The Mangle: Running the asylum Gary January 8, 2012 The Mangle 13 Comments By the fans, for the fans. The ultimate dream, right? Right? With the fans at the helm, there could be no danger of the hidden agendas, the ignoring of the need for a competent playing staff, or the breakdown of democratic debate at the club that have seemingly been the norm in recent memory. Ah yes, the idea sits well. Theoretically. It’s worked for some, and will probably work for more as greater numbers of clubs disband, reform or else simply seek more radical business models when the football world order morphs increasingly towards Sheikh/ Oligarch, debt/ fingers crossed, or every man for himself. AFC Wimbledon, Exeter, FC United et al have succeeded in pulling off fan ownership – but they’re AFC Wimbledon, Exeter and FC United. No club of our much-vaunted ‘massive fanbase’ has succeeded in bringing about this governance model in the UK – though there are hopeful examples abroad, often aided and abetted by rules encouraging at least part-member ownership as essential rather than somewhat freakish. But let’s get the basics out of the way first: making LUFC into a fan-run concern would be a logistical hell-hole of epic proportion. Discounting what kind of decision-making model would have to be concocted to avoid a club of our size slowing down to a stop, the aftermath of administrators, mega-debt, lost assets and bits and pieces stored in offshore havens ain’t gonna be a tidy linear narrative to straighten out. And of course there could absolutely no danger that us in charge could end up being worse than what we had before, no danger at all… Hang on. When a group of people collectively run a business, they theoretically take on the liabilities of the citizen. It should therefore follow that the group should have a suitable psychological profile for the job. For all our positive qualities – gallows humour, loyalty, single-minded belligerence to name but a few – the logical conclusion after weighing things up objectively against the bad stuff that we embody would be that we’re probably, overall, a bit of a collective basket case. The Overwhelming pessimism, tendency to knock our own, urge to compare everything to an age of milk and honey around 40 years or so ago and lack of self-awareness for starters. And that’s without touching on the rabid persecution complex. If we’re truly honest, would we, as a group, pass the fit and proper person test? I’m not even sure we could be classed as responsible adults anymore. We’ve been infantilised by years of torment. It’s very possible that we enjoy having pantomime villains to blame too much. The Ridsdale, Krasner and Bates eras have moulded us into righteous finger-pointers. Living and dying by the sword sounds like a beautiful world of accountability never seen before in South Leeds, but on our own collective sword? That could prick a few egos rather horrifically. After years of witnessing what we perceive as the mis-running of our club, I can’t help feeling there’s been monsters made of us all – a mass of megalomaniacs knowing exactly what they’d be doing better, and not willing to compromise when they realise that better isn’t the same better that everyone else envisaged. What’s more, I’m not sure any of us even know what kind of Kafka-esque nightmare we’d be letting ourselves in for once the doors were flung asunder. Hexes, voodoo traditions, creative accounting, alleged player nervous breakdowns and real-life managerial bonkbusters – there’s forever a sense of ‘not quite right’ at Leeds. It’s fair to surmise that having full behind the scenes access could scar us; recoiling horrified by what we’d inherited with all our good intentions. The simple retort to all this rampant hypothesising is that it isn’t at all in line with what the majority of Leeds fans want. Probably right. Most probably aren’t seeking the grind of taking a stake, attending meetings, casting votes, putting more than the cost of a season ticket into the club. They just want to watch a decent outfit do the colours proud – something to hope for every weekend, at least. So what do most folk want in terms of ownership? At an educated guess, probably a rich, but not super-rich, long-term fan of the club who can do fan-to-fan empathy, someone who is willing to put their hand in their pocket when they can patently see that improvements are needed on the pitch. Of course we’ve had plenty characters promise these qualities – the same characters oft winding up in grave corporate litigation years later. Maybe the only hope we’d ever have had for a successful fan-run outfit representing the city would’ve been at the absolute bottom of the pile, if LUFC as we know it had ceased to exist. But he saved us, don’t we all know, so now we’re all left a bit unsure of what a successful or even feasible model to run the club would look like from this stable but somewhat vague viewpoint. Since there’s no sign of any Bates buy-out collection tins being passed round, or barricades being erected in the West Stand car park for an armed coup attempt, anyone know what Mr Sainsbury of Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Khalifaup