Taken from the Yorkshire Evening Post, March 9th 2012

“Former Leeds United striker Robbie Fowler looks set to reject Blackpool’s advances after they offered him a £90-a-week deal.

According to reports, the 36-year-old, right, has turned down an offer of a £5,000 appearance bonus and just £100 per week if he did not play.

But ex-Liverpool star Fowler, who has been without a club since leaving Thai side SCG Muangthong United in January, spoke out on his Twitter account.

“Actually it was £90, but would need to play full 90 (minutes) to get full appearance bonus…,” he tweeted.”

The Scratching Shed published an article earlier this year concerning some fans lamentable lack of charity towards our former trainee Michael Woods who had been released by Chelsea following his failure to cement a place in their midfield.

The above then raised some other rather different emotions upon reading.

Robbie Fowler, reputedly on £40,000 a week in the Ridsdale era, was a luxury we simply couldn’t afford. 14 goals in 30 games is a far from poor return, but our initial outlay of £11m raised many an eyebrow. A squad already containing Robbie Keane, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell & Alan Smith surely didn’t need another striker?

But so went the wisdom of O’Leary, and indeed Ridsdale. Lest we forget Seth Johnson was signed at the same time. We’ve of course continued the tradition of signing completely needless players on high salaries since then (I digress).

A key motivation of selling Fowler less than 18 months later to Man City for a £5m loss was simply that we could not afford to have him on our wage bill.

Further eyebrows of course were raised when the much knocked Krasner led board revealed during the 2004-05 season that he was amongst numerous others still being paid by Leeds United, as we struggled to field a first XI versus Derby County for our first game in `the wilderness’ –  remember Steve Guppy & Craig Hignett pulling on a white shirt for £50? It still haunts my nightmares.

The fact that Fowler stuck to his guns concerning his contract as he was legally entitled to do, sticks in the craw somewhat. When one hears that Alan Smith waived his contract annulment fee to aid Leeds United in their financial plight, you get the real measure of players like he and Matteo who clearly held some affection for the club. Leeds were spiralling towards one of the biggest falls from grace of any major football club in Europe at the time.

I recall visiting the club shop on the eve of our first season in the Championship, and it was carnage; quarter full cardboard boxes of last season’s key rings, empty clothes racks where replica kits used to be. Unbeknown to most of us, behind all that the glitterati of the Premier League dream continued to pick up their massive salaries. It’s interesting that whilst our football has been of a generally poor standard the financial and business understanding of a lot of Leeds United fans has probably scaled heights we might not have considered some years ago.

A much publicised chant at the City of Manchester Stadium – now the Etihad stadium, was “We all live in a Robbie Fowler Home” (to the tune of yellow submarine) of course borne out by Fowlers extensive property portfolio. Many Leeds and Cit-eh fans discussed the fact that Fowler didn’t `need’ football any more thanks to his lucrative wage packet(s) and those sensible business investments.

But Fowler seems of late to be prepared to turn up anywhere for a game of football, Thailand, The A-League, even Cardiff City and Blackpool, where the latter are only prepared to offer him a pay as you play deal, not unsurprisingly for a 36-year-old who’s been away from the English game for a number of years. He’s seen fit to turn that down, but this must be huge blow to the ego of a man used to picking up a six figure salary every month, and playing for his country?

So do Leeds fans feel sorry for Fowler? Do they think he’s finally had his comeuppance? Or do they even care. I think most Leeds fans probably fall into the latter category of indifference to a player who took much but gave little to the cause. A lost opportunity perhaps, but where fans might have more of care is the thoughts of chances that passed us by as we were still paying off Robbie Fowler – how far did it push us towards administration? Stop us competing for better players?

Personally I feel some sympathy for him, he – like many of us – bought the dream Ridsdale peddled, and his only crime was to pick up his salary. It might strike us (though we don’t know the truth) that he seemingly needs a few more quid to add to the pot if he’s prepared to consider a pay as you play deal at Blackpool?

35 Responses

  1. derbyshirewhite

    Some strange goings-on at Blackpool where its revealed that Owen Oyston helped himself to £11m of the Premiership money during their ‘living the dream’ period but few of the players got a pay rise. £90 a week and a bonus if your play. Surely a model for the plans of our own beloved chairman.  Robbie Keane never settled in a white shirt so it actually looked a sensible move to recruit Fowler as a better impact player. We still had a smaller squad then than Citeh have now, sadly we also had a lot less money.

