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      Monday
      Aug312015

      AGM 26 days and counting

      The Leeds United Supporters Trust AGM, including the board elections, is coming soon. Venue Leeds Civic Hall.

      The 2015 Leeds United Supporters Trust Annual General meeting, incorporating an open debate, takes place on Saturday September 26th, 12pm start.

      As well as the formal business, which includes the election of new board members (12 days left to get your applications in) we will have a open debate on all matters Leeds United. Guest panelists to lead the debate include whoever is the Chair of the Trust post AGM, Dylan Thwaites from Leeds Fans United, Gary Cooper from Leeds Ladies (and an Ex Trust Chair), Mark Jordan representing the Regional Members Club and another to be confirmed.

      We have also asked the club to send a representative to either observe or speak to the meeting, we await confirmation on tha possibility.

      I, as Interim Chair, cordially invite all Leeds fans to attend the event, although only confirmed existing (and up to date) Shareholders (those who pay £5 a year annual subscription or hold the £100 life membership) can vote in the formal AGM, all can be part of the event.

      Further details wiil be posted soon.

      Michael Green, Interim Chair.

      Monday
      Aug312015

      On The Pitch Matters - So Far So Good.

      Stephen Clark reflects on the first month of 15-16.

      I would like to say that I have just been biding my time and waiting to see how this opening month has gone before I passed judgement on how Leeds United’s season has begun, but I’d be lying. A pretty hectic time personally has left me with little time to put my thoughts together on how the season has gone so far, but as I sat here on a wet Bank Holiday Monday I feel that I finally have time to nail my colours to the bandwagon that is starting to roll.


      Right from the off I have felt that if Leeds could make a decent start, then we may have a chance in figuring in the right half of the table on a consistent basis this season. The young and vibrant side has been added to with some genuine quality and after so many years of chaos, everything seems to be moving along serenely, almost as if we were a proper football club.


      That word almost was the focus of my last blog, and as the opening day was almost perfect, the progress of the team since then has followed the same pattern. It hasn’t been the perfect start, but to be honest it hasn’t been too far off it. The positives have far outweighed the negatives in each and every game, and that includes the penalty shootout defeat at Doncaster where Lewis Cook’s goal and red card were the ying and yang, showing just how good he can be if he adds that attacking instinct to his game and also handing him the harsh lesson that he needs to temper his enthusiasm.


      Just as we will be unsure how good a point it was against Burnley, we cannot be sure if the draw at Reading was a good result away from home, or if it was two points dropped against a poor side. It was difficult to recall either side creating any real clear cut chances in a disappointing game. Hard work was not an issue but it looked as if creativity may be a problem. Leeds never looked like causing Reading any real problems and once again Chris Wood cut an isolated figure up front.


      Leeds  then faced another tricky fixture at Bristol City the following Wednesday night. Before kick off a point there would have been acceptable. That would see us on 3 points from the first 3 games, a tally that would have been acceptable before the season started. However in the wake of throwing away a two goal lead in the closing minutes there seemed to be a slight sense of panic.  


      Uwe Rosler probably showed his frustration in his interview when he blamed the fixture schedule for United's capitulation at Ashton Gate, because he knows that but for a couple of lapses in concentration, his team could have been sitting pretty in the top six in the early stages of the season. Those defensive lapses left us only remembering the last minute (or six) and made us forget how close we were to producing a classic away performance.


      The game against Sheffield Wednesday highlighted how, as fans we have to remain patient. All around me on that Saturday afternoon, I heard people already moaning and groaning as Uwe Rosler’s men huffed and puffed to break down the Owls and haul themselves back into a game they never really looked like losing.


      Leeds themselves showed a lack of patience in the first half as they tried to play the ball up to Chris Wood too quickly, but when in the second half they settled down and looked to move the ball forward in a structured manner they finally broke down the opposition, Stuart Dallas finally beating a man and putting Wood's equaliser on a plate.


