We wish our good friend, Jim Keating the very best as  he moves along on the road to recovery after a recent operation. I’ll be travelling during the next week or so. Updates will be sporadic at best !

Sat 29th of October. Leeds 1-1 Cardiff City – Att. 20,270.  12 Rachubka, 02 Connolly, 22 Lees, 28 White, 48 O’Dea (Kisnorbo 32) 14 Howson15 Clayton YC, 16 Pugh (Sam 78) 23 Snodgrass, 38 Keogh (Becchio 55) 44 McCormack. Unused Subs : 30 Cairns, 07 Vayrynen. Robert Snodgrass struck a second-half equaliser for Leeds after an inspired performance by keeper David Marshall had threatened to deny the hosts. Cardiff took a 17th-minute lead when Joe Mason pounced on Darren O’Dea’s hesitancy for an opportunist strike. Leeds completely dominated from then on as Snodgrass, Ross McCormack and Adam Clayton tested Marshall. But the goalkeeper had no chance when Snodgrass poked in from Tom Lees’ knock-down 17 minutes from time. Stuck on the sidelines – player gets foot trapped Lees then wasted a glorious chance to snatch victory in the closing stages but he failed to connect properly with a free header from six yards. Cardiff, who have now failed to win in six consecutive away games, could have had few complaints had Lees scored after the visitors offered almost nothing as an attacking force in the second half. The result ends a string of six straight defeats for Leeds against the Bluebirds, but the home side created enough opportunities to feel they deserved better. Cardiff’s opener owed much to Mason’s perseverance but O’Dea’s dithering just inside his own penalty box was the deciding factor. The centre-back won the race to Peter Whittingham’s speculative through ball, but he stumbled as he attempted to clear, giving Mason the opportunity to nick the ball. Robert Snodgrass pounced to secure a point for Leeds United Mason, whose fine recent form kept Kenny Miller and Rob Earnshaw on the bench, shifted the ball to his left to avoid Rachubka’s lunge and finished left-footed at full stretch for his third goal in as many games. O’Dea could point to a slight nudge from behind as he reached the ball, but it was his own indecision that opened the door for Mason. Leeds responded positively, and both Andy Keogh and McCormack were inches away from connecting with Paul Connolly’s superb low cross behind Cardiff’s static back four. Keogh’s earlier header had forced Marshall into a point-blank save, and then the keeper got down well to turn Snodgrass’ header around the post. The home side then took full control after the break as they added much needed impetus into their play, but they found Marshall on top form. Snodgrass fired a thunderous drive straight at the Scotsman, before McCormack’s low curler forced the keeper to dive low to his left. Adam Clayton was the next to try his luck – his first effort, a 30-yard drive, was tipped over, and a desperate block from a Cardiff defender then spared Marshall from having to stop his fierce volley. From the resulting corner, Marshall produced the save of the match as he threw out a strong left hand to stop Jonathan Howson’s downward header. But the incessant Leeds pressure finally brought the deserved equaliser on 73 minutes as Snodgrass ended Marshall’s impressive resistance. Lees rose highest to meet a hopeful ball into the Bluebirds box and Snodgrass poked the ball home as Marshall chose to stay on his line. Cardiff were lucky to escape when Lees’ glancing header went inches wide, but the home side were indebted to Aidy White in the final minute as he cleared from under his own bar as Aron Gunnarsson looked to pounce. Leeds United manager Simon Grayson: “When you look at the chances we created and the number of top saves their keeper made, we can feel unfortunate not to win the game. “We didn’t start as brightly as we could, and we had to up the tempo after half-time. “But we found their keeper in inspired form and, on another day, we could have won.”Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay: “Leeds had a lot of pressure in the second half but I thought controlled the game in the first half. “We created a couple of chances near the end as well where could have nicked the win so overall I think a draw was a fair result. “We played well in that first half and we were playing against a team who have had one defeat at home this season.” There is no doubt that Leeds caused their own downfall with disastrous defending gave a well organised Bluebirds something to hold on to. Whether suffering from concussion or not, O’Dea could have (A) put the ball out for a corner or into the stand or (B) gone down from the nudge which would have resulted in a free out. Unfortunately he did neither and United found themselves a goal down. A similar nudge from Aidy White earned him a red card at Portman Road and became no points instead of the three our performance merited. Leeds started slow against Cardiff and they closed Leeds down all over the park, with the result that Howson and Clayton hardly got a kick in the first half. Leeds second half performance merited three points and nine times out of ten Tom Leeds would have found the net at the death. I watched Blackpool at Burnley and felt they were average to poor. If Leeds get into them early and don’t take the foot off the gas, Leeds should win. 

