Takeover Thoughts

Takeover Thoughts

Takeover Thoughts

As I sit here eating a limited edition apple (the sort of marketing Ken Bates would love to employ on pies), I feel it is worthwhile putting onto paper, or more accurately, this new fangled ‘e-paper’ that those crazy Americans have been harking on about, what I hope for from a takeover. It’s quite odd really, I press these keys and then the words appear in front of me. Yet attempts to grab the piece of paper have merely led to a shattered screen and multiple lacerations.

Aside from the above flight of fantasy, there’s a reality underpinning all of my thoughts with regards to this supposed upcoming takeover. I say supposed, when in reality I’m relatively convinced, and have been for a good while, that the takeover is incredibly imminent. To reiterate matters that I’ve already espoused elsewhere, Ken Bates’s regime is completely and utterly fragile. At this point, it is basically impossible for him to back out and he has to sell, etcetera etcetera ad infinitum. I’ve covered this before, and today’s news from the Leeds United Supporter’s Trust simply furthers this belief. It’s an inevitability. There should now be discussion about what hopes are upon takeover.

This is not to say, however, that we should already be discussing our imminent purchase of Messi. After all, that relies entirely on our inevitable appointment of Pep Guardiola as manager, and Messi will surely not arrive before that. I, for one, am delighted at the completely realistic employment of passing triangles en masse at Elland Road next season. We should focus upon the events that have been leading up to this takeover and what needs to be done in response.

The Leeds United Supporter’s Trust (or LUST for you acronym fans) has done a sterling job throughout this takeover process. In February of this year, Ken Bates told them to put their money where their mouth is. I’m not entirely sure how oral cash storage was meant to help matters, but LUST instead decided to canvas for interest in the football club. It was clear Ken Bates was willing to sell, so they did the leg work. And when it came to interest, it turned out there was a lot. Gary Cooper, chairman of said Trust, has spoken since about the sheer weight of parties he’s been in contact with. Bates’s old suggestion that the fans and, by extension, the Supporter’s Trust, are to blame for a lack of investment in the club has turned out to be entirely false.

For any Leeds fans who are grateful and excited that Bates seems to be on his way out entirely, there’s no simpler way to give credit where it is due than by joining the Trust for free. We’ve shown what our ability as a fan base is when support or lack of support is so greatly forthcoming, and with a strong trust, whoever takes over will be required to listen to the desires of the fans and ensure we gain a greater involvement in the club.

Aside from that, we’ve obviously got the right to hope and look forward to the results of any takeover. “Dare to dream” were the words uttered today, and this is a motto that I feel should encapsulate any change in the club’s hierarchy. Football is inherently about dreams, the hope and thought that things will get better, that the next signing will come in and transform matters. Football is nothing without moments of joy. The release that the joy grants outweighs any down periods. Mediocrity and stability are one and the same, and happiness does not really come to a football fan from a finely balanced accounts sheet. Witness the displays of emotion at the Etihad Stadium upon Manchester City grasping the title. That one moment makes up for years in the lower tiers of English football.

So then, what should a takeover bring to Elland Road? Happiness, and primarily, that belief that dreams can become reality. Under Ken Bates, Leeds United feel a million miles from the Premier League. That top division, with all of its positives and negatives, seems like a different planet, populated by footballers and talent. The takeover should bring money into the club, or even just allow the club to exploit money that is already there. That should, finally, bring players of quality. Even limited by our current position as a second division side, money will bring the ability to sign players who we feel proud to see pull on the white shirt. Imagine signing names that, as fans, we have seen play for other sides and coveted. Furthermore, the dream of bringing back certain talents who have left during the Bates era becomes more realistic. A takeover bringing money that allows us to see Beckford or Gradel step over that white line with a Leeds badge upon his chest once more would be ideal. Once again, we can dare to dream that this can become reality without any caveats or negatives.

Ken Bates has brokered one other famous takeover. The word I have heard from sources close to Ken over the last year or so with regards to the ownership situation at Elland Road suggests only one word is on Bates’s mind, that being “legacy”. He built the East Stand partly because, for better or worse, people will look at that and think “Ken Bates left that to the club”. Similarly, Ken Bates apparently wants people to see the takeover as his legacy. In the annals of Leeds United, Ken Bates wants to be seen as the man who delivered us into kind hands. Even if I can’t confirm who the new owner would be, for the reason outlined above I feel it will be a positive one. One who can make dreams reality.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1)

Takeover: The Documentary

Takeover: The Documentary

Takeover: The Documentary

LUTV have been granted exclusive rights to the production and dissemination of a documentary about the takeover at Leeds United. The following is a short excerpt from the full piece, viewable after a series of twenty-four adverts for Howard’s Restaurant in the free play video segment of Leeds United’s website. The rest is available for the low, low price of £72 a month. “A bargain”, says the guy who did the pricing.

[A conference room. Suited men sit at either end of a long, wooden table. Behind the camera, a door opens and closes, and in front, flustered, walks a man wearing a suit in a manner akin to a small child forced into one for a relative’s wedding.]

