People don’t change. They just don’t.

In my student/professional tax-dodging years, I studied psychology. From the numerous experiments I witnessed and countless more I studied, and the huge amount of research I’ve read and evidence I’ve seen, my own personal belief is that people are born a certain way, and that other factors thereafter shape who they become.

Their underlying personality is fixed, but their behaviour and how they act isn’t. It can’t be. It has to change constantly, we have to adapt to every situation. We all act differently in a professional sense to what we do around friends and family. We act differently in a crowd of our own football fans, to what we would outnumbered in a crowd of fans from another team.

My point is, people don’t change – circumstances do.

Take Ken Bates for example. He is, quite literally, incapable of accepting he may be wrong, and that someone else’s ideas may be better than his own. That’s just how he is. He’s far too stubborn and his narcissism will never allow him to accept fault for anything.

However, Ken Bates is still adaptable to changing circumstances – he has to be, else he’d fail miserably and wouldn’t have had the moderately successful life he has.

A key example is that Ken Bates has to treat Neil Warnock differently to how he treat Simon Grayson because various circumstances dictate that. Warnock’s past success and willingness to walk away the moment he feels he’s unfairly done by is a small factor in this, but the bigger picture is the financial situation at the club which is determined by success on the field.

Bates only ever came to Elland Road because of the financial possibilities, and he isn’t naive enough to think that he can maximise that potential without promotion. There’s no conspiracy at play here, he isn’t trying to keep us in the Championship to dodge a £5m debt – the returns far outweigh the cost.

The circumstances at the start of the 2010/11 season were Leeds returned to the Championship for a season of transition. Ken could have gambled and spent heavily, but the reality is, it’s rare teams get promoted at the first time of asking regardless of spending. You either need to buy a team of experienced Championship players and hope they gel quickly, or allow your League One side to get some experience and see what needs to be improved. We – quite wisely – chose the latter.

Ever-adaptable, when Leeds started to perform above all expectations and the cheapest promotion in history looked possible, Ken was left with funds to play with. By January 2011, when most of us demanded a couple of quality signings for that final push, Bates had already decided the team was good enough and funds had been diverted into off-field activities.

By the summer, Leeds were heavily invested in improving Elland Road. Vast sums of cash had gone in to various projects, the biggest of which was the East Stand redevelopment, and all this meant that there was less money free to spend on the squad. This was quickly highlighted by the departure of several key players who the club couldn’t meet the wage demands of, so replaced with frees and loanees.

In theory, these players were more experienced and more capable of achieving promotion than those that had departed, but in reality, it was an extreme gamble. There’s never any guarantees when you sign players, sometimes they just don’t fit – especially at Elland Road where expectations are incredibly high.

Make multiple changes to your team and there’ll be a transitional stage which ultimately costs you points. While the management and players spend weeks and months trying to make square pegs fit round holes, the supporters grow restless. The realisation that the squad we had before was more capable than version 2.0 is blatantly obvious. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Tinker with it a little and smooth over the cracks by all means, but when you’re within touching distance of your ultimate goal, you don’t scrap the thing completely and start anew.

So the circumstances had changed again and by January 2012, the fans are dissenting and the ticket sales are taking a huge hit. This was way beyond any worse case scenario Ken Bates had predicted when he started investing money in the stadium, how could he see this coming? Things were going so well.

The fans blame Ken, but Bates is still incapable of admitting he was wrong because he hasn’t changed. People don’t change.

Deep down however, Ken knows the club is going backwards. What he also knows is that there is no great surplus of funding to fix it, it’s already been spent. Look around Elland Road, it’s there for all to see.

The circumstances mean that he can’t simply throw money at the team to fix the problems. His own personality means that he lacks the ability to admit he was wrong and explain the situation to supporters, and even though he knows his attempts to shift blame will be largely dismissed, he also knows football fans are fickle and that a big enough distraction will change everything.

In comes Neil Warnock, and alas, the circumstances have changed once more. A new manager always brings a change of atmosphere, and more often than not, a temporary change in form. New ideas, new approach, same players. The investment is still needed, Neil Warnock was the first to point that out, but by the end of the season the circumstances will have changed again.