    • Max

       @derbyshirewhite Keane never settled in a white shirt (well this is my opinion) because  he didn’t seem to be in the first choice squad when Fowler came along. O’Leary had been trying to buy Fowler for a while and Liverpool had realised Fowler had had one too many knee injuries. It was a silly buy; at the same time there was apparently a £21m offer for Viduka which O’Leary insisted on turning down. We also had Bridges on long term injury, had Alan Smith and Kewell subsequently managed to convince Venables he was a striker as well.
      Had a bunch of sensible decisions been taken in the last 18 months or so of the Ridsdale era (not buying Johnson or Fowler, taking good offers to sell on players – and that includes Ferdinand – when they came in, better management of contracts for squad players, not paying Ridsdale himself over £400k a year, etc) maybe we wouldn’t be where we are now. But that’s hindsight. As for Fowler, I don’t (and didn’t then) rate him or like him but I don’t blame him.
      And the Blackpool example of paying out £11m to Owen Oyston, if it’s true, and bearing in mind Owen Oyston served 3.5 years for rape and the indecent assault of a 16 year old girl, just shows how bad the FL are at protecting their clubs from being run by some fairly shady types (the Premier League couldn’t do anything because of a loophole in the FL rules on “fit and proper” – see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/blackpool/7716697/Premier-League-powerless-to-ban-rapist-Owen-Oyston-if-Blackpool-win-promotion.html).

      • Irving08

        All great points. I don’t mean to be controversial, but if by some strange alchemy Ridsdale had transmuted into Bates when the bubble started to burst we might not be  
        where we are now either. I can’t see him being panicked like Ridsdale and the rest were into the ensuing fire sale. The man has seen his way through too many tight business situations for that. Discuss.

      • TomHunter

        Maybe but the alarm bells should have been ringing after the first failure to qualify for champions league imo

      • Irving08

        I agree. We should have questioned the whole financial strategy. Bates does have a long term strategy which, in it own terms, is defensible; it just asks too much of the most loyal fans even, whose priorities are more short-term, and undestandably so. Also when the two perspectives clash directly, his only fall back position seems to be to diversify, which calls into question the raison d’etre of the core business. His managerial appointments have been puzzling; I would have expected him to be more hard-nosed and gone for a Warnock type figure from the outset.  Bread and circuses come to mind. I hope Warncok understands what a bunch of contradictions he’s being asked to resolve.          

      • TimPM

         @TomHunter @Irving I think it’s difficult because people tend to both rate Bates too high, and too low. Often within sentences!
        With the managerial appointments I just think he thought he was being clever. We’d appoint guys nobody had heard of in managerial terms, find a rough gem, polish him up and he takes us where we need to go.
        Massively flawed logic and after Blackwell, Wise, McAllister and Grayson I challenge anybody to point to any of Bates’ Leeds managers so far who you could reasonably argue beat expectations.
        Blackwell had a tough job but there’s no way in hell we should’ve been demoted with the money we still had coming in via gates every week. Wise took over and failed initially. He then got us looking good for what should’ve been a Juventus-style march straight back up the division and jumped ship. Well, no matter how you dress it up if your manager walks after getting your team demoted he’s failed. McAllister came in and couldn’t get any consistency. Grayson came in and did well in League One- then again in our promotion season he had what would’ve been a mid-table Championship budget anyway! We don’t know how well he was backed since but Udders are suffering the same problems under him.
        And again, with the business side of things. Bates backed Oldham (I believe out of personal funds at times? May be wrong there) in the 60s and they got 1 promotion from 4th div to 3rd div. He tried to spend their way out of 3rd div and it didn’t work. They languished and he left when they were demoted again after half a decade. He took over at Chelsea. He had failed to buy the club before it got into serious difficulty. He then got the club and all the debts. He kept hold of it by putting assets into different companies etc. and then set about building Chelsea Village. He left Chelsea massively in debt, with much of that money having been spent on peripheral rubbish that the current set-up were a bit bemused by.
        He comes to Leeds. He technically doesn’t keep us, though in practice he has exactly the same power as if he did own us. We just about survive. Right, well done mate. He then oversees us dropping into the 3rd division, oversees crap managers bungling our way out. And now after SEVEN years we’re back where we started but with a good manager as a change.
        I think we’ve really come to expect so little we laughably dress Bates up as some kind of business talent. He knows how to make money for himself, but every business he touches ends up in ashes in my opinion. And nobody should be saying “Leeds got out of League One and looked a good team” we should’ve been out of that league quicker than Newcastle were out of the Championship.
        … I’m not worked up, though it might read like it! heheh!

