Waiting For Our Saviour TSS May 30, 2012 Leeds United After much speculation, Leeds United eventually confirmed they were in talks regarding “long-term investment” in the club and – rather predictably – the 48 hours that followed has led to even more speculation. The latest person to be linked is Kuwaiti businessman Fawaz al-Hasawi, who confirmed he has signed an agreement to buy a second-tier English football club with a successful history. He also mentioned Neil Warnock, leading many to conclude it was Leeds United. However, it seems Nottingham Forest may be the club he was referring to and that Neil Warnock is simply one of the names on his shopping list. Personally, I’d say his interest is in Forest. The only thing we really know about talks going on at Elland Road comes courtesy of BBC Look North who claim there are three interested parties, one of which is a group based in Chicago. They went on to add that the American group is the furthest down the line, and it sounds as if they’ve already been shown around the facilities at Elland Road and Thorp Arch. It’s for this reason that I suspect Fawaz al-Hasawi is referring to Nottingham Forest. In the interview he gave, he made out as if it’s already a done-deal. If the Chicago-based group are the furthest down the line with Leeds, then it seems strange that a Kuwaiti businessman would be claiming to have already agreed to buy the club. There are other factors too, most important of which is the statement Leeds United released on the official site. The “long-term investment” statement didn’t strike me as one that was designed to appease the tensions of fans amidst growing speculation, but more of a “come and make us an offer” pitch to anyone else who may be interested in the club. Almost all reports have claimed those already interested in the club want a full takeover, and that no one is interested in becoming a partner to Ken Bates. It may well be that our Chairman is desperately trying to find a “money-man” who will come in as partner, as opposed to someone who will takeover the club completely. If he can’t find such an individual (and it seems unlikely given his history), Ken Bates may be forced into selling the club due to cashflow problems. Our inability to raise a measly £400,000 for a player suggests the finances aren’t quite as rosy as Ken would have you believe, and there has been other warning signs too. Take the “preferential shares” for example that appeared in our most recent accounts. This is basically a £3.2m loan that will cost the club £4m to repay, which they’ll have to do immediately if taken-over. I strongly suspect Ken Bates was the one to make this loan to the club and if that’s the case, it suggests forward-planning for a takeover scenario, in the event of which, Ken Bates would get his money back with £800k “interest” on top. You also have to take into consideration that we’ve only posted profits for the past few years due to player sales. It’s also worth considering the impact that 4,000 lost ticket sales per game will have on a club whose high turnover is largely a result of strong gate receipts. When your profit margins are so slim, an attendance drop of 4,000 coupled with no key players sold (as yet) won’t leave much to play with. It should come as no real surprise then that we didn’t have the funds to buy Joel Ward and that the club are desperately seeking investment. I suspect the only offers Ken Bates will receive will be for an outright takeover, and I doubt he’ll be too disappointed with that if he can drum up enough interest and instigate a bidding war – it’s not unreasonable to suggest Leeds United could sell for upwards of £70-80m, which sounds mental, but look at the level of turnover we can already boast and then factor in the sum that will reach when we finally return to the Premier League. Potential is our biggest selling point, Ken Bates would be mad not to use it. A lot of people laugh when they hear such a price-tag and point to the club’s lack of assets, but there are plenty of businesses with no real assets. Take almost every retail establishment in the country for example – very few of them own the properties (shops) they trade from, they’re generally leased from a property developer or the council. They will be selling the stock as well of course, but then so too are Leeds United – the only real difference is that Leeds United’s “stock” is football, and it’s unlikely to run out any time soon (even if it does drop to an even poorer quality). For all his faults, Ken Bates isn’t an idiot. Without the funds to improve our current squad, and with the distinct possibility of further players leaving, there’s a real danger we could end up going backwards. They say the key to any investment is knowing when to sell – without the necessary resources to take Leeds United any further, and with a genuine risk of the club falling back into the wilderness, Ken Bates’ golden opportunity to cash-in is now. And I suspect he knows that already.