With no building work planned there will be more funds to play with. Neil Warnock wouldn’t be here otherwise, not a chance. So why not just say that and give Simon the funds? Because Ken hasn’t changed, he can’t admit fault and he needs to buy himself time and rescue the season ticket renewal situation.

Most supporters already agree that reaching the play-offs this season is unlikely, so Ken Bates has effectively ended dissident uprisings until the summer when he’ll once again be judged based on how well he supports the manager. A couple of marquee signings, optimism levels will rise, attendances will increase and things at Leeds United will be back on track.

All of this without Ken Bates ever accepting he made a mistake. Because people don’t change.

But when circumstances change in a way that negatively effects Leeds United’s bottom line and pushes the club further away from the ultimate goal of a Premier League pay day, Ken Bates is as adaptable as anyone.

34 Responses

  1. Grim Reaper

    This is a load of utter nonsense, ken bates isnt, never was and still wont be interested in the premier league pay day because he would have to invest money to do that.  now he could go down the route of borrowing from his friends again but that would mean the possibillity of another administration and the media attention on that after the last one would probably be too great.  ken and his cronies can sit here for ever taking money and using it to build this and that to bulk up the price of any sale.  thats what hes been doing here from day one, thats what he did at chelsea, you dont have to be the great sherlock holmes to uncover this mystery so im still wondering why 7 years on, its still not registering with some people who desperately try to cling to this idea he is going all of a sudden completely go against his plan and start buying players left right and centre.  and thats why the protest shouldnt stop because warnock is only going to make minor changes at most.  BATES OUT is the only way for the good of the club

    • Chareose

      I dont think youd need to over-extend Leeds finances again in order to stay in the premier league………but you do need to keep hold of your best players and add to them. Leeds have in effect sold 3 midfeilders in the last year who are deemed as good enough for the premiership……
      If we had the forsight and vision to keep them and spend a few million on adding a few more quality players last summer and then again if we had got promoted I think that would have given us a fighting chance.
      The other thing that ken doesnt do is invest enough in our youth system………it trots along without him but to have any chance of Leeds catching the big boys we need to invest heavily in our youth.  All previous Leeds successes have come from that in the past.
      However back to your over all point, i agree that Ken is not at all interested in promotion…… I suspect hes interested in maximising the amount of money he can pocket…………trying to grow the club regardless of the potential growth in income would require some of that income being re-invested and so his overall (Profit in Kens Pocket) is less

  2. Pete_Dog

    Good article – probably the most sensible and balanced one I’ve read on the subject for a long time

  3. ramblinjohn

    Not sure of your view of human nature but this is a great article anyway.  Circumstances do change and the most important one is that Neil Warnock is not Simon Grayson.  I mean no disrespect to SG – he did a great job in the circumstances but it was also clear that he had no stack of chips to bring to the table in his negotiations with KB and in the end he sounded like he’s run out of ideas.  SG was a relatively new manager at the club he loved, that he’d dropped down a division for and KB – predator that he is – knew that meant that KB was firmly in the driving seat.
    NW is a different proposition.  He doesn’t have to prove anything, his record stands at this level, he had other options, including putting his feet up.  He won’t even be short of cash.  He is a tougher match for KB.  He can walk away when he likes – now, the end of the season, the end of 12-13: whenever.  He aint dumb either.  So many of the things he says have a subtle (or not so subtle) undertone of ‘if this isn’t right for me, I’m off’.  He’s also not bothered about being a premiership manager again. He knows that he turned Bates down once before a long time ago.  He knows that nobody was better for LUFC right now than him (though Big Mick was at least in the same ballpark).  Good bloody luck to him in all of this but it’s also good for the fans.  We might see some better players, we might see KB shut his mouth a bit more (though I don’t have any evidence of that so far more’s the pity) and so we just might get up if we have a manager who can’t be pushed over.  No wonder Warnock looks relaxed in interviews.
    I’m not naive enough to think that KB will become a walkover (not until he’s 6 feet under anyway) but the balance has shifted a bit with NW – and in the fans favour as a result I hope as well.  In the end there’ll be no sustained progress to the next level until KB’s gone but NW might bring that day closer in a roundabout way.

