Leeds United chairman Ken Bates says a protest by the clubs fans at their opening championship match of the season against Middlesbrough cost the club a £20 million investment from a Saudi Arabian, Leeds supporting businessman.
Bates has come under increased criticism from a section of the fans this season due to the lack of investment on the pitch and spending money on a newly refurbished East Stand, rather than a side capable of reaching the Premier League.
The sale of number one goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel followed the departure of Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny on free transfers, with players of limited quality brought in to replace them.
Fans arranged a demonstration prior to the Middlesbrough game and Bates says it was the antics of the fans involved, which caused the club to miss a lucrative investment.
Speaking on Yorkshire Radio, Bates said, “I had a Saudi businessman who is a Leeds fan and wanted to invest in Leeds United.
“He said he was serious and I gave him some papers to do with Leeds and off he went. He rang me the following week and asked if his chief financial advisor could come over, look at the clubs books and look around Leeds.
“He came over in the week the season started. He was very impressed with everything and Shaun (Harvey) showed him around the ground, he saw the new pavilion and he saw the work that was underway in the new East stand.
He thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Unfortunately, we then entertained him for the day when we played Middlesbrough when the silly demonstration took place. In those days, we were in the old West Stand boardroom and they decided to prance around outside the boardroom, where you can see out of the windows.
He was a little subdued over it but we tried to laugh it off and put it down to youthful exuberance and the disappointment of just missing out the previous season.
“I did not think anything more about it and we left on good terms and he wrote his report and raised a few more questions. We then never heard back from them and it dragged on. Eventually, he rang me up and said ‘not being funny, it is a great idea, I love Leeds United and am still a big Leeds fan but we cannot afford to be associated with that kind of nonsense in the society we live in back in Saudi Arabia.`
“That was a £20 million investment out of the window. So, people who want to demonstrate or chant, it is their choice but they have to realise the implications and consequent results that can be emanating from their behaviour.”
The demonstration at the Middlesbrough game angered Bates, who labelled them as ‘morons` in his next programme notes against Hull City, something that once again did not go down well with the Leeds fans.
Leeds fans were angered even more shortly afterwards with the sale of the previous season`s player of the year Max Gradel and he was followed out of the Elland Road exit by club captain Jonny Howson in January.
Manager Simon Grayson was sacked the day after the transfer window closed at the end of January with the club lying in seventh place and with no permanent signings made, other than Danny Pugh who had spent the previous three months on loan to the club in January quickly followed Howson.
Fans once again demonstrated prior to the game with Brighton and Hove Albion in February when they marched from the city centre to the Elland Road ground. The protest was organised by the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) who once again demonstrated about the lack of investment on the pitch, the reliance on loan players and paying Premier League prices to watch poor quality championship football.
Neil Warnock was eventually brought in to replace Grayson in February but Leeds dwindling play-offs hopes disappeared as they eventually finished in fourteenth place, winning just seven of their last twenty-six championship games.
Warnock has promised major surgery to the squad in the close season, he has already released eight players and transfer listed a further six since April.
The Leeds boss brought in his first signing of the summer last week when he signed defender Jason Pearce from Portsmouth who had claimed seven of the nine player of the season awards at the club.
Leeds fans I am sure will be waiting to see the progress made in the transfer market over the summer months.
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