I was catching up on the latest episodes of Shameless when the idea for the shoddy Photoshop work you can see came about. In the context of the current situation at Elland Road, the dialogue from the opening titles seemed so incredibly apt – particularly the part about allowing something we hate to continue without forcing revolution.

During Shameless’ opening titles, the fictional character Frank Gallagher questions the absence of an uprising against ‘Con-Dem-nation, which, for those of you outside the UK, is the United Kingdom’s leading coalition government of centre-right Conservatives and the centre-left Liberal Democrats.

“Have we had a national […] stroke?” Frank asks, “Is ‘revolution’ a word? Or was it never?”

It’s not that British people don’t complain and make their voices heard, the brilliance of the rant is that it’s heavy with irony and plays on a stereotype – this country is full of people like Frank who have taken exception to some authority or another, who moan about it incessantly and do absolutely nothing to challenge it.

In many ways, The Scratching Shed stands testament to that. None of us like Ken Bates and we try to counteract his propaganda, but we continue to sustain and recognise his power as individual fans by funding him. His power is contained within that funding.

Protests do work. They raise the issue, get the necessary media attention needed and in some instances, the response people are hoping for will occur without need for further action. The controlling powers won’t risk their authority by calling the protesters bluff. They will instead meet their demands before things escalate.

Generally speaking however, these are protests against a democratic organisation or government. By protesting, people are – perhaps without even realising it – threatening removal of power through democratic means (ie. an election or vote of no confidence). This means the majority can always force the issue. If Frank’s opinion that the UK Government is failing is shared by the majority, and said majority are willing to take a stand instead of passively allowing it to continue, change can be achieved.

However, protests against a dictatorship are an entirely different thing. The threat of democratically removing power isn’t there, so unless you can find an alternative threat, no one is forced to react – and it has to be a threat you’re willing to follow through on.

There may be other options, but to really challenge Ken Bates’ power and force his hand, threatening to remove funding is the only route to success I can see working at Elland Road.

The problem is, removing that funding won’t be an option for many. Fans will – quite understandably – argue that they’re Leeds United supporters first, anti-Ken Bates second. If removing the funding inextricably tied to Ken’s power means supporters have to stop attending games, the response is all too easily predicted – it simply won’t happen.

It’s for this reason that I’m left to question whether revolution has a place in 21st century Britain? Unless we make some kind of threat to Ken Bates’ power, then how are the protests anything more than symbolic?

And this isn’t a criticism of Leeds United Supporters Trust and Saturday’s march – the Trust simply act based on what their members ask of them – my criticism is of the wider fan base, myself included. We want change, but we live in a society where we (usually) don’t have to sacrifice anything to achieve it.

We live in a country and an age where the only revolution we experience is beamed through satellites from third world countries thousands of miles away to the comfort of our living rooms.. We’re incredibly lucky that the government and almost every organisation and business allow us to moan about the most trivial nonsense and because they need our votes and/or money, they’ll respond to try and keep us happy – no matter how ridiculous our complaints are.

If the outcome of that isn’t satisfactory, we’ll seek like-minded individuals and moan collectively, maybe even start an online petition. If they won’t listen to the complaints of one person, a collective approach usually yields some kind of result. And in the rare instance that fails, we’ll march on their headquarters and cause enough of a fuss to get the press involved – no one wants bad press, they’ll respond. They always respond.

But what happens when they don’t? What happens when you’re an irrationally loyal group of customers squaring off against an old-fashioned businessman who has squashed more uprisings than most of us will ever see? Because that’s where we are at this moment in time – we’re attempting to stage a revolution without making any kind of threat because we refuse to sacrifice anything. We’re going to war with a few chants, some pretty signage and no weapons.

We need to step things up a gear and consider how much we’re willing to sacrifice.

“Every revolution, demands the sacrifice of a generation.” Simone de Beauvoir

40 Responses

  1. Dje

    You are right, political revolution doesn’t really analogize in the free market 21st-century Western world. The system follows that we simply switch brands. Customer loyalty is always impervious to this theory, but possibly no further an extreme example of this could be found than in the irrational world of football supporting.

    Unfortunately that sort of brand loyalty to our local football club is tied up somewhere between medieval tribalism, Hanseatic fiefdoms, and an industrial revolution backed nationalism (buttressed by an empire). Essentially we should have given up supporting our clubs somewhere around the time of the baby boomers and the conspicuous consumption of the 1950s and 60s; but still we persist.


    That said, I love the idea of us all on mass switching loyalty to our nearest and dearest rivals for the rest of the season: say Farsley, or Guiseley.

