Part 1 - A nasty dose of reality
- Part 3 - Dawning of a new era
- Results and table - printer
months of speculation it was confirmed on 19 March 2004, that
insolvency practitioner Gerald Krasner had negotiated a deal with
the creditors of Leeds United that allowed Adulant Force, the
consortium he fronted, to take control of the club and save it
from the administration that had seemed inevitable.
However, for anyone who assumed that the deal would lay United's
financial difficulties fully to rest, there was a nasty shock
waiting in store. It quickly became apparent that the buyout had
done no more than earn the club extra time to remedy their deep
rooted financial ills, and that further support would be required
to put Leeds United back on an even keel.
As reported in the Telegraph, "the consortium … gambled on three
things. Firstly, they hoped the team could remain in the Premiership.
They didn't and were relegated with
the massive financial consequences that involves. Secondly,
they hoped to raise millions through a debenture scheme by selling
thousands of 20-year season tickets. With the club in the bottom
three of the Premiership and facing relegation, they sold around
100. And thirdly, they were advised by former Bradford City chairman
Geoffrey Richmond. An experienced football man, Richmond had left
Bradford with huge debts and, only weeks after his involvement
with Leeds was revealed, he was declared bankrupt."
The Krasner deal had been a decent one, slashing the club's massive
debt from astonishing an £103m down to a much more sustainable
- Loan from Jack Petchey, secured against Elland Road - £15m
- Directors loans - £4.75m
- Income tax and VAT - £9m
- Former managers, players and agents - £8m
- Other creditors - £3.5m
A club balance sheet in September 2004 listed the following among
- Robbie Fowler £2,106,000
- Danny Mills £1,841,000
- Nick Barmby £1,055,000
- Robbie Keane £400,000
- David O'Leary £356,000
- Peter Reid £355,000
- Stephen McPhail £311,000
- Dominic Matteo £181,000
- Danny Milosevic £156,000
- Brian Kidd £87,000
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Clearly, the desperate fire sales to rid the squad of some of
the highest earners in the country had come at a significant cost
and there was bitterness at the need to pay off players who had
let the club down so badly. The moves had demanded extensive use
of agents and a Football League report later revealed the extent
of the damage. Leeds United had paid out £1.6m in agents fees
in the six months to 31 December 2004, comfortably the highest
amount paid by any club.
It was certain that Leeds would still have the highest wage bill
in the Football League in the new season, despite selling a host
of stars. The club had already slashed their annual salary costs
from £57m to £41m in the past year, but now planned further reductions.
Gerald Krasner: "We will have to trim the squad slightly. That
is largely because we are still having to subsidise the wages
of some players we have got rid of. A player may have been on
£40,000 a week here but only receive £20,000 or £25,000 elsewhere,
and we have to make up that shortfall on his contract. Unfortunately
in most cases there is no other way of reducing our wage bill,
some supporters do not seem to realise that. The simple fact remains
that if we do not start to live within our means there will be
no future for Leeds United. There were 18 players earning over
£1m a year when we came in and the total wage bill was over £40m.
It is down to an £18m maximum this season but, in order to ensure
a viable future, we still have to get the financial model right."
To get that into some sort of context, £18m was still twice the
First Division average and six times the £3m paid out by Sheffield
United. Krasner recalled, "We were paying one of our players more
than Sheffield United were paying their whole squad."
Kevin Blackwell: "Going into August, I had two contracted players
available, Gary Kelly and Michael Duberry. There were two others
on the books, Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke, but they were both
injured. The place was like the Marie Celeste. I got 64 trialists
in, from all over the world, panning for gold. They were hard
"The Inland Revenue started calling in debts, and all our money
was disappearing into a black hole again, so we sold James Milner.
