Saturday, July 28, 2007

20 questions for Ken

Two great articles in The Guardian yesterday and today.
Todays article which can be found here details how Ken Bates won back control of Leeds without offering the largest bid.
Yesterdays article which can be found here details the impasse which the club now find itself in and poses 20 questions which need to be answered as follows :

1. Why did Leeds collapse into insolvency and administration in the first place, with debts of £35.5m, given that Ken Bates, and his solicitor and fellow Leeds United director Mark Taylor, had said during 2006-07 that the club would be in a dramatically better financial position once the season was over and the contracts of high-earning players would come to an end?
2. How did Leeds come to owe £17.7m to three offshore companies, Astor Investment Holdings (registered in the British Virgin Islands), Krato Trust (Nevis Island, the West Indies), and the owner of the club, Forward Sports Fund (the Cayman Islands), and how did the club spend that money? Why was KPMG in such a hurry to sell Leeds United immediately back to the new company, which is also owned
3. Why was KPMG in such a hurry to sell Leeds United immediately back to the new company, which is also owned by the Forward Sports Fund and chaired by Bates, for 1p in the pound, when the administrators of other clubs have spent months running clubs and publicly seeking the best possible deal for creditors?
4. Who are the owners or beneficiaries of the Forward Sports Fund, Astor Investment Holdings and Krato Trust, and why have they chosen to register their companies in offshore tax havens where they are not legally required to declare their identity?
5. If Leeds United's owners are the anonymous people behind the Forward Sports Fund, how can the Football League be satisfied they pass its "fit and proper person test"?
6. Why have Astor and Krato agreed to waive any repayment of their huge debts so long as the club was re-sold to Forward and Bates, arguing, according to Taylor, that they had faith in the management of the club?
7. Leeds United's 2006 accounts stated that Astor did have "an interest" in the Forward Sports Fund, then at the creditors meeting on June 1, Taylor stated that the interest had been severed last December. How was this done, why, and what evidence was given of it to KPMG?
8. Why was the previous connection between Astor and Forward not mentioned in KPMG's first report to creditors, nor any explanation given of how the connection had been severed?
9. The 2006 accounts also stated that Patrick Murrin, the former Guernsey accountant, Chelsea director and representative of the large, anonymous offshore shareholding in Chelsea during Bates' time in charge, had "an interest" in the Forward Sports Fund. What is Murrin's interest in Forward?
10. The 2006 accounts stated that a company of which Murrin is a shareholder, Rivoli Limited, also registered in Nevis Island, had been paid £186,000 in "consultancy costs" during the year. What consultancy services did Murrin, and Rivoli Ltd, provide to Leeds United Football Club during 2005-06?
11. Why did KPMG allow Forward's and Bates' new company to receive the money for Leeds United season tickets - the company agreeing to refund the money if the club went bust - even though the company has not, still, been granted Football League membership, in apparent contravention of FA rules?
12. How has the money, around £4m, received from the 10,000 season tickets which the club say they have sold to their long-suffering fans, been used?
13. KPMG says it did "extensive work" to verify the claims of money owed to Leeds United creditors, while HM Revenue and Customs challenged the CVA, which narrowly approved the first sale, on the grounds of "material irregularities", arguing partly with the levels of debt claimed. So how much investigation did KPMG carry out into the club's debts?
14. Why did the club owe their own company Yorkshire Radio, of which Bates and Taylor are also directors, £480,000, and why was this debt first revealed only in the final voting at the creditors meeting, not in the initial statement of debts issued by KPMG?
15. When KPMG responded to HMRC's legal challenge to the CVA by announcing it was selling the club again, this time without going through a CVA, why did it give bidders less than three working days to make their offers, and no access to detailed financial information?
16. On what basis did Bates and Forward win the bid for the club the second time, and how did their offer beat those of other bidders, and why did KPMG agree to sell the club without being satisfied that the League would grant this company the "golden share" membership of the League?
17. Why has Forward's and Bates' new company not paid the players for the month of June?
18. What did KPMG actually sell to Forward's and Bates' new company if, as the League insists, players' registrations remain with the old company until any new company is awarded the "golden share"?
19. Why have Bates and Taylor apparently not yet obtained the permission of a court to act as directors of the new Leeds United Football Club Ltd, as required by s216 of the Insolvency Act, because both were directors of a company with the same name, which went into liquidation last year?
20. Why should the Football League make an exception for Leeds and grant Forward's and Bates' new company its "golden share" of membership despite the purchase not having been done via a CVA, given that the League has insisted on the CVA process for all 41 of its other clubs which have fallen into insolvency since 1992?
What a mess this whole process has become. How was Bates allowed to take control again given that there should have been some very serious questions about the fit and proper person test? Meanwhile long suffering Leeds fans wait to see whether or not they have a club that will be allowed to play in League 1 this season. Given how long this has dragged on I suspect that even if we are allowed to take part we will be facing another long hard battle against relegation.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fans lay flowers at Elland Road

