The Leeds United Supporters Trust is today setting out its vision for the future, as its campaign for change gathers pace.
After consultation, our members wanted us to make the following points:
1. We want to see a successful Leeds United on and off the pitch. We believe that Leeds United will only truly maximise its financial potential by becoming a Premier League side again. While we understand the importance of maximising revenue streams off the pitch, our members want the Leeds United board to focus the lion’s share of their efforts on the pitch. A successful Leeds team playing in the Premier League will earn much more for the club than any non-football related operations, and will in turn allow non-football related income to grow more rapidly. Premier League football will immediately increase the attractiveness of corporate hospitality for those who want it, and will be the tide that takes the club’s non-football related operations to new levels. Fans want to see forward movement, to see Leeds United building a squad both to get us promoted and to stay there. The goal of Premier League football cannot be achieved by the repeated sale of our best players, or by continually allowing player’s contracts to run down. We want young players at our academy, and players who join us from other clubs, to see their future at Leeds United; and not leave for clubs who have made it to the Premier League before us. We believe that our fans and players would like to see Leeds United show ambition, and to make timely and competitive contract offers that reflect the capabilities of a well run, financially stable club with a bright future. Part of that stable future mandates that we once again own our own ground and our own training facilities, rather than continue to pay rent to offshore entities in tax havens - outgoing money that could be better spent improving the squad and academy resources.
2. We also appreciate the need to spend wisely and within our means. We do not want a return to the boom-and-bust policies of recent history. However, past mistakes are not an excuse to fail to move forward, and constant reminders of the shortcomings of previous boards are not relevant to planning for the future. We have to stop looking backwards, and march on together. The time has now come for a more forward-looking approach.
3. Positive relations with fans' groups of all kinds are necessary for financial success. We want to focus on bringing back fans that have felt increasingly disenfranchised and alienated by the unnecessary turmoil on and off the pitch. We want the club to also attract new fans by offering a positive match day experience. We want to work in partnership with the club and all local bodies to give the City of Leeds a club to be proud of. We want to help Leeds United have positive working relations with Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and the local media, free from bans, lawsuits and public spats. We want a club that will listen to and that cares about its fans, and a club that is eager to engage in sustained two-way dialogue regarding issues of importance and genuine concern to supporters.
4. We yearn for a return to the traditional, enjoyable match day experience; our members tell us that attending games at Elland Road has almost become a chore. The atmosphere inside the ground has become as negative as we can ever remember it, and relations with the stewards have deteriorated to an extent that it adversely affects the match day for many of our members. Events off the field are overshadowing events on the pitch, and the effect of this is being felt in the stands and creating an unpleasant atmosphere in the ground. Our members also tell us they feel alienated from their club, and see themselves merely as cash cows with no say in how their hard-earned money is being spent. This is reflected, we are told, in an increasing unwillingness to buy club merchandise and refreshments within the ground, as fans are unwilling to spend money that they do not believe will be used to improve the most important part of Leeds United: the football team. The most financially successful clubs in the game maximise their matchday income and Leeds United need to grow this part of the business and not let it wither away. Our members want their emotional and financial investment in Leeds United to be recognised by once again being able to feel they are a valued and vital part of Leeds United Football Club, not merely customers who must put up or shut up.
LUFC is first and foremost a football club, but the spirit of our football club has been lost somewhere along the way. Leeds fans are amongst the most loyal and proud in the world, but that loyalty and pride is entwined with our history of success on the football pitch - and the hope of more in the future - and with the unique experience of match days at Elland Road. That is where our loyalty, our pride, and the potential for the greatest commercial successes lie. By showing ambition on the football pitch, without repeating the mistakes of the past; by improving relations between the club and its supporters, and with the city as a whole; and by involving the supporters in bringing back a positive atmosphere at Elland Road, we believe Leeds United can once more enjoy the great days we all want to be part of. We are Leeds, and we believe that now is the time for a sustained effort to move forward together; we believe that now is the time for change.
Leeds United fans can become members of the Trust members by clicking here.