The following is a guest contribution written by Matthew Brown-Bolton. If you’d like to have an article considered for publication here on The Scratching Shed, please use the online form. 

How many protests does it take to move on an irascible chairman? The start of a bad joke perhaps?

To answer that question The current board members of LUST should probably look no further than one of Ken’s closest cronies, recently knighted `Sir’ Doug Ellis.

The perennial `Stadtler & Waldorf’ of English football Doug & Ken grumpily espoused (past tense for Doug for he has of course now been ousted) their miserable dictums and critiques on the Haphazard (but entertaining) Muppet show beneath them.

But whilst Kermit the Frog (Wenger), Fozzie (old red nose himself) and Gonzo (Mancini) have a riotous time on stage and gain acclaim for their relative teams these types of dinosaurs offer little to the game of football. Dusty remnants of the 1930’s, totally out of touch with post-depression era football, and ready to dive for cover if someone uses a mobile phone near them, for fear it might cost them their soul…

The Parallels are frightening, whilst young buck Ken Bates was busy stretching Chelsea’s overdraft to its very limit, Doug Ellis was pioneering the art of steering a football club to modest profitability, at the expense of any achievement of any sort actually being made on the football field itself.

That model is of course familiar to us all as supporters of Leeds, for Ellis was the evil Sith Emperor to Ken’s Darth Vader. We’re now going nowhere fast, selling our best players, or letting their contracts run down, and won’t push the boat out. Burnt by his £100m debt at Chelsea, Ken clings to his modest profits with the fervour of a 3 year old girl and her security blanket – he knows no other way.

Ask any supporter of Aston Villa about those dark years and you will see their leaden expression tell a story. Supporting Villa was like doing time. 1982 – The one year he stepped down as chairman saw the club win the European cup. Mid table finishes and the odd relegation battle followed. They rarely worried the big 4. Hell I even remember us going down there and giving them a going over?!

I digress. The cautionary tale at stake here is that Doug Ellis was happy to draw his modest profits in the millions, proportionately invest little of it into the team, bar the odd marquee signing that Premier League status required, and then lambast various players and managers for not achieving more. Again many the parallel there.

Supporter led campaigns made our current batch look like small fry, yes the internet has come to prevalence and social networking is far more effective now than when Ellis was on his uppers in the early 2000’s but these groups even managed to source investors, formed groups to buy the club themselves. Ellis’ responses were usually no more than two words. He just wouldn’t go. He couldn’t see anyone better than he to run the club.

In the end it took failing health to convince him to take the £80m or so on offer from Randy Lerner seriously, and well ‘do one’ to put no finer point on it. For those of us hoping Ken will see sense, realise he’s no good for the club, and that others might do better,  well they’re in for a rude awakening.

I write this not to discourage, but to forewarn any of those involved in this process that this will take real guts – as Ken is as stubborn as even some Yorkshireman dare I say. But as those of you able to go to the LUST meeting tonight pore over what is said, it’s important to remember that inaction is really not an option. Let’s not bend to Kens will here, fight fire with fire and be as unreasonable as he is.

Ken will argue against economic realities, namely that for a football club to do well, it must make some investment to steal a march on its rivals if it’s to get to its maximum potential.

He’ll tell us all we’re risking the clubs future – no Ken – you are and you have the track record. Putting us into administration and threatening to wind us up, and also by your refusal to sell up. Put up the for sale sign – tell us you’re looking to find someone who can take us to the next level, and we may even grow to like you (a little). We’d even understand you wanting £77m for the club, just so long as you went.

Leeds are worthy of a Premier League spot, have the resources to do it, when properly employed, and in time will attract decent investment – why not make that English money for a refreshing change! Richard Branson are you reading?

The key here is not to give up, as the sign above the clothes pegs used to say – KEEP FIGHTING!

Written by Matthew Brown-Bolton

  • TimPM

    Excellent post.

    It will take more than guts, it’ll take determination and unity. Unity with the manager and players and with fellow fans.

  • henrymouni

    Without a genuine, rich buyer on the horizon it is all pointless.

    • mattbb1

      @henrymouni so we go and find one.

      • Tim Campbell

        @mattbb1@henrymouni

        I once sent a pathetic e-mail to the worlds richest man, Carlos Slim, begging him to invest a little bit of his fortune our way. ‘Slim’ chance of that (pun defno intended lol)

      • henrymouni

        @mattbb1

        Harry Redknapp’s dog is rich, Matt!!

  • TSS

    Funnily enough Rob, Leeds now use Leeds as an excuse for not spending too! Ken Bates can’t go a week without mentioning Ridsdale.

