The All New And Improved Ken Bates TSS September 8, 2011 Leeds United 12 Comments We’re constantly accused of being anti-Bates here at The Scratching Shed – Of being unable to see the wood for the trees and of allowing contempt to cloud our judgement. And to some extent that’s probably fair comment. I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and admit I’m not Bates’ biggest fan. The tagline underneath the header that reads “Your #1 Source of Anti-Bates Propaganda” was written in jest – a sort of self-deprecating retort to the criticism of some fans. The fact is however, that there is some accuracy to that statement. We do tend to pick up solely on the comments from our chairman that we can use against him. It makes for more interesting reading, and does serve an agenda. In our minds that agenda is to fight fire with fire. Ken Bates has spent enough time insulting the fans of our club, we feel it only fair to take the occasional shot back; particularly when he makes it so damn easy. I found myself in quite an uncomfortable position last week however. His interview with Yorkshire Radio didn’t irritate me anywhere near as much as it usually does. For once, he didn’t spend his time insulting the fans, he was open and honest about our transfer dealings and seemed almost sympathetic towards disillusioned fans. He was almost likeable. In truth, that’s all I’ve ever really wanted from Bates. I’ll never be totally happy he owns the club, but if he can cut out the embarrassing rants from his interviews, stop treating supporters with total contempt and allow us to peak under the dark veil that casts a worrying shadow across our club from time to time, I’ll be much happier. I’m sure we all would. With that in mind, I thought I’d take a more balanced approach to this weeks Yorkshire Radio interview and highlight not only the bits that concern me, but the more positive stuff too. Transfers The Good: Ken starts with transfer news and Newcastle United’s Nile Ranger who was linked with a move to Elland Road earlier this week. Simon Grayson dismissed this rumour earlier in the week and Ken reiterates that by pointing to Nile’s criminal record as good reason for not wanting him at the club. The Bad: Ken decides to narrow down the list of players available to us by taking a shot at Nile Ranger’s agent who just so happens to be the same guy that represents Jermaine Beckford. Bates insists we will never do business with the guy while ever he’s in charge at the club. Pretty sure that can’t be helping Simon Grayson’s search for players… The Good: Whilst discussing transfers Ken also reveals that Simon Grayson merely identifies targets and it is Shaun Harvey that deals with the negotiations. I list this as good because a lot of people are blaming the manager for our failure to seal contracts during the summer transfer window. It’s this sort of clarity I feel is important for the fans to hear. The Bad: After an admittedly amusing rant on Robbie Savage’s desperate need for attention, Ben Fry decides we once again need clarification on how the transfer pot works. This prompts a patronising response from the chairman who feels the need to talk as slowly as humanly possible because we’re all too dumb to understand it (apparently). Wages, money in, wages, frees not free etc… The fans The Bad (and a little good): Speaking about the Lord Harewood dinner which 50 “random” fans were invited to Ken says it was nice to interact with those present but that they had to be careful who to invite so not to get those with “hidden agendas”. It was good of the club to invite the fans but it sounds like a similar selection process to what all great dictators use. No supporter would use such an occasion to take shots at Bates, Lord Harewood was a great servant of the club. More Bad: Bates uses an example of a LUST member attempting to voice concerns and proceeds to try and discredit the entire organisation. The first thing Bates did at Chelsea and Leeds was cut every tie with supporters groups and launch official members groups which I’ve always found a little too controlling. Every club needs an independent voice, and whilst LUST doesn’t speak for me personally, it does speak for plenty of other Leeds United fans and deserves respect. Bates speaks of a self-appointed leader serving his own agenda which is not how any supporters trust works (as I’m sure he knows). They canvass the support and present mutual concerns under a united front. To claim they’ve never done anything to help the club was particularly grating for me – the members of LUST are supporters like the rest of us who spend good money following Leeds United. Scum game and East Stand The Good: No complaints here whatsoever. He explains the ticket policy which I personally think is the fairest it’s been in a long time (aside from the pointless members scheme) and then