Tag Archives: Takeover

Leeds United: An Open Letter to GFH Capital 2

To whom it may concern,

You may remember me from my last letter, where I said you were doing alright, but you could be doing a lot better. You (you being GFH Capital or whichever PR company you’ve hired this week) have done some other things since, and they’ve mainly been alright, with a handful less than alright, and a couple that are better than alright. A summation of your time in charge of Leeds in one word: alright.

On that note, let me put forward what I think you should do next: sell the club. No ifs, no buts, no selling tiny cuts. Today’s sale of 10% to IIB is hopefully not the beginning of a continual sale of tiny percentages to a great swathe of purchasers, because it will create a club that, in the future, grinds to a halt as people without the knowledge play at being football club owners. As much as it seems a way to bring funds in, it will ultimately result in a club being run in a shambolic fashion. Too many cooks and all that.

On the other hand, everyone and their mother seems to be aware of this supposed takeover by Parkin and Pearson, with Phil Hay noting that that is seemingly not off the table after today’s announcement. Rather than selling segments off piecemeal, just give the whole megazord to the adults who have kindly come over to the kid’s table and put down the food you’ve been waiting for. It’ll save a lot of problems later.

The reality is that you’ve got a lot of good ideas, and these ideas are all an improvement on what went on during the previous regime. No one in their right mind would call for a return to the days of yore, where a tyrannical dictator sat on the throne, refusing to speak to anybody who couldn’t produce 47 individual charters that decreed them worthy of his presence. The reality is, however, that ideas are not money. Hell, I’d love ideas to be money, who wouldn’t? But they aren’t, and having the best intentions in the world doesn’t mean you can carry them out. We’d rather, as a group of fans, not see more mystery men buy pieces of the club in order to fund your ideas – by all accounts there are people out there who have both ideas and money. By all accounts they’ve been swimming around the good ship Leeds United for years, and it’s time to let them come aboard.

A few months back, shortly after I wrote the first letter to you lot, I sat with El-Hadji Diouf for about half an hour, and he said something very clever that I’ve been wanting to share for a while. He said that when he came, he could hear people singing “you Chelsea bastard, get out of our club”. Diouf was under no doubts about what the future of Leeds United needed. “For eight years, Leeds fans have been waiting for a Messiah”. I have thought about what he said often, and agree wholeheartedly that it is true. This Messiah is not necessarily a sheik or a billionaire, but merely one with the club at heart and the power to take us back where we belong. History is littered with false prophets GFH, and we’re on the cusp of a celebration of a man who claimed to be a messiah, whichever way you fall on your belief in that. You are not the coming of the Messiah we have waited years for, it is time to take the opportunity to leave.


Amitai Winehouse


P.S. Sell the club.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

Bates will have no power in ‘New Leeds’ – History tells us so…

There has been cause for consternation amongst Leeds fans, not least on my Twitter feed and on the forums, that GFH Capital’s takeover (now confirmed) will merely be a method by which Bates will extend his stay at Elland Road. After all, Bates will be chairman of the football club until the end of the season, after which he will become Honorary President of the board, fulfilling the role Lord Harewood did before his passing last year.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however (see, it is capitalised and everything), history has provided us with a set of convenient precedents to look at, not least with the fall of Bates’s own involvement at Chelsea, but also with the Abu Dhabi United takeover of Manchester City.

Here’s a quote directed at me on Twitter last night:

“There’s no way City/Chelsea owner would buy Leeds if Bates forced them to keep him on!”

Contrary to that statement, history already shows us that Roman Abramovich WAS forced to keep Ken Bates on, at least temporarily. As previously discussed, Ken Bates is a man obsessed with legacy, a megalomaniac who hates even a fraction of a second out of the sun. His Daily Mail interview with Neil Ashton (look it up, I’m not willing to provide them more hits) prior to the Chelsea game proves this.

“‘I held Suzannah’s hand and told her, “I have to save Leeds United”.’”

Bates, even upon departure, is keen to stress his importance for Leeds and his place in history. He is a man who knows the end comes for all, and feels it imperative to be known, and thought about, even after death.

Back to the point, however, and history. Abramovich was forced to retain Ken Bates as chairman, even after his takeover. The date of that takeover? June 2003. The date of Ken’s departure from Stamford Bridge? March 2004. Bates had seen his role as Chairman stretching into a glorious future, yet it was wrestled quickly from his grasp. Out of the limelight, Bates was unhappy. As to how difficult it was for a man with unlimited wealth to remove Ken Bates from his club, Bates hinted at the reality when he named a company set up to complete the takeover of Leeds ‘Romans Heavies’. Ken Bates, even facing a man with incredible riches, literally had to be dragged kicking and screaming from Chelsea.

Manchester City, similarly, had to deal with an unwanted presence after the now famed takeover by Sheikh Mansour. Post-takeover, with the former Thai PM fighting corruption charges and seeking political asylum in the UK, Thaksin Shinawatra was made honorary president of the club, like Bates will be. Again, some of the wealthiest people in the world having to cow-tow to the egomania of a formerly important man. He was, once again, removed swiftly from that position when convicted of corruption.

GFH Capital may have to deal with Bates currently, but the reality is that the chairman will have little power in the ‘New Leeds’. CEO Shaun Harvey has heavy ties to the new regime, with rumours suggesting that he made much of the deal possible. He is responsible for the day-to-day dealings at Elland Road, and has been for many years – after all, there is a limit to what tax exile Ken Bates can do from his home in Monaco on a daily basis. Neil Warnock himself has often talked about how “Shaun” was working hard to complete transfer dealings. GFH have even said themselves today that “the buck stops with [them]”. How much of club policy can Ken actually control in this situation? He is not at Elland Road day-to-day, he is not in control of the purse strings any longer, he is not in charge of the team itself. What does he actually control?

Richer people than GFH Capital have had to wait to get rid of Bates and other unfortunate leeches from old regimes, and it should come as no major issue that placating Bates was the only way to get his hands away from the club. Today’s press conference, Bates-less and without massive deference to his “legacy”, shows what the reality is. Ken Bates will have no power in the ‘New Leeds’.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

Leeds United/GFH Capital Takeover Press Conference Details and Build-up

The 21st of December will likely go down in Leeds United history, as a press conference scheduled for 11am today is assumed to be announcing the takeover by GFH Capital of the club. Available live on the in-house, Pravda copying, propaganda spewing LUTV and Yorkshire Radio (I can’t genuinely believe I am willingly linking to that), the baying journalistic hordes will likely be mining every detail (as will the fans) for comparison with Bates’s press conference from 2005:

It is worth noting that a vast majority of Bates’s promises and statements have since proven to be false or, at the very least, optimistic in the extreme. Experienced Bates watchers will find this to be no surprise.

GFH Capital should be monitored with the same stringent eye, and each word will be considered thoroughly before an analysis is posted on Spoughts.co.uk in the afternoon. Although, humans being humans, it will only be in retrospect and with the power of hindsight that we will know the full story.

Before we leave you to enjoy the press conference, here’s what we had to say about the Takeover on the 25th of May, one day before any of the mainstream press (including the Yorkshire Evening Post, etc.) had posted any information.

“We could be on the cusp of an honest, truthful, real, actual, factual, natural, understandable, takeover. In my guise as a fake writer about football, I jaunt around town in a trilby with a card saying ‘press’ stuck in it. I keep an ear to the ground for any undercurrents of information. I’ve heard relatively concrete rumours that Ken Bates may be on his way out […] I’m even withholding some information that I feel doesn’t need to be proliferated, on the basis that the rumours one can find seem enough to speculate upon…”

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).