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      Chairs Report – Water always flows under the LUFC bridge.

      The Chair of the Trust reflects on a strange but typical Leeds United month and then looks forward.

      There have been quite a few developments since my last update: the away allocation debacle and U-turn; an ownership ban for Massimo Cellino and a court date set for his embezzlement charges in Italy; an awful home defeat and the first signs of mass protest against his ownership; a promise and retraction to sell to fans; marches and demonstrations planned; a massive away win at local rivals; new bidders for the club including a well-known Leeds fan; and marches put on hold by fans to give time for sale to be achieved… Throw in all the usual speculation and … it’s just another normal Leeds United month.

      I feel no need to go over that ground piece by piece, the Trust’s positions and reactions can be found in the tweets and radio interviews done. What I will say, however, is the case for stability has never been needed to be made more. As I write this, it’s the 10th Anniversary of the comeback from 3-0 down to win 4-3 at Southampton - and I don’t believe for a minute anyone, including myself, leaving St Mary’s after that win that day would have believed the mess to follow for next decade.

      Let’s not wallow in that wasted period, water will always flow under the Leeds United bridge, let’s not even list the outrages we have endured, instead let’s look forward and particularly to the prospect of a new owner of Leeds United.

      The Trust has a duty during takeover speculation periods, it is to ensure that whatever spin is placed on events by present owners, future owners or unsuccessful bidders, the fans of Leeds United get an honest broker analysis of the options and the likely outcomes. We judge that it is of no real significance whether Massimo Cellino really meant it when he said he now wants to sell, events will ensure he does, all that is to be resolved is how and when.

      The Trust will always judge future owners through the prism of integrity, transparency, the capacity to reach out to the support, knowledge of the English game and realism of plans. Whether it’s our good friends at Leeds Fans United, Steve Parkin and associates, an American-based sports business, Middle-Eastern high-rollers, Far-East syndicates or flighty Italian megalomaniacs in partnership with even more flighty bankers, the Trust will say what it sees.

      Once the LFU majority stake bid was blown out of the water by the consistent inconsistency of Cellino, the reality has always been that money will talk loudest. However the issue that can’t be over-looked is the need to ensure stability, which is only possible with a clean break from our past.

      A “total solution” or “anything but what we have” are the options that seem to be around. The latter could potentially involve all of GFH, Cellino and family and the lingering tentacles of Bates entitlements being retained under a new majority owner. Realistically if you’re a buyer with limited funds and a wariness of what might be lurking in the darker reaches of the club accounts that might seem an attractive approach, whilst better than what we have with Massimo in the driver’s seat it is hardly a base-camp for future stability.

      The monies involved are less than the total solution would require, but even then any deal on equity and debt for all or parts of Cellino’s 75% that is ball-park around the figures mentioned (£30-£40m) values the club way above its present worth (as valued independently).

      The total solution is just that, a 100% equity buy-out, debt free, Elland Road and Thorpe Arch back as club owned assets, lingering long-standing matters resolved (the £5m for promotion before June 2017 or any parts of the Share Purchase Agreements for the sale of the club in January 2013 and January 2014) and any other issues likely to hold the club back post takeover also dealt with. Anyone with a modicum of understanding of the club’s situation knows that is a £70-£100m commitment (before a penny is spent on players, managers, ground improvement etc.), and one that could only be done by bidders with significant financial clout. In the absence of Mike Ashley 2 (and would we want that?) such bidders tend to be foreign. Again, such figures would be overpricing the club by some degree but as a bet on getting into the Premier League would not be such a mad pitch.

      That total solution clearly provides a base camp for future stability (assuming we don’t get the new Vincent Tan…) but it can’t be at the expense of those values I listed earlier. No amount of largesse would make Red Bull acceptable owners of Leeds United (and thankfully all indications are they have dropped down the pecking order) and if the Bates/GFH/Cellino decade teaches us anything its check your incoming potential owners again and again and again. Leeds supporters can’t be too careful now. Never, ever just trust to luck with owners.

      As indicated earlier, the Trust is pragmatic, not for us the hyperbole of assuming every new owner is the Messiah, nor condemning people on the basis of not being rich enough.

      That pragmatism knows the outcome is always going to be more complex than perhaps is required and that a successful Leeds United won’t just appear without hard work, sound judgement and good luck. In the meantime, whether it’s the messy compromise, the local businessman, a left-field outsider or the next Abramovich, the Trust will continue to promote the virtues of supporters impute and equity ownership as the sustainable future of football.





      Chair speaks on Radio Leeds

      Hear the Chair of the Leeds United Supporters Trust on the breakdown of the Leeds Fans United bid to buy the club and what that means going forward.


      Start at 46.58.



