ken-batesThe continued uncertainty surrounding Jermaine Beckford’s future has led some Leeds United fans to discuss a potential return to Elland Road, the same discussion we’ve had every year since his departure.

It’s a tired and boring debate which seems to divide our fanbase straight down the middle. Some will pull out the old cliché of “never looking back” insisting that the player isn’t what he used to be (or that he wasn’t very good in the first place), while others will respond by pointing to his exceptional goalscoring record as a Leeds United player.

There’s rarely any balance because both arguments could be equally valid and are based on expectations of Beckford being worse or just as prolific as before. Unless it’s tested, there’s no way to know for sure.

But this fascination with ex-players is an interesting topic because it stems from eight years of Ken Bates selling them.

It’s an unavoidable truth of football that players come and go, there’s no real point getting attached to them. But the best teams sell players under their own terms, usually when the players usefulness to sustaining their success starts to wane or they find someone better.

The trouble with Ken Bates’ Leeds United is that we were doing the opposite. Time and time again we sold key players in their prime, constantly hindering any chance we had of returning to the big time.

Due to the ‘undisclosed’ nature of the transfer market, it’s impossible to know for sure how much Ken Bates netted from selling Leeds United’s key players during his 8 years at the club, but of those featured below, I’d say a very conservative estimate puts us beyond the £20m mark.

Had we retained all of the players listed and put out a team containing such quality, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’d be back in the Premier League by now. The millions Ken netted selling off these assets pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions Leeds United would have made if we were promoted, but the consequences of Ken Bates’ short-termist approach have long since been realised.

Few supporters can argue that it benefited the club as we approach a decade outside the top flight.

Now Ken Bates has left the building, which sale do you consider to be his worst as owner of Leeds United Football Club? Vote now and share your thoughts at the bottom of the page.

NB: I’ve only included players for whom Leeds United received a fee. The likes of Jermaine Beckford and Bradley Johnson left on free transfers so haven’t been included. Luciano Becchio hasn’t been included because GFH Capital had completed their takeover when he was sold. 

Ken Bates' worst sale as Leeds United owner?

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