Ahead of tonight’s BBC One Yorkshire documentary ‘Who Owns Leeds United,’ The Square Ball have published a series of emails sent between Shaun Harvey and Leeds City Council, in which the Leeds United CEO attempts to negotiate a loan for the repurchase of Elland Road.

The emails, which were obtained by the BBC under the Freedom Of Information Act, show council officials tirelessly attempting to help Leeds United avoid relegation and financial doom by coming to a mutual agreement for the repurchase of Elland Road. Leeds City Council is caught in an unenviable position of trying to protect one of their city’s greatest assets – a high profile sports club – and ensuring taxpayer’s money is spent wisely in these times of increased scrutiny and financial hardship.

Contrary to Ken Bates’ take on events, that the council didn’t care for the future of our club and showed no interest in helping us, the emails reveal an entirely different story. One in which, Leeds City Council attempted to overcome concerns of hidden ownerships, overvalued assets and unreasonable loan requests from the club to find an agreement that would not only support the long-term future of the club, but also provide value for money to the taxpayer.

Within the emails is an alarming claim from Shaun Harvey that the club had already agreed in principle a £10m investment that would be injected into the club – ensuring we avoided the subsequent administration – if the council (not the club!) agreed to several conditions set out by the mysterious investor.

These conditions were that;

  • The council would loan Leeds United £18-25m at 4% interest – an incredibly low amount for a loan that would have stretched over 20 years.
  • The council would give principle planning permission for additional (non football) facilities to be built on stadium land
  • The council would give Leeds United first refusal on all LCC owned land around the stadium before selling to anyone else

It’s almost a little too convenient that the mysterious £10m investor would be interested in exactly the same things Ken Bates is. The principle planning permission and first refusal on additional land all seem to tie in nicely with the hotel and retail facilities our chairman has been planning to build for several years now.

Considering no other football club in the country believes Ken Bates’ non-matchday vision is a financially viable one – least of all the Chelsea executive who spoke of the small revenues Chelsea Village turns over – it’s difficult to imagine an investor willing to put in £10m so that Ken Bates can prove everybody wrong. A ridiculous number of clubs have been taken over by wealthy people in the past decade or so, yet none of them have highlighted a need for hotels and non-matchday events to build their coffers – not even after plans were announced to restrict clubs to wages based on their own income.

It almost seems as though Leeds United have attempted to use the clubs uncertain future as chips in a game of high stakes poker with the council. The council, worried that the city may lose a club which brings people, money and attention to the city, were left desperately trying to help the club, whilst at the same time, trying to uncover who it was their money was going to (fears of money laundering laws were mentioned at one point), whether their loan would be safely repaid and most importantly, whether the taxpayer was getting a fair deal.

You can read the emails yourself over at The Square Ball, but for me, the council have been backed into a corner by Leeds United who seemed to be using the council’s fear of losing a huge city asset as leverage. The council were left in an impossible position where they had no idea where their money would be going, whether they could rely on Leeds United to repay the huge loan they requested and where a mysterious investors demands were bordering on blackmail.

Yet through all this, the council continued to try and find a mutually suitable solution, only for Bates to later announce that ”revenge is a dish best eaten cold” claiming that the council had little interest in helping the club.

The BBC One Documentary “Who Owns Leeds United?” will be screened tonight at 19:30 for viewers in the Yorkshire region and available on iPlayer thereafter. Sky viewers across the country can also see it live on channel 976. 

23 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    these emails are damning from the perspective of leeds united , i took time to download from  the link and read them all .

    And you are right the council will come out on top .

    ken bates dream of a 365 day stadium are right in principle but he could not do it at Chelsea ,the heart of London and this is what brought chelsea down nearly ,before that Russian chap arrived over £100 million in debt   .
    Now i don’t about you lot but 2 hrs every 2 weeks is enough in holbeck for me ,hotels and the like are a waste of time there ,when there are plenty in the city centre struggling …
    The 10 million is clearly bates and associates money ,well if he had that money he should of used it to spend on his club  to stop people loosing money from the admin .