      Leeds were on top for the vast majority of the match, and should have come away with all three points. They dominated possession and were the more threatening side throughout the game. An early booking hamstrung Kalvin Phillips from playing his natural game, and people need to realise that these youngsters can’t be brilliant every week. Getting on a youngsters back everytime he makes a mistake is not the right thing to do. When they continue to show effort and endeavour then they can’t really be faulted.


      Rosler showed he isn't afraid to change things with the withdrawal of Sam Byram raising eyebrows but it worked as the promptings of Alex Mowatt and Luke Murphy made Leeds look far more dangerous.


      The last place Leeds would have wanted to go and end a run without a win would be Pride Park. Since relegation from the Premier League, the Whites visits to Derby had been literally almost pointless, with just one draw in the last six visits. However the Rams, despite being promotion favourites have probably not been as vulnerable as they were this weekend. Their start had been similar to ours, with a collection of draws and a League Cup exit to lower league opposition. But they will have expected so much more given how close they went to promotion last season.   


      The 2-1 victory was probably as good a performance as the club have produced away from home for a number of years. Right from the opening kick off, Leeds stamped their authority on the game putting Derby completely on the back foot for the vast majority of the game and they fully deserved the win earned by Chris Wood’s stunning late goal. Leeds look fresh and vital all over the pitch, solid down the spine and showed a resilience to weather Derby's whirlwind start to the 2nd half by only conceding an equaliser, when in years gone by we would have been overwhelmed. In fact when you compare the performance on Saturday to our last trip to Derby at Christmas, when it looked like we were relegation certainties, it is amazing how far the club has come.


      So we head into the international break undefeated in five matches. The old adage is that you need three points at home and one away, so we are probably a couple of points shy of the optimum points total, but had you offered me 7 points at this stage of the season I would have bitten your hands off.


      September sees no let up in the difficulty of opposition. Three of out four opponents (Brentford, Ipswich and Middlesbrough) were in the play-offs last season and the other (MK Dons) are riding the momentum of a promotion season. Whilst expectation levels are certainly rising, we shouldn’t get too carried away and expect us to romp away with the league. A tally of between 4 and 6 points would be acceptable to me from this run of games. Anything more than that and what has been a decent start will turn into an exceptional one. I’m daring to dream, but it’s nothing more than a dream at the moment. What is nice is that I’m no longer having nightmares about the future.


      Stephen Clark.

      Tuesday
      Aug252015

      Derby County Away - Supporters Information. 12.05 k.o.

      Derby County away 29/08/15. 

      As always the Trust Board would like to wish all supporters travelling to Pride Park this Saturday a safe and hopefully happy trip, lets hope it proves to be a great day for the City of Leeds. 

      Three points this time please lads !

      The following information from Derbyshire Police regarding travel to Derby County this Saturday lunchtime.

      AWAY SUPPORTER TRAVEL INFORMATION

      COACH PARKING

      There is a coach park situated on the South East corner of Pride Park Stadium situated adjacent to the JJB soccerdome . Derby County FC do charge for this car park, £20 per Coach and £10 per Mini Coach. Coaches are to travel direct to the stadium and should not drop passengers anywhere other than the coach park. Derbyshire Constabulary will ordinarily escort coaches away from the site after the conclusion of the fixture, however if this changes you will be notified.

      COACH RENDEZVOUS

      There is no fixed rendezvous point. Club Safety Stewards and the Police will be present to organise the parking of visiting coaches.

      Coach Operators are reminded that the Traffic Commissioners guidelines should be strictly adhered to.

      (Copies can be made available upon request).

      MINI BUSES & CARS

      The ‘Derby Conference Centre’ (Postcode DE24 8UX - See map below) is the only official car parking facility provided for away supporters visiting Pride Park Stadium. The Conference Centre does welcome away supporters at its licensed bar as do The Navigation and Portland Public Houses located nearby. Other private businesses located around London Road, Ascot Drive and the Pride Park site will provide parking however charging costs are at the discretion of the business involved. The Derby Conference Centre, The Navigation and Portland Public Houses are only a short walk from Pride Park Stadium.