UNNAMED MAN

Sorry I’m late. Crazy day down at the station. We had seven listeners on one of the broadcasts.

[He seats himself at one end of the table. At the other end, clearly annoyed at the late arrival, a man clears his throat.]

THE THROAT-CLEARER

Well, now that you’ve seen fit to join us Mr. Fry, can we begin? Everything from this point on is on the record, and will enter the club’s archives. Seated in clockwise order, we have myself, the representative of *bleeped out of broadcast*, and to my left, the two lawyers representing said person. Around the table, we have Shaun Harvey, Chief Executive Officer of Leeds United, Ken Bates, principal owner and…Benjamin Fry, station director of Yorkshire Radio. Listen, Shaun, does he actually have to be here?

SHAUN HARVEY

The Chairman prefers him to be, yes. Makes him feel more comfortable.

THE REPRESENTATIVE

It’s just he keeps derailing the meetings. Yesterday he managed to drench us in ink from his pen. The day before, he somehow contrived to set the room on fire.

[Flash cut to Ben Fry in an interview set-up. He’s seated behind a desk.]

BEN FRY

I really can’t let this takeover go through. We all know that Yorkshire Radio is only here because Ken loves his weekly interview. If he goes, it goes, and I’ll be turfed out. I can’t go back to my old job.

[Home footage, dated 28/05/2003, time stamped 19:53. A stage in a Working Men’s Club. Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” plays over the PA system as some unnamed, out of focus man cavorts on stage].

FEMALE HECKLER

Come on Fry-man, take it off!

[Back to Ben Fry being interviewed].

BEN FRY

I really can’t go back.

[We go back to the boardroom. Ben Fry is taking a drink of water.]

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Well, aside from that, we have some matters that need to be agreed upon. I’ve been tasked today with finalizing the cost of the takeover, so that the funds can be transferred to our London based account within time for payment. Now, correct me if I remember incorrectly, but the last sticking point was the payment necessary with regards to any promotion to the Premier League. Have you had any sort of, movement in your thoughts about that Ken?

BEN FRY

HEY! WHO SAID YOU COULD ADDRESS MR CHAIRMAN DIRECTLY?

[Ken Bates sits there placidly. He does not seem affected. Ben Fry begins to stroke his hair.]

BEN FRY

It’ll be alright Mr Chairman. Don’t listen to the nasty man. What he meant to say, Mr Chairman, was, have you, in your infinite wisdom, decided how much money you desire when Leeds United get promoted to the Premier League, thanks to your excellent infrastructural work? After all, you deserve great credit and payment, because without corporate facilities, how would this football club exist?

[Ken looks up at him.]

KEN BATES

I want £5,000,000.

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Now Ken…

BEN FRY

Mr Chairman!

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Fine, Mr Chairman, We’ve been over this, that isn’t possible. We’re already going to have to cover your administration fees upon promotion. There’s no way we can pay that much to you. A million is our best offer.

BEN FRY

What he means, Mr Chairman, is…in your glory and honour, your greatness and your goodness, your sovereignty…will you be so great, so kind, as to accept a mere million pounds after so many years of hard work?

KEN BATES

Alright.

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Excellent, now…

KEN BATES

Are you Italian?

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Erm, I’m not entirely sure how pertinent that is, but no, I was born in Cambridge.

KEN BATES

You must have Italian blood then. Tough negotiators the Italians.

[Cut to another interview situation, this time with The Representative.]

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Is that even a stereotype? Have I missed out on that? Is that common knowledge?

[Back to the boardroom.]

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Yes, sure. So, now that that’s out of the way, we need to work on the terms of how the club will be run upon your departure. Now, from what I remember, Shaun wants to be able to stay in his post.

SHAUN HARVEY

You misheard me.

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Oh did I?

SHAUN HARVEY

I want to deliver the post. You know, around the building. I’ve got a bag and everything. It’s red.

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Right.

SHAUN HARVEY

So if, say, you need an official Leeds United mug taken to Neil Warnock, so he can have his tea. You press a button and I’d come. I’d pop the mug in my bag. Here, let me show you.

[Harvey brings a red bag out from somewhere and puts it on the table. He puts a mug in it.]

SHAUN HARVEY

Just pop it in the bag. Then I’d walk over to Neil’s office and knock on his door. He’d sign a form, I’d give him the mug, and then bam, I’ve got something to file.

THE REPRESENTATIVE

That sounds great Shaun.

[Back to the interview.]

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Yeah, he’s definitely going.

[And the conference room.]

THE REPRESENTATIVE

Also, Ken, we need to discuss some structural changes. For example, our intention would be to shut down Yorkshire Radio.

[Ben Fry rises, violently.]

BEN FRY

NO! YOU CAN’T! I NEED THIS JOB. PLEASE MR CHAIRMAN, HELP!

THE REPRESENTATIVE

*sigh* If you agree to this Ken, I’ll get the deluxe Boneless Banquet for lunch rather than just the Bargain Bucket.