    One of the things for me was when the council mentioned FSF  Harvey  said he wasn’t “prepared to name the people behind it ” and not that he didnt know ,whats the answer to that ??.
    bates it seems to me had a strategy all along when he bought leeds united , to buy it knowing the debts and wipe them off with administration ,it was pre meditated .

    he has clearly lied about that time ,if as he says he doesn’t or didn’t know  who the owners how did he make contact to buy the club 
    ken bates claims he has not put any money in until he bought the club ,and that he was working for other people unknown ,he asks the council for £28 million a loan to people unknown ,so what has he put in at this point to say he SAVED OUR CLUB ..

    why didn’t fsf or whoever give bates £28 million simples because they never existed other than BATES ,TAYLOR and co so they didn’t have the money   ..

    bates got our club for free alright he agreed to pay off the previous lots debt  then put us in admin ,the previous lot could have done that ,but bates in real terms paid nothing .

    he also threatened to liquidate us i do not know but when we were in admin under the leadership of an administrator it wasn’t surely in his power to to do that

    watching tonight hope it is the smouldering knife that does for bates !!!!

      • Si

        And you yorkshire boy, spot on. Anyone who can’t see what bates is doing is, as he says, a moron. It’s so blindingly bloody obvious, I can’t believe that here are people out there that can’t see it for what it is !!

  2. Livsey623

    Your views are those of someone with tunnel vision. So no other clubs have non matchday revenue?? Have you ventured to look at the plans the Man City lot have done! Why do West Ham want the Olympic stadium.
    No other club has used local authority funds for assistance?? Didn’t the council not buy the same ground in the 80’s and the club still have to provide tickets on the back of this.
    I understand your wanting everything to be true so you can see a new owner.  Who do you think this will be? What are they going to do that keeps the club in it’s present financial stable condition and not go down the route where it all ends in tears again.

    • TSS

      “No other club has used local authority funds for assistance??”

      Nobody claimed otherwise. I actually think it was a good idea, and LCC made every attempt to try and help the club – Harvey et al were serving an entirely different agenda though, one which seemed more interested in building stuff on the surrounding land than securing the future of our club.

      “So no other clubs have non matchday revenue?? Have you ventured to look at the plans the Man City lot have done! Why do West Ham want the Olympic stadium.”

      No one said that either. West Ham want an increased stadium capacity FOR additional matchday revenue so that argument is completely flawed. Man City are doing exactly the same. Bates is the only one concentrating on the other 330 days a year. 

      Your looking for flaws where there are none, and in the absence of that, seem to have invented your own. Read back through what I actually wrote, and the emails published on The Square Ball, then come back and tell me what part was tunnel-visioned. This has nothing to do with hating Bates, it is to do with the fact that LCC seemed to be the only party involved in these negotiations that cared for the football aspect of our club. They also offered a better deal than we currently have (125 year lease with very low rent) that the club also refused for reasons unknown. Do the alarm bells in your head not function when it comes to our owners?

      • Weasel

        If a club doesn’t have a multi billionaire as owner then they have to look at aall ways to bring in additional revenue. Man City and other big clubs can flout the new laws coming in by announcing sponsorship deals from themselves etc, stadium naming rights, businesses sponsoring players (i.e. outside companies paying the wages) etc.
        Leeds are in comparison  a small club in the financial sense. Take a look at stadiums like Bolton’s which is a purpose built stadium  containing offices and  shops around it so that it can bring in a revenue stream. Even Man U have a huge corporate side. Leeds need to generate additional cash and make use of a stadium that is used less than 30 times a year for football matches. Driving round Manchester recently I saw big billboards advertising some sort of hoover  demonstration – location the Etihad (Man City) Stadium. So even moneybags City are doing the corporate sh*t and bringing in non matchday revenue.The argument suggesting hotels in the city centre  are struggling is of little relevance as they are in a bad location travel wise in comparison to ER which is conveniently just off the motorway with loads of parking space. Corporate functions  can be easily held there by many non football companies which can bring in huge revenue. Hardly like Bates would want to build something if it wasn’t going to earn him money now is it?We need to look at Leeds United as a long term development both on and off the pitch. Barring a multi billionaire coming in it is the only way we can hope to compete and if our non matchday revenue brings in a few million pounds a year then that gives us a few million pounds more to spend than the clubs who don’t have it.