On the Monday he was 'The New Face of Leeds United', by Friday
he was a Newcastle player. That's how it was then - like walking
There were also bitter complaints that much of the money for
the Adulant Force deal had come from mortgages against the club's
few remaining assets, such as Elland Road itself, on which a £15m
loan from Jack Petchey had been raised. Documents filed at Companies
House indicated that the board had taken out eight new mortgages
on property and land owned by Leeds to fund their
takeover and keep the club afloat in seven months after saving
it from bankruptcy.
The immediate need for cash was down to the Petchey loan. The
deal had included significant penalties should any of the repayments
be delayed and Leeds desperately needed to improve their cash
They were making some good inroads into improving their trading
position by reducing the exorbitant salary bill, but that would
only be of any use if they could get their liabilities down to
manageable proportions with an inflow of cash.
Gerald Krasner negotiated a sale and leaseback arrangement for
the club's Thorp Arch training ground and announced they would
try and do the same with the Elland Road stadium. He also distanced
the club from rumours of a takeover by British-based Iraqi billionaire
According to the Sunday Times: "A former Ba'ath party member
whose brothers were killed by Saddam Hussein's regime, Auchi left
Iraq in the late 1970s to settle in London. He is one of Britain's
wealthiest and best-connected citizens, yet maintains a low profile.
Lord Lamont, a former Tory chancellor, sits on the board of Auchi's
holding company and the billionaire hosts regular dinners attended
by royals, Middle Eastern leaders and MPs. He has also bought
tables at Labour fundraising dinners. He has quietly built a business
empire comprising 120 firms across the world in property, construction
"However, his business dealings have often proved controversial.
Last year, in France, he was convicted of paying kickbacks to
the oil firm Elf. Auchi, who was born in Baghdad in 1937, received
a 15-month suspended jail sentence and a £1.39m fine. He says
the prosecution was politically motivated and is appealing against
it. In Britain, a pharmaceutical firm he owns is co-operating
in a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into an
alleged price-fixing cartel involving supplies for the National
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Auchi's rumoured interest went no further, although it was clear
that Leeds United were actively pursuing other options.
Gerald Krasner: "From day one we made it clear that we were looking
at two options; remortgage the ground or do a sale and lease back
with a minimum 25 year lease and a buy back clause. That position
has not changed one iota. Leeds fans are entitled to be angry
if they think we will not be playing football at Elland Road but
we have always said that whatever happens, football stays at Elland
Road. It is not in the club's interests to accept a shorter lease
than 25 years, that is the minimum. In the talks we're having
there is also
a clause to buy back the ground. That's at any point during the
lease, not necessarily at the end of it."
The deal for the Thorp Arch training complex, on valuable land
near Wetherby, saw it sold to Jacob Adler, a Manchester-based
property developer, and leased back over 25 years, with United
retaining first option to buy back the land if the financial situation
were to improve. Krasner claimed that once mortgages on the land
around Thorp Arch were paid off, Leeds would be left with "in
excess of £4m" to go towards reducing debts.
Shaun Harvey, the club's Chief Operations Officer, said: "In
an ideal world it's not an option we would have taken, but our
number one priority is to reduce this club's debt so it can operate
again under normal circumstances. This arrangement will go a long
way to helping us do that. Instead of paying the mortgage on Thorp
Arch, we will be renting it instead, with the players continuing
to utilise the excellent training facilities available there."
John Boocock, chairman of the Leeds United Supporters' Trust:
"This is a sign of desperation and proves that, as owners, they
bought the club on loans and have no money to invest. Nothing
is sacrosanct at the club - if they can sell it, they will. I
have no doubt the board would love to sell Elland Road. Twenty-five
years is not a long time in football, especially to those of us
who have been coming to Elland Road for 40 years. What happens
to Thorp Arch when the 25 years are up? I can see Leeds United
having to train in a public park in the future. The only way forward
for a football club in this situation is to develop a strong youth
policy. Everything points to doing that and yet what we are doing
is selling off the very bedrock of a strong youth policy."
