Indemnity. Replacing ‘imminent’ as this summers buzzword, indemnity is basically the would-be owners guarantee that Ken Bates will be financially liable for any skeletons found lurking in the Elland Road closets after he departs.

In short, indemnity is compensation awarded if a pre-determined event occurs – say, for example, Leeds United are taken to court over something the previous regime was responsible for.

If the latest reports from the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Leeds United Supporters Trust are accurate, the indemnity clause is the final hurdle before an agreement is sealed and Ken Bates relinquishes control of the club.

The only problem is, Ken Bates appears to be stalling.

Like most Leeds fans (I suspect), my mind immediately jumps to the conclusion that the buyers have stumbled across a very specific skeleton in Ken Bates’ closet that he fears is bound to resurface sooner or later.

When you’re dealing with a man more notable for deception, court cases and dodgy offshore banking than he is for his contribution to football, it’s only natural that you start to fear the worst. After all, this is a man who managed to rig an administration process so that he cleared substantial debt whilst managing to retain control of the club (allegedly).

However, it could just as easily be something genuine. Perhaps Ken Bates feels the terms of the indemnity agreement are too vague and could make him liable for things that weren’t his doing?

The truth is, no one really knows. Or if they do, they’re not telling us.

If the TOMA thread on WACCOE has taught us anything, it’s that an absence of verifiable facts is conducive to wild speculation.

When you have a reputation like that of Ken Bates, wild speculation will seldom serve you well. If this takeover does fall through, the truth will be irrelevant. False hope, broken promises, anonymous individuals and incredibly poor communication only serves to remind fans of previous failings and the struggle for information Ken Bates’ reign has been synonymous with.

In less than 3 months, fans have gone from pondering the implications of a Manchester City-esque takeover, to plotting further protests. The club have only themselves to blame for the latter.

Whilst it’s true that the speculation was created by fans and it was they who let themselves get carried away, the club did little to stop them. Save for a few incredibly vague statements (1, 2, 3) that served only to heighten speculation and feed the madness, the club hid behind a confidentiality clause and continued to keep fans in the dark about the future of their club.

I’m sure Ken Bates doesn’t lose a second of sleep over the concerns of fans/customers, he’s made perfectly clear in the past that he feels they have no business knowing what goes on behind the scenes at Leeds United Football Club. As owner, that’s his prerogative. As fans, the right to protest and withdraw funding is ours.

That’s why compromise is key to running a successful football club. As Ken Bates is slowly coming to realise, an unhappy fanbase means the Leeds United turnover he so highly covets begins to diminish. A drop of 4,000 on our average gate last season represents a loss of around £3m on the season previous – that’s before you take into consideration the additional funds those 4,000 would have spent in the ground.

If this takeover does fall through, there will undoubtedly be a further reduction in gate receipts. There’s only so much false hope a fan can digest before they become cynical and start to question the chairman’s motives.

Fans want to believe that everyone at their football club is pulling in the same direction. They want to be valued as loyal supporters and see the hard-earned money they spend on supporting the club, reflected in the quality and ambitions of those they pay to watch.

I don’t doubt that Ken Bates wants to see Leeds United in the Premier League just as much as I do – why wouldn’t he? The club is worth much more to him as a top flight team. My concern is that he seems incapable of achieving that goal and he’s made no effort to convince me otherwise, and therein lies the ultimate problem.

The takeover seemed to be a concession of sorts. I never expected him to admit it, but in my mind, Ken Bates had accepted he was incapable of taking Leeds United to the promised land so had sought out investment from those who could – no doubt encouraged by the cashflow problems Leeds United’s latest accounts suggest.

If Ken Bates was to come out tomorrow, admit he couldn’t take this club any further and promise to find a new owner, I’d hold my hands up and help him in anyway possible. Most fans would. Frank honesty and a little humility are highly valued commodities in Yorkshire, it’s the secrecy, lies and excuses our fans simply cannot abide, and it’s the secrecy, lies and excuses causing our fans to walk away.

All Ken Bates really needs to do is be straight with supporters. If he genuinely has the club’s best interests at heart, then what has he got to lose? The alternative is getting him nowhere.

