We’ve all (or almost all) chanted “Bates Out!” at some point. We’ve been frustrated by the lack of clarity at the club. We’ve been fed up with young stars who don’t produce the goods. Players have embodied the club of recent years: nearly limitless potential, no results. Despite the talent of our team, the massive and undivided support-base of England’s third biggest city, a global following remaining from the O’Leary-Ridsdale era, we’ve been struggling to match teams like Barnsley and Coventry. A strong hand needed to take over.

Neil Warnock celebrates Becchio's winner yesterday

The emotional Lee Clark who spent flamboyantly for no results, a similar possibility in Dave Jones, the whining Billy Davies, and the consistent failure Paul Ince would not have fitted the role. Neil Redfearn was not the right man either. Though we owe him gratitude for spending three tough weeks trying to keep the players focused while fans hurled stick at him and the club’s media pushed him forward as Grayson’s potential successor.

In Neil Warnock Leeds get a strong hand at the helm, with plenty of intelligence and bags of experience to boot. As Shaun Derry told Yorkshire Radio before the match, there’s more to Neil Warnock than the comical pantomime villain that fans see in press conferences. A man who demands hard work and application, and who delivers his side of the bargain. Robert Snodgrass told YEP a few days ago that the team need to grow up:

“The fans get frustrated and whatever they want to shout, us as players need to make things right by earning the right to win games and putting our bodies on the line. At the moment, I don’t think that’s happening.”

“Every game you go into, you have to believe that you’re going to win it. The day when you stop approaching games like that, I’d hang my boots up and never play again.”

This is the mentality that we have so sorely lacked recently, and the mentality that Neil Warnock brings to the club. He’s firm, but fair. His interview after the match showed his paternalistic approach to the lads:

“They’re very keen and they listen.”

“They were trying really hard. I think the problem here, with the expectations and everything, is that they just need to relax a little bit.”

The Warnock we know well as an opposition team is the Warnock I’m sure our opponents will keep seeing. He’s not a miracle-worker, either. It took him a few years to turn a mid-table Sheffield United into a promotion-winning team. Nevertheless, he achieved it. He took over at a QPR that was quite well funded, and he used his money wisely and drove them to the Championship title. But he can’t do it all on his own, just like Robert Snodgrass can’t drag the rest of the team with him. Warnock needs financial backing.

Ken Bates and Peter Lorimer have been vocal enough on supposed overspending. There certainly are plenty of high-profile signings who failed to get a place in Grayson’s plans and remained on the wage book. Andy O’Brien from the Premiership, Alex Bruce a proven Championship defender, Billy Paynter supposed to replace Jermaine Beckford after impressing in League One, Mikael Forssell a former Chelsea forward.

Darren O’Dea, Adam Smith and Andros Townsend all see their contracts expire at the end of the season. Without passing judgement, when the club stops paying their wages it will give Warnock some freedom to spend on players of his own choosing. Meanwhile Michael Brown (who has performed under Warnock’s leadership at Sheffield United and was named in the Championship team of the year in 2002-3) and Mika Vayrynen give Warnock the freedom to release or retain for another season, and Lloyd Sam and Mikael Forssell see their contracts expire along with highly rated youngster Aidy White.

But we need more than a few players ending their contracts. The mystery surrounding the club has led some (including me) to briefly consider that we really are struggling to stay afloat. This isn’t the case. We made £12.5million profit on player purchases and sales since Simon Grayson came, by my reckoning. Of this, £7million has gone into stadium redevelopment. That leaves £5.5million. A worryingly high figure to go missing on top of significantly higher attendences than average at top-five Premiership prices.

Tracing this cash is possible through the Ipswich programme notes. The following paragraph has already been published in a previous article:

‘”Where’s the money gone?” is the latest chant from the vociferous few. Well, I’ll tell them. Simon Grayson’s player budget was £9.5M for the year. As I write we have so far committed £11.722M, over budget by nearly 23%. It’s a bad business practice but a demonstration how we have backed the manager and continue to do so.’

We’ve already used stats from The Swiss Ramble on wage expenditure in 2009/10. These statistics would place Leeds’ self-reported £9.5million budget 18th in Championship spending, our revised £12.5million would put us 14th in expenditure (the same as 2009/10 when we gained promotion from League One). Certainly Bates didn’t under-fund Grayson at League One level. Over the past few years players’ contracts signed in boom time have ended and players find it harder to get work as lads like Parnaby and Forssell show. It’s not helped Simon Grayson move on players he didn’t want. Despite that, Bates’ assertion that we’re one of the highest spenders in the division seems laughable. A drop of £4million in average wage expenditure over two years – roughly £3,000 per week per player – would make that the case; such a hefty drop is unlikely.

The next statement in the programme notes was by far the most important and changes the entire scenario for the future. It’s one that I and most others missed:

“With the exception of the museum, that completes the rebuilding, refurbishment, and improvements of Elland Road with approximately £20M having been spent on the clapped out, decaying stadium that I inherited.”

Even if we take this spending to have begun seven years ago at an even pace – when Leeds was fighting for it’s life – the budgets would have taken a £2.85million hit per season. By Ken Bates’ own mouth, his stadium projects have taken away at least a massive £55,000 per-week-per-season that could have been invested into the team. Balance that with roughly £12.5million profit from player sales, and we were still taking away £20,000 per-week-per-season from normal income. These are rough figures. We’re much more likely to have spent more on developments over the past couple of years; James McClean has been rewarded with a new contract recently by Martin O’Neill at Premiership Sunderland said to be worth £10,000-£15,000 per week.

