The Leeds United accounts have been published again which has understandably become the biggest talking point amongst Leeds United fans. Like the majority of Leeds United fans, when I looked at them I was totally overwhelmed by all the numbers and financial speak so decided it was probably best to get a couple of people with a financial background to tell us what they mean.

I won’t be naming any names as to who I had look at these accounts as it’s a sensitive subject that will undoubtedly lead to controversy and could potentially result in harrassment from other fans. Both the people I asked however work in finance and have a solid understanding of what they mean. You should also note that the accounts are for the year ending June ’09, so don’t include the sale of Fabian Delph.

Profitable… just!

The first thing to note is how measly the profit margin for the year ending June 2009 was. Leeds United made just £15,000 at the end of the year, despite good attendances, no real transfer activity and extortionate ticket prices.

Furthermore, Leeds United were only profitable due to player sales, where they made in excess of £2,000,000. This begs the question, how do we strengthen the team if we aren’t actually making money?


Nothing major here either. Aside from the loan being repayed to the investors which we already knew about from the 2008 report, there’s nothing you wouldn’t expect to see on the financial report of any given football club. The one thing both of the people I contacted noted however was that Leeds United’s legal fees seemed extremely high with RM Taylor’s company taking a whopping £331k over the year. Hardly surprising when you’re run by Ken Bates though I guess?


There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking really. The problem with these audited reports is that they generalise everything into sections so it’s hard to really see what we’ve spent money on and where. The one major worry is that without player sales, Leeds United would not be a profitable club and it’s unlikely we’ll be able to challenge in the Championship with so little money available. The conclusion from both was that investment was needed to take this club forward.

What was also mentioned was the plans for the hotel and leisure complex on the side of the East Stand. Both of the people I asked failed to see how Leeds United would be able to pay for the construction of this. This could mean that Ken Bates and FSF need to invest funds into Leeds United to build the property, or it could also mean that the hotel is to be built by a seperate company from Leeds United AFC. One things for sure though, Leeds United AFC don’t have the money to finance it.

48 Responses

    • superhoops

      This is last year’s accounts, published before the sale of Delph

  1. Steve

    Joe, don’t be daft… read the report again and you’ll see it’s reports ending in June 2009, before the sale of Fabian Delph. So, unless you have some miraculous theory, i don’t see how this years good cup run can be included can you? Unless you believe that last years defeat to Histon may be worth a huge amount in cash?

  2. Raph

    This is june last year isnt it? The cup runs and delph etc. wont be included will they?

    • timm

      Well we all know that anyone who has any idea about how to run a business will keep their ‘bottom line’ profit as low as possible to avoid paying tax on it so i don’t think we can read anything at all into this? It just looks like any competent companies end of year accounts.
      Has anyone seen Millwalls Neil Harris’s comments re Beckford today? Very interesting.What do you reckon TSS? Genuine comments or Fergie style mind games?

      • Pete

        True…I reckon the profit is closer to 500k personally, but working in a finance department myself I’m well aware of what some ‘creative accounting’ can do…

  3. Andy Barnett

    As stated..these figures exclude the sale of Fabian Delph to Aston Villa and season 2009/10 FA Cup run. The sale of Delph would have probably broke down as an initial sum of several million upfront and then staged payments based on appearances, international caps, etc. There may even be a sell on clause?
    Since then Leeds have invested in one player, Max Gradel, for a fee reported to be in the region of £250,000 from Leicester City. All other players brought in have been under the loan rules.
    All indications are that whilst Ken Bates has steadied Leeds financially, he is not the financial force to take them forwards.
    Reported interest from Frank Lowy, Australian Billionaire, estimated worth appears to be £3.5 billion is welcome. He appears to be a football man with obvious interests in Australian football. Having allegedly sought financial reports and dilligence in relation to Leeds there may be eventual substance to his interest.

    • Dje

      I think he’d certainly be interested in us from a business point of view after looking at our latest financial report. Although, are we high enough up the football pyramid…

  4. Dje

    If you wanted to put a more positive spin on it, if we didn’t have to pay rent on Elland Road and Thorp Arch we’d save ourselves £2m a year. Considering we made £2m in selling players that year, technically that’d make us breaking even. This is beyond Bates and his tight-fisted wallet, but for a new investor buying back Elland Road and Thorp Arch would make sense.

    Ultimately, yes more investment needed please.

    • timm

      I think our current league position probably makes us a bit cheaper? I think we’re attractive because the potential for growth is so obviously there? We are a genuine ‘sleeping giant’ & there’s absolutely no question that within 5 years we could be averaging 40,000 at home again. I made my own personal views on Lowy clear yesterday but that,s not important. I do wonder whether he would face a race against time though given that the price may rise substantially if we are promoted?