      • MichaelLord1


        Nice write up Tim…..I agree with 9/10th of everything you wrote

      • Irving08

         @TimPM  @Irving
        Bates is a classic English working class entrepreneur of his generation- think Freddy Laker. Huge drive, massively ambitious and very bright, yet woefully under-educated – and operating in an unfavourable social and economic environment. That’s by way of perspective. He can’t be as bad at business as you suggest, though: he was a very wealthy man before he took over Oldham – and was prolific on the reproduction front too…. But I digress for much else of what you write, I can agree with. About the accursed East Stand corporate stuff, it makes sense, in business terms, if you take into account the need to rebuild the antiquated West Stand. (I take it that everyone agree that the Pavilion is a good thing.) At the very least, now we won’t be moving from Elland Road. But – we agree – it puts a premium on getting the right manager where, if anything, Bates has been oddly indecisive, where he has not shown poor judgement. A case of the absentee landlord perhaps ?     

      • TimPM

         @TimPM In the past I half-remember him being slated for going too quickly through managers, maybe being too compulsive? Can’t remember exactly what though. Possible that is pushing him to take it slow and cautious with Leeds?
        I’m  not sure with the corporate side. He won’t have budgeted for falling down to 3rd div, but I think we need to look at it like this: 2008 Bates says it’ll cost £20mil to re-buy TA and ER. In seven years, I’m not sure of the exact figure but say as a guess the rent is £3mil p/a. In seven years that’s £21mil we’ve spent on rent.
        Just hoarding our money would mean we’d have ER by now and possibly TA. That way we’d cut £3mil off our expenses a year. That’s a massive competitive edge when added to our wage-bill, and a massive handicap when it’s coming out. And with that, we’d also have a feel-good factor and the freedom to plan knowing that we own what we’re planning redevs of.

      • Irving08

        But for those that use them the facilites have created a feelgood factor too. And the Pavilion has undoubtedly probably fostered a stronger sense of community among our far-flung fan base, plus it is a nice place to take children before and after matches. And – though don’t take this as a defence – the corporate stuff in the East Stand both maintains and expands this revenue stream, while allowing us to plan for the redevelopment of the West Stand. At a time of historic low interest rates and lousy gilt returns due to, QE, it makes more sense to invest in revenue yielding facitlities than follow the course you suggest. It also creates a sense of development. Now I do believe the stance taken on wages – with respect to the younger players like Johnson – was short-sighted. But equally I believe the recruitment policy, supported, if not actively pursued by Grayson, was misguided, even allowing for the pressure placed on him by fans and chairman alike to achieve promotion in short order. While I am at it, I may as well conclude with my view on SG – a manager with his somewhat distant bearing needs to have the compensating factor of a good brain. If the players can’t warm to a Manager, at least they need to respect him for his intelligence, at any rate on the footballing front. In the end, it was this that did for SG.

      • TimPM

        You were very diplomatic on that last bit! Now that he’s moved on I don’t feel so bad admitting he reminded me of Villas Boas without the prodigy part…
        I’ll take your word on the business bit! Though surely guilts, interest, etc. don’t equate to roughly £2-3mil per annum? And it’s hard to believe he knew what would happen with the economy seven years ago?

      • Irving08

         And there was me feeling a bit mean writing it ! On the bricks and mortar stuff (and much else), Brian Viner did a revealing interview with KB a couple of years ago in the Indy (you can google it for free). Personally I can see a lot of point in the ground developments, for the reasons I have outlined. The problem is that both sides in this debate tend to absolutise one or other of the oppositions – “development of the club”/ “investment in the team”, which is understandable given the passions and commitments involved.