Unless the members of Leeds United’s boardroom are a secret chapter of the Illuminati, sworn to protect the world from unspeakable evils who will be punishable by death if they utter a word of what goes on inside, the very worst they could face is a little embarrassment. I don’t care that they may have got it wrong – in fact, I’d respect the honesty of such an admission – I only care that they have a solution.

If there’s nothing to hide and you’re supposedly working in the best interests of Leeds United Football Club, secrecy serves no purpose. Is it seriously too much to ask for a little communication and some long overdue honesty? If so, allow me to apologise in advance on behalf of all those who vote with their feet if this takeover isn’t completed successfully.

54 Responses

  1. Rich

    TSS. What is your stand on boycotting games? In my eyes, I can’t understand fans who still attend games explaining supporting the team is important above all else. But the ‘team’ is a product of Kens Bates. The team, is a representation of lack of funding on bates behalf. Attending Elland road is supporting Bates surely?

    • TSS

      I didn’t renew ST and am only doing away games this season (unless something changes) but it’s a difficult one, I can see both sides of the argument and would never encourage fans to make a decision one way or the other – I think everyone needs to decide for themselves what action they’ll take.

      • RC

        Exactly TSS, i personally have had so much abuse on the internet for saying i would still be going and i am a Leeds fan just like those who choose to boycott so i cant understand why one Leeds fan would give another such abuse just for going to watch them! I dont say to fans that what to boycott they arent proper fans cause my opinion is different so i dont understand why others do. This summer i have been ashamed to be a Leeds fan at times we used to all be UNITED but all this summer we have been in a constant battle of ‘im a better fan than you’ or the equally childish ‘I have been to more games than you’.
        So to all Leeds fans out there whether you are boycotting or still a ST holder lets not turn on each other who will that ever help other than Bates!

  2. Peter Evans

    im attending the blackburn match on sat. hopefully all will be sorted by then. if we are no closer i wont be atteding another game until he has gone, i willl even cancel my lutv subscription

  3. Fred

    Excellent and articulate summary of the current predicament, assuming the indemnity aspect proves to be accurate.


    100% agree, the supporters would have a very different attitude towards Bates if he had shown them respect and been honest.

    His lies about the ownership of ER and TA sum up his way of doing business and he deserves all the abuse he gets as a result.

    I don’t care if he sells up after the transfer deadline. I’d settle for another season in the championship in exchange for Bates gone. The important thing is that he goes and we can then start our climb back to the Prem.

  5. markman

    I thought it was common knowledge the mr Bates did not have the money required to take us to the next stage.hence the search for additional investors or a takeover

  6. trueyorxman

    I hate to admit it but as it stands I have zero interest in attending games at ER and I cant see that changing anytime soon. Others may come on here and send abuse our way for not backing the team, but this whole situation is about the whole Club and its future. £30 a game to watch an average side, please fellow supporters don’t get excited because we beat a poor Wolves side (who now have £30m to spend) and then the worst team in the league, is an absolute rip off yet people still keep feeding that b*****d.

    • RC

      ‘who know have 30m to spend’ yes because they sold 30m worth of players that they still had when we played them? I agree in not getting carried away but the fact remains we have a better starting 11 than last season by some distance and a better manager for the full season hopefully, and 7/12 (and robbed out of an extra 2 on saturday) is not a bad return to say we have played 3 of the firm favourites for promotion.

      • henrymouni

        We are going well, but this may be our best part of the season.
        Once injuries, tiredness & suspensions kick in we will probably struggle.

  7. Tim Campbell

    One simple fact i wud love to know; but do not know, is how much money ken bates has milked from our football club for his own ends? As we have heard the potential new buyers have foolishly, in my opinion, funded much of our transfer dealings over the course of the summer. The familiar (we’ve been here before) question is, where did the transfer funds from the players we sold go?

    • TSS

      If the buyers have been funding Leeds United over the summer (which is possible, Man City’s current owners were funding them before it was officially completed) then I’m certain the money came with clauses.

      I suspect the £4m was nothing more than a deposit allowing them to enter due-diligence. If the takeover isn’t completed successfully, I’m sure Ken Bates would have to repay this money. If it is completed successfully, then the £4m would simply be deducted from the final fee.

      • racingsnake

        Worst case scenario, if the takeover fell through, would having to repay the £4m put the club into admin?