  4. number1inyorkshire

    i hate ken bates thats my disclaimer sorted ..
    Why would ken bates not think his team were good enough to go up, somebody whoever it was either ,grayson ,harvey ,williams  sanctioned the buying of players or loans of them ultimately it would have been Bates who signed it off .
    At no point will any of the afore mentioned said to bates i want to loan player” A “but by the way he will not improve our team or play every week and i think we will pay him 10k a week for him to sit on his ass ..
    Bates sanctioned players probably on the say so of all the above ,so they will have advised him accordingly ,we have heard about 1st ,2nd and even 27th choice of player coming in ,Brown for instance if we are to believe what many say was 3rd or 4th choice well if he was and he wasn,t going to be good enough why did grayson buy him ,thats not down to Bates thats down to grayson ..
    # we are obsessed by what others are spending so what , i agree you get what you pay for ,but  in my opinion a player on 7-8-9-10 k a week should be better than we have been getting i also agree that we should be spending up to 3-4-5 million on transfers excluding wages, but if grayson couldn’t get the players he wanted but instead went out and bought players that were not his 1st choice thats his fault he bought shit players the only fault in this that is bates is he let him ..
     Next season we will have 5or 6 new players at least ,quality ones at that and we will compete ,getting up is hard but i think we will go up automatic .
    we seem to be making excuses for grayson when it comes to the players he bought  wether 300 choice or 1st he bought them not Bates

    • RafaLUFC

       @number1inyorkshire the only way he wouldn’t get his first choice is if he wasn’t given the resources to do so. A club that’s not willing to hold onto it’s best players at all costs, instead selling them or letting their contracts run down, who’d want to play for that club? Grayson couldn’t get his first choices because of the environment set up by the board. The environment says “we have no ambition whatsoever, we’re only interested in money”

  5. Col

    Good article. Not sure I’m as optermistic as you that Bates is going to suddenly invest significantly in the team, but miracles do happen, I suppose!
    One thing I do agree on is when you say people, or Bates in this case never change. There was a piece in last week’s Independent paper in which they printed this quote-
    Bates said ” To all you moaners, what have you done? Belly ache about club colours, admission prices and anything else that comes into your tiny heads. If you don’t want to support the club then jolly well stay away and take your money with you instead of hanging around. We have a job to do, and you’re in the way!!”
    These quotes could have been taken from Leeds united match program. They were in fact taken from OLDHAM ATHLETIC’S program in 1966 when Bates was their chairman! Some things never change, eh?

  6. TimPM

    “moderately successful life he has”
    Living in a tax haven, married with kids and no divorce, owns a football club that he can play with in his Autmn year…
    Dear God… I’m such a failure!
    I think the trouble with all this is that we have signed well proven players. Young lads like Bannann, Smith and Townsend who are meant to be on the verge of entering Premiership first-team squads are not cheap. On top of that, Andy O’Brien last season wasn’t a free, he was “undisclosed” and came from a Premiership club that only initially loaned him out to gain match fitness and probably only let him go because of his advancing years. Adam Clayton, a highly rated youngster from Man City, came in on an “undisclosed” fee. We spent £1.15million on McCormack, Bruce and Collins to complete 10-11’s transfers.
    Simply in terms of transfers we spent £1.15mil, and that’s not including two “undisclosed” fees that are probably decent. O’Brien a proven Premiership centre-back, Bruce a proven Championship centre-back.
    That’s not even considering wages. Our wage budget this season is small compared to the going rate a few years ago, but it’s been shown with this year’s accounts at Blackpool that wages are probably dropping significantly. We shelved out wages on these two proven centre-backs and suddenly they’re out of the team never to get a look in again under Grayson. Billy Paynter was another signed by Grayson. Believe it or not, he was highly sought after. Warnock said he’d tried to sign him. It stands to reason then that we beat teams like QPR to his signature and you don’t do that by paying peanuts. That would explain Grayson playing him so regularly when he was in poor form, but it didn’t come off.
    A risk, as you say, to sign new players. But we can’t have it both ways and say it was unfortunate on Grayson’s part and a lack of funding on Bates’. Either Bates hasn’t funded the team and we must be miracle workers in the market, or Bates has funded, and the buck stops with Grayson who has a ready-made excuse that players don’t fit into the team 100% of the time.
    And yet, as we’ve seen with Warnock’s Leeds in what brief glimpses we have had, they can defend. This failed defence including Bruce who was completely forzen out, did pretty well in a scrappy match at Pompey where anotehr freakishly tall striker was kept out well.
    Sad to say, but I think I’m being converted to the “wasted money” camp. Grayson signed some great players, but I think his tactics often left our defence exposed and that put a massive amount of pressure on what are proven defenders. And so we have to spend a lot on extra defenders who inevitably get shelved as well. Just look at the England game yesterday – play two centre mids in front of the defence and they look thrice the players they look when the midfielders bugger off up the pitch and let Robben & co. run at two blokes.