proceeds to drone on about his shiny new boxes and the health and safety brigade that need to pass off on the East Stand (which I’m sure was of interest to someone, somewhere). To return to ticket allocation for the Manchester United game, what I found particularly encouraging was that those who booked for Palace or Bristol before the draw are guaranteed a ticket. Those that only booked for the sake of the Scum game come second to them. There’s still flaws in the system but we’re getting there. Yorkshire Radio Criticism The Laughable: Sorry to end on such negative terms but Ben Fry felt the need to address our growing complaints against Yorkshire Radio’s poor line of questioning. Bates and Fry agreed there was nothing wrong before our chairman told us he didn’t own Yorkshire Radio but the Leeds United Group did (of which he’s the majority shareholder). Summary After the encouraging interview last week this was a return to form I felt. Continually criticising fans rather than addressing their concerns helps nothing. I appreciate Bates may think he’s answering our questions in these interviews, but it’s quite selective and that’s where the criticism of Yorkshire Radio comes from. LUST, like Ten For Ken before them, have proposed several questions we’d like the answers to and I can’t help but think the criticism of these organisations comes from that. It’s easy to dismiss independent supporters groups as serving no purpose, but they do exactly what they claim to – represent supporters. Not all of us, but a fair few usually, all of whom pay good money to follow Leeds United. So there you go. My attempt at a balanced reflection on Bates’ weekly address. For a full transcript see the Fax Man’s post over on The Square Ball blog. Anonymous with all due respect to those interviews with fry it would be just easier for bates to do an ad for Yorkshire radio or LUTV .fry stars by asking questions like any reporter would ,Nile Ranger ,transfers etc ,to get people in then it turns into “Christmas is coming how much is that and where can i book “,”we are selling boxes fast” and that old trick which in most cases is a lie “we are selling tickets like billy oh for the weekend game so buy now “when in reality there are 22-24.000 ,they are, to start with good interviews but no one else would ask about bates corporate stuff . interestingly he had a bit of a pop at Phil Hay willl ther be an lufc times are the yorkie post gonna be banned too i feel bates knows too that he made a real gaffe with the MORON tag although he will not admit it ,i feel someone has said “hold on a min we have fantastic fans you are wrong mr chairman ” they are for the most part these interviews unashamed advertising Henry V L There’s a good man in there trying to get out TSS!! Re the transfer window Ken did say “perhaps we left it a bit late.”!! Yup!! Jonesy Re: bates rant over the transfet ‘pot’, although he was very patronising, he was clear about how it works. What concerns me is that new contract negotiations come out of the ‘pot’ that should be used to improve the squad. No wonder we are always running contracts down to the last 12months before offering new deals. There should be a completely seperate budget for contract extensions / improvements. A clear distinction – ‘This money can ONLY be used for new contracts’ and ‘This money is for improving the squad with new talent’. That way, a new contract can be offered from the money available and this has no impact whatsoever on our ability to bring in players. My worry is that we sell Kasper so that we can afford to offer Max the contract he deserves, and then Max leaves anyway….. Matt Know what you’re saying but I don’t think it’s uncommon for clubs to have one ‘playing budget’ within which everything works- transfers, wages, pay rises, signing on fees, bonuses blah blah. At least it keeps things simple, and Grayson knows that if he gives a few players contract extensions on bigger deals then that will necessarily reduce what’s available for new players’ transfer fees and wages. They’re all part of the same thing ultimately- it’s probably bad business practice to split it out ‘artificially’. No expert tho! The real issue is- is the pot big enough overall? To which the answer I guess is ‘define ‘big enough”… Given that we have such high ticket prices and big attendances you’d like to think there was enough to make a few more signings, give the likes of Clayton longer and bigger deals and get out of the division… on the other hand we’re paying a ton of rent / interest on all these physical assets we don’t own, and unlike Leicester and West Ham our owner(s) appear to be putting in no money from outside. Not to mention the East Stand work which is being paid with money Ken found in an abandoned Ferrari in Monaco presumably. Anonymous Whilst the person conducting the interview is paid by the