Here at The Scratching Shed, we believe in healthy debate about the club we support. This needs facts to be acknowledged as they come available. Over the past couple of months we have referred thrice to The Swiss Ramble’s combination of self-reported wage costs of Championship football clubs two seasons ago (2009-10). It showed that Leeds had spent significantly more than some Championship clubs while gaining promotion from League One. It also, however, suggested Leeds were not spending greatly on the playing side of the club, with Chairman Ken Bates’ unofficially reporting to fans that Leeds’ budget this season was originally £9 million but had risen to £12.5 million. That would have placed us fourteenth in 2009-10’s table of wage expenditure – the same position we had been that year, in League One.

Many took this evidence and argued that Leeds needed to spend more. We saw the likes of Max Gradel, Jonny Howson, and a raft of other first team players leaving after rejecting contract offers and we saw figures that suggested a lack of investment at the same time as the club spending £7 million on the East Stand redevelopment project. No readers commented that we should spend enough to top the table, surpassing the jaw-dropping £65 million then newly demoted Portsmouth paid that season – that would have equated to an average wage of £40,000-45,000 per player!

Today, Blackpool published their annual accounts. This takes in the 2010-11 season in the Premiership. Readers will remember that Blackpool famously refused to make megabucks signings and instead signed eleven players before the end of the transfer window whose wages could be afforded should the worst happen, and Blackpool find themselves demoted. Blackpool fought valiantly, but ran out of steam and were indeed demoted.

Blackpool’s figures show that last season they budgeted £12.1 million for wages. This should be combined with their £3.5 million transfer budget for the sake of comparison with Leeds’ budget which combines the transfer budget in a “pot” or “warchest”. This £15.6 million budget places Leeds’ £12.5 million budget this year into perspective. Mainly because the low figure reported by Blackpool would place her only 12th in 2009-10’s table of Championship wage-expenditure. This suggests a very significant drop in average expenditure last season and suggests that to compare Leeds’ current wage budget with past wage budgets is unfair in the current economic climate.

So with this extra evidence, how do well do we think the Board have backed our managers this season?

How well have the board backed the manager?

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  • TSS

    Don’t Blackpool just prove the problem? I’m sure the rest of the teams in this division are building a team capable of staying in the Premier League, not one happy to drop out and take the pay day. 

    • Lee B

       @TSS
      Yup – they had a relegation budget and got relegated. We have a mid-table budget and are mid-table.
      Of course, having a promotion budget doesn’t guarantee promotion (examples: Leicester, Notts Forest), but it’s very rare that you get MORE than you pay for.

    • TimPM

       @TSS Yep, that’ll show (if its the case) when we see other clubs’ accounts…
       
      Never really sure about Blackpool. They didn’t spend all that much in the Prem, but they also took a £7mil fee for Adam and don’t seem massive spenders this year.
       
      And yet I haven’t heard about redevs or anything like that (though I’ve not followed them closely). So where’s their money going?!

  • Limping Dragon

    How can you compare Leeds’ budget to Blackpool’s? Firstly they have a windfall payment to fall back on. And secondly, they do not have the residual costs (ie rent on a massive ground that previous management sold). This article is complete scaremongering nonsense. We might be able to sign more players (or better players) if we just got rid of the dead wood in the squad. THAT’S our issue!!! 30 in the squad and how many play regularly…or play at all for that matter???

    • TSS

      Eh? How is it scaremongering? It’s comparing the £12.5m Ken Bates claimed was Leeds’ budget to the rest of the Championship and relegated Blackpool. They’re just facts, you’re free to draw your own conclusion from them. 
      We’ve been through squad size before (it’s average for the division) and our wage bill is relative to that of a mid-table team. If you want to argue a point, then do so, but don’t just recite what Bates is telling you without offering comparison. We’ve given you the raw data based on accounts, our wage budget is 14th. We’ve also given you the squad sizes of other teams, Leeds have nothing out of the ordinary. We’ve also shown you the total cost of our squad, which is much less than our competition. 
      So what is your point exactly? 