      • Dje

        The thing about Lowy that I cant quite work out is whether we are more attractive to him in the Championship or League One. Yep, League One makes us cheaper as a business venture, but the Championship makes him a bigger player in the football fraternity and lets his Aussie wonders play on a better and more prominent stage. Part of me wonders whether the Championship would actually be THE best stage for these nameless Aussie players, because let’s face it, the Australian National XI would be up against it in the Premiership (or am I just utterly unaware of the rising Aussie Messi?)

      • TheReaper08

        This is a question I keeping asking myself, if I am Lowy am I hoping leeds get promoted or stay where they are ?

        No question we would cost more if we go up but would be operating at a higehr more recognised level.

      • timm

        I suppose when you’re as successful as he is, you only want the best? But he’d have to throw a hell of a lot of money at it to make us a top 6 premiership side within 5 years, & i doubt that he’d get that money back?

  5. Hotshotlorimer

    Notable too is that sale of Delph and cup run that will be included in accounts for financial year ending this June are likely to be fairly exceptional, especially if stay where we are. Don’t see us selling another £6m (rising to whatever) in immediate future and don’t see what must have been at least £1.5m from televised Liverpool – then Man Utd and then replayed Spurs. The current year should be more profitable course but it doesn’t look to me as though it’s likely to be typical without promotion at the very least and without different change in priorities of ownership.

  6. ali akbar rafsanjani

    What is wrong with you people.leeds must be one of the only clubs in the country that made a profit and your still moaning.who really owns the club ?.who owns any club ?.do the glaziers own the scum or is it the people they owe hundreds of millions to that really own it.who knows.
    as far as ken bates goes im not a fan in any sense but the fact is hes a successful business man who has taken leeds from a club tens of millions in debt to a club making a small profit .thats a far as where has all the money gone.leeds are basically a premiership club in league one.the outgoings to run leeds must be massive.the police bill alone must be a fortune.i suspect the people moaning on here are the same people who were booing beckford on they think hes playing crap on purpose.the fact is the better he is playing the better the contract will be from everton,west ham whoever.

    • TheReaper08

      You haven’t been on here much have you Ali, moaning is like a specialist subject, a passion or a hobby.

  7. simon

    I would just like to add a couple of points

    When the club was sold by the administrator it also sold the rights to £48 million in tax losses…… no question of paying corporation tax anytime soon

    Thorp Arch and Elland road should they be bought back by the club would need a cash deposit of around £5 million ( if they were bought for 20 million) and annual interest and capital repayment of £1,250,000 so may save £3-400,000 against current rent which increases by 3% per year I believe.

    You need to believe in the long term future to commit to that. Ken Bates was hoping that Leeds Council would underwrite the deal which in the end they were not prepared to do. Similarly he is expecting an interest free loan from the council to finance the building of a hotel etc on the basis of the uk winning the hosting of the world cup.

    so in for a penny in for a pound

  8. whatstheworstthatcouldhappen



    • TheReaper08

      Oh dear, I don’t even know how to begin picking this argument apart, you don’t really believe that is the only income and outgoings of a football club of our size do you ? And if you insist on focusing on matchdays do we play 46 home games ?

    • David

      Leeds don’t charge £30 a ticket. Most tickets are much cheaper than this. The only tickets costing that much are East and West Stand Category A tickets, and I suspect very few people buy them. I always go in the South Stand.
      The ticket prices also include Vat which has to be paid to the Government.

  9. Matt BB

    Have to agree with reaper, the best thing Leeds could do is attempt though to explain to the fans why they are in this position, and the unhappy can see that we dont just pick up £1M a game and receive all transfer monies in one go, and so on.

    Leeds United is a business, and one like a lot of them in the recession which isnt doing well. People cant afford to go to so many matches, spend money on merchandise, and they will have built their business plan around this, to expect either s small profit or a small loss. If you examined someone like Huddersfields books (my opinion) you would most likely see what happens with a club who spend a lot of money on transfer fees, and dont get big home gates.

    The money we spend on Elland Road, and the training ground are a massive drain on our resources, I cannot imagine Ken Bates hasnt thought about the fact that it would cost him £14M to purchase a £50M piece of propoerty. The only way he will do this is show a clean set of accounts that will enable him to get a loan.

    Leeds United has to pay rates, income tax, national insurance, utility bills, I could go on. These results should not come as a surprise however, who did we sell between May 2008 and June 2009 for significant sums of cash? We are in such a dire state that we need to let players go for free as the saving on their salary is more than compensation for this.