On 18 October, The Times reported that the club had agreed another
fundraising scheme: "Leeds' attempts to restore financial stability
were boosted as they sold off disused land adjacent to their Elland
Road ground. The deal, which will allow Stanley Casinos Limited
to build a casino complex with a hotel, restaurant, bars, leisure
facilities and designer shops on the newly acquired site, is subject
to the reform of the United Kingdom's gambling laws. Such plans
will not have any impact on Elland Road remaining the club's home,
although a sale-and-lease-back arrangement of the ground has not
been ruled out."
All the time, however, the search was on for more substantial
investment and on 24 October Finance Director Melvyn Helme hinted
that a deal was close. He would not comment on reports of a potential
takeover but said the board were making progress in attempts to
find new money.
"Talks with a number of parties have reached an advanced stage,"
he told the Mail on Sunday. "It would be wrong to comment on any
one person. I'm not sure which party will come forward in the
end. We have had a policy ever since we took over at Leeds that
in view of all the various speculation there has been, we have
never commented on individual situations.
"We have just done a deal for the casino land at Elland Road
and we were talking to four or five casino operators. We have
successfully concluded a deal which is to the benefit of Leeds
United and we did not comment on any part of it before an announcement
was made. It would be quite wrong for us to comment on individual
parties at this stage because at the end of the day I am not sure
which party will come forward and do a deal with us.
"We are at an advanced stage of negotiations with various people
and we have to have a look at all the
options on the table and choose the best one for Leeds United."
Towards the end of October, details started to emerge of two
potential suitors, despite the board's attempts to keep matters
The first was a consortium led by Sebastian Sainsbury, 41, banker
and restaurateur and the great grandson of the founder of Sainsbury's
supermarkets. He had enlisted the financial backing of an American
group, Nova Financial Partners, run by the Miami businessman,
Burl Sheppard, described as a "hi-tech fundraiser".
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The second interested party was a group of local businessmen
and Leeds United supporters, headed by property tycoon Norman
It was soon apparent that there was a degree of antagonism between
United's directors and Sainsbury and that the board were more
favourably disposed to the Stubbs connection.
The Sainsbury proposals were based on an injection of £25m in
new funding, negating the need to sell the Elland Road stadium,
but the Stubbs deal depended on a sale and leaseback arrangement.
The board insisted on seeing physical proof that Sainsbury had
the necessary finance at his disposal and negotiations ended in
acrimony with Gerald Krasner claiming that no satisfactory proof
had been forthcoming.
Things came to a head during a show on Radio Aire on Saturday,
6 November 2004 with a heated on-air argument between Sainsbury
and Melvyn Helme.
Sainsbury insisted that he had provided proof of funds and claimed
a deal had been completed. A contract would be signed on Monday
and the deal completed by the transfer of funds on Thursday when
he would become club chairman.
Leeds had performed remarkably well in winning 4-2 that afternoon
at Deepdale, home of Preston North End, and Melvyn Helme joined
the commentators for a post match discussion. He was insistent
that the club had not received proof of funds. He explained that
the proposals by the Nova group were acceptable and that a contract
would be signed once the required proof of funds had been obtained.
He also complained about the consortium continually seeking to
do their negotiations very publicly. He demanded that Sainsbury
either put up, or shut up.
At this point, Sainsbury joined the conversation by telephone.
He said proof of funds had been provided, though Helme claimed
that the club had only received a letter from a Canadian solicitor,
unassociated with the consortium, which stated he had been asked
by them to write the letter. Sainsbury said that asking for this
level of proof was not a normal way to conduct business. He couldn't
understand why the club was delaying and challenged Helme to confirm
the discussion earlier in the Preston boardroom. Sainsbury was
asked why he couldn't simply provide the name of the bank or an
account number, which he declined to do, saying this was not the
way to conduct business. The two men repeatedly spoke over and
ignored each other.
The United board was bitterly divided, as reported in the Guardian
that same day: "Stubbs is understood to have raised £10m and the
proposed sale and leaseback of the Elland Road stadium is expected
to bring in a further £15m. However, his backers insist all monies
must be directed towards the continued survival of the ailing
club rather than rewarding those directors under whose stewardship
debts have been reduced from £104m to slightly more than £30m.