to these days? ChicagoWhite A Barcelona type model or German club model could/would work where a President was elected every 4 years, the elections would be brutal though. Getting LUFC fans to agree on anything but anti-scum galascum bluescum etc is impossible its a weakness as well as a strength. What is certain is what we have now & have had previously has not worked & we’ve had both extremes so an alternative should not be dismissed out of hand. TSS @ChicagoWhite I like the idea of American style rallies beforehand though – imagine the piss-up! I could hold polls, interview the candidates, influence the voting (hopefully). Great idea. ChicagoWhite @TSS I’d love to see Bates try & get elected back as President he would be the angry old man telling everyone to get of his lawn type. TSS @ChicagoWhite I’d run myself if Bates attempted it. That’d be great fun. oldschoolbaby If nothing else this post highlights the complete absence of an alternative to Bates. Which is a rather important factor the rabid anti – Bates protestors conveniently forget. Nature abhors a vacuum which is how the old bastard got through the door in the first place. You have to be very careful what you wish for in this game TSS That’s because it’s a catch 22 situation. No one will buy Leeds from Bates because no one can figure out what it is they’re buying – hence the frustration. oldschoolbaby @TSS Sorry, not good enough. The banks aren`t lending money any more so only someone with serious cash could consider buying the club. Serious cash wouldn`t be unduly worried about your “figuring out”. And serious cash would be bloody stupid not to show their hand and harness anti – Bates sentiment to force him out ChicagoWhite There have been a number of serious candidates ready to buy Leeds pre Bates during administration & post administration don’t get pulled into the Bates disinformation derbyshire white In theory at least the introduction of the financial fair play rules next season should see the end of the system where a very rich owner subsidises the purchase of the very best players available. This is perhaps why a club such as Leicester is throwing it around this season like a drunk in a Vegas casino. On that basis the ‘well managed clubs’ (us and maybe one other in the Championship) should prosper and be worth investing in. As we’re Leeds the opposite will probably happen, the Football League will bottle it, and as has been said no one will want to deal with KB anyway. TSS @derbyshire white Too easy to get around, City have already proved it. Uber-rich people own companies who will just happen to become main sponsors, bringing with them a surprisingly large amount of money – 10x the next best offer. There’s always a loophole I’m afraid. mattbb1 not sure?… i would actually prefer us to be run by a businessman, like a business. Interested in its core areas of revenue generation, innovative, and leveraging its revenue and cashflow. In summary totally unlike now, where we seem to be run for the benefit of ken bates, for as long as he is interested. as ive said many times theonly stumbling block is ousting ken and buying his nest egg from him. that would take a very `un-business like’ decision where youd pay pretty much twice over what the business was worth to buy it. number1inyorkshire I think it was charlton who have or had an elected person or persons to speak at a high level with the board at the club . There are 30+thousand members of the official leeds united members club who have no say on how the club is run that could change there could be an election of members who put themselves forward for election for a maximum of 3 years per term not being allowed to stand again for another 3 years when your time is up. Peter lorimer could front that .they could meet with Harvey etc for an opinion forum a chat etc and generally make a noise I am not saying we could the fans that is ,should be sat in all the meetings regarding finance etc but a working group at all clubs not just leeds would appease the fans for the most part , I don’t think we the fans want to run leeds has it been mentioned ,alright we have our opinions but you are right it wouldn’t work for the most part . I personally don’t feel the club is for sale maybe some shares or Bates will take your money for nothing which seems more likely but not for sale . here lies the problem if bates sticks around i do not think any one will invest ,so in investment terms Bates is holding the club back . Irving08 It depends on the constitution – per se I cannot see any objections to us being a membership club like Barcelona. There is plenty of regional pride to draw on and plenty of big brains amongst our fans. Mutualisation works for buliding societies and there is no reason why it cannot work for us. The British Labour movement has an unrivalled history of democratic creation (the Labour Party, co-operative movement and Trades Unions). It just needs to be remembered and reclaimed for the coming post-oligarchical age. Let’s work on it, draw up a proposal, take it to Grandpa Ken, remind him of his origins, and tickle his patriotic whatever it is. ‘Valereeee…..