    • TSS

       @TimPM Problem is Tim, in this instance, you really can have it both ways. You can have it the way that Norwich did, which is retaining key players season after season and tinkering around the edges until it works. So many sales and so many new faces never works. 

      • TimPM

         @TSS I agree we should’ve re-signed the players – with hindsight – but Grayson last year was saying we needed experienced heads. A lot of fans went along with him on the promise of better alternatives. He was keen on Brown who had come off a ridiculously extravagent Premiership contract with Pompey, and despite his advancing age he boasted regular appearances for Spurs and a Division Team of the Year spot in the Championship. It’s not a stretch at all to imagine Kilkenny and BJ’s wages going all on him.
        Add to that Schmeichel. He was far more likely to be gone for the £200k later quoted than the £1mil pro-Leeds sites initially quoted. Especially given those same sites (esp. the YEP) were quoting silly figures about Gradel that Bates had the decency to come clean about. (Yes… I’ve said Bates and decency in one sentence- I need a wash!) Lonergan came in for £200k and he looks to be less of a failed signing. He looked downright good before his injury. Then you’ve got Danny Pugh Grayson spent £500k on. If Grayson rated Pugh high enough to spend more on him than he did on McCormack then it stands to reason he’ll be on a good contract. Especially as he just came from some decent shifts at Premiership Stoke and was by no means poor for them – he just didn’t fit in with an improving team. Clearly he had funds for one or two other players but couldn’t find them. Eventually he went for Vayrynen ex of PSV and Forssell ex Chelsea who could be on small or high contracts – you never know with our record…
        So you add that to the year before, with Paynter we beat QPR to the signature of. To Alex Bruce who’d done well at Ipswch, to O’Brien a Premiership centre-back.
        I just don’t see how we could sign some of those players down without spending reasonably high on them? If we think of them as their reputations would have them back then, instead of how (especially defenders) played under Graysons fluid and attacking formation. They were on paper very good players who could command decent wages.
        My conclusion from all that is I think Grayson had the potential to be a great manager for us, but possibly overreached himself because of the pressures the fans and the Board placed on him and rolled the dice increasingly desperately, with Howson’s sale and Delph’s loan followed by the midfielder Bates refused him the final roll… It’s not a particularly bad reflection on Grayson who did very well, and it asks questions of various sides, but I don’t think it can be placed purely at Bates’ door. What evidence we  have suggests that Leeds have offered decent (though no spectacular) resources to the managers, though perhaps not top-5 level.
        But then we can’t use the excuse of rich owners playing with clubs. Because we get a similar amount of cash in to some like Cardiff because of our ticket prices…
        Now the skinning of fans to pay not overly large wages, and £20mils worth of stadium refurbs IS something we could place directly at his door!