We could pay a lot more towards wages than we have done. We could have afforded to keep our players. I’m not going to debate whether spending on the Stadium is wise. But either way what matters is that Bates has told us “that completes the rebuilding, refurbishment, and improvements”. We know for a fact, using Bates’ figures, that if he refrains from non-football development over the next couple of years, we easily have the ability to back the proven promotion-specialist Neil Warnock in making some quality key signings this summer should we fail in our promotion push this year. If Warnock is not offered adequate backing then I’m sure we will know about it. We do have the money to succeed. MOT!

11 Responses

  1. CasWhite

    Unfortunately, there is always expenditure needed on ground etc. We have though spent more than most (at this level) in recent times. If it has enhanced our turnover, we will see.
    It will now be interesting to see who goes and who stays in the summer, plus who Warnock can add to give us some more quality. From the out of contract or returning to parent clubs that mush be some weekly £.
    The only thing I would take you up on though is comparing our budget with other clubs, but using figures from two years ago. For example the Derby chairman has stated they have reduced their budget from the £16m quoted previous by 40%. They are also looking to reduce this again. If other clubs are doing the same (and alot are) then if used properly our budget should be competative.
    Lets see what. The futures White the futures hopefully Warnocks Barmy Army. MOT

    • TimPM

      When I wrote it originally I was very careful to mention the fact that the recession hit in 2007 and the 3-year contracts of the time have run out recently, which has led to players like Forssel, Parnaby etc. not getting a look in when they otherwise would.

      David didn’t like that I think :-)

      We’ve probably got a good mid-table budget this year, and if Bates doesn’t spend on any new stadium developments we should be able to afford more next year – that was the crux of what I wanted to say. We’ve the ability to fund Colin in his search for a few key players, and if we don’t then Bates hasn’t a leg to stand on!

  2. CJR

    I’ve been looking at the QPR squad that Warnock put together and noticed that both Fitz Hall (One Size) and Shaun Derry are both out of contract in the summer. Although Derry is 34 he played 40 games for QPR last season and is just the type of experienced leader we need and and Warnock has always liked him. As he said on Goals on Sunday earlier on this season he was gutted to leave Leeds and saw it as the biggest honour of his career to play for them, he said he would never forgive Wise for blaming him for giving the Leeds team to Palace that day which he says he would never have done. Fitz Hall, a 30 year old 6.4 dominant experienced centre half that has gained promotion with both Newcastle and QPR. He was also Captain for them last season, just to the sort of player to bring on Tom Lees along side him. They would only cost in wages and sort the problem of experienec and leaders out for a start!

    • TimPM

      @CJR TBH even if he had done, enough water’s passed under that bridge by now surely?

      • mattbb1

        Shaun Derry is a `must-resign’ for leeds united… even if he comes back in a semi coaching position. We should never have sold him. Fitz Hall a decent Centre Back too. I always thought Clarke Carlisle should also have never been sold.

  3. Bluesman

    Hopefully, this is a new dawn. Let bygones be bygones, but keep one eye on Smurf. Two swallows don’t make a summer. There is hope now though and regardless of spending on stadiums it is both Neil Warnock and Ken Bates’s opportunity to stand up and be counted. One Leeds United, one set of fans, one team and one board focussed on the future. Lets go for it (not forgotten Harvey but just missed him this time round)!

  4. jigzy84

    You say “We’ve all (or almost all) chanted “Bates Out!” if you class the minority as all then you are right, you ask for clarity then when persons from within the club provide that the minority shout them down you deserve the label of “moron” you need to make your mind up as to what it is you actually want.

    As for the report by The Swiss Ramble on wage expenditure in 2009/10 this remains unproven and unfounded, but I’ll give you the benefit that it is true and highlight again that in out of the 24 clubs in the league 16 are more than likely recording a loss year on year according to the data out of them 6 clubs spending are over 100% of turnover on player wages meaning instant accrual of debt, and 10 other clubs spending over 80% of turnover on wages meaning very likely accrual of debt.

    Your rough figures that you use turn out to be as about as accurate and rough as the swiss ramble, get your facts straight please then report on them until then why create biased conjecture?

    The facts remains that Simon Grayson’s transfer policy meant he has wasted money on signing fees, agent fees, tax and employers NI due to the volume of players that he has signed. Did he need a squad so big when he never rotated the team no this is unforgivable why do Leeds have players sat on our books that no other club wants.

    • TimPM

      @jigzy84 Using publicly self-published accounts from businesses is unfounded? Afraid I’m not with you there.

      I’d love to know what matches you’ve been at because there have been loud Bates Out chants frequently. Even the Donny game had chants before we got back into it. We’re given items of clarity and they all point to one thing: a chairman who lies willingly.

      Take for example the rare piece of glasnost that was telling us how much the Gradel sale gave us. That was welcome. What was less welcome was then having an extra dose of transparency: Oh by the way we told Gradel he could leave at the start of the summer and have basically being lying to your faces for months about him.

      Hardly the way to win over fans, is it?

      It is hardly biased conjecture to say that £20million expenditure over a 7 year period equates to £2.8million per season and just under £55,000 per week. That is a statement of mathematical fact.

      It was also hardly biased against Bates to then factor in the sales of players which shows that his expenditure on the stadium have been responsible. I could have left it at the figure of just how much he has spent on the stadium. That would have really whipped up anger. Instead I showed that we had come up with the money to fund it.

      Just as on the Swiss Ramble figures I mentioned the fact that players have come out of contract from boom-time years and aren’t being paid as much anymore, making the likelihood of us not placing so low in today’s table. But you willfully overlook that because it doesn’t allow your diatribe.

      If you actual read the article you would see that as a matter of fact it highlights the economic health of the club, helping to stamp out rumours that the club is on its last legs – which would not attract the right sort of investor. It also places extra factors on the Swiss Ramble figures that had already been used before without any of the disclaimers I managed to add by writing this article.

      If you see this as an attack on Bates, you really need to engage your brain and re-read it.


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