  • NorthEastLoiner

    There is a difference here, from my memory Doug Ellis was at least a Villa supporter and while he may have done things that other fans couldn’t understand I think at the heart of it he wanted Villa to continue. The trouble with Bates is that all he loves is himself and paying himself lots of money. It’s immaterial to him whether the club survives or succeeds on the pitch he just wants to make his money in whatever way he can. We know it’ll be a long road and there’ll be dissent at times but the only hope we have of surviving is if Bates (and Harvey) go, how about a whip round to get them a berth on an Italian cruise ship?

  • number1inyorkshire

    I WILLS AY THIS AGAIN how many more times ??

    you can have THE worlds 5 richest men in the world to form a coalition but there is right now nothing for sale and there will not be ,

    .

    now everything has a price of course we know that but if some one was to come in now .bates at a guestimate would want £50.000000 for the lock stock and barrel and for that you get 28 players and a rent book .

    if that wasn’t offered then bates might just aswell wait for the premier league years part 2 .

    he has said it enough times” i am looking for an investor” ,he has never said “i am looking for a buyer” on the contrary he has said “i aint going nowhere “enough times now for me to know he means it .

    Bates officially owns leeds united .but is that for the League and F A ,my opinion is he owns it but who really knows .

    what would bates do if he didn’t have leeds , he is too old to go elsewhere it gives him a platform and a life and the difference between him and Ellis is that sadly Bates is rude with health ..

    I applaud the drive and agree with end cause but there is nothing yet i would put my name to

    i would gladly donate a £1000 to a war fund if it was the right one but there is nothing yet that has made me want to get my cheque book out

    • TSS

      @number1inyorkshire That’s why the LUST meeting was so important. We need to decide on a strategy that makes our ultimate goal possible – protests alone achieve nothing. There has already been talk of hiring lawyers and financial experts to look into Ken Bates’ reign at Elland Road. We all suspect there’s something to find, and if there is, we could potentially remove him by force. Otherwise, cutting funds cut force his hand. There are other options besides, but we need that organised front to succeed.

      • number1inyorkshire

        @TSS the only thing i would say about lawyers they are mega expensive .others have looked the chap at the guardian and the bbc ,and mps .football committee .there has been many tried and many still trying to uncover stuff that was undoubtadly there but so far they have nothing ,..

        i hope they do but he is always able to come out with a floral smell from the bucket of manure..

  • number1inyorkshire

    what be the outcome when a sample was made of regular attendees to what end ..

    the core supporters at leeds are not as big as they should be for a 1 city club at the professional level ,

    it has often been said the true every week support is 20k at its top end the other 3-5 k are casuals, the extra 20 k for the big games and when leeds are back in prem are tossers..

    If there was 38-40 k a week going to shout Bates out he might listen ,as it is he aint bothered..

    There is only 1 way ,IGNORE Bates go support the the team buy tickets for only that nothing else ,he will not leave ,but he won’t anyway but that way the team knows it has the fans support ..

    • number1inyorkshire

      1 club city ,sorry i think i have your spell checker irving 08

    • number1inyorkshire

      picket lines at the bates cash machines ,outside the shop ,program sellers and all other things that Bates peddles .quiet, peaceful no conversation no intimidation ,no blocking no stopping ,no noise at all ,if the people want to buy let them see how many turn away .don’t forget the banqueting tent and inside the ground bars ,etc but let the people go about their rightful business if they so wish .some people will decide not to whilst others carry on regardless ..

  • Tyler75

    @number1inyorkshire I’d put Ken at somewhere between Enoch Powel and Pol Pot on the political spectrum; with just a soupcon of Ceaucescu.

  • TSS

    1. We’re not asking for over-investment, we’re asking for OUR money to be spent on the squad rather than squandered on pointless, unnecessary facilities no one cares about. We’re paying £2.5m a year in rent for ER alone – rent I strongly suspect goes in Bates pocket, otherwise the stadium “improvements” make absolutely no sense. He’s increasing the value of someone else’s asset which will make any buy-back in the future even more expensive.

    2. The Bates Out campaign invited all fans to attend a democratic meeting to decide on a way forward. Regardless of whether you agree or not, that was your chance for input. Thereafter, you should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow fans – much like employees that don’t agree with strike action stand as one.

    3. I agree, hence the meeting last night which I urged everyone to attend (if possible). Future meetings are already being planned and I would suggest people use this opportunity to have their say. Protests are a necessary evil sometimes, they create the media coverage you need, but they can also have negative effects if not organised properly. Other measures should also be considered – and are being. Finally, I would strongly recommend people join LUST (free membership) so they can have their say and get involved in the action Leeds United fans will take regardless.