      • THforgothislogin

        I’ll be honest i only started getting into Leeds when it all went wrong. 01/02 season but have since got pretty well versed on what happened. (Phil Hay’s LUFC trials and tribulations is excellent and as already said Fowlers book is quite tragically illuminating)
        Was no-one honestly asking where the hell”s all this money coming from at the turn of the millenium?

      • Irving08

         The answer is ‘no’. I was a shareholder and any attempt to question the strategy was brushed off. I think people were flattered by the attention of the likes of Schroeders, the media and so on. At least Bates is not likely to be taken in by anybody.      

      • TimPM

        It’s something that permeates our lives. It happened on a larger scale with government spending over the past 7-8 years, and it happens all the time with the bizarre decisions from banks to lend to people who can’t pay back.
        Sadly I’m not sure anybody’s actually learning anything from this?!

  2. Oz Pool Fan

    Robbie Fowler was a failure here in Australia. He played 2 seasons for 2 different clubs and neither were interested in extending his contract. He moved to Thailand – Yes Thailand – and was a failure there too only scoring 2 goals. Why should Blackpool pay more than a holding fee and a appearance fee. He is a has been scrounging around for a quid and living off his past achievements.

    • Blackfool

       @ Oz Pool Fan -+Blackpool lol that’s almost as funny as the other shit clubs he’s been to in the latter part of his career .. You should be grateful to get any1 like him being such a shitty little club with a worse fanbase, mind you, they can’t get that much income thanks to the 10000 fans or something pathtic they have … Always be a side that would be better suited in League 2.

  3. number1inyorkshire

    robbie fowler needs to retire before he is remembered for all the wrong reasons

  4. TimPM

    He wasn’t a particularly good signing for us although undoubtedly he was a good footballer. The club should’ve been pushed into receivership as soon as it could. Fowler highlights that. But that’s not what’s important.
    We have a man here who makes ridiculous sums of money out of doing up houses and renting them etc. What about people like us who want a house and can’t afford our own because bastards like him want enough for their fiftieth Ferrari? It’s all fine when you have a house and prices are rising. It’s fine when you have the money to make money from something. But nobody ever tries to empathise with how shit some of their actions make scores of others feel. Men like him are a cancer on our country. So, no, I don’t feel sorry for him – and as you probably guessed this article touched a nerve :-)

    • mattbb1

      it might cheer you to know just how much people like him have lost on their portfolios over the last 4 years, and perhaps that explains why hes still trying to earn some football lucre. Good time to buy Tim, good luck with your search!

      • TimPM

         @mattbb1 Heheh. A few years away from being in a position to buy mate. The market’ll have picked up by then!
        Maybe I should avoid gainful employ, go on benefits and get a council house? lol
        Mixed up little country, we are…

      • don_weston

         @TimPM Tim, The only direction the housing market is going is down..be patient, save your money and you will get a bargain. MOT

    • Irving08

      Fowler was more than a good footballer – he’s one of the best strikers English football has seen since Alan Clarke. He had it all. Of course, that was before all his injuries, which in turn was before he came to Leeds. His signing defied rationality – it was part of the fantasy that, at last, our nearly great club – like the city – really was a great club. We nearly were – and are.

  5. Colin

    Slightly off point, but how can Portsmouth sign Maguire on loan from Derby? How can their administrator come on the radio and talk about perillous the situation is and then they go and sign a new player?

    • mattbb1

      totally agree, its a joke, the football league wouldnt let us sign players or sell them when we were negotiating our way out of administration so i cant see how portsmouthhave been allowed to so this, but frankly the football league have `wood’ for portsmouth and seem to allow then in and out of administration with impunity.

    • TimPM

      I agree with you both. But if they aren’t paying any wages and it’s simply a deal for his match fitness, I guess it actually makes positive sense since it allows them to offload another player?

  6. TomHunter

    Also the biggest reason Liverpool wanted rid was Houllier just never played him. Fowlers books a good read, predictably Ridsdale paid twice what was needed plus an unneeded agents fee to get him (slightly paraphrased from rf’s book) oh and he also wrote he felt O leary  hadn’t lost the dressing room and that they were just looking for someone to blame as the gamble had gone so badly wrong. All interesting stuff

  7. TSS NoEvidencedSubstance

    KB would never have allowed this to happen under his regime!! KB is one of the best chairmen in the football league!!

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