"The current Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner is understood to be
content with Stubbs' offer but his view is not shared by two of
his fellow directors, who are pushing exclusively for Sebastian
Sainsbury's Anglo-American consortium. Sainsbury initially offered
two board seats to the incumbents and a £2m sweetener to the current
directors, a proposal which is the subject of further negotiation.
"However, in taking out £4.75m in directors' loans which helped
facilitate the initial Adulant Force buy-out of the club, the
board used their homes and businesses as security. Should both
current takeover bids fail, directors stand to lose their estates
if the club goes under."
The club's fractious impatience with Sainsbury and continual
to "show us the money" were perhaps excusable - things were getting
fraught at Elland Road.
The club still owed £9.2m on the loan from Petchey and the next
instalment of £2.5m was due on November 14, with a £2m penalty
if the payment was missed. The United board set Sainsbury a deadline
of 1pm on Friday, November 12 to complete the deal, which was
always far too tight in the circumstances. Sainsbury chose to
back out and the club was left with little option but to sell
Elland Road. They arranged a 25-year leaseback deal with Manchester-based
businessman Jacob Adler, who had also bought Thorp Arch. The arrangement
allowed the debt to Petchey to be cleared in full and put around
£8m in the bank.
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35-year-old Adler later sought to assure the fans that "Your
ground is safe with me" and that he had "no intention whatsoever"
of building on the site. In an interview with the Yorkshire Evening
Post he also rubbished claims that he had secret ties to the men
who were on United's board when the sale went through: "I had
never met Mr Krasner before, I had never dealt with him before.
Categorically, I had no connection with anyone at Leeds United.
(The transactions] came about through a property agent who knew
that Leeds were looking to sell and I might be interested in buying.
I have been described in the Press as a property developer. I
have never developed anything in my life. I invest in property,
and this was commercially a great chance for me."
While the sale might have made sound business sense it had enormous
symbolic significance to the supporters of the club, who despaired,
convinced that the directors' only strategy was to liquidate all
their assets in a slow and inevitable grind towards financial
The Stubbs consortium was still interested and there were continuing
hints of a successful conclusion to discussions, but weeks went
by with no concrete news.
As December opened, there came another crisis as the club announced
a payment of £1.2m to the Inland Revenue was due on the 15th of
the month with an £800,000 VAT bill to be settled shortly afterwards.
The club defaulted on the payments and staggered on uncertainly
until 17 January when they announced that they had only 10 days
left to avoid administration.
Kevin Blackwell: "One Friday in January, out of the blue the
stock exchange pulled the plug. It was a terrible day, with staff
crying all around me. We weren't going into administration - that
had already been done and all the assets had been sold - it was
straight to liquidation. The doors were going to be closed on
the Monday. We'd all had e-mails, saying we wouldn't be paid.
The wages had only been paid in December because I sold Scott
Carson to Liverpool."
Then in the nick of time there was some astonishing news, as
former Chelsea owner Ken Bates came into the equation. The irascible
and controversial 73-year-old had stepped down as chairman at
Stamford Bridge after the arrival of Russian billionaire Roman
Abramovich. Under the terms of that deal, which saved Chelsea
from financial meltdown and netted Bates a personal windfall of
£17m, he was due to remain as the chairman until the end of the
season, when he would have become a life president. The appointment
of Peter Kenyon as Chelsea's chief executive led to conflict,
and Bates cited "a clash of Eastern and Western cultures" as he
made an earlier exit than planned. Over recent months Bates had
attempted to take control at Sheffield Wednesday but his overtures
had been unsuccessful.
The first hint of Bates' possible involvement with United came
in a report in the Independent on 10 January:
"In a move that is likely to stun Leeds supporters and arouse
curiosity much further afield, Bates, 73, is understood to have
offered the money to become part of a takeover at Elland Road
being attempted by Sebastian Sainsbury. Although a deal is still
some way from completion, talks between Sainsbury and the Leeds
chairman, Gerald Krasner, are ongoing about a £25m buy-out. The
next round of talks is scheduled for tomorrow.