        Great article btw.

      • TSS

        I doubt it personally. If there was any danger of admin, Bates would be pushing this sale through himself. He’d lose a fortune if the club went under.

        I imagine there’d be some knock-on effect though, the sale of McCormack perhaps?

    • Tim Campbell

      In reality with the current state the club is in, this is last chance saloon for ken bates. As you alluded to TSS falling attendances and subsequent falling revenues leave vates in a position of no place to run. I’m actually warming slightly to Shaun Harvey who has seemingly worked tirelessly around the clock to push this thing through. I have a sneaking suspision that even he is royally pissed off with bates too. Its obvious that ‘Shylock’ has many skeletons hidden under his bed, none of which are at
      all helpful to our present prediciment, and some of which if brought out into the open could land kenneth in a whole lot of trouble with the law

  8. Pattaya Rag

    Great article and very plausible reason for the stand-off.

    The team will never amount to anything as long as Bates is around. If games are boycotted and gate receipts drop then we may be able to force him out but the team will suffer in the short term.

    The good thing is Bates can’t sell anybody after 1st Sept. and by January he may be forced to sell. I know wishful thinking. MOT.

  9. Gerry

    Rich – Firstly an excellent article as always on The Scratching Shed site. Regarding not attending games, its a double edged sword. I’ll be travelling over from Ireland on Saturday to support Leeds. Ken Bates wont stop me from supporting my team. I have never had any time for Ken Bates ( going back since the 70s after he successfully sued the Irish government when he formed a puppet bank and liquidated it showing heavy losses – see a pattern emerging). Do we not support the team hoping they lose and in some long term strategy think he will exit the building ? Or….do we get behind the team and hope they pick up as many points as possible so that if and when a T/O does happen the team is at least in the best possible position to take advantage of it. We can post as many pens to Ken Bates as we like but I don’t believe that will have any affect. If we are to go down that road, I feel the best visual affect on TV or throughout the Media would have been to mirror our “friends” across the Pennines with Scarves maybe all black with white writing suggesting anything appropriate. But i am deviating from Rich – Why should the team suffer because of the chairman ?

    • Chareose

      Money is the only thing that matters to Ken Bates, Protests, booing, leeflet campaigns, pens in the mail, media attention, court cases, will have no effect on Bates. The only thing that can effect his finances is boycotting…………

      • RC

        Burning TA and ER would hit him in the pocket massively after all he owns them they arent under Leeds Uniteds list of assets they are his/his companies. But you arent gonna do that are you because that is also too extreme… why not just go to games but dont buy anything like programmes shirts food inside the ground drinks etc? that would hit him a lot harder than you would expect too.

  10. henrymouni

    What amazes me is that we have allowed ourselves to be plucked and humiliated, for the last seven years.
    Which other businesses, can abuse their customers for so long and get away with it (apart from banks)?
    Can insult and talk down to them, and treat them like idiots?
    Can use emotional blackmail to convince the fans that they should keep turning up to support ‘their team’?
    Can offer a product SO POOR, and grossly overcharge for it?
    Can lie on a consistent basis, year after year, without apology or explanation?

    It is NOT our team, and our opinions are irrelevant.
    HE OWES US!!!!!!
    If this takeover does not go ahead, I will not support ‘our team’,
    until we have a new and responsible owner, who puts the team first.
    It is not a difficult decision – is it??????

    • rcsnoopdog

      he used to own a bank,that went bust too
      in ireland,ironically it was called the the irish trust

  11. Legalmind

    News is out on line that KB ASKED Norwich City to defer 50% of the Snodgrass monies so Neil Warnock could not spend the money in the transfer window. HIS Request!! Norwich were happy to pay up front (they have upwards of £25mn to spend) officials were suprised at the request but quickly agreed together with a confidentiality clause restricting either party from discussing the detail. BATES OUT!!

    • TimPM

      Yeah I’ve heard that one too. I’m reliably informed that aint the case though.

      • TSS

        Doesn’t make any sense. If he sells tomorrow, Norwich would owe Leeds United £1.5m – money Ken Bates would no longer be able to receive (it’d go to the new owners). If he got it all up front, he’d be able to waste it before the sale.

