leeds fansWhile The Scratching Shed has been at an almost complete standstill over the last few weeks, Leeds United carried on regardless, and despite a few dropped points here and there, things have been mostly positive.

The 2012/13 Championship continues to be a thoroughly underwhelming affair, with few teams capable of throwing a run of results together. Such widespread inconsistency isn’t a bad thing for Leeds United however, who are still in with a play-off chance despite dropping key points all over the country. The less said about our away form the better, but with a few winnable home games still to come, you just never know.

Whatever division we’re playing in next season, Leeds United fans will be able to enjoy our ‘ups and downs’ for less after GFH Capital revealed some surprisingly reasonable 2013/14 season ticket prices.

Every seat in Elland Road will be at least 12.9% cheaper next season, with junior tickets being slashed by over 30%. The always skint and forever maligned students have been taken into consideration too, they’ll benefit from a new ‘young adult’ category which starts from as little as £346.

The pricing looks to be on a par with similarly sized Championship rivals and has been influenced heavily by fan feedback. The new Young Adult prices are an example of supporters being listened to, while prices in the Kop are around the £450 mark most fans said would be reasonable when I posed the question on Twitter a week or so back.

What’s most interesting about the new prices is the gamble GFH have willingly taken to get Elland Road bouncing again. A deal Ken Bates struck with TicketUs to finance one of his pointless vanity projects means Leeds United must pay the first £3.3m of season ticket sales to them next season, thus leaving Leeds United in a weakened position from the start.

In 2011, Leeds United’s turnover was £32.6m, of which almost 39% (£12.7m) came from gate receipts. This is why the importance of getting fans through the gates can’t be overstated, for clubs outside the Premier League, gate receipts are the largest revenue stream they have to work with.

Put simply, GFH will have to sell £16m worth of reduced priced tickets next season, just to match the figures of 2011 – accounts which only showed profitable due to the sale of key players.

Considering the perilous state Ken Bates left our finances in, anyone who thinks GFH aren’t already investing funds to keep LUFC afloat hasn’t examined the figures closely enough. We’re a club losing money, there’s no getting away from that fact.

But unlike Ken Bates, GFH understand the frustration of fans and have taken a considerable risk to try and ease tensions. Whether they have the funds for new players depends as much on our fanbase as it does our owners. It may be the case that GFH have to invest funds irrespective of how many season ticket holders we have next season, but they’re going to be more inclined to do so if fans are doing their part to ease the financial burden. If reduced ticket prices leave GFH an even bigger financial black hole to plug, Leeds United starts to lose it’s potential as an investment, and quickly becomes a football money vacuum nobody wants to go near.

The relationship between fans and their football club has to be one of give and take. For far too long we endured a nightmarish existence under Ken Bates, where a huge disparity occurred that left us all incredibly cynical of our ownership. It was the reverse of Peter Ridsdale in many ways; Ken was happy to take, take, take with little regard for what supporters wanted to see, whereas Ridsdale was too eager to please. When fans demanded a new striker because the six we had hadn’t scored in 40 minutes, Ridsdale went out and signed one with no consideration given to the financial implications.

What GFH offers looks to be somewhere between the two. They want to work with fans and keep everyone happy, but they’re an investment bank who’ll always be keeping a close eye on the bottom line. There’ll be some scope for short-term loss because they’ll recoup the money they’re investing now when it comes time to sell Leeds United on. But the more they have to sink in, the smaller their potential return on investment becomes.

But more important than GFH’s ROI is Leeds United’s sustainability as a football club. A one club city the size of Leeds shouldn’t need hand outs from anyone, we have the fanbase and infrastructure to be a competitive football club, we just failed to capitalise on it under Ken Bates.

Leeds United didn’t get promoted in 1990 and win the title in 1992 by demanding the owners finance our route back to the Premier League. The fans I grew up with expected hand-outs from nobody, instead there was an unspoken understanding that a club was only as big as the community which surrounded it. The people whose support financed it. Not billionaire oil tycoons and Arab Princes, but the guy next door who barely missed a match for decades until he passed away two days before the sale of Eric Cantona – a transfer which would have probably finished him off otherwise.

Why should we care that a handful of clubs have an unfair advantage nowadays? That’s always been the case. It never stopped Leeds United succeeding as the hard-working underdog, and we can do so again. But it’ll only happen when fans stop expecting hand-outs in the form of outside investment, and start accepting that the most important investment comes from us.

Somewhere in the chaos of WACCOE’s TOMA thread, we lost sight of why we needed a takeover in the first place. It was never money we needed from the new owners, Leeds United’s financial potential is on us. All Leeds United ever needed was owners willing to do the right things. Owners who wouldn’t waste the millions we provide on court cases, a loss-making radio station and pointlessly refurbishing Elland Road’s newest stand, but would instead work with us to make the club successful again.