    I’d love to see the bemused look on the stewards at Elland Road, as the empty crisp packets frolic between the rows and rows of empty seats on a Saturday afternoon, with the stadium all but empty (bar the away fans, penned in a corner of the empty stadium like a forgotten pogrom) – and contrast it with the bemused looks on the volunteer stewards down at Farsley, as their couple of hundred fans are suddenly swamped by 30,000+ Leeds United fans arriving at Throstle Nest to sing their hearts out for The Villagers [what a terrible nickname] in their Evo-Stick First Division North League match against the mighty Curzon Ashton.

    But yeah, moaning is the new bad sex.

    • TimPM

      @Dje I love this site.

      OP writes philosophically about our culture.

      Commenter1 writes about Hanseatic fiefdoms.

      Commenter4 writes about the similarity between our chairman and modern African dictators, and analyses the strength of our country’s political institutions.

      Have we turned into Chelsea? :-D

  2. mralchemy

    “we’re attempting to stage a revolution without making any kind of threat because we refuse to sacrifice anything”

    I sacrificed going to Leeds many years ago, there was a price hike on tickets……so I stopped going…listen to it on the radio now……..yes I miss being a season ticket holder……but I voted with my feet……..and went off to watch Halifax Town every now and then. I will not pay £36 to watch a match, those that do,are keeping the price at £36……….if no-one went they would lower the price.

    I don’t understand how Ken Bates does’nt realise that if it was a tenner to get in and a fiver for kids, there would be 40,000 there every week, all buying pies, and programmes and shirts, the place would be buzzing, the team would perform better, it would be easier to attract players and sponsorship.

    • Dje

      @mralchemy I imagine Bates works on the premise that 20,000 paying £20 a ticket is half the price to tidy up after them than it would be 40,000 paying £10 each. Sad times.

  3. mattbb1

    so anyone heard about this Chris Miller of Leeds Commercial buying into Leeds? one of the bilge websites says he buying a controlling stake from Bates.

      • mattbb1

        its on a webstie called leeds rumours. It seemed to have too much detail to ignore. then again it might be rubbish.

      • TSS

        @mattbb1 Aren’t those places frequented by the same kind of idiots that start “I’ve just seen Thierry Henry at Thorp Arch” nonsense?

        It’d be in the YEP if a local businessman was interested I reckon.

      • TimPM

        @TSS @mattbb1 Yeah. Wouldn’t pay any attention to anything on that site.

        A pity lol!

      • TimPM

        @TSS @mattbb1 Does fit in though with the complete inaction of the Board. Unless they just don’t have the cash to appoint a decent manager?

      • mattbb1

        @TimPM @TSS @mattbb1 i tend to agree, though Chris Miller of Leeds Commercial is hardly in the same bracket, the usual nonsense you get on there is as you say I’m friends with Frank Lampards poodle groomer, and Christine Bleakley told him that he wants to move to leeds.

      • TSS

        @mattbb1@TimPM Just to clarify, is Leeds Commercial the vehicle hire company? Because I’m not convinced any individual there would have the kind of money needed to buy a controlling share in LUFC?

      • TimPM

        @TSS @mattbb1 Yeah. Wouldn’t put it past someone to link their small business in the hopes of getting some publicity lol.

      • mattbb1

        i think it is, when i did a companies house search the name did appear. Though the size of the company isnt necessarily always a guide as to the traction available commercially for an individual. I did also see something about a rugby league club owner being interested. clutching at straws.

        Thought a lot about the fact there is no managerial replacement, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Bates and Grayson ended their relationship on a very sour note – why else give him the chop so abruptly when there was no plan in place to get a successor – how could it possibly be better to have a rookie in charge? even bates isnt that stupid?…. I really hope grayson told bates what he thought of him.

  4. NYWhite

    Of course there is the compromise situation (there always is!) I’ve cut my spending at ER down to my season ticket (on instalments, someone has to pay for that facility and it’s not me, I pay on the last possible day) I buy NOTHING at the ground taking my own flask and drinking at alternative hostelries. I’ve taken it a step further I won’t purchase ANYTHING from any company that sponsors or advertises at Leeds, just my little protest!

    • TSS

      @NYWhite I do the same mate, but 65-70% of revenue is ticket sales at LUFC. Bates will survive off those, he’ll just sell key players to cover the rest.

  5. Dje

    Blimey, ‘election observation’ in the backwaters of Russia sounds like a hideously busy busman’s holiday.

    Is it off to Syria after that?

  6. Chareose

    I agree with your analogy, it works and yes we accept far too much………as has been suggested before, Bates has Leeds fans by the balls………….

