what Bates does to those who disagree with him? That’s one of the biggest problems – no one can express an opinion that is different from Bates’ without getting abused by the man and called all the names under the sun. 

            It’s not productive, Bates talks about those that agree with him in complimentary terms and calls the rest morons – he’s reaffirming things in his own mind, accepting no ideas that he may be wrong about some things, and that the club has it’s priorities wrong. 

            So the “apologists” listen to the chairman and blindly accept his reasoning, whilst the “morons” struggle to get answers and take abuse as a consequence – all the while, the gap between fans grows stronger and the arguments intensify, resulting in totally unproductive abuse being hurled from both sides. 

      • Anonymous

        ahhh you do have a mate oshea paul

    • Anonymous

      can i suggest ol you don’t really go to ER or have any mates

    • Better to discuss Bates than be in the land of the happy clappers 

  • derbyshirewhite

    Nice one TSS. If the Government can change the way that banks are run then maybe we can hope for similar action with football clubs. Bates may be going nowhere but the paying supporters should have a right to greater transparency and accountability, at least to the same degree as shareholders of listed companies. It may be boring, but it’s our club and we should keep asking the questions.

  • Mark Wilson5173

    You also missed the point that footballers need to give something back to the clubs instead of milking it for the ridiculous wages they receive( even 10k a wk is a good wage in the real world) Then refuse to sign new deals and leave on a free. So from where I sit clubs who don’t receive huge tv money from sky have to make cuts somewhere. Do players needs 20k,30k,40k a week ,I don’t think so. MOT

  • Mark Wilson5173

    You also missed the point that footballers need to give something back to the clubs instead of milking it for the ridiculous wages they receive( even 10k a wk is a good wage in the real world) Then refuse to sign new deals and leave on a free. So from where I sit clubs who don’t receive huge tv money from sky have to make cuts somewhere. Do players needs 20k,30k,40k a week ,I don’t think so. MOT

  • Bubionwhite

    The moment we get someone we can trust on the inside and they later report something that someone doesn’t like, or agree with, the same clown/s will suggest that he / she has become a Bates puppet ala Peter Lorimer or Eddie Gray. The only way forward is for the club to communicate on a regular and honest basis … and if they don’t want us to know something for some reason, e.g. transfer negotiations, just say that they can’t release that information until it has been concluded, otherwise openness is everything.

  • Bubionwhite

    The moment we get someone we can trust on the inside and they later report something that someone doesn’t like, or agree with, the same clown/s will suggest that he / she has become a Bates puppet ala Peter Lorimer or Eddie Gray. The only way forward is for the club to communicate on a regular and honest basis … and if they don’t want us to know something for some reason, e.g. transfer negotiations, just say that they can’t release that information until it has been concluded, otherwise openness is everything.

  • sam

    I believe that the way forward would be for the supporters to buy the club via a trust which could be profit making or non.

    Those members who own shares would then be able to vote on specific issues and receive there annual or monthly / quaterly directors report which would clearly state long and short term issues.

    The daily management has to be left to those appointed to deal with such matters.

    It is not a simple option……………however it would avoid tarring a single or more individuals with the proverbial brush. It all boils down to money or lack of it and how it be best invested. Supporters see only results on the pitch and how to address those without being aware of all the issues that goes with it.

    Economic difficulties present challenging times. Leeds is no exception   

    • tr.15

      Just imagine the politics and in fighting that would follow

  • Anonymous

    seems we have got some bates insurgents what is going on i wish they would set up their own site so we could go on there and wind them up

  • Beene

    Yawn!….. A better example for all you drivellers wallowing in the injustice is in rugby league where the CEO of the NRL David Gallop referred to Melbourne Storm fans as terrorists…. That’s a league CEO giving a fair whack to paying fans. Leeds & Bournemouth have it easy in comparison.

    • TSS

      Nice. Bates will no doubt up his game after hearing the news. 

  • gk1

    Great article TSS.

    As a Leeds and Bournemouth fan though, this really depresses me!

    Another similarity that I think I should add is that the amount of money being spent on players is similar at both clubs. Bournemouth have taken in the last year or so, 4 million pounds from sales including Danny Ings, Marvin Bartley (both to Burnley) Josh Mcquoid, Liam Feeney (both Millwall) Brett Pitman (Bristol City), Rhoys Wiggins, Danny Hollands (both Charlton) and Jason Pearce (Portsmouth). On top of this, Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall left for Burnley and a compensation package was agreed there. From their starting eleven in there play off semi final last season, only one player is still in the starting eleven at the moment and only two players were regulars last year that are this year as well.
    Worse still, the money that came into the club for these players has been spent on the stadium just like at Leeds. Bournemouth have a new car park, changing rooms and a small restaurant among other bits and pieces. The players bought in have been mixed but they still need more replacements and as you can see, Bournemouth are currently second from bottom with 3 points.
    So when you look at this from a Leeds perspective, things arn’t so bad really!

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