While new owners can’t undo the mistakes of the past, they can work with us to secure a more prosperous future. We wanted more reasonably priced tickets. We got them. Now we have to make attendances rise, help finances improve and once again carry Leeds United forward.

Those of you who would be happy with the plastic success of Manchester City and Chelsea, there’s little I can write that’ll change your mind. But when Leeds United finally return to the Premier League, I want to feel that my support made a difference. I want to look around Elland Road at the 40,000-strong community of celebrating fans and savour that moment of shared achievement, knowing that we all played our part in making it happen.

  • Carl

    Fantastic article! Love this blog keep up the good work!

  • Cisco

    Unfortunately 40000 fans won’t be enough.In the seventies then yes but now average transfer fees for good players cost 10-20million plus wahes.We need outside investment to make the leap into the premiership then to become goog then great again like we used to be……MOT

  • thelaughingllama

    A good article. I also believe the fans should share the burden of the clubs fortunes. Now Comrade Ken is gone we can actually begin to dream again. I think promotion is probably a very tall order this season, even if we do manage to scrape the play-offs we’ll still be the weakest team in it come the end. A realistic aim would be to strengthen on the good core we have already for next season with a good young ambitious manager. Warnock has done well on the resources he has had but I think his passion for club management is not what it was and it shows on match day. MOT.

  • mylifeinleeds

    All I can say is I completely agree and a great post. MOT

  • MerseyWhite

    Brilliantly written, my sentiment exactly

  • igiveup

    Our inspiration has to be a club like Swansea, might not sound exciting but I’d rather that than a Chelsea/CIty scenario. PLEASE bring in Adkins GFH and entice us all back to a reinvigorated ER next season

  • JVM

    Spot on…time for fans to deliver….all we can expect is that the owners invest our money in our team. But the fans have to deliver that money. No excuse for any fan to buy a season ticket at £450. That’s at least half what people pay for sky. If you buy sky but not a season ticket this season for me your not genuine fan. We have our club back now let’s build it back together.

    • Cheesewire

      Are you paying £900/year for your sky subscription? Must have gone for every single porn channel on their mate. Otherwise you’re the one being taken up the rear my friend!

      If you cancel it they give you it half price for 12 months (that’s what I’ve got at he moment).

  • http://www.facebook.com/CraigSweaton Craig Sweaton

    Great post and well articulated!
    I’ve just asked for the season tickets forms for the first time in 6 years simply because, they’re now at an affordable price that I think is fair for the level of football on display.
    I’ve also taken advantage of all the cheaper games and taken my kids along, & the change in atmosphere inside E.R. is unbelievable!
    Well done GFH and as long as you help out the fans I’ll keep showing my support, both financial and as a happy supporter.

  • OxfordWhite

    When investors look at ROI they also consider potential, for this reason a large, consistent fan base is vital. mOT

  • http://www.facebook.com/garchibald2 Graeme Archibald

    Thanks, always though provoking and informative. Ignore the moaners and keep on keepin’ on.
    MOT

  • Ev

    I will be going next season, my exile is over. For some fans they are still pessamistic and in a way so am i. I would prefer an owner with some cash at his disposal who was a fan and not intent on making himself a profit at the clubs expense……but atleast GFH are starting to improve things and thats all i ever asked ! Im not singing and dancing but for me personally this has built some bridges

  • Lapu-Lapu Allan

    Unfortunately living in the Philippines means I cannot justifiably buy a season ticket for financial reasons as I only come to UK every 2 years or so. Even so that doesn’t mean I am any less of a fan since 1954. This was a well thought out article, well written and definitely stated the facts from the fans point of view. Cheaper season tickets, especially from the kids and students side of things make good sense and ease the burden on parents who want their kids to go to matches with them. Well done GFH on listening to the fans and please keep on doing so that our club can become great again.

    • Muz

      Building up our international image is important so you can still do your bit by wearing the shirt and spreading the word.

  • Ben

    I too will be picking up a season ticket today, first time since 2007. For the first time in years I don’t feel like the club is trying to bend me over for supporting them. MOT

  • mrbigwheels

    Excellent overview, thank you. Thought you’d done a runner, can’t be easy being famous.

    A very welcome step forward. I see nothing more in the Harvey and Patel comments as anything but honesty. We may not like being reminded of Kens Club management strategy but it can’t be washed away at a stroke. A broken stick a is a broken stick but it can be repaired with a strong splint for a short period until a new one can be afforded. We just need a firm comment that we intend to replace it as soon as possible.

    I’m sure we will see some further solid decisions reference Club management quite soon to enhance and endorse the season ticket pricing package just offered. This is a ball that needs some power and pace with it…. just like the team and its management.

    .

  • Fran

    Great article, been my thoughts for years, but we have got too many of the man city/chelsea type who will take a lot of convincing despite price cuts,, i recomend every true fan to look at the under 18 and development teams,, the future lies there.

