Saturday, August 18, 2007
I feel a new chant coming on
-9, -9, -9
-9, -9, -9
-9, -9, -9
So having started the season on -15 points we have managed three straight wins (including two in the league) and now stand on the grand total of -9 points and only a mere 10 points from 20th and safety. Whatever the ins and the outs of the legal ownership shenanigans that have been going on the team are giving it their all on the pitch and long may it continue!
Meanwhile Ken Bates has sent me a letter (text below) - how kind of him to attempt to explain what has been going on. Far far better would be if he sorted out the problems that are currently preventing me from using the Leeds United web site to buy tickets so that I can go to games!
If you read the text of his letter below and have a better interpretation that "it is all someone elses fault" please do let me know.
Dear Leeds Club Member
I have delayed my usual pre season letter until the outcome of recent events was resolved.
I can understand if you feel frustrated by the lack of information coming out of the Club but negotiations on many fronts have been both delicate and confidential. Unfortunately information given to fans is picked up by the media and we are then at the mercy of individual media reporters and editors who sometimes interpret (or in some cases misinterpret) a story according to their views or prejudices.
Only now do I feel comfortable in informing you of the position and it will be a long letter because you should know of the many aspects of the recent past including many parties, plots, intrigue and much more.
THE ADMINISTRATION (CVA)
KPMG were advised throughout by Walker Morris the Leeds based Insolvency Lawyers as well as two Senior Barristers. In view of several press articles and comments by the Football League it is essential to state that all parties behaved properly at all times. The common desire was to save Leeds United and stop the taxman's attempt to close it.
In view of the behaviour of certain parties with hidden agendas, KPMG decided to invite fresh offers but at the end of the day the offer from the Forward Sports Fund ('FSF') was still the highest and best.
After the original creditors meeting there is a period of 28 days for anybody to object. The taxman objected at 3pm on the last day just before the court closed.
At the insistence of the League, KPMG tried very hard to meet the Taxman's objections and the negotiations were conducted at the highest level. The first demand/condition was that all monies from FSF to KPMG should be paid upfront. That was agreed. The second demand was that the Football Creditors should not get preference and be paid any more than anybody else. This was an impossible demand. If Leeds didn't pay the Football Creditors in full then the Club didn't get membership of the League. We were between the devil and the deep blue sea. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. The Taxman then proposed that a sum equal to that going to the Football Creditors be paid into the general pool for all Creditors putting them in a better position. FSF agreed. The Taxman then refused to withdraw their appeal and further stated officially that they would vote against any other proposal if Football Creditors were ever paid in full. Indeed they stated that they would oppose any further CVA when Football Clubs were involved. Clearly this is an impossible situation.
What really irks the Taxman is that until 2003 they got preferential treatment in any insolvency. Now they don't. That is not Leeds fault or that of the League.
Finally, we believe that the actions of the Taxman were illegal.
In the case of Wimbledon the very question of the Football Creditors was challenged in the High Court and the Taxman lost on Appeal.
Secondly, Newcastle United won in the High Court against the Taxman because of their refusal to allow VAT on Agents' fees as a deduction. Despite losing, the Taxman still submitted a huge claim for VAT on Agents' fees which was illegal. The Taxman is questioning the validity of some creditors' claims. They do not have clean hands in this matter. This dispute is not about Leeds United, it is about opposing the Football League's Rule that Football Creditors must be paid in full.
At the time of buying the Club from the Administrators, FSF promised to talk to any other would be purchasers with a view to any possible cooperation. We did the best we could. This is a summary of what did or did not happen.
1. DUNCAN REVIE - Did not and has not made any offer at all. Neither has he contacted me or any other Director.
2. SO CALLED AMERICAN INVESTMENT FUND - One phone call and they have not been in contact since. Absolutely no discussion.
3. REDBUS - Mark Taylor, a lawyer, had one meeting and one phone call. No proposal.
4. SIMON MORRIS - He made contact through a middle man. We informed him to call us direct. We weren't prepared to negotiate through a third party. We haven't heard from him. In the newspaper it was reported that in buying Leeds it would be part of a £500/600 million pound development in the surrounding area. Unfortunately (for him) he doesn't own the land and Leeds citeh Council have put it out to possible public tender.