      • TSS

        “The argument suggesting hotels in the city centre  are struggling is of little relevance as they are in a bad location travel wise ”

        LOL. Easily accessible by train, bus, car and plane, but boats could struggle I suppose… 

        Are you really going to try and make that argument? Businesses operate on footfall – the footfall in Leeds city centre is vastly superior to Beeston. If you can’t sell hotel rooms in an extremely busy city centre with millions of visitors a year, you can’t sell them in Beeston. There is absolutely no way I would book a hotel room in Beeston over Leeds City Centre because location is important and no one wants to be surrounded by a ring road, a deserted football stadium, a busy main road and a council estate.

        Aside from the hotel comment – which is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read – you make some valid points. However, Man City’s stadium is owned by Manchester Council and was built for purpose-use events which they (not the club) could profit from. 

        As for Manchester United’s global brand, that is probably your most valid point, but they’re selling a successful football team – not “the greatest conferencing facilities from Manchester to Newcastle”. Every club sells products affiliated with it’s brand, that’s common sense if you’re successful enough. But Bates isn’t doing that, he’s building side projects that have absolutely nothing to do with the club and the revenues from which are not re-injected – How can you not see that after all these years? Chelsea Village was an entirely different company from Chelsea, operated independently and as such, would have had no affect on CFC’s income. 

        Bates is trying to earn money, but if it was for the good of Leeds United Football Club, the priority would be to wipe £3m a year off our expenditure by spending £17m to regain control of the stadium. He’s already spent£7m on our latest side venture and paid at least £10m on rent since he’s been in charge – that’s over £17m wasted. £17m which could have bought ER back and which I guarantee a hotel will not make in sixty years, never mind SIX! (It’s turnover may meet that, but profits won’t) 

        Like the ownership of our ground (which we all know Bates owns) and TA, all these side projects will be separate companies with untraceable accounts that have no benefit to Leeds United whatsoever. That’s what he’s doing here, not building a club, but building separate businesses that generate money (however small) which he doesn’t have to account for. The rest is smoke and mirrors. That’s why there has been minimal investment in the squad, poor profits (despite alleged success on and off the field) and no real attempt to repurchase of ER and TA – even when the council proposed to do so and lease it back to him for 30% of the rent we’re currently paying.  

        Nothing adds up. Every decision has been a business one, but a business one that serves Bates, not LUFC. The council have clearly seen through this and as such, proposed a cheap lease-back agreement to the club (not Bates) so that Elland Road would be a home of football for 125 years to come, and we’d be charged very affordable rent. Why would you not cut £2m off the club’s expenditure if you cared about LUFC? Because it means the stadium would be owned by an independent body (LCC) rather than whichever offshore disguise Bates has it under which he can pay himself through. Because Bates doesn’t care about LUFC, only the potential businesses he can build with the funds he generates from it – none of it helps the club.

      • Anonymous

        Chelsea village makes no money in real terms alright its not loosing anything but if it was the great business it would be paying for the chelsea football team that its not cos in 5 years they have lost a billion ,yes  abillion quid

      • irving08

        Hmm Chelsea village can’t compete with local eateries and bars in the catering-boozing stakes; that is one reason why it is losing money….

    • Yorkwhite1

      Why do you Bates apologists always imply that there is no
      alternative to his egotistical plans other than a return to irresponsible Ridsdale
      style spending? There are dozens of well run clubs who operate in a transparent
      manner. It’s like saying you can either have bread and water or champagne and
      truffles but nothing in between. A happy medium is all that most fans want.
      They want to see their club spending their money on their team and they want openness
      and honesty from the board. I don’t blame the council for one second for not
      wanting to get involved with Bates. His past record of deviousness and manipulation
      are there for all to see. The sooner he goes the better as far as I’m concerned
      and although I don’t claim to speak for anyone else, I know many who agree.