  • perth glory boy

    Absolutly spot on. Ive been a fan since 1968 and this is the first time that ive replied to any article . i have been exiled in perth since 1987, you would be suprised at the ammount of leeds shirts over here. nobody could really dissagree that we are potentially a top six club. this will happen if we can get the atmosphere back. i get to see games when im back every couple of years and recently it has been crap.hopefully full houses wiil fix that.should be back for xmas in the prem.
    more likley barnsley away though.

  • RB

    I’ll be buying an ST first time in decades even though I’m a Leeds exile on the south coast and won’t get to too many games. GFH get it. Article is spot on – as ever.

  • Muz

    Our fans have made us great before.
    Time for us to do it again.

  • Northern Octopus

    you have very eloquently summed up my thoughts exactly

  • igiveup

    Results like today are going to see us rushing back in our thousands…f**k off Warnock

  • henrymouni

    What a load of crap!

    We got promoted in 1990 and won the title in ’92, because the Chairman Leslie Silver invested in the squad. He gambled!

    He had to do it to tempt Wilko to the club.

    We also had some good young players at the time, which helped a lot.

    When the fans saw the intent by the board (Gordon Strachan, Mel Sterland, Chris Fairclough etc etc…) they came back in their thousands.

    It is TOTALLY the responsibility of the club, to provide a team worth supporting.

    Blind faith is in short supply these days.

    It does not matter if they drop prices, if they don’t invest heavily in the team.

    Our present squad is average to poor.

    Warnock is leaving a mid-table team at best.

    NW said, after todays game, that the team has been playing brilliantly!!!!! He really did.

    Bates bought our club with no intention of building a great team.

    We are reaping what he has sown.

    GFH now have the spotlight on them, and until they spend on the team they are no better than Bates.

    Bates said he would insist ONLY selling to buyers who would invest in the club/team.

    GFH may as well sell up now, if their investing is only in keeping us afloat!

    What good is that???

    They will only tempt an ambitious manager, buy offering him significant money, to spend on the team.

    We need 6 or 8 players to give us a chance next season.

    Wait and see how many fans turn up for the remaining games!!!

    • http://www.thescratchingshed.com/ TSS

      “We got promoted in 1990 and won the title in ’92, because the Chairman Leslie Silver invested in the squad. He gambled!”

      He gambled with finances he could recoup, Leeds United weren’t already losing money hand over fist. We were in a stable position and could afford to take a few chances, because the turnover was there to do so. As I said above, GFH may have to invest regardless of how many tickets are sold, but will be more inclined to do if the black hole Ken Bates left behind doesn’t continue to expand.

      • henrymouni

        GFH had many months to establish EXACTLY how big our black hole was.
        They also sat and watched our team stumble from game to game, and must have realised how poor the squad was.
        It is NOT our club and never will be, unless we buy it.
        GFH own the whole club, and will do what benefits them in the long run.
        We, the fans, are customers, who pay big money to be entertained.
        Life is very short, and there are better ways of spending a match day, than being bored and frustrated, by watching players who cannot pass, tackle or shoot.
        This product is the responsibility of the owners.
        We have no say in the buying of players, appointing managers, or tactics.
        We are welcome at Elland Road as long as we can pay.
        You turn up, without money for a ticket, and tell the ticket office it is your club!! Try it!! They would welcome the laugh!

        When Wilko came to the club, we were going nowhere, and had small sad crowds, and a poor team, in the same league we are in now.
        Sounds familiar?

        IT IS NOT OUR CLUB!

        • http://www.thescratchingshed.com/ TSS

          It does sound familiar and GFH are trying to work with fans to buck the trend. Reduced ticket prices are a huge leap in the right direction, but change doesn’t happen overnight. Let’s judge them next season when they have full control, their own manager and a club managed the way it should be. This season was over long before GFH arrived, they’re merely picking up the pieces.

          The point stands though. If you want artificial success bought by a billionaire sugar Daddy, there’s little I can write to change your mind. But I think most fans would rather have a self-sustaining club who does things the right way.

          • henrymouni

            I have not heard anyone say we want a billionaire sugar daddy.
            That is your assumption TSS.
            We want owners to give us a team that can compete in the Championship.
            I agree we must give GFH a chance, but they are their own worst enemy.
            They should have told the fans their plans for the future.
            That will do more to bring the fans back, if they can do this!

  • DUBLIN LUFC

    Bit sanctamonios…as usual.

  • paddy

    These are still the highest season ticket prices un the division. Theyre £100 over the divisional average. Youll never see 40000 in Elland Rd whilst ordinary people are being denied the right to follow their club. Our young adult prices are more than the adult prices at most Championship grounds

  • quinnsdude

    Amazing post and so so true. Our beloved peacocks have always been the underdog that was rough and ready. We were feared because we were slways s team that could play football but stay truly english in spirit. I do believe there are some good lads in the squad but somethings
    Up…they just arent playing as well as they should and I reckon a new manager could get alot of the current squad playing decent football.