Leeds fans have been laying flowers, scarves and shirts around Billy Bremner's statue at Elland Road as the chaos which surrounds the club continues. Players have apparently not yet been paid for June and there is no certainty as to whether or not the club will be granted the golden share for League One and so be allowed to start the season which begins on 11th August!

The fans are understandably frustrated at this latest twist in a saga which has frankly been running for five years. We are now waiting for the outcome of talks which are supposed to be taking place between the PFA, The Football League, KPMG and Leeds United. This is no doubt further complicated by the fact that Leeds United appears to currently go under two incarnations at present one the old club that went into administration and appears to hold the players registrations and the other Leeds United 2007 which claims to have bought the club through the administrators.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A wet weekend

My blogging activity has been fairly quiet of late and I suspect it is likely to continue that way for some time now after a torrent of water passed through my house on Friday afternoon. Pictures below

Inside the house as the washing machine and freezer start to drown

The garden floats away

View from the front door

The adjacent railway line - hence all the problems between Reading and Newbury on Friday. Still only two rooms still have water above the floorboards (all the rooms still have plenty of water below the floorboards). The power is mostly ok and I have finally got an intenet connection. The insurers have been contacted and seem very efficient but I suspect the building work will take a very long time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Commercial demands and our heritage

I do not know how this abomination came about but I would suggest that someone needs to look at how they fulfil their role properly.

A giant doughnut-brandishing Homer Simpson has been painted onto the hillside above Cerne Abbas next to the giant. Apparently this is a publicity stunt to promote the Simpsons movie which is due to be released later this month.

Either the people who did this got permission in which case I would suggest that whoever granted permission should take a step back and think about how best to protect our heritage or they did not in which case they need to be caught and prosecuted.

From Wikipedia

The Cerne Abbas giant is a hill figure of a giant naked man on a hillside near the village of Cerne Abbas to the north of Dorchester in Dorset, England. The 55 metre (180 feet) high, 51 metres (167 feet) wide figure is carved into the side of a steep hill and is best viewed from the opposite side of the valley or from the air. The carving is formed by a trench 30cm (1 foot) wide and about the same depth which has been cut through the grass and earth into the underlying chalk. In his right hand the giant holds a knobbed club 36.5 metres (120 feet) long.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sums it up

Ken Bates has control of Leeds United again according to the BBC here and The Guardian here.
Apparently both Adam Pearson and Revenues and Customs are both still considering their positions so the possibility of further legal challenges cannot be ruled out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rumour, rumour, rumour

Well deadline day has come and gone. Bids had to be in by 5pm in Monday and supposedly there should have been an announcement on Tuesday. KPMG have delayed and rumours abound. Ken Bates has a bid on the table. That is the one thing that is a racing certainty. Rumour has that there were two or three other bids. However it is not clear whether or not this is bids or bidders. Redbus plus Morris could be two bidders with one bid or two bidders with two bids. Pearson and Wilkinson are rumoured to be another bid.

