I’ve received a lot of tweets and emails over the last 24 hours asking how the latest Leeds United takeover rumour managed to create mass hysteria without any comment from the club or rumours posted in the national rags.
Generally speaking, Leeds United takeover rumours start on an internet forum or across the social media sites and are shot down in seconds because the original perpetrator lacks any kind of credibility. The story is usually something along the lines of “I have it on very good authority that [random billionaire] has made an offer for Leeds United.” This is invariably followed by hysterical laughter from everyone reading, a quick cross-examination to tear the story to bits and in many cases, the sudden disappearance of the original poster.
How The Latest Rumour Began
This particular Leeds United takeover rumour started out in much the same way as every other Leeds United takeover rumour, with a couple of threads opened up on various Leeds United forums – most notably WACCOE.
As per the norm, the rumour was dismissed as the work of a WUM (forum slang for wind-up merchant). That was until the chairman of LUST posted on WACCOE stating (rather cryptically) that people shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss speculation this time around. As his cross-examination began, one of The Square Ball writers also suggested there was more to this particular rumour than your standard internet nonsense, which changed the mood entirely and led many to believe there may well be something going on.
The reason these people were afforded more credibility than your average forum poster is that they both have reputations to uphold in one way or another. The Square Ball is an award winning Leeds United fanzine that’s worked hard to uncover truths behind Leeds United’s current ownership and would be doing itself no favours by adding authority to unsubstantiated rumours. Similarly, The Leeds United Supporters Trust has grown into a large and credible organisation that represents our fans and wouldn’t want to risk the credibility it’s worked hard to create by inventing takeover rumours.
It’s important to stress that no one from LUST or The Square Ball has confirmed a takeover is in progress – they’ve merely stated (or suggested) that rumours which were already doing the rounds shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed.
Facts Forced To Fit
Because Leeds United fans are so desperate for some good news, many people resorted to making facts fit the rumour (ourselves included). The football club has been incredibly silent on the matter (and everything else for that matter) offering no denial of a takeover bid, which is pretty unusual, even for a club with the poor communications Leeds United are regularly criticised for.
Usually when rumours like this do the rounds, Ken Bates will take great pleasure in quashing our hopes by telling us how idiotic we’ve all been. If the club are feeling a bit more diplomatic then Paul Dews is usually the one to release a statement via Twitter or the official site. As things stand, Ken Bates has decided not to speak to Yorkshire Radio for a while and Paul Dews claims to know nothing.
There have been plenty of other facts and theories used to back-up the rumour, but Ken Bates’ silence is the one that is having the biggest effect. Some people have suggested he may be on holiday at the minute or simply has nothing to talk about, but it’s worth pointing out that Ken Bates was interviewed by Yorkshire Radio every week last summer and I’m almost certain he’s taken the call whilst on holiday before now. As for Ken Bates having nothing to talk about – when has that ever stopped him before?
The Chinese Whispers Effect
As with all rumours, there was a Chinese whispers effect that took place almost immediately. It’s the internet version of some drunk bloke down the pub telling you the “inside scoop” on all things Leeds United. Someone claims to know someone else who works at Elland Road (or connected to the alleged takeover attempt) and has decided to come online to share this highly sensitive information with the rest of the world – rather than sell it to a tabloid like the rest of us would.
The most impressive of these rumours was the alleged interest of Maple Leaf Sport & Entertainment Group. This was impressive partly because of the huge scale it reached, ultimately forcing a denial of interest from MLSE via their Twitter page (Link 1, 2, 3) after Leeds United fans had the “news” trending worldwide. What was also impressive is that MLSE are linked every single time a takeover rumour does the rounds – and yet people still believe they’re interested this time!
More Questions Than Answers?
Join the club.
For the record, I’m not “in the know” (why would I be?) and nor would I ever claim to be.
The obvious question is why would people from TSB and LUST know something the rest of us don’t? In all honesty, I have no idea. TSB has been around a lot of years and will have some contacts at the club, whilst LUST may have been approached by a representative of an interested party looking to form a closer bond with supporters – Ken Bates has never really grasped this fact, but it’s generally good business practice to keep your customers happy. I’m only speculating of course, your guess is as good as mine.
Truth be told, I’m kind of on the fence. On the one hand, I’ve been writing this site for four years now and there’s been more takeover rumours in that time than there has transfer rumours. We’ve all been burned before by false rumours, and it’s difficult to believe anything nowadays. On the other hand, I find it strange that the club hasn’t quashed the speculation. They don’t comment on all speculation – obviously – but they do tend to say something when things get this out-of-hand. If a Canadian Ice Hockey team can manage a quick statement, surely LUFC can? Finally there’s the cryptic comments from LUST and TSB, neither of which I have any reason to doubt. Neither of them have invented rumours/news previously, why would they start now?
I’m leaning more towards “there’s something in this” the longer it goes on…