    • number1inyorkshire

      @TSS it wasn’t the fans job to ask questions of risdale they were a plc and the board were just as culpable ..

      course we were caught up in it at that point we should have nailed ourselves into the top 4-5 and should still be there .

      over spending or underspending which way do we want it .

      lets have some middle ground as we amrch on

      • TSS

        @number1inyorkshire That’s the most irritating thing, don’t you think? That Bates fails to even acknowledge a middle ground – it’s either his way or Ridsdale’s, neither of which are doing any long-term good to this football club.

      • number1inyorkshire

        @TSS i have come across a bit negative with this thread i know that is borne from frustration .there are people on here who want to genuinely help bates out of the door me been one ,people given the chance who could work with leeds ,investors of course but just genuine fans ,we could make a difference as much as the investors,but he ,Bates just will not let us, he is holding our club back and whats more he is enjoying it .

        it has never happened in my 33 years going to leeds where fans are actually talking of not going to games .alright attendances have fluctuated with the times ,but rallying the troops to not go at all .

        if Bates was right in his head, and he is no different to any other crazy despot dictator , he could work with some of the best fans anywhere in football for the good of the club as we march on together .instead he dismisses us as morons and drives a wedge between the fans that every club needs .which is why i choose now to ignore him and hope that everyone else does the same ,he will need us before we need him .

        look what happened to the last evil bastard dictator that was begging for help .he was shot in the head and had no friends to save him .

        At 80+ he is running out of time and he will find ,as he is running out of time he will run out of friends .just like the DOUG ELLIS named above did had he been younger he would have fought ,he had no fight left

      • TSS

        @number1inyorkshire I’ve never considered boycotting games before, nor did I ever think I would. Can’t believe it’s reached a point where I’m refusing to go to Elland Road completely next season. Think that’ll hurt him more than anything else though personally and I just can’t continue funding this madness.

      • number1inyorkshire

        @TSS that wasn’t a negative point i was meaning it as a good point in the war with bates .

        the fact he was making people do that is a negative towards him

        ,if you know what i mean

        he is an idiot

      • mattbb1

        @number1inyorkshire@TSS have to admit the prspect of not going to leeds again this season is miserable, but agree with what the LUST statement has said, each time i’ve been, gradually its like watching our identity as a club getting boil washed, and fading, fading, fading. The enjoyment for me is probably at an all time low. I still love the club and will always support them but Bates has removed hope from the equation. Hope that he’ll ever leave, hope that we’ll ever compete for the nest players (who arent on a free) for the jobs we so badly need doing – a commanding centre back, a ball winning midfielder, and a playmaker, a pacy centre forward. Sure weve got some, but when we need fiixes we all know itll be off to the loan market for some kid who doesnt give a frig about leeds united. I really hope that LUST have steps 2 and 3 in mind , the statement is a decent start – asking ken for more – but he will retort- “i’m doing all i can”.

    • KevinScorah

      @TSS Is there an impartial account of our financial demise anywhere online? It seems to me many contributos to this (and other) forums post without knowing the facts. Did Bates save our club or was it the greatest swindle since Malcolm McLaren? I for one would love to refresh my memory of what has happened since the Ridsdale era if only to reaffirm the reasons I am a Bates Out supporter. Yes, there are many unanswered questions, many deceptions and sleights of hand that may be inferred rather than proved, but still, these should be catalogued so we can all amke sure we are fighting for the same reasons.

  • TSS

    Going to cover it on TSS at some stage, but LUST’s full statement following last night’s meeting is here: http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=961b4c64f7799c1c11c962c47&id=ef65b01f41&e=76f9d195f1

  • TSS

    They cover the Ridsdale issue (or “primary excuse”) as it should probably be known by now.

  • TSS

    I kind of think that’s the right approach. If “our side” offers the olive branch and he rejects, he looks petty. If neither side does, we both look stubborn. And if neither of those options happen, Bates would use that to his advantage. Like playing a game of PR chess taking Ken Bates on.

  • number1inyorkshire

    I too have read the L U S T statement its very good reading and in principal it is fantastic .

    The problem what leverage have L U S T to stick that into the ribs of bates .

    why should he listen ,,what will be the outcome if he doesn’t .

    moving in the right direction .

    does anyone know of anymore meetings planned

  • number1inyorkshire

    Just joined LUST although you can join for free so why not do it .i paid the shareholders subscription

  • mattbb1

    @TSS i’ve read that statement a few times, and to me the parts regarding the alienation of fans is probably sadder than even the chronic underinvestment. Smaller clubs on smaller budgets can make their fans feel part of it. If I am going to be critical however it would simply be that theres no `meat’ in the statement – my gaffer would ask me – so waht do you want me to do? if i presented him with a list of issues. I think thats missing. I stand alongside those making thestatement but i am keen to see what the next stage is – and hopefully they have that in mind? if ont bates will cricify them, and probably in the media.