The best rumour so far is that another consortium has put a bid in for Leeds and have promised to pay off all debts thereby removing the possibility of legal action and have also promised funds for the day to day running of the club. The suggestion is that they will provide £20m and an announcement will be made (possibly tomorrow) once KPMG has proof of funds. If so you heard it here first!!

Exits nerves shattered clutching straw firmly.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Deadline day

A number of potential owners have until 5pm today to submit a bid for Leeds. As I understand it KPMG effectively have control of the club and will sell to the highest bidder today. Some of the potential bidders are complaining that they do not have access to all the information that they need to know in order to submit a bid. The Redbus Group have complained that they have “not been told what has been generated from season-ticket sales or from Kevin Nicholls's move to Preston North End.”

There are also rumours that Redbus might link up with the consortium led by Simon Morris to make a joint bid.

Another potential bidder to resurface is the former Hull City owners Peter Wilkinson and Adam Pearson ( a former Leeds United commercial director). They have disposed of their interest in Hull so might be interested in bidding for Leeds.

Ken Bates has resubmitted his original offer and is apparently threatening legal action if he is not in charge of the club at 5pm today. He was quoted as saying "Our bid is the original deal that was done in the meeting of creditors when we placed the Company Voluntary Agreement on June 1. We believe in fact our offer is valid. Therefore it should be the only one to be accepted. So there's a problem and a possibility that if the administrator goes down another route then there could be further legal battles."

Looks as if we are damned either way.

Either we are doomed to continue with Ken Bates under UK insolvency laws which clearly need a long hard look at and some reform or alternatively we face the possibility of a new consortium taking charge and having its hands tied whilst legal action continues in the courts.

Either way the chances of having a proper squad assembled and fit and ready for day one of the season have already gone by the board. I fully expect us to continue to struggle in League One at least initially and if things carry on in this manner off the pitch then a long hard relegation battle is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Will we survive??

It is hard top take in the latest twists and turns in the saga of Leeds United. Revenue and Customs waited until the final hour before launching a challenge to Bates plan to take the club out of administration. This despite a last ditch effort by Bates to prevent a challenge by upping his offer from 1p in the pound to 8p in the pound.
The High Court case has apparently been adjourned until September and Leeds are supposed to kick off the season on 11th August and KPMG (the administrators) have said that unless the club was able to leave administration, the Football League may not let it start the season
It appears that the CVA has been cancelled hence the delay to the Customs and Revenue Court case. Therefore KPMG are now responsible for running the club until either a new owner can be found or the club is put into liquidation.
They have set a deadline of 5pm Monday for bidders to come forward. I assume this is so that they can present information to a Football League meeting convened for Wednesday of next week. Somehow I assume that Bates will still end up as the highest bidder or will to contest any outcome that does not end up with him in control of the club and if so the saga will end up back in court again!!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Constitution approved

According to the BBC the Constitution Drafting Assembly has approved the final draft of Thailand's new constitution to go forward to a national referendum on 19th August. There will be huge campaigns on both sides to convince the electorate to vote yes or no. Former members of Thai Rak Thai see this as a backward step and as an anti Thaksin constitution.

The new 309 article charter limits the prime minister's term to eight years and makes it easier to launch impeachment proceedings. It will also prevent the Prime Minister from holding major stakes in media companies and extends financial disclosure rules to the entire Cabinet and Parliament.

Parliament itself will be slightly smaller. Seats in the House of Representatives are reduced from 500 to 480 and in the Senate from 200 to 150. However nearly half of the senate members will be appointed by a special committee rather than being elected!

The government appears to be threatening that there will be no elections unless the referendum approves the constitution (logical I guess). According to The Nation the Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas said "The general election can take place only if the new constitution passes the referendum, otherwise political turmoil will never end."