      • TSS

        Also, who do you think we should be comparing Leeds’ budget to? The rest of the Championship perhaps? We did. We compared their turnover, their wage bill and everything. (Tim cites that above when mentioning that Leeds’ wage bill is 14th overall!)
        As a percentage of turnover, Leeds have the lowest wage bill in the division. 
        As for the rent on ER and TA, it would be nice to get that reduced wouldn’t it? Imagine if we had £7m lying around to buy Thorp Arch back and reduced those outgoings by £1m per year. It’s a good job we haven’t sold all our key players to raise such funds and then waste them on executive boxes or I’d be furious… wouldn’t you? 

        • number1inyorkshire

           @TSS if we compare lots of percentages to everything we can come up with differing answers ..
          the wage bill seems ok the transfer bill needs upping to remove it from THE POT .
          its not about percentages its about how much is given and there is not much in it aside from those who have spent loads and are now trying to get rid of 5million pound players .
          i agree we need some quality we could have some with the money grayson was given we haven’t .
          we always mention 3rd ,4th choice players instead of of the 1st choice, well there is no basis of fact in that only newspaper  gossip .
          so based on this new stuff we are not relay that worse of than others in wages etc

        • CasWhite

           @TSS
           TSS, you didn’t compare anything that was the point (see my comment above) as this was old data.  We were in League 1 earning millions less from central funds against the other championship clubs not to mention parachute payments.  If we have to wait 2 years again to compare this season it is always going to be pointless information to a certain extent.

      • WhiteCzech

         @TSS As a die hard (and long suffering) Leeds fan now living abroad, I enjoy following good debate. I have never added to it before, but I feel I must now. SQUAD SIZE: It seems to me that in the ‘large squad’ there is quite a few players who have been promoted from the youth and reserve teams. Are they there to make up the numbers, or because they are tallented enough to be there, or because we don’t want to buy anyone else, or as a natural progression in their development?
        Whichever one of these reasons is the real reason, I do not think it is correct for Bates to use them in his figures regarding a large squad because some of them (for this year anyway) will not play more than a handful of 1st team games, maybe only sit on the bench. It is however a great way to get experience of matchdays, BUT should not be used to count them as regular players as Bates seems to do.

        • TimPM

           @WhiteCzech  @TSS 
          Yeah, we’ve quite a few youngsters. I don’t think it’s abnormal when you look at other teams, but what is, is that we have quality players probably on good wages who can’t get a  game!
           
          I think that’s probably what annoys Bates. But if we switched the inexperienced for the experienced on paper our squad wouldn’t look much different to plenty of others (as a previous article showed)…
           
          Even with the youngsters included, we’ve about the same sized squad as Derby even though Derby have said they’re cutting wage bills.
           
          The variable we don’t know is how much Grayson, Williams and Harvey offered to players like O’Brien, Bruce, Nunez (who has a new contract), Paynter, etc. Who can barely get a game?

    • LeedsTruth

      Looking a the squad on Leeds United website seems to highlight another myth, one that Bates harps on about repeatedly.  We simply dont have 30 plus players at any one time: http://www.leedsunited.com/page/PlayerProfileIndex/0,,10273,00.html
       
      I count 24.  I dont include Alex Cairns (a kid on loan elsewhere), nor Rachubka as he is on loan. I have included Parker as he has come back from Carlisle. Delph has gone, as has Adam Smith.
       
      3 players were signed mid season, Forsell, Vayrynen and Rogers.  other players I’m not counting such as Zac Thompson or Turner as they are kids on peanuts.
       
      The loan players we have used are simply to fill out a threadbare squad.
       

    • TimPM

      Well we can compare Leeds’ budget to Blackpool’s because it’s the first that’s come to my attention of 10-11’s figues.
       
      We can compare the budget to Blackpool’s because it shows we’re only paying 20% on wages & transfers than Blackpool were when in the Premiership in 10-11. We’ve then qualified that: Blackpool purposely didn’t spend large amounts to stay up. Yet we’ve said that this changes the scene compared to 09-10’s figures which would have shown us as massively underspending – instead with Blackpool’s figures to go on it looks like we’re not at all.
       
      But all that aside, we can compare Leeds’ budget to Blackpool’s budget because our Chairman, Ken Bates, was talking about Blackpool’s budget in his weekly radio address! (which can be found at TheSquareBall).

