billy bremner  statue at Elland Road (Large)If there’s one single moment in Leeds United’s fall from grace that highlights the levels of incompetence Whites fans have endured from the various owners who led our demise, it’s hard to look further than the sale of Elland Road.

Sold to Jacob Adler for £8m, the sale of Elland Road was supposed to steady the ship at Leeds and prevent us plummeting further. Nine years, another relegation, administration and £11m in rent later, a consortium of businessman headed by Leeds United’s Managing Director David Haigh plan to repurchase the stadium for £15m, which combined with the rent paid over the last nine years means the club will have lost a total of £18m selling, renting and repurchasing our home ground.

There’s nothing the new and current owners could have done to change the situation of course. Upon purchasing the club, GFH Capital inherited a buyback agreement and a hefty bill for our annual rent, the price of which increases annually, meaning the sooner Elland Road is bought back, the less it costs, and the less money the club loses in rent.

This then, is good news for Leeds United. While a strong argument could be made for investing any and all money into the squad to gain promotion before splashing out eight figures to buyback Elland Road, there are no guarantees in football and with financial fair play rules forcing clubs to get their houses in order, the removal of a seven figure yearly sum from our expenses will give a bit boost to Leeds United’s spending power in all subsequent seasons.

The original sale of Elland Road was intended to be a short-term fix. The idea was that Leeds United quickly steadied the ship with a much-needed injection of cash, won promotion from the Championship and quickly repurchased the ground before things spiralled out of control and an £18m blackhole was created. No one ever expected a club of Leeds United’s size to be outside the Premier League for this long, it was an unthinkable outcome when Leeds were relegated.

But the promotion quest finally feels as though it’s entering an endgame for Leeds. A convincing 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers at the weekend leaves Brian McDermott’s side sixth in the Championship ahead of a visit from struggling Barnsley this Saturday.

All told, it’s been an impressive start for McDermott who has done everything he can to ensure Leeds United are in a strong position when the club gets chance to strengthen the squad in January. Top of McDermott’s wishlist appears to be Max Gradel, a homecoming which would surely delight fans across the world.

“Mad Max” as he was dubbed following his reaction to a red card when Leeds were promoted from League One is exactly the kind of tricky winger Brian McDermott’s squad currently lacks. Gradel has had some pretty serious injury troubles since he moved to French side St Etienne, but with World Cup Brazil just around the corner, Max will be keen to make an impression on Ivory Coast’s head coach.

Whether winning promotion with Leeds United would increase Gradel’s chances of securing a place in Ivory Coast’s World Cup squad is tough call, after all, he currently plays in the French top flight against arguably tougher competition. But with a very winnable group consisting of Colombia, Japan and Greece, Max will certainly have one eye on Brazil if he’s faced with the option of an Elland Road return in January.

But whether he returns or not, McDermott has told the Yorkshire Evening Post today that his list is by no means limited to Max Gradel and with another takeover which promises investment due to be completed soon, the funds Leeds United’s manager needs to make us genuine promotion contenders should be available to him.

23 Responses

  1. Ev

    The interview was on LUTV mate, YEP just have an LUTV acc and that’s where they get all their news from…..

  2. NottsWhite

    A definate win-win for the prospective new owners. The acquiring of ER for £15 million will represent a statement of intent to fans whilst obtaning an asset which is worth considerably more than the price being paid. Rent of circa £1.5 million a year will be removed from the clubs P&L which will support FFP. The purchase of a player like Gradel cannot be a bad thing as he would provide an option to the squad that we currently don’t have however I trust BMcD judgement to let head rule over heart in making the decision as to whether Gradel fits into his plans

  3. Mersey-White

    For me its a no-brainer (if indeed such a ‘choice’ exists), that is, buy back ER and plug the money wasted each season on rent, increasing 3% per year. Yes the squad needs improving to kick on from a promising last 10 games, but to try to buy our way to the Prem is a massive gamble that of course pays off MOST of the time, but look at Leicester, Blackburn, Bolton who spent big and are still here with us.

    If we buy back ER, we have our home back and worst case scenario is we are still in the Championship next season, but with our own ground, not losing rent, cast-off the dead-wood Warnock players, and we should be one of the few clubs to benefit from FFP.

    If we throw all our money at new players in January (which I dont think we will anyway) and we dont go up, then we would still be renting a ground, have an expensive squad that couldnt take us up this season, and we would be looking financially vulnerable again.

    I think Haigh and his crew will do the smart thing. Fans just need a little bit more patience, after all we’ve suffered this long….