"Bates and Sainsbury, accompanied by brokers and agents, were
seen lunching together at the Dorchester Hotel in central London
last week. According to one source, Bates told
Sainsbury he would invest £10m in Sainsbury's consortium in exchange
for 51 per cent of Leeds and the role of chairman."
Sainsbury's deal collapsed shortly afterwards and it seemed that
the Stubbs consortium was the only show in town as bankruptcy
beckoned. But the interest of Ken Bates had been piqued and a
shock takeover was completed at 2.27am on Friday 21 January 2005.
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Under the auspices of the Geneva-based Sports Forward Fund, Bates
invested around £10m in Leeds United, securing a 50% controlling
stake. He would have gone for a larger holding, but the finer
details of Adulant Force's settlement with the bondholders in
2004 meant that the sale of any greater share would have incurred
significant financial penalties. The restriction lasted until
March 2007, when it was expected that Bates would buy up the remaining
half of Leeds United.
The Bates money cleared £2.8m owing in VAT and tax, a £620,000
loan from former director David Richmond, an annual payment to
bondholders of £1.4m and a number of other liabilities, bringing
the total debt down to around £17m. A repayment schedule was agreed
with the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise for the remaining
£4.2m and it was agreed that £4.1m of other directors' loans would
remain invested in the club for a further four years, leaving
Bates to crow that only £9m was "outstanding".
The figures quoted did not include a schedule of "League Performance
Amounts" that were agreed with the bondholders as part of the
Adulant Force takeover. An annual sum of £1.4m was owed annually
until 2008, rising to £2.5m in the Premiership, with an additional
one-off payment of £5m payable on promotion. The deal could also
see the club paying £500,000 per year until 2025.
The investment by Bates rescued the club as it seemed all hope
was gone, but the new chairman was a controversial figure in football
circles, and some United supporters reacted angrily to his involvement.
John Boocock: "This is the man who wanted to put up electric
fences at Chelsea and his business track record leaves a lot to
be desired. At no point has he shown any interest in Leeds as
a club or a city. He just wants to have a toy to play with. If
he is doing this without due diligence, he is not aware that the
club needs far more.
"My mother has just rung me and asked should we laugh or cry
and I told her to cry. We wouldn't want him to come to Leeds as
a visiting director, let alone become our new chairman. He's an
old man who should stay at home and look after his garden. If
he wants a bit of excitement he can go to bingo or take his wife
to WI meetings. Bates is just a carpet-bagger who will buy any
club that will have him in the hope that he can get back his seat
on the FA. This just shows how little chairman Gerald Krasner
and his colleagues know when it comes to Leeds United and the
fans. They are just in this for whatever they can get themselves."
Simon Jose, of the Leeds United Independent Fans' Association:
"I would rather we started afresh in the Conference than have
him in charge. It's like the four horsemen of the apocalypse selling
to Lucifer. We need a clean sweep and a fresh start. This is like
putting King Herod in charge of babysitting."
There were some welcoming words, however, from others. Peter
Lorimer, whom Bates asked to remain a director: "The board did
a great job knocking £80m off the debts but now the club has to
go forward and I'm sure Ken is the right man. I'm sure he knows
what is needed and what to do about the finances. The team has
been rebuilt and we are moving ahead."
Norman Hunter: "I'm delighted. First and foremost, the situation
is resolved at the moment. It was a trying situation and I don't
think it's enough in the long run but I think Ken Bates will sort
something out. If he does anything like the job he did at Chelsea,
the Leeds public will be absolutely delighted."
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Outgoing United chairman Gerald Krasner: "We met Ken Bates on
Monday in London and discussed at length the outline of the deal
that was necessary for Leeds United. We shook hands on it and
the board backed it unanimously on Tuesday. We got him into Leeds
on Wednesday without anybody knowing and this morning it was concluded.
