ken-batesOllie Harden shares his thoughts on what has been an interesting few days for Leeds United. 

It wasn’t the white smoke we expected to be endlessly dispersed from the Elland Road rooftop on July 1st 2013.

Nor was it a mist, a fog, a smog.

It all seemed far too anti-climactic, after eight years of waiting with evaporating patience, to be genuine.

We were instead left to survey the scene: Overcast skies smothering a suffocating sun.

Indeed, there were those glorious occasions when the ball of light would break free, illuminating the four walls of the arena, yet it would always be veiled once more by the frustratingly predictable curtain of confusion, with slight speckles of rain whirling in conjunction with an inconsistent breeze acting as a prologue to the sharpest of showers.

It was a setting reflective of the near decade-long tenure of Kenneth William Bates as chairman of Leeds United.

As the sun rose over the Yorkshire skyline on Monday, as Bates scurried to the White House to begin his term as President, the new era was to commence.

Now a distant memory are the matchday programme notes that would ever-so deeply offend Kevin Wilson, the Grand Master of the Ferrets at the Yorkshire Federation of Ferret Wrestlers and supporters of the Chinese Olympians of 2012, as well as the bizarre claims that his clumsy fondling of the club’s bare bits is ‘a bit like sex’.

The rearranging of Elland Road – those hospitality units, the defacing of the East Stand and the flipping of the away seating area – had overnight been reduced to a set of scars, mere reminders of the moment that had seemingly changed your life forever.

And those proclamations that he is and will forever remain the saviour of Leeds United Football Club, as if in expectance of being granted the freedom of the city before being paraded through it? Rejoice!

The excitement surrounding the departure (of sorts) of Bates and the promotion of Salah Nooruddin does not, of course, come without a purifying sense of rebirth and renewed (perhaps daunting) expectations.

The reported attempt of Nooruddin to gain a place in the club’s academy for the 18-year-old son of a business associate was a move not even matched in the Farce Department by the Venky’s of Blackburn Rovers in their turbulent three-year spell at Ewood Park.

Meanwhile, Salem Patel, the media darling who controlled PR affairs with such elegance and assurance alongside new ‘managing director’, social media manager, charity mountain climber and club scarf wearer David Haigh upon the formal confirmation of GFH Capital’s arrival in December, has seemingly vanished from the very face of the planet since appearing in the Sakhir paddock for April’s Bahrain Grand Prix in a Leeds home shirt, performing his best impersonation of Queens Park Rangers owner-come-mascot Tony Fernandes.

The confusion, regrettably, fails to stop there, with the club’s first ‘seven-figure’ – seven-figure! – signing since 2005, Crewe Alexandra captain Luke Murphy, confirmed only a matter of days after manager Brian McDermott was informed that he would have to ‘wheel and deal’ by the board to have any chance of meeting his targets this summer.

That McDermott opted to secure the capture of the highly-rated Murphy, who also attracted the interest of the Venky’s latest puppet, rather than to finally finalise a deal to sign Noel Hunt, his partner in crime at former club Reading, may suggest that the 52-year-old, due to a lack of considerable funds, will be forced into a summer of persuading his Berkshire allies to join him at Elland Road – mirroring his predecessor Neil Warnock’s fishing for ex-Sheffield United flames 12 months ago.

The thought of Dave Kitson and Ian Harte (for all his sentimental value) posing with Leeds shirts at Thorp Arch in the coming weeks, however, means Nooruddin & Co. must support the almost contagious enthusiasm of their manager and align with the ultra-professional operation he quite clearly yearns to implement.

So, Salem, Salah and Dave, leave the scarves and the cheesy grins at home. Don’t befriend Sebastian Vettel or Jenson Button on the grid with the Leeds crest on your chest – they hate football, anyway.

Don’t let the temptation of a quick pint in The Peacock keep you from the directors’ box inherited from Ken. And please, don’t sing Marching on Together from the Revie End.

It never worked for Mike Ashley.

And as the sun broke through those bars of cloud outside Elland Road following that sharp, late morning shower, glinting off the wet concrete, it became clear that the statue of Billy Bremner was the only thing to have remained still, stable and tranquil over the last eight years of Leeds United’s history.

It’s time to change.

The King is dead. Long live the Three Wise Men.