  • durks

    We as leeds fans can talk about who we should or shouldn’t buy and how much should be spent but in all truth we should focus on coaching our players . Why do you think that the best players in the world are where they are ? Yes talent comes into it but talent would be nothing with out coaching! Does anyone remember that nearly all the players we have brought in in the last 8 years or so have near enough been classed as good players and as soon as they’ve played the first game they look s**t .We can spent money and say they budget isnt big enough for our “BIG CLUB” (not that we’re any bigger then at least 5 other teams in our league other then the size of our ground). Another subject that bothers me is that people say we’re a “big team” and “we deserve to be back up there” ……………. no one deserves what they dont work hard for !

    • TSS

      Pressure is always a factor at Elland Road I think. That’s the only explanation for so many otherwise solid players failing so spectacularly – they’ve never played for clubs like Leeds, where the fanbase and media are so expectant and demanding. 
      Still, you get what you pay for. Squads built on loanees and freebies don’t win promotion I’m afraid. It’s also true that money doesn’t guarantee success, but you won’t be successful without it either. 

    • Bubionwhite

      Interesting point durks … we currently have 10 x full international and 1 x U21 players in the squad, a fact which suggests that these 11 players must be seen by some as being talented; two are currently ruled out through injury, Somma and Kisnorbo … four are  regular starters, Snodgrass, McCormack, O’Dea and White, leaving five full internationals who find it difficult to get into the match day squads and possibly make cameo appearances … is it something in the coaching, or lack of it that turns these players into also rans. For example, Darren O’Dea has  been involved in keeping clean sheets for his country yet is made to look average in a Leeds shirt, Ramon Nunez get’s the player of the tournament award yet is played out of position and then vilified for his performances. In my opinion, the coaching team under SG were merely average and we can only hope that NW’s team are more astute and get the best from the five.   

  • copper

    Were does the $7 million figure come from for the East Re-development , did Leeds United FC report that figure? 

    • copper

      sorry, my post should have read – did Leeds United FC Holdings  quote a sum of  7 million POUNDS  spent on the East Stand redevelopment? thanks.

  • copper

    Did Leeds United FC quote that  an amount of  7 million POUNDS  has been spent on the East Stand redevelopment? thanks, if so, when and were, excuse my ignorance, I’d heard different, but I could be way off the mark. cheers, MOT

    • TSS

       @copper That’s just the figure quoted by the press (YEP for example) and readily accepted as fact – reinforced by estimates from people that do that kind of work. If it was less than that Ken Bates would say so, he has no reason to hide paying less. If the figure is accurate, or higher, then that’s the only reason the club wouldn’t comment. Unless you have an alternative explanation, nothing else makes sense? 
      Ken Bates has said that the club have spent £10m improving the ground, but I assume that figure is the total of Billy’s, Pavillion, Howards’ and the East. 

      • copper

        your figures are just so wrong – period. ‘readily accepted as fact’ poor statement.
        p.s. – love your site, just quote “whats what” not whats ‘readily accepted as fact’, thats what ministers say everyday in London.

        • TSS

           @copper As much as I appreciate your opinion, you can’t tell me the figures quoted by every media outlet in the UK are wrong without providing evidence? Ken Bates himself said the club have spent £10m on Elland Road, is it really so hard to believe £7m went on the biggest of those projects? 

        • TimPM

           @copper I have picked fault with TSS’ facts and statistics before! It’s important to question established fact if you think it has faulty foundations.
           
          That said, while I can’t remember that far back and I don’t have time to track down the original £7mil figure, Ken Bates has been quick to point out when statistics have been inaccurate. I don’t see why he would ignore this particular inaccuracy if he’d spent less?
           
          He’s spent £20mil according to himself on the ground in the last half decade, so I’d be amazed if it wasn’t £7mil or perhaps more…

        • Masingashin

           @TimPM
           Absolutely. And we quibble over the sacking of Grayson /bringing in Warnock. It’s a smokescreen.

      • Tyler75

         @TSS It would also include the  ‘improvements’ to the West Stand for the luxury now enjoyed by visiting fans for their £36 !