  12. Rusty

    Brilliant Article. Here, here. We are at where we are at, let’s talk and get on with it. Do the decent thing Kenbo…

  13. West Stand Rebel

    it seems many of your assumptions about indemnity will be correct as you and many others have pointed out in the past the whole sorry can of worms LUFC has become. The dodgy administration threw up some startling anomolyies such as the creditors who would only support Bates….Krato and Astor holdings. I bet whoever owns those companies will at the end of the day want their money back in some form. That would or may re-open the Revenue investigation. After all they were the biggest losers £7.5m . There are so many unquantifiable risks attached to our club and so many companies that own little bits of it I am not surprised that new potential owners are wary.

  14. Chareose

    I think its too late for Bates to come clean with the fans…….Even if he does suddenly decide to have the clubs best interests at heart hes proven himself to be completely inept as a businessman because investment in playing staff 2 years ago would have seen Leeds in the Premiership by now and a juicy pay slip for Ken. To make a business successful you have to invest in the right things……….i.e not exec boxes and stadium improvements when theres no product….. Its like a company improving its products packaging when the product itself is a pile of shite…… Like in a bad relationship theres been too many lies, manipulation and insults for it ever to be repaired………..The new campaign is Coat4Ken……

  15. Liam

    Peter Lorimer a member of a secret society, Him and his red noise are always to busy halfway down a pint to attend secret meetings!

  16. Bluesman

    Some of the most sensible comments that I have seen for a long time. For two seasons now we have endured the lies and bad management, whilst people said that you should support the team. This is just prolonging the agony. Ken Bates has got to go and if forcing him out is the only way so be it. Lust should talk to potential suitors to put in place a recovery plan in case Bates crashes. This is the time for the big push to get him out!!

  17. RRossw

    We need a boycott. But let’s make sure everybody knows who we are boycotting. Ken bates needs to know there’s no more money flowing his way. Let’s Boycott Bates.

  18. Squid

    Brilliant article, hope Ken Bates takes note! I can never understand it either, why those who are able to say exactly what is going on choose not to. I can only asume they do not care about the club, it’s loyal supporters, they are as bad as Bates!

  19. Sunnyleeds

    Very good points raised. Totally agree with what is said that KB is not much concerned of fans/customers, something which is crucial if KB really wants a successful business. For instance how can you call your customers marons and at the same time you are expecting them to buy your season tickets or whatever?

    Also cannot agree more to the statement that “fans want to be valued as loyal supporters” as they are the ones who provide all the money for whatever the club spends.

    Most of us would also agree that KB would most probably be supported if he admits that he “couldn’t take the club any further and promise to find a new owner”.

    Having said this I feel that Warnock is our best bet for a long time, and he is consistently calling for our support. So I find it hard to boycott his call. Instead one should boycott other things.

    • Chareose

      then it wont work….the only way to effect ken bates is by hurting his pocket and simply refusing to buy the sodding match day magazine wont make a bit of difference

      • RC

        Ofcourse it will before i decided to stop buying stuff from inside the ground or programmes shirts etc. I would buy a jacket and leeds shirt every season so about 75 quid straight up before the first game of season then 4 quid for programme every game then about 3-4 quid for food and about 10-15 on drinks/beer that all adds up to only a little bit less than the actual ticket.

  20. mattbb4

    this issue raises so many questions, if it is the key one. Bates is a businessman, profits are his lifeblood. Even he knows this deal is one he must take. There is no greater payday left for him at Leeds. He has destroyed his relationship with his customerbase, the business has been milked into submission, and no cash is left, in short it’ll end up in administration, and then he’ll get zip. The current buyrs could then pick it up for nothing. SO why not sign the indemnity, I’ll posit that personal freedom is worth far more to Bates at 80 Years old than any sum of money..

  21. Dr Zen

    I’m beginning to believe he really wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted to destroy Leeds.