He also employed two PR companies to run a dirty tricks campaign against me which backfired. We obtained a background memo, a copy of which is enclosed. PROJECT PEACOCK is the code name for Leeds and PROJECT PILGRIM is the code name for Boston United. Gerald Krasner was the squirrel for Boston United and Morris hoped to get the Boston Club ground for redevelopment but he was unsuccessful.
Despite all the media speculation we knew of no other interested party.
Levi was a member of the Yorkshire Consortium (YC) who briefly owned Leeds United until it was sold to the FSF in January 2005.
For technical reasons, FSF acquired 50% of the Club at the time and had an option to buy the other 50% in June 2005. FSF exercised the option but Levi refused to sign over the shares.
All decisions by YC had to be unanimous, consequently Levi's actions blocked the deal. From that day to this Levi has worked in the background attempting to frustrate every effort to strengthen the Club's finances. We planned a rights issue to raise a further £5m for the Club but Levi frightened off the participants. Last October we agreed a deal with an Irish consortium who would put £10m of new capital into the Club and lend us the dublooons to buy back Elland Road and the training ground. Levi found out and rang the would be investors and put them off. This is well documented.
Then Weston (see later) got in on the act with Levi and they demanded 10% of the Club, £200,000 in cash and Directors' Box tickets for life in return for honouring the option. Levi has denied this but we have witness statements on file.
This is a brief summary of what has occurred but suffice to say Levi has been actively trying to frustrate all our efforts to strengthen the Club's financial position. He even went to court and obtained an injunction against Leeds printing a match programme. The Judge threw out his case after 40 minutes.
Robert Weston is the first husband of Levi's wife. Levi arranged with Weston (who lives in Jersey) to handle Leeds season ticket credit card transactions. For two years we have been trying to recover the £190,000 which Weston owes to Leeds. He has used every possible delaying tactic to avoid repaying the dublooons which he has acknowledged he owes. We have at last obtained judgment and should get the dublooons this month. Weston has been in jail for trying to pervert the course of justice.
Levi is a disgrace.
PLAYERS, BUYING AND SELLING
Player transactions are very complicated and when fans jump to conclusions they do not always know the full facts which, for important reasons, cannot be revealed at the time.
Let me take David Healy as an example. Healy's agent voted against the CVA. Healy had one year left on his contract which meant he could sign a pre contract in January and walk out next June on a free transfer. Everybody said we should get £3m+ for him but nobody offered it. He was a high earner and his agent wanted him away. Fulham's was the only genuine offer and we got £1m for him plus add-ons. He cost us £750k from nob end plus 20% of any profit. We still owed nob end £200k so of the £1m we actually got £750k net. We have already spent £500k on buying Casper and Hughes.
A year ago Danny Rose refused to go to Chelsea because he "loved Leeds". Last month his agent refused a new contract and Rose walked out. After a lot of haggling we got £750k plus add-ons of £250k. To buy or sell a player (a) he has to want the move (b) the other Club must be willing to do a deal and (c) we must afford him, otherwise we are back in a Ridsdale situation.
One example is of a young promising striker from the South. Free transfer and earning £600 a week. Deal done, except that his agent suddenly demanded £6,000 a week in wages. No deal.
I know it is frustrating sometimes for fans but we do not reveal our plans publicly, it just alerts the opposition.Rest assured, Wisey plans to recruit experienced but mainly younger players who are hungry for success and want to achieve things, not those looking to delay their retirement with no ambition other than to have another pay day.
THE WAY FORWARD
We now have a Club with no debt, the last legacy of the Ridsdale era is behind us.
We still have the consequences of the Krasner, Levi and Morris actions with us. They sold Elland Road for £8m. We have to buy it back at £15m meanwhile paying £1.1m a year in rent.
We have tightly controlled budgets and all the staff know that every penny counts.
We are willing to have discussions with any serious investor who has the Club's best interests at heart, rather than hoping to make a quick buck from the property.
We are preparing plans to develop Elland Road to enable non footballing income to come into the Club to strengthen our buying power on a permanent basis.
We will invest in our scouting and youth policies to continue Leeds' great history of developing home grown players.
The 15 point "sanction" is a scandal and a travesty of justice. We are appealing that decision to the Football Association but meanwhile will get on with the job of strengthening the team and getting back firstly to the Championship and then the Premiership.
