With the season nearing its conclusion and Leeds United’s fate still undecided, it should could come as no surprise that Premier League clubs are already eyeing up our prized assets.

In the last few weeks alone, Max Gradel, Jonny Howson and Robert Snodgrass – the cream of Leeds United’s current crop – have all been linked with moves to Premier League clubs should Simon Grayson’s side fail to get promoted.

The interest in these players is something Simon Grayson and Leeds United will have expected for a while. All the players mentioned are highly capable footballers of a young age that have already gained much first team experience.

Whilst it seems unlikely that any of the afore-mentioned players would leave Leeds United for the likes of Stoke City, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility either.

I sincerely doubt any of these players would want to leave an ambitious club for one that is content to make the numbers up in the Premier League, but the sad reality of football is that it’s a business like any other and while ever Leeds United are in the Championship, Stoke City have a financial advantage. Whilst it may be easy for Ken Bates to reject the couple of million Stoke City would scrape together, it won’t be easy if other clubs declare an interest and a bidding war begins – especially with Ken’s Vision (TM) well under way and lacking the World Cup funding they were counting on.

Snodgrass has already stated publicly that he has no intention of leaving Leeds United and that he wants to follow in the footsteps of other Scottish legends Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer who had long and very successful careers with the club. However, he also conceded that should Leeds United want to sell him, there would be little he could do to prevent that.

When you take into consideration that the last accounts Leeds United published showed we only made a profit due to player sales, you have to accept that we’re temporarily in a position that makes us a selling club – whether that means we have to sell our star players, or those that are surplus to requirements is debatable.

Throughout Ken Bates’ time as chairman of Leeds United Football Club, he has continually tried to reassure the fans that the manager has his total support when it comes to the transfer of players. So far, we’ve had no real evidence to support or disprove these claims. Some have argued that Fabian Delph was proof Ken Bates will sell if the price is right, but in the Chairman’s defence Delph wanted to leave Leeds United and play Premier League football. There’s no point keeping a player that wants to be elsewhere.

If we do fail in our bid to achieve promotion this season, then the summer transfer activity will be extremely interesting. If the Chairman really is as ambitious as he claims then keeping our best players – none of which have expressed any desire to leave – shouldn’t be difficult.

I’ve made no secret of my absolute and unremitting hatred of Ken Bates, and I make no apologies for that. I wasn’t a fan before he arrived at Elland Road and claimed to “save” my club and he’s done little to impress me since. However, this is one of those rare occasions where I’d be happy to hold my hands up and accept he might not be the completely evil money-sucking leach I like to portray him as, if only he can stand by his promises and ensure our key players remain at the club for the benefit of the long-term, rather than a short-term cash boost.