      Chairs Report – The realities of life and doing it for Skye.

      In the weeks since the last chair’s report a lot of things have happened, and very few of those events can be considered good news.

      In fact, you could perm any one from eight different issues that might be the most important to focus on, but actually there are other, more important, issues at hand.

      As supporters we are all human, subject to the outrageous outcomes of fate and chance. And it’s the stories behind some of humans that I consider more important than the events of the last few weeks. Whether it’s the passing of John Cave or Skye Thompson, these are the personalities we should focus on at this time, despite my email box telling me the mood of the support is hardening against our current owner.

      As chair of the Trust, I have quickly become surprised by the extent to which the support contacts us to share their human stories.

      It is perhaps inevitable that they are either requests for assistance, which we are happy to provide, after issues at games (we had a couple related to our draw at Fulham drawn to our attention) or to inform us of tragic events that have happened to loyal Leeds United fans.

      Starting with our own John Cave (see previous posts for the fulsome tribute for this great man) whom the turnout at his funeral, and flower-laying at Elland Road, reflected his popularity in life. As John himself would have said, it’s the stories of the average fan that stir the emotions most. Three examples of that I share with you now.

      Alex Turner was 24 when Cystic Fibrosis claimed his life. His brother wrote to the Trust to ask if we could assist on a matter related to his unfortunate loss.

      One of Alex’s ambitions was to take his brother’s young son to his first league game, an event that was planned for the Birmingham City game in March this year; Sky Bet had arranged box tickets for the pair of them. Unfortunately Alex passed away 10 days before he could make this dream come true. Alex’s brother and nephew have been invited by the sponsors to attend the MK Dons game on January 2 in what I am sure will be a special, but reflective, day for them both.

      In a similar vein we were recently asked to assist friends of a big Scarborough-based Leeds fan who also died tragically young, leaving behind a wife and kids. These friends want to put together a fund-raising dinner to both support the grieving family and as a tribute to their friend. The Trust has offered any assistance it can, and thinks this is exactly the kind of activity that fans’ groups, supporters in general and the club should be coming together to support. There has been a suggestion that in the last couple of years the clubs generosity when approached on similar matters is more limited that was previously the case, we hope this suggestion proves unfounded.

      This brings us to the awful news that has touched a chord with the support, the heart-breaking death last Friday of Skye Thompson at the tender age of 17. I’m sure you all will have seen the words of her Uncle, the tweets the Trust and others did on Monday and the subsequent newspaper coverage.

      It stands repeating that Skye was a Kop (N11) season ticket holder and I’m sure the Trust joins the whole of the Leeds United support in offering our sincere condolences to her family. Not only is it touching that the family find solace in the fact her foresight in being an organ donor has resulted in other life’s being saved, but they also have the strength to be attending tomorrow’s game.

      The Trust was approached to support a family request for the club to facilitate a minute’s applause in the 17th minute of the match tomorrrow. I understand the club has been in contact with the family and have given their condolences.

      At the time of writing it is unconfirmed whether the club has agreed this family request but it goes without saying the Trust thinks this is a request that should be accepted given the tragic circumstances.

      It seems to us that given the wide spread support for the family’s request amongst the support (and Blackburn Rovers fans also helpfully circulating the details among their travelling support) the 17th minute should be a moment where, regardless of the official club position, the ground to a person shows that “we’re all Leeds aren’t we” is a reality as we pay respects to one of our own.

      Football is a serious sport, following Leeds United can be a stressful business, but sometimes, every now and then, an opportunity comes along to show our innate humanity is more important than any other issues. We have that opportunity in the 17th minute of tomorrow’s game. The Trust asks that we all take it.





      Paying Respects to John Cave.

      Today Friday October 23rd, the funeral of John Cave will take place.

      The funeral will be 11am at Cottingley Crematorium and the funeral cortege will call at the Don Revie Memorial on Lowfields Road at Elland Road around 10.30am to lay flowers and where Marching On Together will be played on the stadium tannoy as a mark of respect to John.

      The Cave family invites Leeds United supporters who wish to pay tribute to this fine man’s memory to join them for this poignant moment. The family have asked that fans wear club colours and not mourning ones as John himself would have wanted.

      John Cave was an ex Chair of the Leeds United Supporters Trust and the most respected of fans campaigners.


      A Reverse Welcomed

      The Leeds United Supporters Trust welcomes the reversal of the decision around limiting away ticket allocations.

      We welcome the decision made by the club to not take forward the proposal to limit how many away tickets the club will accept (and thus the opportunity for supporters to support the team). We also thank Leeds Fans United for using their good offices to persuade the club of the common sense of reversing that idea.

      The Trust thanks all fans who made their voice heard over the last few days on this issue.