  4. Tare

    Max would be excellent move assuming that he is fit for the CS battles.Beccho is not my cup of tea butt Matt Smith is. MS has been steadily progressing to serious CF and rightly so. He is a real Dark Horse n this promotion run in. He just need a winger(s) to feed him off like Max. So far Ross has been a huge creator but we need Ross in the box
    finishing the goals in the first place.ER buy back is simply good business and therefore investment in that will affect positively to monthly running costs.

    Thorp Arch next?


  5. Hampshire White

    I agree with Tare that Matt Smith is progressing brilliantly – if you look at time on the pitch versus goals scored he’s only 5 minutes a goal behind Roscoe! A decent run now and he’ll get close to 20 goals by the end of the season.

    Poleon doesn’t seem to be getting much game time – he’s the forward with genuine pace. Has Mad Max still got his pace after his cruciate injury? Whether we go for a CF or winger in the january Sales, it’s got to be someone with real pace.

    Couldn’t agree more with the others re buying back Elland Road – its a no-brainer.

    • Flippin-Pop-It-Bruva

      I watched Poleon this week playing Cov and although he is pacey, often his control and positioning lets him down. I dont think he is ready for the first team as his confidence seems low and needs to start banging them in at under 21 level. Walters on the other hand looks both fast and sharp and if i were Brian would maybe give him a shot on the bench. I was also really impressed with Bryan at the back, looked very composed and can play it on the ground from the back also seemed vocal and had a good partnership developing with Wooton, which will bode well in the future. I agreed with decision not to sign Shaquile from peterborough although was pacey didnt really bust a gut to score and had a poor first touch……..

  6. Judy Storer

    Ken bates can **** off we dont want anywhere near and its cracking we getting our home back well done board

  7. Irving08

    I think investment in the squad has higher priority than buying back the ground. As regards recruiting Gradel, I am agnostic: when he was here, he functioned more as an auxiliary striker/quick outlet man than as an authentic winger: crossing and close control in tight corners (a la Snoddy) were not his strongest suits. So, if it is a winger we need, I think Burke is the better option; but if it’s a ‘wild card’, then Gradel may be just the man; he will provide much needed cover for McCormack too.

  8. dean

    I personally think Elland Road will be renamed by the end of the season, if a deal is not already in place to brand it already. I wouldn’t downplay Haighs visits to Austria, I am sure he was doing more than skiing.
    Personally think its a stroke of genius. What a way to finance the purchase. Might even have a surplus after the deal.

    My main concern is why so public on Gradel? I can only think that this is to pave the way for the re branding. The club know he’s the one the fans want back. Buy him and lots of other things will be forgiven.

    If we re-brand the stadium but the upshot is that we own it again (I say we but its always them, not us) and have a treasure chest to fire our way to the prem would we accept that? There are no guarantees but personally its a difficult one to turn down right now.

    • Irving08

      If this is part of a package that includes ‘rebranding’ the stadium, I am definitely opposed to it. Elland Road it is, and that’s how it should stay.

  9. Matthew

    I’m surprised when people say they don’t want him because we’re playing ‘well’. Not one to rain on someones parade but we’ve scraped together a fair few victories this season, we haven’t really been comfortable much at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy we’re in 6th but we’re far from the finished article. We need some people quality in the side if we don’t want to overrun in the midlfield by Doncaster fucking rovers.

  10. spellz

    Purchasing ER would be a fantastic move on the new owners part, in all honesty I feel like they are giving a bit of freshness to our way of thinking at LUFC and are actually believing in us as a club in actually achieving promotion, last time I can say that about our board is well……..”the good old days eh”

    We are definitely turning a corner and yes I would like them to splash on a couple of as quoted “major signings” but I would personally settle for Mad Max only and ER back in the hands of our actual club, also because if we do want to make it back into the top flight, it would be nice to maintain our assets and actually build LEEDS as the force we once was rather than being in debt all the time and seeing to our own demise.

    The futures bright………. the future is white.

    M.O.T AA.

  11. Jc

    Im just happy a for once as a leeds fan I can go through Xmas knowing we’re not going to be a weaker side by end of January. The ground bought back is a bonus, as for if it renamed who cares really it will always be ER to us and would still prob be called that by most leeds fans. It’s just the way football now generates money. So merry Xmas all an here’s to PL next season and watch the leeds canaries drop down ha MOT

  12. lufcboy

    Would having Max or Lucciano back at Leeds
    be a good thing – can anyone name me a player that has been the same or better
    when they have returned to a club that they were first successful at. The
    weight of expectation will probably lead to disappointment.