  22. Chareose

    I am not for one second demanding other Leeds fans should boycott Leeds United. Its each and every fans personal choice as to whether he carries on supporting the club……. But what does annoy me are fans who critisize us for boycotting…… Are these the same fans who for years thought that Ken Bates was a living legend ?? Will they finally catch up with the rest of us on the topic of boycotting in a few years time …????? Are they the same type of people who vote Tory or Labour because they have always voted Tory or Labour regardless of politics or how useless both parties are ?
    Would any of these scenarios help them ?
    1/ Better education
    2/ An understanding of Basic Logic
    3/ Learning to analyse a situation through the cunning use of research before making a decision
    4/ Conducting an IQ test (these can be done on line)
    5/ Learning that having webbed fingers is a bad sign…
    Sorry just in a bad mood

    • henrymouni

      “5/ Learning that having webbed fingers is a bad sign…”
      Not if your a swimmer!

      The way things are shaping up, a boycott may not be necessary.
      Even if the takeover fails, KB knows his days are numbered.
      We will have to sell again, further reducing our chances of a serious promotion push. NW should and probably will walk.
      The fans who are still on the fence will see the light.
      Thousands have stopped going already, and many more will follow,
      Blackburn season ticket prices are 50% of ours, which is enough for me!!

    • Mikelufc

      I am not in a bad mood but I agree 100% with your post.
      The paying fans have brought us to this state and only they can get us out of it.

    • RC

      Think you went a bit far and basically hinted at all us that dont boycott are either thick or inbred, by doing so you came across completely hipocritical ‘what does annoy me is fans who criticize us for boycotting’ yet you come out and make those statements about those that do not boycott. Personally my thought process is that football in general is a game of opinions, i personally love watching Leeds and will still go i just wont buy any merchandise/food/drinks. I dont think any less of anyone that doesnt go but it is just my preference to boycott them in that way whilst still getting the enjoyment of watching the club i have loved since being a little boy.

      • henrymouni

        Good post RC.
        It is a real dilemma.
        On the one hand you have Mr Bates, who is like a barnacle on a ships bottom, and the team and Neil Warnock who really need our support.
        Indeed NW knows that with our fans, we have an edge over the other clubs.
        He keeps praising the fans, knowing feelings are mixed.
        The crowd against Blackburn would have been well over 30,000 in better times.
        I can’t help feeling the takeover is dead.

  23. Pattaya Rag

    Afterthought – legal fees could be another way of legally getting money out of the club.

    After afterthought – Ken wants an indemnity cause HE knows what skeletons are buried at Elland Road and the buyers know something is amiss if Ken will risk all for the indemnity. Alarms bells must be ringing with them rather loudly and they are in a position where they can’t continue unless KB agrees to be accountable for all financial deals during his term in office. Sadly a standoff where neither party can blink.

  24. Chubby

    Unfortunately I’m with you henrymouni. If there is no change of ownership I will buy no more season tickets until that idiot Bares has gone.

  25. CHELPA


  26. Rob

    Kenneth William Bates, please please please use that pen I have sent you in today’s post to sign on the dotted line to relinquish control of Leeds United. You need to hand over the reins to someone else and give the fans what we truly deserve; HOPE.

  27. topvalleywhite

    the biggest problem for Bates is he hasnt got the money, he’s a rich man with no cash, the world he deals in is all assetts and property not money, people ask where the moneys gones but football finance is a murky business at best made worse by Bates secrecy, the playing budgets been set and warnocks worked with it, he talked of marquee signings when it looked liked the deal was done but he’d built a side anyway, new contracts for Ross and Aidey dident come cheap and all our so called free signings will be on a few quid,as will pearce and austin and Kenny, if last years budget was 13 mill, given whats gone on its about even, of course colin wants more we all do, but he’ll do his best till it happens and so will all the players, we’ve seen that against oxford, our squad isnt as shit as we think it is, colins a genius enjoy the ride, these boys deserve our support, its the first real Leeds side for year, and i’d rather have duif than pretty boy scouser, who would you want in a fight, ignore Bates, support the team

  28. barnzy

    slightly off topic i must abmit,but it wouldnt suprise me if an auction appeared on ebay for a jobs lot of 10,000 pens or however many have been sent to him,thats what sort off tight fisted mother f***er ken bates is

  29. topvalleywhite

    i was expecting seing them taped to the front of the new £5 programme as a free gift

  30. Mike N

    IIRC our glorious chairman still has several libel actions outstanding, as well as the possible appeal by WYP over the costs for policing the games. As LUFC would be liable for damages/costs in these cases where he used the programme notes to sound off in his inimitable way,could this be the indemnity that the buyers want?


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