      • Chareose

         @TSS
         Actaually mate he does have a reason to “hide paying less”…………what if it suits Uncle Ken for people to think hes spent that money on our ground rather than HIMSELF.  That argument would back up the theory that Ken is just here temporarily to fill his own pockets……… by throwing the odd small bone now and then ( a new manager, a couple of mill on the ground but make out its 20 million……)

    • number1inyorkshire

       @copper 20 million since bates arrived he claims to have spent on refurbing E R

    • TimPM

       @copper Sure. Here’s the first mention of the price from what I’d deem a reliable source (the old Square Ball after all!):
       
      from: http://www.thesquareball.net/leeds-united/2011/06/21/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-leeds/
      (21/06/11)
       
      Bates has used the spectre of Ridsdale to get us all scared, essentially. It’s how he’s managed to spend £7m on the East Stand development this close season. Through careful repetition – never backed up by proof – that “brick by brick” he’s “building” the club up, Bates has managed to convince the fans that executive boxes, shops, and eventually a hotel will lead directly to success on the pitch. And we repeat it to each other, and it replaces the football, and because we’re all saying it, we all think it’s true. Leeds fans used to talk about football, but now we talk about “maximising long term revenue streams,” “expanding our commercial interests,” about “safe investment in a guaranteed return.” Leeds fans now think that to spend £7m on a football player would be a momentous risk and a return to the spend-spend-spend era of Ridsdale; but that to spend £7m on corporate facilities is sound business thinking in the long term. Well, it’s very long term that we’re talking: the twenty-two new East Stand executive boxes are priced at £28,500(+VAT) per season; if they are all sold every season at that price, it will take eleven years to make £7m back. And that’s assuming they all sell; in Bates’ last years at Chelsea, Stamford Bridge was notorious for the number of executive boxes that were unsold and unused.

      • Chareose

         @TimPM
         Completely agree but the other problem is we dont trust Ken and we have no surities that any of these new “facilities” will pump their revenue into the team………… no offence but for all we know we are paying for kens new family penthouse in Florida or his new business ventures in Australia………..

  • CasWhite

    This is more like a real comparison.  I was disappointed when you last did this as it was out of date information used with our quoted figure.  Just a bit of research would have mentioned the fact that many of the clubs were reporting they were going to cut costs (not my comments but owners and chairmen).  For example a couple of months ago Derby’s American owners have confirmed over the last 2 years they have cut 40% from the wage bill and this will put them lower than our £12.5 and similar to the wages less transfer fees.
     
    As for these costs for the East Stand.  Do we know how this was paid for.  If it’s a bank loan or some kind of HP with Caddicks then these funds couldn’t really have been raised to pay/buy players.

    • TimPM

       @CasWhite If it was a loan, then we’ll need to repay it – which would suggest we’ll lose capabilities for spending on the players over the repayment period.
       
      Bates says we’ve spent £20mil on the ground now. Either way, that has to come from the club as he’s told Parliament fairly recently that he hadn’t spent 1p on the club…

  • rroberton

    Is it possible that he is saving up to buy back ER and TA? 
    I know that’s a very optimistic hope, but its not beyond the realms
     
     

    • jacccqqques

       @rroberton There’s no chance he is going to buy ER and TA when the current owners (likely to be him or his mates) are creaming the rent off the club tax free.

      • TimPM

         @jacccqqques  @rroberton I think when you look at his declaration that we’ve spent £20mil on ground refurbs in the last 7 years, his declaration that he hasn’t put 1p into the club, and it being unlikely we would have the funds in the first few years to spend on the ground, it looks pretty certain the money has been spent rather than squirelled away.
         
        I think TA repurchase was a calculated risk by Bates thinking he can bluster the council into helped the club rather than paying straight up. He is used to that working, but it didn’t this time. It blew up in his face.
         
        Now he insists it’s falling apart. Funny how every manager, coach and player we’ve ever had has praised the quality. Reading between the lines I think there’s no chance we’ll repurchase TA any time soon.

        • jacccqqques

          @TimPM @jacccqqques @rroberton He has spent £20 million of the clubs money developing a ground that is owned by a company registered in the British Virgin Islands (type the BVI and Ken Bates in a popular search engine and see what comes up).

          To sum up, the club has increased the value of a privately owned property with the revenue that is largely generated from fans, increasing the value and in all probability, the rent at some point, for the benefit of the owners.

          Add to that a nice little tax free income of £3 million a year rent and the owners of the ground are laughing.

          Therein lies the problem.

  • number1inyorkshire

    you also have to remember that Blackpool are getting prem parachute payments

    • number1inyorkshire

      when you look at it 3,5 million is not a lot and shows based on that as the vote suggest  most people think that it is reasonable money spent on a mid table team .
      YOU do not buy league position you hope the players you buy in are good enough to get you there , there have been some big spenders in this division they are all below us ..
      I agree there should be wages and transfer money but it aint that way the manger knew that and didn,t use his money wisely his punishment he is now at town ..