    There is a national apathy in Britain but some of it is down to lack of leadership. The current political system doesnt encourage genuinely unique or charismatic individuals to become involved…and thats what is required to get all these apathetic people off there asses. In reality people in this country should be far more demanding of the government as a whole and less accepting of the poor performance. There is no excuse, you only have to point to national debt to justify sacking the whole of white hall and all the useless jobsworths that have mismanaged our country for decades…………..(yes the permenent secretary for this and the permenent that, that dont leave power every time we vote out a government)

    Anyway wish you hadnt got me onto politics………….

    • Chareose

      P.S LUST need a few more ex Leeds players backing the campaign to gain to get more publicity and gain momentum……..

    • Chareose

      P.S LUST need a few more ex Leeds players backing the campaign to get more publicity and gain momentum……..

  7. Chareose

    i dont think he (the blog author) missed the point at all, hes basicly pointing out that we are paying for a service (that we arnt getting) and that as with most institutions or businesses based around profit, the best way to enact change is to vote with your feet. Hence why companies practice something called customer service & PR …….:o)

    I accept this is a more complicated situation than that but the problems of leeds united wouldnt be half so high profile and high on the media agenda if so many fans hadnt started to desert elland road. Also the tone and direction of Bates last public statements suggests it has effected him……

  8. Chareose

    No i was thinking more of the likes of Martin Luthor King, Malcolm X as a generalisation – both started public / social revolutions. Your thinking more of the dictator / meglomaniac bracket (who by definition are already in power or crave it) which is what we have currently as chairman of Leeds United

  9. Ron_Galea

    Can anyone explain why we are 1-1 with the bottom club in the league and Townsend is still on the bench? We’ve put fooking Brown on???? Absolute chicken shit! Negative football when we are slipping away from the leaders.

  10. mattbb1

    i dont blame redfearn for tonight. He was out of his depth from minute one. Bates rolled the dice for these 12 points and so far has 3/9, what a stupid old s*d. Cant even express how disenchanted i am becoming with the club, Bates is destroying this club top to bottom. If anyone still thinks Redfearn is anything other than a cheap option then theyre deluded.That wasnt even the strongest Oventry line up. Where are those 6 world beating centre backs Bates? should have listened to Simon.

  11. number1inyorkshire

    didn’t comment on the Brighton match ,thought i would save it for the double header ,

    thats it now season is done simple as Bates harvey and co have got it wrong

    Redfearn was never good enough to get that job either permanently or or part time .

    There are players in that team last night who in general are not good enough to play for Leeds NUNEZ ,TOWNSEND ,WHITE .BECCHIO i will wait for the comments but they are not good enough ,they are getting picked the rest of our squad is shite just imagine what the ones not getting picked are like ..

    The temp manager will be going back to the kids and the 1st team will be staying put in the champs ,,is it summer yet ,the south of spain ,cold beer, sun ,beauties on the beach ,NO ahh well Doncater Saturday it is then !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Tim Campbell

    Odds probably stacked heavily towards a McCarthy or Warnock appointment now. Another name mentioned yesterday was Albert Ferrer; not so sure about him

  13. Tim Campbell

    To be honest if I had been in Redfearns position I would have taken more of a gamble in his selection choices. When i saw the team he selected I knew we were on a hiding to nothing. There was no imagination, no creativity, only a mindset that was set in black and white and not in glorious technicolor. Sorry Neil but the ‘play it safe’ attitude was never gonna cut it

    • mattbb1

      @Tim Campbell is bates happy now? hes now recovering from his cold (well whoopdi-do) due to fly into England Tomorrow… does he perhaps think grayson was right to seek some squad improvement? and that the much pushed 30 strong squad (including the likes of the the turners, alex cairns, zac thompson, paul rachubka, so basically either too young or soon to be terminated) isnt good enough, would grayson really have given those youngsters a squad number of bates had found his chequebook in the summer? hate bates so much now, he has brought Leeds Unite to its knees and he needs to resign his chairmanship and put the club upfor sale right now.

      • Tim Campbell


        Matt I understand your frustrations, as do the majority of true Leeds United supporters. I was just saying the other day that I believed our league position was’nt a true reflection of where we should be based on performances. Mark my words things need sorting and sorting fast or I can see us spiralling downwards towards the foot of the table – AND YES I CONCUR BATES IS THE CONDUIT OF ALL OUR PROBLEMS

      • mattbb1

        LUST’s next move now theyre courting investors is to formally seek that Bates puts the club up for sale, and make that request public. If they need to add more credibility to that request they should cite that this is something all LUST members advocate, plus set up a petition for public signature in the Town Hall, and one on Facebook, Twitter, and if at all possible get a petition to downing street.

      • TimPM

        @mattbb1 @ oldschoolbaby no. Ken Bates has sounded tangibly fed up over the past few weeks.

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