I have to pay tribute to Ken because he has not moved one iota
from the handshake we had on Monday. He's sat down with us man-to-man,
not done due diligence and I like the way he does business. He's
kept his word and you can't ask for any more.
"What this takeover will enable Leeds United to do is consolidate
its position much quicker than the old board was able to do. The
debts were £103m and are now under £25m. We have done 80% of the
work; Ken will do the rest and take Leeds United back to the Premiership
where they belong.
"Ken has long term plans here, he's had a year's sabbatical and
he's come back to
show everyone he can do it all again. I think that when the Leeds
fans hear his plans they will be pleased."
Former Chief Executive Trevor Birch, who knew Bates from their
time together at Chelsea: "Ken's involvement is good news for
Leeds. The club has suffered a lot in recent years and one thing
about Ken is he is a very determined man. He will not have bought
Leeds to preside over its demise. He will have very definite plans,
you only have to look at the success he has achieved in the past
to realise he will not want the club to stand still, which can
only be good news for the fans."
Bates had always provoked extreme views among the football public,
with people either loving him or hating him. His long and chequered
past had guaranteed that controversy would dog him wherever he
Ken Bates was born on 4 December 1931 and spent his childhood
on a council estate in Ealing, West London. He showed an aptitude
for business from an early age and made his money from ready mixed
cement, dairy farming, sugar cane and land development.
Despite his commercial interests, Bates was always a football
fanatic and took over at Oldham Athletic in 1965. He shook up
a sleepy little club, swapping bright orange shirts for the traditional
blue and white colours, and he brought in a number of new players
for his first game. He later took control of Wigan Athletic for
a brief period in 1981 before buying up a debt-laded Chelsea a
year later for £1 as they teetered on the verge of relegation
to the old Third Division.
For five years from 1986, he served on the Football League management
committee before resigning after Chelsea were fined £105,000 for
alleged illegal payments to players.
In the early 1990s, Bates formed Chelsea Village Limited with
the ambitious intention of transforming the Stamford Bridge ground
with a hotel complex and other leisure pursuits. On the footballing
side he gambled on Glenn Hoddle as manager before losing him to
the England job, and went on to hire and fire Ruud Gullit and
Gianluca Vialli in the pursuit of further success, with both managing
to bring silverware to the club during short and controversial
He managed to transform an outdated and dilapidated Stamford
Bridge into a modern, state of the art stadium and did likewise
with the football team, although Chelsea's debt rivalled United's
in the year preceding their rouble-fuelled revolution. The Stamford
Bridge deal had injected new wealth into the surrounding neighborhoods,
resulting in new jobs and many homes for sale. Would the same
thing happen at Elland Road?
In 2003, Bates sold his controlling interest in the club, apparently
to retire to a Monaco tax haven. He couldn't stay away from football
forever, though, and came close to investing in Sheffield Wednesday
before declaring his interest in Leeds
Bates was best known for his acerbic nature and his controversial
comments on the game and people within it:
- On the Football Association's disciplinary procedures: "At
first they were a shambles. Now they have descended via farce
to make them a laughing stock. It has come to a pretty pass
when FIFA criticise our performance."
- "I got calls from Italy last summer and one agent offered
me (Gabriel) Batistuta. He told me 'Batistuta wants to come
to Chelsea'. I said 'I'm sure he does, but we've stopped signing
- On being ousted from the board of Wembley National Stadium
Limited: "Even Jesus Christ only had one Pontius Pilate - I
had a whole team of them."
- "Take Ruud Gullit. I didn't like his arrogance. In fact, I
never liked him. But while he was delivering the goods, there
was no problem. When he lost the plot he had to go."
- "It takes one to know one. I'm surprised Martin O'Neill actually
knows a word as big as cretin."
- "I'm delighted for Claudio Ranieri that we beat Fulham in
the FA Cup semi-final, as if we'd lost yesterday, it would have
been a pity to sack him just after he'd signed a new contract!"
