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.


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