person being interviewed you will never get balance. It’s much the same with recent criticism of our legends Grey and Lorimer, how can they say what they really think? You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Which is why TSS, LUST, The square ball, etc are so important. The fans put the money into the club, they deserve a voice. MOT Umboto Gorger Ben Fry should do a report on what it’s like to taste the ring-piece of your indirect, nearly octogenarian, boss on a weekly basis. That last question was indeed laughable, Ben Fry couldn’t grill a sausage…….but he would probably suck it if he was told to. Shakamoto Productions Ken did seem a bit more humble. Has that been caused by bad ticket sales. Maybe he’s realised that ticket sales are down, or maybe those Manchester United tickets aren’t selling as well as he expected and maybe no-one is taking him up on his executive box offers for the Man United match? Even Man Utd only took 3,000 of their 4,500 allocation. In addition, I was frustrated about the references to ‘Simon’s pot.’ The money we got from Schmeichel & Gradel goes into Simon’s pot. Sounds great. But, Bates said that it’s Simon’s decision what he wants to do with the pot. But it isn’t. Bates said that Simon identifies the players he wants and Shaun Harvey carries out the negotiation and the wages. Well that’s not ‘Simon’s pot’ is it? It’s ‘Shaun Harvey’s pot’. It’s a bit like saying that your parents keep pumping money into your account, and raving about how great they are, but even though it’s your money, your parents decide what you can and can’t spend. “You may have £100 in your account, but I’m not letting you spend £40 on an Xbox game.” Problem is, Simon isn’t 12, but he’s being treated like one. And unfortunately his parents are Momma Shaun and Pappa Ken. Marc Butterworth Bates is an arse… he is just treading lightly at the moment hoping that all the Morons just forget about what they were protesting about… Morons do that you know….. The Interviews on Bates Radio are just pointless advertising and to be honest, i’m amazed a site like TSS even gives them consideration… what next? Are we gonna have a thread on the latest shirt advert? TSS, dont feel like you have to dilute your hatred of Bates…. The fact is he doesnt have ANY good points so dont feel the need to desperately search for some in the scripted and made up infomercial that is the Bates Radio interviews…. As for the comments on Gray and Lorimer… Regardless of whether or not they are paid by the club or not, the fact remains they are drifting further and further away from the fans and are no better that Bates himself if all they care about is the money.. As for the fact that Grayson doesnt get involved in the negotiations… Grow some f*@king balls man… any manager with any sort of spine would have already said to Bates, I do the negotiating or I f*@k off and tell the world what really goes on here….. Grayson has done brilliantly with what he’s had but he needs to get a spine or f*@k off… BATES OUT HARVEY OUT GRAYSON OUT (or grow a spine) oldschoolbaby This is where Bates is 100% wrong. Age should have given him some serenity. There is no need to be as combative and rude as he has been. Calling the geese that lay the golden eggs morons is, well, moronic. Of course he attracts criticism by keeping the club`s financial position a particularly muddy form of opaque. He does though have a counter argument in that if you`re perceived as more than solvent clubs will ask for silly money for their players. As for his stringent financial control, I suspect many other Chairmen admire him for it. Whilst it may deter players from coming to Leeds at the moment the tipping point will come. Then, players will be looking for clubs guaranteed to transfer money into their accounts at the end of the month. Neiloddy201 Leopard & spots, Trojans & horse all spring to mind. Nuff sid Wenlux If say we made £3m in transfer fees from Max & Casper then Simon took the transfer/wages kitty to the max by paying higher salaries,it would mean we would have would have to sell another £3m pounds worth of players next year to balance the kitty.Is this why Simon has to rely on the one season loan market and keep waiting until contracts run out before offering new ones or he would back himself into a corner were he would have to sell his best players who he could command a fee for. Keir Bates is just trying to split the supporters. Those in the protests and those who are not angry enough to protest but slightly concerned at what is going on. Will be interesting to see what the mood is in the ground on saturday after all this transfer shenanigans. Bates is trying to win over the undecided by being the adorable old Grandfather. I’m just worried that he will never die and that he is in fact an early form of some kind of T-1000 sent to ruin football clubs.