      TRAVEL BY RAIL

      All trains will arrive at Derby station. Supporters using this mode of travel will experience a journey of about 15 - 20 minute walk to Pride Park. Only persons who are in possession of a rail ticket will be allowed to use the shortcut over the Station’s Platform Bridge both pre and post match. The Merry Widows and Crown & Cushion Public Houses situated near to the station welcome away supporters before the game (These premises may be closed after the game). All other premises enforce a home supporter’s only policy with the exception of the Harvester Restaurant, located to the rear of the Train Station, who serve hot food and also welcome away supporters.

      PRIDE PARK STADIUM

      Away supporters are located in the ‘South Stand’ on the South side of the stadium. Good facilities are offered to visitors within this area. Food and beverages are readily available in the concourse areas. Programmes can be purchased both inside and outside the stadium. Turnstiles will normally open 90 minutes before kick off. In peak times and night fixtures supporters are advised to arrive at the stadium early to avoid any delays with traffic congestion. Derby County adopts a strict segregation policy and visiting supporters who have purchased tickets for the home sections may be ejected from the stadium.

      Derby County rigidly enforces a no smoking policy in all areas of the stadium, however during the half time period away supporters will be allowed to exit the stadium to allow those who smoke to smoke.

       

      Conference Centre Location Map:-

       

      Friday
      Aug142015

      Chairs Report 14/08/15 – A lot to get through in September.

      This week, bits and pieces.

      There is something soothing about a first home game of the season, even when moved to the lunch-time of a Saturday, a combination of the Yorkshire sun, the lack of reasons to angst and the meeting and greeting of old friends can be a heady mix. Sometimes that light-headedness goes the moment a football is kicked, sometimes it lingers a little longer. Writing this as I am in advance of the Doncaster Rovers cup-tie, you never know it might still be around as you read (or it might not be).

      However life has a habit of interfering with such whimsy. In terms of the Trust it’s now widely known the battle to stability is a long road but one which we are on.

      A big thank you to those Shareholders who have responded to the emails from last week and have renewed. I learnt things about the Trust from that exercise even I didn’t know. Let me give you an example. Did you know that if you choose to you can set up a direct debit/standing order of £1 a month, with the first £5 in a calendar year covering the annual subscription? As an option for shareholders it has its merits, the reason why perhaps the number of people doing it can be counted on the fingers of one hand is maybe the issue of finding out the Trust’s bank and account details.

      Given the cost of a direct debit/monthly standing order to the Trust is negligible but our Paypal receipts are chargeable to around 5-6% of amounts taken, a rebalance of our systems of choice could be something to work on.

      The board is aware of a variety of steps we need to undertake to ensure a new confidence in our shareholder membership systems.

      It is also aware of the need for a successful Annual General Meeting. Alongside the formal business (accounts, elections to the board etc), we traditionally have an open meeting.

      This year’s will be along the lines of a panel of fans with a theme around what the future holds.

      Confirmed participants include Dylan Thwaites from Leeds Fans UTD, Gary Cooper from Leeds Ladies and former Trust chair, whoever is the Chair of the Trust at that point, a representative from the Regional Members’ Clubs and at least one more person to be confirmed.

      We hope this element of the afternoon is a vibrant, honest and stimulating part of our time in the Civic Hall and we look forward to meeting a lot of fellow Leeds fans and Trust members on the day.

      Even when the workload is extensive other things can come down the line and cause you to re-evaluate. Any other time in our history and the Trust would want to be more engaged on issues like the rising cost of match tickets, getting some form of independent confirmation of the club statements of a new financial stability, pressing on the timing around the re-purchase of Elland Road and tying up (hopefully all in a positive way) the myriad of loose ends that constituted last season.

      The Trust’s future and its meaningful survival is our no.1 priority but the representative and questioning element of our remit continues and, rest assured, when we need to make our voice heard, we will.

      Finally on a more sombre note, we visit Reading on Sunday for our first away league game of the season. The Berkshire club recently announced its U21 coach Eamonn Dolan has undertaken some chemotherapy related to bladder cancer.

      We of course wish him well and we ask that if there is one of those applause minutes on his behalf (likely to be minute 21) we respect it as we would expect others to respect us in similar circumstances.