      • Tyler75

         @TSS …….and Swansea. In both cases you’ve got Managers who don’t  shell out huge sums on players but are backed fully by their Board when they decide they do want somebody or need to keep hold of a player.

    • RafaLUFC

       @TimPM There’s no question at all about wasted money. Money has been wasted on players who aren’t good enough. But this does not acquit bates of any wrong doing. He still throws personal insults at fans just for disagreeing with his “infallible” word. He still has never left a business in a better shape than he found it. He still wastes money on stadium developments of a stadium owned by anonymous offshore owners that are guaranteed to not show any return on investment. He still refuses to meet the demands of players, who I know for fact aren’t asking for anything near the numbers he’s touting, it would have to be an extreme coincidence for so many of our players to make such large wage demands when so few other Championship clubs are having the same problems with their star players.
      He is still spending a shockingly low amount of our turnover on the playing staff. Compare our wage budget to other clubs all you like, fact is it’s only more than the clubs not on parachute payments and when we have so much more money waiting to be used, it’s an advantage we can’t afford not to make the most of. He still shrouds the clubs dealings in mystery for reasons that arouse suspicion and I’m not stupid enough to believe there’s nothing to be suspicious about, as the man has proven throughout his time at Elland Road that he can not be taken at his word. He is untrustworthy, and no matter how much you believe the money he’s put into the playing staff has been wasted, I want someone I can trust in control of the club I love.

  7. Lee B

    “There’s no conspiracy at play here, he isn’t trying to keep us in the Championship to dodge a £5m debt – the returns far outweigh the cost.”
    Although it’s the most rational argument, I’m not convinced by it. There are (at least) 2 factors at play here – money and ego. If KB decides that ‘those barkstards at the HMRC are not having any of my money’, then I wouldn’t be surprised if he sabotaged things to delay promotion just so he can ‘stick it to ‘em’.
    He’s an angry, vindictive man with all the money that he needs to fuel his ego. At his time of life he doesn’t need more money (although he may WANT more), but he is still turned on by being in the limelight – for whatever reason.

    • Chareose

      Theres another more likely explanation……..Kens business plan sucks and hes made a mistake spending millions on property development when it would have been more prudent from a business point of view to spend that money KEEPING our decent players (aka Gradel, Howson, Johnson) , investing in a few high quality signings, getting promoted to the prem, receiving the extra cash windfall AND then looking to invest in the ground………… IN THAT order…………. i dont think its the Leeds fans who should be called a moron

      • RafaLUFC

         @Chareose I can’t even begin to imagine a Leeds United still with Howson Johnson and Gradel, plus Clayton Snodgrass Becchio McCormack, and a defense worth shouting about. We’d be 5 or 6 points clear at the top, guaranteed.

  8. Colin

    Unless Bates has a Road to Damascus moment, then I don’t think it’s at all unlikely that Warnock won’t be our manager at the start of next season. Let’s say we don’t get promoted this season – If the club don’t keep hold of Snoddy and Aidy White, then Warnock has got a mountain to climb to turn that squad into a Promotion winning team, and he’s going to need a BIG pot o’ cash to make that happen, and I mean monstrously big in Ken Bates terms, probably something in the region of £10m perhaps??
    If Warnock doesn’t think he has the resources either within the current squad or the funds to buy better resources to get promoted, then I reckon he’ll walk away. He’s too old and experienced to put up being messed about by tight Chairmen and shouted at by fans. Warnock’s a millionaire – he doesn’t need the grief of ‘an impossible job’.

    • Tyler75

      If we keep our better players – Snods, Ross, Aidy & Clayts – then I reckon £5m should do it !

      • Colin

         @Tyler75 We sold an injured Howson with less than 6 months left on a contract for £2m and an expiring Gradel for £1.75m. I reckon it would cost you £4m alone just to get a fit and currently contracted Howson.
        Maybe we could look at the loan market? : )

      • TimPM

         @Tyler75 @Colin correction: Simon Grayson sold Howson with less than 6 months and Gradel for £1.6mil…
        Warnock’s no pushover and Bates already took part in the decision to keep Beckford on until the end of his contract because he thought he’d get us up and thus a far greater financial reward.
        If Snoddy’s that good (and he is) I can’t see us tearing up his contract.