    I dont think that unless we get some significant investment that this will change though and we remain like all third division football clubs totally reliant on player sales and cup runs. SO to those of us who have criticised Simon Grayson for playing the same team week in week out in four competitions maybe this assists us in realising the reasons for it, were we not to we would lose more money.

    • timm

      I agree. The outgoings on all the things you mention must be huge, & that’s not taking into account things like public liability insurance & also the constant upkeep of what is an ageing stadium. I know we can’t read anything into it the vast majority of businesses indulge in a bit of ‘creative accountancy’ but i think the fact that we’ve even made any profit in these times is a minor miracle! I wonder how many clubs in the top 4 leagues can say that?

    • timm

      Does anyone know if we actually operate with a bank overdraft or are we self financing? You never seem to hear any mention of banks in our ‘Post-Ridsdale’ history?

      • TheReaper08

        We wouldn’t have been in a position to borrow due to our previous administration. After the takeover all be it by the same people the priority would have been to subbmit positive accounts thus raising the businesses credit rating or worthiness. The manouvering by the board to ensure a set of positive accounts increases the value of the business and also enables the company to be considered for future lending.

      • timm

        So we’re quite unique then in that we don’t owe anything to the banks?

    • MarkR

      Bates sets the club up to “break even” every year. He’ll take windfall crazy money sales of players as a bonus. He’s waiting for someone to make a big offer for the club. He isn’t a Leeds Fan, he wasn’t a Chelsea Fan. He thinks he knows how to run football clubs, but they are just a speculative business for him, plus he gets some glory/notoriety.

  10. West Stand Rebel

    TSS your accountancy advisers are spot on. It has always been clear to me that the building of shops hotels and a new conference facility would either have to be financed out of player sales (partially) or loans from ousiders. Any large capital project of this nature would take years to become profitable. KB cannot in any way make me believe that there would be any benefit to the club for probably ten years or more. Any income would be swallowed up by running costs or interest on loan repayments.
    Your accountants also note the large fees paid to Mark Taylor associates. In the previous accounts they were £475,846. That makes over £806k in just over 2 years…. an extraordinary amount of money infact at least twice as much as spent on new players in the same period!!

    • TheReaper08

      You don’t build it with your own cash, you borrow it. That is the whole idea about making your business cash rich or in the black if you prefer, soemthing Bates has been working on for some time. You then offset the value of the property against the debt in the same way your or I do with a mortgage.

      Very few business purchase property or other businesses or anything else for that matter using cash.

      • West Stand Rebel

        I take your point Reaper but that would be a very risky thing to do especially in the current climate. Interest rates could and probably will rise dramatically saddling the Club with huge debts. Also commercial property is notoriously volatile unlike your own home. I think we have been down this road before borrowing huge sums to finance player transfers. I know property is not quite the same but it could still leave a legacy of debt. Anyone sure there is demand for hotel rooms at ER. Isn’t there a cheap Premier Inn just along the road ?

      • TheReaper08

        First of all I am not saying I agree with what is trying to be achieved but there are two key issues. If they are smart with the borrowing they will fix the rates protecting themselves aginst future incremental interest rises. Of course the best deals are alwasy afforded to the individuals/comapnies that are in the strongest positions finacially. Arguably due to our recent record we may have to settle for a lesser deal.

        My second point is that a succesful self sustaining club needs to generate income away from match days, hotels/casino’s and shopping centers are primary area’s for club revenue development. If we want to reach the top and stay there it is inevitable that something along these lines will form part of the old or dare I say it new ground.

      • Dje

        Risky indeed, just ask the Glazier family at Man Utd or the two Yankie idiots at Liverpool. They all make Risdale look like a genius. At least old ‘Unpenitent’ Pete Risdale borrowed to ‘live the dream’ and bought players in an attempt to raise us into a high strata of (European) football that would ultimately pay dividends. Despite how absurd it all seems now, his ‘dream’ was loosely tangible in a business model – you improve your production line to create a better and more dynamic product. As much as we laugh at them now, Man Utd and Liverpool currently live the nightmare of paying vast sums of interest on a debt for the pleasure of having their respective Yanks as their new ‘owners’. They are looking on nervously at the aging production line and wondering if it is still good for a few more seasons yet, or worse, asset stripping the best cogs and hoping that some young trainee lackey can manually turn the wheels of production just as well at the posh machinery can.

        Of course that sort of over-leveraged financing was de rigeur of the global capital market that ultimately resulted in banking implosions and the Credit Crunch.