Dennis, Gus and myself are here for the long haul. So the mindless minority who do their silly chants had better get used to it.
On a lighter note may I point out that under the Sex Discrimination Act demonstrations that invite men getting their shirts off is only legal if the Ladies do the same!
Finally, thank you all for the tremendous support throughout the difficult time. Fulham, Man City, Derby, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough have all been in our current position, look where they are now.
Marching on Together
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I cannot for the life of me see what rule has been broken let alone what rule has been broken that would lead to us being docked 15 points having already been docked 10 points last season we appear to have incurred a 25 point penalty. And to think that West Ham did not even lose 1 point and are still in the Premiership.
If there was a problem in leaving administration other than through a CVA then the League rules should say that. But they don't they say "except in exceptional circumstances" Obviously there were exceptional circumstances in that the Administrators determined that a CVA was not the best route. We do not have any say in this as I understand it they are just administering the insolvency laws of this country so why have we been docked 15 points? Where in the rules does it say that we have committed an offence let alone that we should be docked 15 points for it? Frankly it stinks!
Before the 15 point deduction I thought we would probably have a long hard fight against relegation given our inability to sign new players, the loss of existing players and the lack of a proper pre season with a full squad. The deduction of 15 points merely confirms this and increases the likelihood that we will be relegated again.
Still at least we have at last been able to sign some players including a goalkeeper. Casper Ankergren, Leon Constantine, Curtis Weston, Matt Heath, David Prutton, Rui Marques, Alan Thompson, Torre Andre Flo and Andy Hughes have all signed or rejoined having been on loan last season.
Of course there is still the question of the court case being taken by Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs which is scheduled for 3rd September. Presumably this could see us back in administration again with a further 10 point deduction.
Perhaps the saddest summary of all that has gone on over the last five years was published in todays Guardian entitled "Fans fight against the dying of the light as Leeds face up to life at a new low". It was all summed up in the following short extract from that article.
Elland Road is empty but for a handful of fans at the ticket office. Tony Doran is Leeds from top to bottom - Bremner shirt, Leeds tattoo on arm and shoulder, Leeds wallet, Leeds glasses case, Leeds earring. He wants to know what's happening with his season ticket. "I paid by credit card and the card's not gone through yet." At the club pub, Billy's Bar, and the souvenir shop only cash is accepted. The credit card companies are refusing to accept credit from Leeds.
What's the feeling like in the city? "Not good," he says. "We've never
been this low before. We'll be lucky to get 15,000 next season."
Doran is with his niece. I ask her if she has noticed a change in him.
"Yeah. He's not had a smile on his face for a year."
As the photographer takes his picture, a security man emerges and asks
what we are doing here. I'm talking to fans, I say. He makes a call to the
press officer, and says I have to leave.
"Can I speak to the press officer?"
"No, he won't talk to you. You have to leave. This is private property."
I feel angry, as Doran does. He has spent tens of thousands of pounds on his club over the years, and he would like to have his photograph taken inside Elland Road, but the club won't allow it. "Disgusting. They treat us like scum," he says.
That is what we end up with at the end of all this. Fans who feel they have been treated with disdain by the club, the chairman, the Football League and the administrators. Gates that are falling as the club tries to charge Premiership prices for Championship relegation football. A club that cannot tell them what has happened to their season ticket money and whether or not they will have a ticket for games this season. A club shop that will not take credit cards because nobody wants to deal with them. A club where the Press Officer will not even talk to a journalist who actually wrote a very sympathetic article and a club where a life long fan was turned away from providing the photo for the self same article!
Friday, August 03, 2007
Meanwhile according to the Daily Telegraph the Taxman's demands are deepening Leeds crisis. David Hartnett an official at HM Revenue and Customs has insisted that Leeds must pay the £7.7 million owed in tax and has also demanded that Bates must reveal the identity of the mysterious backers behind his new bid for the club. KPMG have stated that if HM Revenue and Customs demand full payment of their debt then any attempt to obtain a new CVA would fail. Added to which of course "Leeds' biggest creditor, Astor, whose owners are unknown as the company is registered in the British Virgin Islands, have indicated that they will only back Bates' bid."