  13. Matthew

    To clarify, I just think we need a few quality players inserted into the side to become a promotion capable side. We often find ourselves playing poorly without a purpose, or find ourselves over run in the midfield(The Doncaster game which I touched on during the 2nd half was unacceptable in my eyes and could of been avoided with some decent additions), some of our defenders lack consistency and either have a poor game, or sometimes do well. Zal was a good signing and has fitted in well at the back. Without him I think we’d have some trouble. I’m not trying to be negative i just think peoples expectations need to be grounded in reality a bit, while I think we have an excellent shot of hitting the playoffs, I just don’t believe we have played like a top side this division so far and the goals scored thus far have won us games, not really the performances in some cases. This is why I think we need people like Max to really grow as a side.

    • spellz

      Matty you can’t ground my expectations, we are in a playoff position right now we play bottom of the league Barnsley who are out of sorts at home next (although Barnsley can often be our bogey team) they will not do it this time, we are 2nd in the form table without another team above us in the top 5 of the form table of course excluding Derby.
      I think MCD’s team is starting to gel and play to the way he wants and besides QPR have played badly most of the season but have fluked 1-0 wins left right and centre and they are top so I think I can forgive our boys for the second half display at Donny as we run out 3-0 winners.

      If it is players you think we need then we have been told we have investment, which should be available to us come January to buy “major signings” and we are 9 points that is 3 wins off top spot, at this present moment in time the passion is running so high in my veins I think we could go up automatically let alone playoffs.

      M.O.T AA.

      • Matthew

        I don’t know, I just imagined our promotion season if this is it with a better standard of football. While I’m happy if we get promoted regardless of how well we play, I just expected, you know, more? If you take a certain few players out of the side we’re mid table quality(And we will no doubt pick up injuries this season). I can name a few sides that play to a higher quality than us, some above and below us. Until we’re over the line I’m not expecting anything this season.

        The fact we have possibly the best manager in the division is why we’re punching above our weight at the moment, McDermott needs players to sustain this. I would go indepth as to who I would like to see replaced and why but I don’t think that would achieve anything. We just have some players that either play well one week or play poorly the next. Zaliukas is possibly one of the best defenders we’ve had in years, I think we would concede more if he wasn’t here.
        Best case scenario for me is Playoffs, I don’t see auto.

      • spellz

        I echo every part of your statement bar the last sentence, your right we will pick up injuries through the season and maybe the standard could be better it might well improve though as we have been alerted to the fact of the investment taking place and the promise of money, I know we have all been here before and wore the t-shirt which in bold neon letters writes “empty promises” I do feel this time its a different feeling hence Byram and Macca are still at our club.

        We should also be very grateful as Leeds fans that with such a dramatic change to our general staff and board this season, we are where we are atm and that is in the title race, even if secretly we are happy with a playoff place, I do feel like you that is largely down to McD and his capability at managing especially at this level it is like childs play to him.

        All I think is we should be high in spirits because for once come christmas we are actually in form and have our key players still with the promise of major signings that to me is a sign that our clubs strength is restoring all I think we need to do at this point is improve our horrendous away form which we did with a comfortable win against Donny, either way I am more excited about our chances of returning to the big time more than any other season in the past decade.

      • Matthew

        We were poor against Donny, the score flattered us. We were poor today against Barnsley, we were poor against Charlton. We’ve been poor a few time many times for my liking. The reason why we’re where we are is because we’re a mid table quality side with a few exceptional players that win us games. We’re not a one man team but we’re fortunate we’re in a league of mediocrity where anyone can beat anyone on the day. We quite frankly need a few players this window, and a few more in August if we don’t get promoted. If David Haigh is serious about promotion he needs to back McDermott in both windows. Infact he needs to get McDermott as many players as possible that he needs. It’s painfully clear we’re not world beaters but we can get something out of this season with a bit of guile and luck.

  14. Matthew

    We need 2 decent centre midfield players, 1 or 2 average centre mid players, 1 or 2 decent attacking midfielders, 1 left back, 1 centre back, 1 or 2 Wingers and an additional quality Striker, with a cheap lower league Striker that can score goals but is unproven at this level. Just calling it like I see it, while I wouldn’t insert all of these into the side immediately I would feel comfortable having them here. The wing back system isn’t that effective, it only really stops us leaking goals as much, we still have some players hoofing and not much else, I would pull these out the team asap. I would like us to have some width and go back to 4-4-2. I would also like to see all this by the start of next season. If we got, we’d be good candidates for promotion.


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