- "All those toilet rolls coming on from Besiktas fans was orchestrated.
They wanted to get the kick-off delayed so they would know what
the other result was before our game finished. I said to Roman
Abramovich, 'if you fancy making another billion, go and open
another toilet roll factory in Turkey'.
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It was clear that, with the colourful Bates around, life for
Leeds United would never be dull, and there would be plenty of
controversy along the way. Opinion was sharply divided and there
seemed to be as many people saying that Bates would destroy the
club as those who saw him as a refreshing new broom, bringing
with him heavy doses of reality and business acumen.
Shortly after the takeover, the Yorkshire Post carried a story
of a bid to derail Bates' plans. Simon Morris, the club's leading
shareholder before the deal, was offered an incentive of £250,000
by a rival consortium to stall negotiations. Morris was offered
the money just hours before Bates formally took charge of United.
"The approach came from charity fundraiser Stuart Levin, who
asked Morris to 'put a stop' on the Bates deal and offered to
pay the money, claiming a rival consortium's funds were just 24
hours away from being available. The offer was dismissed, however,
and Bates duly completed his takeover in the early hours of January
"Three consortiums were bidding for the club at the time - one
led by Bates, another by United season ticket holder Norman Stubbs
and a third mystery group on whose behalf Levin made the approach.
The drama unfolded on Thursday, January 20 when go-between Levin,
in the offices of chartered accountants Haines Watts, made the
offer to United director Morris, who was in the offices of the
club's solicitors, Walker Morris.
"Levin asked: 'What do you want to put a stop on it (the Bates
deal) in the next 24-48 hours?' Later in the conversation, he
offered to pay £250,000 using an American account, and then promised
'we'll give it you in writing now.'
"Morris, who yesterday said he treated the offer light-heartedly,
responded by asking: 'Can they make a cheque payable to my granddad?'
"Levin said yesterday: 'It is true that I did, on behalf of the
consortium I represented, which consisted of die-hard Leeds United
supporters and businessmen, offer Simon Morris
an incentive to hold back on any other deal as I knew our funds
were 24 hours away. He said he was very interested and asked how
the incentive would be paid. I said that upon completion of our
deal that he should provide a bona-fide invoice so everything
would be above board. I never heard from him again about this
matter. Speaking as a Leeds United supporter of 48 years standing,
I think Ken Bates is doing an excellent job and I wish him all
Morris said: "I was being offered money to stop the deal with
Ken Bates going through. The only way I could treat it was light-heartedly
and with contempt. I was surprised by the nature of this when
we were so close to securing the future of the club."
Melvyn Levi, a fellow director of Morris at Elland Road until
Bates' takeover, said there was no chance of the former Chelsea
chairman's takeover being halted. He told the Yorkshire Post:
"The offer was made in an open meeting and the lawyers heard it.
But we had met Ken Bates the previous Monday and we were set to
complete on the Friday - as far as I am concerned, you cannot
do any better than that. He had his lawyers working through the
night to get the deal done, that was a clear sign of his intent,
and there was no doubt he was the one who was going to save Leeds
United. We had stabilised the club and wanted someone to take
it forward. There was no way we would rely on someone saying 'the
money will be here in 24 hours' - we had heard it all before.
We had had too many false dawns in the past, but it was clear
Ken Bates was not a false dawn. All these rich people in Leeds
had had 10 months to sort a deal - we had always said from the
start that we would talk to anyone who came along with a sensible
offer to take over the club. Ken did that and took the chairman's
statement that all the figures were correct."
It was a controversial story, but only in keeping with all the
speculation and innuendo that Elland Road had seen so much of
over the previous couple of years. Whatever the reality, one thing
was clear: Bates had saved Leeds United Football Club from oblivion
and they could finally dare to hope for a bright new future.
Part 1 - A nasty dose of reality
- Part 3 - Dawning of a new era
- Results and table - printer
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