      • Tyler75

         @number1inyorkshire I agree in principle but you can buy the extra quality needed to get you up the table as  West Ham, Southampton, Brighton, Blackpool and Birmingham have proved as they are all above us in the table. 

  • Peter T

    You compare total wages to other clubs BUT what about wages as percentage of gate receipts 
    Ours must be amongt the lowest in Championship
    This is despite getting 4k lower crowds than when we were in league 1 as many are staying away due to lack of investment and quality of football played 
     
    If we had invested in Dec 2010 as Norwich did we could be where they are now!
    We are stuck in midtable due to Bates not SG(athough he did sign some real muppets many on too long contracts) The contracts are down to Harvey  though not SG
    He only gives long contracts to clowns we can not get rid
    Kando 3 years compred to Beckford 2years
    Bromby 4 years at 29!
    Paynter 3 years (pity he was not paid on goals scored)

    • CasWhite

       @Peter T
       You think SG has no say in the contracts offerred.  If he hadn’t wasted money on so many loanees he might have had more funds available.

      • TimPM

         @CasWhite  @Peter T I agree with both of you. I think Blackpool’s accounts make it pretty clear that when the others publish, we’ll not look so miserly. But at the same time we clearly have by far the highest prices in not only the Championship, but some of the largest in the Premiership.
         
        Now we know where that extra money has gone: the stadium. But the question is, if we had struggled on significantly lower ticket prices as we have done on higher ticket prices, would the fans have got so fed up, would more have given Bates the benefit of the doubt, and would we then have thousands more at the stadium each match?

  • Tim Campbell

    Ken Bates has shown by his recent comments that LUST are beginning to rattle him. Disparaging he may have been but the sheer fact he is becoming more irritated speaks volumes.

    • Lee B

       @Tim Campbell
      I agree – despite him insisting that LUST is making no impact on him, it’s been his biggest topic of diatribe in the last few weeks.
      Keep up the good work

    • Tyler75

       @Tim Campbell His recent comments on LUST are priceless. The smart thing to do in Bates’ position would be to co-opt them or ignore them completely but he just can’t help himself !

      • TimPM

         @Tyler75 Yeah… I don’t think he’s rattled at all. A few weeks ago he sounded it, but he sounds in good spirits here.
         
        I’ve not been impressed with LUST at all over the past few weeks. I’m a “member” now as I’m sure most others here are but there’s no way I’d pay for membership next year for their sulky open letters etc.

  • kentwhitestu

    Going against the grain here and please don’t shout at me and calle a Bates lover or anything. But I just wonder (or perhaps have a wild imagination) whether or not Bates has actually done his sums and realised that with the money that he could spend on players would not be enough to get the quality needed to get us back into the prem and to stay there. I know he could have saved money by not doing the development on the stand and bought players which is what I would have done. Let’s say that maybe he has the manager that he wanted for a long time, and that his goal was that all the while we were doing ok and not fighting for relegation he decided to save money, and that money from recent transfers and to give Warnock the funds at the end of this season in which to splash out and build a great Leeds united team that will win the league next season. I can dream I know but its a thought?

  • Masingashin

    I just think that if they’d spent  part of the £7m on increasing wages or bonus payments to sign new contracts a year ago then we’d be sitting in the top 3 with Howson, Gradel, Johnson, Schmeicel & Kilkenny playing alongside Clayton, White and Lees. Snodgrass and Becchio would still be in and no-one would know or care what Brown, varynen, Forsell and Rachubka were doing. Maybe one or two moderate transfers but if they’d said it’s too risky at that point we might have believed them. As it is ow does spending £7m on improving a ground the club doesn’t own prove great business acumen and financial prudence?

  • Masingashin

    From the Telegraph December 2009:
    “Bates estimates that the club stands to make around £750,000 from the Old   Trafford clash and intends to use the money to bolster Simon Grayson’s   attempts to restore top-flight football to the Yorkshire club.”
    So what happened to the investment from Man Utd (A), Tottenham (H&A), Arsenal (A, H), Man Utd (H Lge Cup) & Arsenal (A)? All televised live. That must add up to £5m+ by Bates’ own reckoning