KEN BATES

Hmm. Alright.

BEN FRY

NO! DAMN YOU ALL! DAMN YOU ALL TO HADES!

[Ben Fry storms out of the room.]

KEN BATES

Shaun?

SHAUN HARVEY

Yes Ken, what is it? Do you need something delivered?

KEN BATES

Who was that man?

[Cut to black. Title sequence rolls. To be continued appears at the end.]

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter @awinehouse1

To clarify, the above is all fake. Caricatures and parody.

Euro 2012 - Article 1 Image

Euro 2012: Thoughts after Round One of Matches

Euro 2012 - Article 1 Image

The Major Thought: Andrei Arshavin

Euro 2008 was, in the eyes of many, the Andrei Arshavin tournament. Coming back into a Russian side after a few games, completely refreshed, Arshavin blitzed the competition, and became one of the hottest properties on the world footballing market. Linked to clubs around the world, Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona to name a few, Arshavin would eventually become embroiled in an ongoing transfer saga with Arsenal that was only settled with the shattering of Arsenal’s record transfer fee. To the British Isles came this tiny Russian, with the world watching and expecting. They knew he possessed the skill at his feet. They had seen it displayed repeatedly in Austria and Switzerland.

It took a mere two months for Arshavin to show his true ability. Liverpool at Anfield has remained a supposedly difficult fixture, but teams as varied as Wigan and Fulham picked up points there this season. Yet in the year that Arshavin defined the early part of his Arsenal career, Liverpool were an entirely different side. They were second in the league at the end of the season, having genuinely pushed Manchester United all of the way. At Anfield, they had picked up 43 points out of a possible 57, a staggering sum. And Arshavin ripped them to shreds. His team around him faltered, but Arshavin was the focal point in a display that has since slipped into legend. Four goals. An incredible number, even if we discount the fact that it occurred at one of the hardest stadiums to play at, against one of the top two teams in the nation that season. Bad players do not do that.

It’d be entirely reasonable to suggest he’s gone off the boil a bit since then. In fact, the most accurate description of his performances at Arsenal this season would be suggesting they are akin to a particularly disgruntled badger who has awoken one day to find it’s feet have been tied together with a ziplock. Furthermore, said badger hasn’t been able to do any exercise, any attempts hindered by the aforementioned ziplock. It has also chosen to dedicate exercise time instead to the consumption of pasties.

However, reports from the mystical land known as Eastern European football suggested that, in fact, Andrei was doing alright back at Zenit. A change of scenery, or perhaps a return to previous pastures was all he needed. On the other hand, more reasonably, I would like to hypothesize that what Andrei Arshavin actually needs is to be played in his correct position. Insanity, I am completely aware.

People are often accused of being as stubborn as a mule. When it comes to pigeonholing players, Arsene Wenger is about as stubborn as a tree that has been placed atop that character in a film you know just isn’t going to survive. And there are zombies coming over the hill. You can hear the groans. Wenger decided Arshavin would be a left winger, and a left winger he shall be. We’ve already covered his thoughts regarding Walcott.

Admittedly, Arshavin’s good performance this week against the Czech Republic came out on the left hand side, but there was a noticable difference about it. The play fed through him. He didn’t need to beat men, just receive the ball and feed it. Arshavin is, I believe, and I will readily accept heavy criticism on this, in reality a playmaker. For Arsenal, he should probably be operating more centrally. This is on the back of one real performance that impressed me at the Euros, but he is a man to watch for the rest of the tournament. 2012 could once again be the year of Andrei Arshavin.

Little Thoughts about Sport #1: Holland

Take heed, Holland, a loss in the first game is not the end of it all. Spain at the World Cup, for example. Yet the act must be brought together soon, especially directly in front of goal. The sheer profligacy of the strike force was incredibly disappointing, Van Persie immensely impotent after such a prolific season domestically. Ties against Germany and Portugal seem vastly less simple than one against Denmark, yet I’d still back them to go through and go far. The football is certainly good enough. Just sort out the shooting.

Little Thoughts about Sport #2: The Back Three

Italia. Mamma Mia. You know how to, how you say, stifle a false nine, no? Danielle De Rossi was employed with aplomb in a back three against the Spanish, playing very much in a role that I expect to become far more common in world football. Pep Guardiola used Javier Mascherano in this role this season, but rarely, as it relied on all of his preferred back three being fit. You may begin to notice a trend of the defensive midfielder dropping deeper, being used to launch attacks, but still being part of a true back three. Exciting tactical times.

Little Thoughts about Sport #3: England

It would be remiss to not consider England. Are the team as bad as I thought beforehand? Admittedly, a draw against one of the favourites is nothing to scoff at, but there are some caveats. Key players like Yann M’Vila are out for France, and set-pieces were always going to be a threat with France’s weakened back two. England did not seem entirely outclassed, which was obviously a bonus, but I would not yet become excited over a draw earned through a well worked set piece.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter @awinehouse1