        As the banks are being ordered to re-build their capital ratios (at our cost) and only lend money where there is a greater collateral to risk ratio than before (again, at our cost), I certainly would not welcome an over-leveraged bank loan to build Bates’ Elland Rd B&B, or even our stadium and Thorp Arch. Not that, as Reaper says, Bates’ credit rating is high enough for it.

        Not wanting to sound too much like I’m batting my eyelids at Lowy, but a man with his sort of capital behind him would probably see paying £15m up front for an estimated £49m worth of real estate just south of Leeds City Centre is an old-fashioned enough sounding profit margin to not bother getting the hedge funders, derivative traders and mortgage managers involved with their new wonders of what some old ladies at bus stops still quaintly call ‘banking’.

      • TheReaper08

        Bat away if you think it will help, I would dress up as a ‘Sheila’ and show him a bit of thigh if I thought it would help.

      • timm

        Well they could always convert it to a ‘Walkabout’ bar & use the rooms to house all the Aussie apprentices?!

  11. paull

    One of my jobs in a past life was to work as a statistical analyst for a large company based in the north east. One day one of the senior managers came to me with a problem. He had to go to a meeting with the chairman and discuss predicted manpower requirements for the next three years. The problem was he didn’t know what the chairman wanted to hear so should he take a report that demonstrated a need for increased or decreased manpower. The answer was simple we prepared two reports using the same base data with completely contradicted each other. The lesson I learned from this experience has stood me in good stead ever since. Statistics and numbers can be manipulated to say whatever you want them to say. The key question is do you trust the person behind the report? MOT

  12. whatstheworstthatcouldhappen


    leeds Utd have announced profits of more than £4m for the 14-month period ending on June 30 this year, a period that included relegation, a spell in administration and the deduction of 25 points.

    The League One club have released figures that show a turnover for the period of over £23m.

    The club said in a statement: “The directors of Leeds United Football Club Limited are pleased to be able to confirm that the audited accounts for the 14-month period to June 30 2008 show a profit of £4,553,000. During the period the club made an operating profit before player trading of £902,000 from a turnover of £23,249,000.

    • TheReaper08

      This figure would have included a one off payment from Chlesea believed to be in the region of £4 million for the two young lads they ‘tapped up’. If you take that one transaction out then we barely made a profit that season which was the one immediately after administration. This at a time when we had vastly decreased costs as we had very few players entering that season and those we did have were not on particualrly good contracts.

      Since then we are believed to have risen to the top of the wage to income ratio for our league.

  13. Colin

    Reaper brings some much needed and intelligent comments to bring everyone’s feet quite correctly back to the ground.

    Great comments as usual Reaper.

    For sure, it’s easy for us all to shout and scream on how LUFC doesn’t make more money, but we forget just how big we are. LUFC have a Premier League infrastructure and the owners are trying to keep that going even in the 3rd division. We’re surrounded by 3rd division clubs and the odd 2nd division club in this league.

    There are no ther clubs in this league that have a Thorp Arch development setup. Indeed, it’s still admired by many PL clubs. I think everyone agreees that we have to keep developing the youth and it’s brought us Howson, Aidy White and Ben Parker of late. No other club can do that in this league. But it costs money. A lot of it. And no-one knows how important it is than SG who came through it himself.

    The reason Leeds got the WC 2018 chosen site bid (over the likes of higher local teams such as Sheff Weds, Sheff Utd, Hull, Barnsley etc.) is becasue the setup at Leeds is so impressive. That’s why we are still a big club but that comes as a cost. Just keeping Leeds’ setup going and keeping our heads above water is impressive.

    • TheReaper08

      Exactly Colin and thank you for the nice comments. It would be wrong of anyone to suggest I am happy with the current regime but there are some things to admire about the way they have conducted business matters.

      Some teams in this league train in parks etc. and things like this are often overlooked.

  14. Colin

    Just listening to the Carlisle commentary – if SG doesn’t bring on Beckford at half time I’m going to do my nut. We’ve missed that many easy chances even Eddie Gray is getting angry and that never happens!!

      • Craig

        And Millwall needed a last minute equaliser! There are many more twists and turns left.

      • Colin

        I’m just eating my humble pie sandwich :)

        This league’s weird – Millwall were on fire but struggled against a poor Yeovil side and Carlisle who have given us so many tough games just seemed to not turn up? Really strange, but I’m not complaining!

    • Harry

      Since Beckford was substituted on Saturday we’ve scored 5 goals in 120 mins of football. SG should have dropped him weeks ago.

  15. SK

    How much is Leeds United FC worth? and how much of liabilities does it have?


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