A fans view by Thomas B.
GFH Capital have officially been in charge of Leeds United since December of last year. That’s little over a month to make a good impression on the restless fans that follow a club which has really suffered in the last decade.
Ken Bates’ eight years at the helm were ended after a summer of speculation resulted in Dubai based equity firm GFH Capital (GFH-C) finally buying 100% of Leeds United football club; just before Christmas. What has transpired in the last two months has been a slow and steady progression from owners who clearly want the fans on their side.
Here are five reasons why GFH-C should be backed, including the good work they have already done:
First and foremost, Ken Bates seems to be rid of all responsibility within the club. No longer are the fans subject to a pantomime of programme notes and his constant legal battles in the courtroom seem a distant memory.
Salem Patel and David Haigh seem to be the face of GFH-C within the club and have already made it known that things will be done their way, despite the appointment of President for Ken Bates. It was a decision that did not rest easy with the fan base. Many (understandably) had grew frustrated at the lack of on pitch ambition showed by the Ex-Chelsea Chairman.
However, one gets the impression that without this new appointment for Bates, GFH-C would have failed in their attempts to buy the club. So in one sense it is plausible as to why they made a risky decision to keep Bates within the club structure.
Ticket prices. A whole picture painted in just two words. The previous ‘like it or lump it’ attitude had a huge impact on the relationship the board and the fans had together. When the club suffered relegation from the Premier League, the last thing the fans needed was a pricing structure that did not fit the level of football now on show at Elland Road.
Patel and Haigh have already introduced ticket offers that have impressed many, but still the attendances seem poor. You can’t argue that the owners have already listened to the fans, as they look to mend broken relations.
Give them time and eventually the club will become great again. A full house at Elland Road is not only good for the team but it’s good for business.
New Signings. Another two words that often evade the lips of each and every Leeds United fan. GFH-C promised that ‘crazy money’ would not be spent in January. A statement that was kept true in every sense. Leeds United completed the signings of Steve Morison, Stephen Warnock and Habib Habibou on deadline day. It took the total of signings in January to six – with the signings of Hall, Tonge and Barkley included.
Despite little money being spent on those six signings, especially as two are just loan deals, a large selection of fans have concluded that GFH-C lack resources and the clubs with ambition have spent in January. Now on face value, it seems like not much has changed in terms of transfer policy.
Would you rather the club be in Cardiff’s situation? £83 million in debt and gambling the club’s future on getting into the Premiership. Somewhat appreciative of the fact they are top, but it still puts the future of club in jeopardy. Surely nobody wants a repeat of the Risdale era at Elland Road?
I praise the ethical approach GFH-C have so far shown towards throwing money at the problematic situation that has occurred over the last decade and am more than happy that for once a replacement was brought in for the recent sale of Luciano Becchio.
Fan interaction has often been missing at Leeds United. A lack of transparency has existed for the last eight years at the club and it never looked likely to improve whilst Bates was ‘king’. Now that GFH-C are at the club, a refreshing sense of ‘they want to know our thoughts’ is firmly implanted in their use of twitter and the recent news that a fans forum has been arranged.
Once sceptical about the owner’s presence on Twitter, I realised that in order for the trust to re-emerge the new board need backing in all forms. Dwelling on the past will get this famous club nowhere and if in a years time it becomes apparent the club is not moving forward then, of course, raise your concern.
However, Salem Patel and David Haigh have already tried to be more interactive and for me that goes a long way, given our previous experiences with ownership.
Summing things up, they simply deserve a chance. Let the Middle Eastern owners make their own impression. The longer Bates’ tenure stays fresh in the memory then the less chance the club has of ever getting back to the good times. At the moment, the bad times well and truly exist and success will not happen over night.
A month or so into a new dawn, let’s forget last summer and the tribulations it brought. Dealing with Ken Bates cannot be easy and I salute Salem and David for working tirelessly to get the deal done.
Onwards and upwards with GFH-C, who hopefully foresee a bright future for a club that will always be famous.
Thomas Bradley is the editor of www.idradebeleeds.com
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