      • Anonymous

        thats a fact we would still be here if bates had not bought us ,history tells us that there i think has been 40+football administrations and aside from telford who were in conference i think they are all still in business ,telford are but a new telford ..

  3. Henry V L

    I just hope it is not a programme full of questions, but no answers.
    No wonder KB wanted to stop it airing!!
    I am sure that Leeds City Council are looking forward to the expose too!!


    I don’t fully understand why Bates has (allegedly) lied about owning Leeds because everyone knows he has. I’m assuming it is a tax fiddle?
    The thing is, even if he has done all his shenanigans legally he still needs to answer to the highest court in this matter, i.e. the fans.
    He needs to come clean very quickly and have an open book policy going forward or he is never going to stop being despised. He may be thick skinned but his disrespectful attitude towards his ‘customers’ is slowly coming to bite him and he needs a rethink very quickly.

  5. Anonymous

    more of a butter knife than a dagger to the heart of the bearded freak in fact to be honest and blowing my own trombone it said no more really than i said in the 1st post on here earlier .now i do not pretend to be a great sleuth like erm erm morse ?? but its because we all knew that its true
    KEN BATES LIED , HE WAS THE OWNER ALL ALONG AND LIED IN COURT for the benefit of the circling lawyers  (allegedly) ..
    Even TOADY called him  a liar, well had he done due diligence on any potential buyer he would have known the bearded toothless Monacan fu#%ing wanker  was lying to him and not sold to him in the 1st place

  6. Sveifors

    I am afraid this does more harm to Leeds United than to Ken Bates. That is a shame. Those who hates Leeds United get more dirt on us all and our beloved club. People like Bates always gets away. That is this case big dilemma

  7. mattbb 1

    Why is bates bad for leeds?
    He isn’t in it for anyone but himself
    Not a crime in business, but a warning sign at best. He has proven that his interests are self focused. Going into administration when the implication recently was that he allegedly had £10m to invest was outright arrogance and irresponsibility, it smacks of his allergy to paying the taxman – who footed the bill? Well we all did as taxpayers, and local businesses did too, in short only one person came out of it the better – and £15m better off  – Ken.
    He’s a poor businessman
    Why build a hotel adjoining a football ground, where there is no business park, entertainment hub, retail – oh wait theres a megastore and shopping arcade planned…. so how and why would comparable numbers of people to the white rose centre or the city centre go to Elland Road? Why not invest your money in a city centre hotel, or better still into the football team?…. that might return you £25M a year in TV Rights? Moreover he doesn’t own the ground – couldn’t he find a mortgagee to lend him £15M – at £2m per year I’m sure even he could get a mortgage. A Structured loan over 30 years may even be more cost effective and improve our cashflow, it also makes us more attractive to investors, banks will still invest in property – well unless you already own it.
    No investors attracted
    Well he managed to take us into administration in 2005 at the peak of the economic cycle, brushed of other potential investors at the stage of the CVA – and since then not a red cent has come in from China, the Gulf, the States – whys that? well as Leeds City Council found out – you apparently need to take a massive leap of faith and hand your money to ken on his terms….
    He isn’t open or straightforward
    Leeds city council wanted to save Leeds United, buy the ground, and asked effectively who they needed to write the cheque to – Kens response – none of your business – just give me the cash and I’ll see that its safe…. £25M would you?
    He will drag the club down
    We’ve already been in league one, we might go up who knows – but as sure as eggs are eggs we will end up having to part company with Ken – and that will take some dogfight. We will of course have to get him to be honest about who owns the club – and where all the money is going, plus who owns the ground – a tangled web – what happens if the young buck corks it at 79 Years young? What a mess to untangle – at that point we go belly up.


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