      As usual (and as done before Doncaster Rovers), the away days section on our website will feature police advice on travel etc. Have a good day out.

       

      Cheers

       

      Michael Green (Interim Chair).

      Wednesday
      Aug122015

      On The Pitch Matters - Almost happy.

      Stephen reflects on the first game.

       

      Each week for the last 3 seasons I have written a small piece in the Yorkshire Evening Post as part of their Fans Jury. The 200+ words that I am allocated are sometimes not enough to say exactly what I want to say, so this week I’m going to expand a little on the theme of that report, part of which went as follows:


      On so many levels, Saturday was almost the perfect opening day of the football season. A gloriously sunny afternoon, a packed stadium with a cracking atmosphere, a decent game of football and a stunning goal to top of the occasion.


      Unfortunately it was only almost perfect. The 12.30 kick off rankles with a lot of fans, the stadium although well populated was only 3/4 full and after scoring a glorious goal, Leeds conceded an incredibly sloppy one to give up the victory they had worked so hard for.


      Almost. That’s the word that can be used to describe a lot of things about Leeds United at this point of the season, both in terms of on and off the field matters. On Saturday there was nothing the club could do about the kick off time, unfortunately Sky’s need for viewing figures overrides any feelings that us fans have for tradition.


      The atmosphere was superb inside the ground and was almost the intimidating fortress that Uwe Rosler wants Elland Road to be come. But it wasn’t quite there and that was because there were almost 10,000 empty seats. Ticket pricing is an area which has a lot of room for improvement and is surely an area that the club need to look at. £20 for an adult and £10 a child would surely see crowds at greater levels, with any shortfall on gate receipts being made on increased revenue on our recently reaquired catering contracts. Season Ticket holders may feel short changed should changes occur this season, but were free entrance to Cup games or some concession in the Club Shop be offered then I would feel that to be adequate compensation. Ticket prices are increasingly becoming a hot topic and are an issue at the forefront of the minds of the FSF.


      On the field, again we are almost there and that is a long way from the mess that we started last season in. We have a hungry young squad who look as if they are well set for the season ahead. But all over the pitch there are still areas for improvement.


      Marco Silvestri is almost a brilliant keeper. But for every wonderful save he makes, there are a couple of hairy moments as he flaps under a cross or horribly slices a kick into the crowd. On Saturday I asked my friends if he was worth keeping in the side for his shot stopping ability, or would you sacrifice that brilliance for a more steady if less spectacular keeper?


      The back four looked solid for almost all the game but there were still the odd moment of panic. At times it looked as if a no nonsense approach to defending had been introduced, as whenever the goal was under any sort of threat, the ball was leathered clear. But Sol Bamba and Giuseppe Bellusci are almost too confident in their ability and still look liable to commit an error at any minute. At the moment they are our two best centre halves, but they are almost all we’ve got.


      The midfield looks almost perfectly balanced. Tom Adeyemi was impressive in the heart of the midfield and Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt purred alongside him. Cook was guilty of losing possession in dangerous areas on occasion, but he is still young. Mowatt adds energy and guile and almost scored a superb goal, just firing wide.


      After bemoaning a lack of width for what seems like forever, Leeds seem to have almost solved that problem. Sam Byram looks more and more like an attacking midfielder with every game and was almost unplayable in the first half. As he grows into that position, then his confidence in his own ability will grow. On the other side Stuart Dallas almost had the perfect debut, a deflection off the keeper taking away an opening day goal. He’s almost fully fit now, and looks like he will be a fixture as the season goes on.


      And then up front Chris Wood almost put in the perfect strikers performance. His hold up play is impressive but he looked to be a little too desperate to grab a goal, snatching at the few efforts that came his way.


      Last week I almost got carried away with the optimism surrounding the club, but Saturday was a reality check. A 1-1 draw against a side relegated from the Premier League was good result but it was almost a win. A sloppy concession was almost inevitable after an almost perfect goal by Mirco Antenucci. The mood leaving the stadium was perhaps not the unbridled optimism that was felt going in, but one of realism. We are almost ready to contend for the top six. But only almost.

       

      Stephen Clark.