      • Colin

         @TimPM  @Tyler75  @Colin Tim £1.6m or £1.75m – what’s £175,000 between friends :)
        And lest we forget it was the board that transfer listed Beckford before the start of the promotion season. That was later revoked, but then Beckford transfer listed himself just before the Man United game (we won), and then the Board said he was important. I’m pretty sure that Grayson, to be fair to him did not want Beckford to leave.
        Howson is that good (Paul Lambert knows that) and we let him go. If someone pops in with a decent bid for Snoddy, he’s gone. If Leeds offer the same shit wage renewal that we offered Beckford, Johnson and Howson, he’ll put his own transfer request in. And then he leaves. And then we’re in a world of trouble.

      • TimPM

         @TimPM  @Tyler75  @Colin I disagree. But I suppose neither of us can claim to know Warnock’s mind!

  9. derbyshirewhite

    The only individual always treated well in public by Bates is his wife, on the basis presumably that she doesn’t cost much and never points out when he’s wrong. Grayson spotted these requirements pretty early on but still fell short. I wouldn’t put money on Colin being still around in September.

  10. beestonwhite

    Bates’ gargantuan external locus of causality is ludicrous. 

    • lufc_chat

       @morleywhite You want something positive ? Eventually Ken Bates will die.
      Seriously though, although in all honesty I was being serious before, TSS is spot on  about Bates, he will not he cannot ever change, he is what he is (businessman, crook, piss stinking old cockroach – delete as appropriate).
      And fans too, are just fickle, once again TSS is right, a couple of half decent signings in the summer, a couple of good performances in August, and all the Happy Clapper brigade at Elland Road will be happy again, and the dissident numbers will dwindle…until the next time

    • Colin

       @morleywhite This weekend is going to be the warmest one yet of 2012. Result.

      • morleywhite

        Shithot!beer gardens for me before game sat then lol.
        im the same as everybody else by the way i bloody hate Ken Bates but love leeds united i just cant wait til the day i get home from work switch on my laptop and read all positives about my club.
        Must be nice suppoerting a team like man city,maybe one day we will be there hey?lol

      • mattbb1

        if anyone has been through the mill more than us its man city, so you have to think our day will come.

  11. morleywhite


  12. Chareose

    I noticed a TSS comment about having to pay the rent for ER………lets examine this rental issue for a second…… What if Ken owns the ground……after all why spend money on it if you dont own it ? He didnt admit to owning Leeds United until he was forced………….so its very likely
     And if he owns ERt where is the money we are apparantley paying to rent it going ???

  13. Chareose

    Hypothisis……. Ken is just at Leeds United to maximise profits into his own pocket  ???……with as little investment as possible………. he tells everyone hes invested 20 million in the ground but its only a couple of million (to keep us sweet), he throws the odd bone to us to make us think he is running the club to be a football club (but just doing it bloody badly), brings in the odd new manager, makes sweeping statements about how Graysons squad should get promotion to the Prem or else………………,maybe signs the odd player on the cheap.
    Meanwhile he pays rental on a stadium he secretly owns but pockets the money himself, pockets some of the money we allegedly spent on the stadium, sells our players at any given opportunity to pocket most of the profit, lies about how much he is paying our players and manipulates our accounts……….and doesnt want to get promoted because that would mean hed have to pay 5 million and be scrutinized by the premierleague

    • Chareose

      id guess if this were the case he must have an exit plan……..  Could we have a legal case if we could prove he was lieing about ownership and where money was going ??

  14. Gary Cooper

    Protesting against bates is pointless and it should stop I really regret advocating that now, I wish I put more time into supporting Leeds and actually going to matches rather than causing this pointless split, I am really sorry for my actions. To all the right minded and loyal Leeds fans I apologise whole heartedly.

    LUFC is marching on together with Ken Bates, I accept that it is the best policy for LUFC and our campaign for change has ceased MoT.


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