We Do Have The Money To Succeed TimPM February 19, 2012 Leeds United 11 Comments We’ve all (or almost all) chanted “Bates Out!” at some point. We’ve been frustrated by the lack of clarity at the club. We’ve been fed up with young stars who don’t produce the goods. Players have embodied the club of recent years: nearly limitless potential, no results. Despite the talent of our team, the massive and undivided support-base of England’s third biggest city, a global following remaining from the O’Leary-Ridsdale era, we’ve been struggling to match teams like Barnsley and Coventry. A strong hand needed to take over. Neil Warnock celebrates Becchio's winner yesterday The emotional Lee Clark who spent flamboyantly for no results, a similar possibility in Dave Jones, the whining Billy Davies, and the consistent failure Paul Ince would not have fitted the role. Neil Redfearn was not the right man either. Though we owe him gratitude for spending three tough weeks trying to keep the players focused while fans hurled stick at him and the club’s media pushed him forward as Grayson’s potential successor. In Neil Warnock Leeds get a strong hand at the helm, with plenty of intelligence and bags of experience to boot. As Shaun Derry told Yorkshire Radio before the match, there’s more to Neil Warnock than the comical pantomime villain that fans see in press conferences. A man who demands hard work and application, and who delivers his side of the bargain. Robert Snodgrass told YEP a few days ago that the team need to grow up: “The fans get frustrated and whatever they want to shout, us as players need to make things right by earning the right to win games and putting our bodies on the line. At the moment, I don’t think that’s happening.” “Every game you go into, you have to believe that you’re going to win it. The day when you stop approaching games like that, I’d hang my boots up and never play again.” This is the mentality that we have so sorely lacked recently, and the mentality that Neil Warnock brings to the club. He’s firm, but fair. His interview after the match showed his paternalistic approach to the lads: “They’re very keen and they listen.” “They were trying really hard. I think the problem here, with the expectations and everything, is that they just need to relax a little bit.” The Warnock we know well as an opposition team is the Warnock I’m sure our opponents will keep seeing. He’s not a miracle-worker, either. It took him a few years to turn a mid-table Sheffield United into a promotion-winning team. Nevertheless, he achieved it. He took over at a QPR that was quite well funded, and he used his money wisely and drove them to the Championship title. But he can’t do it all on his own, just like Robert Snodgrass can’t drag the rest of the team with him. Warnock needs financial backing. Ken Bates and Peter Lorimer have been vocal enough on supposed overspending. There certainly are plenty of high-profile signings who failed to get a place in Grayson’s plans and remained on the wage book. Andy O’Brien from the Premiership, Alex Bruce a proven Championship defender, Billy Paynter supposed to replace Jermaine Beckford after impressing in League One, Mikael Forssell a former Chelsea forward. Darren O’Dea, Adam Smith and Andros Townsend all see their contracts expire at the end of the season. Without passing judgement, when the club stops paying their wages it will give Warnock some freedom to spend on players of his own choosing. Meanwhile Michael Brown (who has performed under Warnock’s leadership at Sheffield United and was named in the Championship team of the year in 2002-3) and Mika Vayrynen give Warnock the freedom to release or retain for another season, and Lloyd Sam and Mikael Forssell see their contracts expire along with highly rated youngster Aidy White. But we need more than a few players ending their contracts. The mystery surrounding the club has led some (including me) to briefly consider that we really are struggling to stay afloat. This isn’t the case. We made £12.5million profit on player purchases and sales since Simon Grayson came, by my reckoning. Of this, £7million has gone into stadium redevelopment. That leaves £5.5million. A worryingly high figure to go missing on top of significantly higher attendences than average at top-five Premiership prices. Tracing this cash is possible through the Ipswich programme notes. The following paragraph has already been published in a previous article: ‘”Where’s the money gone?” is the latest chant from the vociferous few. Well, I’ll tell them. Simon Grayson’s player budget was £9.5M for the year. As I write we have so far committed £11.722M, over budget by nearly 23%. It’s a bad business practice but a demonstration how we have backed the manager and continue to do so.’ We’ve already used stats from The Swiss Ramble on wage expenditure in 2009/10. These statistics would place Leeds’ self-reported £9.5million budget 18th in Championship spending, our revised £12.5million would put us 14th in expenditure (the same as 2009/10 when we gained promotion from League One). Certainly Bates didn’t under-fund Grayson at League One level. Over the past few years players’ contracts signed in boom time have ended and players find it harder to get work as lads like Parnaby and Forssell show. It’s not helped Simon Grayson move on players he didn’t want. Despite that, Bates’ assertion that we’re one of the highest spenders in the division seems laughable. A drop of £4million in average wage expenditure over two years – roughly £3,000 per week per player – would make that the case; such a hefty drop is unlikely. The next statement in the programme notes was by far the most important and changes the entire scenario for the future. It’s one that I and most others missed: “With the exception of the museum, that completes the rebuilding, refurbishment, and improvements of Elland Road with approximately £20M having been spent on the clapped out, decaying stadium that I inherited.” Even if we take this spending to have begun seven years ago at an even pace – when Leeds was fighting for it’s life – the budgets would have taken a £2.85million hit per season. By Ken Bates’ own mouth, his stadium projects have taken away at least a massive £55,000 per-week-per-season that could have been invested into the team. Balance that with roughly £12.5million profit from player sales, and we were still taking away £20,000 per-week-per-season from normal income. These are rough figures. We’re much more likely to have spent more on developments over the past couple of years; James McClean has been rewarded with a new contract recently by Martin O’Neill at Premiership Sunderland said to be worth £10,000-£15,000 per week. We could pay a lot more towards wages than we have done. We could have afforded to keep our players. I’m not going to debate whether spending on the Stadium is wise. But either way what matters is that Bates has told us “that completes the rebuilding, refurbishment, and improvements”. We know for a fact, using Bates’ figures, that if he refrains from non-football development over the next couple of years, we easily have the ability to back the proven promotion-specialist Neil Warnock in making some quality key signings this summer should we fail in our promotion push this year. If Warnock is not offered adequate backing then I’m sure we will know about it. We do have the money to succeed. MOT!