LUST Seeking Potential Investors

07 Feb 2012 08:32am, by YorkshireSquare

Last week on Yorkshire Radio, Ken Bates invited the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust to, “put their money where their mouth is.” With this in mind, the Trust is today asking for any parties who may be considering an investment in, or outright purchase of, Leeds United, and who share the aims and ambitions of our fans, to contact the Trust with a view to working together to take Mr Bates up on his offer.

In recent weeks Ken Bates has made numerous comments about the difficulty of attracting investment in to Leeds United. In his programme notes on 2nd January 2012, Bates wrote that: “On average, I am contacted every two weeks by some new would be overseas saviour or a middleman who claims to represent some Sheik Rub-A-Dub.” Last week on Yorkshire Radio, he claimed that offers of investment: “…come through the door every week of the month.” The Trust does not find this level of interest surprising given Leeds United’s massive potential, and our current status on the fringes of promotion to the Premier League. We are surprised, however, that with an average of at least twenty offers of investment a year, none have proved credible enough to move forward.

While Ken Bates’ public comments suggest investment would be welcomed at Leeds United, his reaction to the interest of high profile Australian billionaire Frank Lowy in April 2010 suggested otherwise. Mr Bates claimed on Yorkshire Radio that: “I had never heard of [Lowy]. This Lowy, I think he runs Westfield, the property company. Aren’t they the one that has completely buggered up the town centre of Bradford? ... It is no secret we would welcome further investment. But we are quite blunt – name and money.” Despite Mr Lowy being a well-known and credible businessman, Ken Bates’ widely reported comments appeared to bring his interest to an end, and we wonder if other credible investors have been similarly dismissed in recent years.

A further barrier to investment is that the size of the investment looked for has not been made clear. It is not known how much Mr Bates paid to buy Leeds United from its anonymous owners in May 2011, and so it is not known how much he might be willing to sell for now. The investment that might be required for a stake in the club is also unknown. The latest available club accounts show that Forward Sports Fund invested £500,000 to acquire the club from administration in 2007 but, subsequently loaned £441,000 of this to another company in the Leeds City Holdings Group. We presume Mr Bates would be looking for greater investment than this from interested third parties, but would invite Mr Bates to outline exactly what level of investment would be welcomed at Leeds United, so that informed expressions of interest can be made that are more likely to satisfy the club’s requirements.

Given the lack of clarity about the level of investment required and following Mr Bates’ comments last week, the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust would like to hear from any parties who may be considering investing in Leeds United, with a view to working together. LUST has outlined its ambitions for the club in its Campaign for Change Vision Statement, and would welcome the chance to work with potential investors who share our vision. Two key aims of the Trust are for investment to be focussed on the playing side at Leeds, with a view to promotion to the Premier League; and for those in charge of the club to develop strong links with the club’s fans. Establishing a dialogue from the outset with LUST would give fans the chance to ensure that any new investment is for the good of the Leeds United and will meet the ambitions of the supporters, and would give suitable investors the support of a formal supporters’ trust, with a growing membership of around 2,500 Leeds fans, when dealing with the current owners of the club.

Supporters’ trusts have brought in well over £30 million of new finance into football and rugby league, and Leeds United Supporters’ Trust would welcome the opportunity to bring new finance into Leeds United, to help bring about change for the better at our club. If you would like to talk to us, please email: chairman@lufctrust.org

We would also encourage Leeds United fans who share in our vision to join the Trust and lend their support to our existing membership of around 2,500 Leeds United fans. The Trust is free to join, and it only takes a few moments to fill in the membership form at http://lufctrust.org/