Weds October 26th 2011. Birmingham   1 – 0   Leeds Team : 12 Rachubka, 02 Connolly, 22 Lees , 28 White , 48 O’Dea, 14 Howson 15 Clayton (Vayrynen 77) 16 Pugh (Sam 73) 23 Snodgrass 38 Keogh (Becchio 63) 44 McCormack Unused Substitutes : 30 Cairns, 03 Kisnorbo.   Leeds missed a series of really good chances against Birmingham City, particularly in the first half, and were left to rue tho9se misses. Nikola Zigic scored his first goal since February as Birmingham extended their winning run to six games with a narrow victory over Leeds. Zigic opened his account for the season when full-back Stephen Carr delivered a cross from the right and he controlled the ball before firing past Paul Rachubka. Blues keeper Boaz Myhill made a great save to keep out Adam Clayton’s volley. He also tipped over Ross McCormack’s effort late on. Scotland international Robert Snodgrass fired wide for Leeds and also drilled a shot over from distance as the hosts hung on for victory. For Birmingham, Zigic and substitute Chris Wood produced good saves from Rachubka, while Chris Burke fired narrowly wide after the restart. Defeat ended fifth-placed Leeds’ seven-match unbeaten league record. Victory sees Chris Hughton’s Blues move to within a point of the Yorkshire side and they also have two games in hand

Weds 26th of April 2011. Leeds United have loaned out Billy Paynter to fellow Championship side, Brighton. Simon Grayson has defended his decision to send Billy Paynter on loan to Brighton, insisting he felt obliged to allow the Leeds United striker to join another Championship club. Grayson revealed that the decision to accept Brighton’s approach was taken on Thursday with no other second-tier sides showing a serious interest in signing Paynter. Click here to register and have your say on the Leeds United stories and issues that matter to you. The 27-year-old was made available earlier this month with his prospects of first-team football at Elland Road limited, and Grayson initially insisted that he would not allow the player to assist any of Leeds’ likely rivals for promotion to the Premier League. The United manager relented, however, with Paynter anxious to remain in the Championship, and Brighton ended a long pursuit of his signature by landing him on a temporary basis until January 2. League One side Preston North End were also interested but found Paynter unwilling to drop into their division. Grayson said: “We’ve had one or two enquiries but Billy wanted to stay in the Championship. He felt he’d worked hard enough to get into it with us. “I did say that we wouldn’t loan him to any of our rivals but Brighton were the only ones who came in and made the deal worthwhile. “We felt okay about it and sometimes you’ve got to be fair to the player. Billy’s been unlucky here and we owed him the right to go and get some games.” Brighton are just two points worse off than Leeds and the sides fought out a lively 3-3 draw on the south coast last month, but Albion’s fixtures before January 2 include meetings with other prominent Championship sides, two against league leaders Southampton. Grayson said: “Brighton are playing against a few teams who are going to be up there so if he scores some goals then it might help our cause. “You can’t always say that every deal is best for all parties and on this occasion I needed to help the player out because he needs some games.”

Monday 24th 2011. Leeds are looking to offload Billy Paynter to Preston NE instead of their Championship rivals as if he would improve our Championship rivals’ chances of promotion. Still one man’s food is another man’s poison. Leeds United manager Simon Grayson is hoping the club can tempt Andy Keogh to extend his spell at Elland Road. The Wolverhampton Wanderers forward has scored twice for Leeds since the completion of his loan move, including in the victory over Peterborough United this weekend. His form has been such that Grayson, who is looking to offload Billy Paynter on loan, wants to keep Keogh at Leeds. “It’s a possibility,” Grayson said. “That would really be down to Mick McCarthy and Wolves, depending on what they want to do with him. “Mick wanted to get him out on loan to give him some games and get him in the shop window but he might look at what Andy’s done here and think ‘we’ll have him back in January’. “The better he does for us the more it’s something we’d like to consider but it’s probably too early to think about that yet. “He’s got better and sharper and, as I’ve said before, he’s doing something right because he’s keeping (Luciano) Becchio out of the team.” Such has been Keogh’s form, that Leeds are in 5th in the Npower Championship, with a game in hand over the top three. Leeds play that game in hand against in form Birmingham City on Wednesday, before hosting Cardiff City and then Blackpool in the coming week.

Sunday October 23rd 2011. Championship Update. After thirteen games Southampton lead the table by three points from Middlesbro, after claiming a decent 1-1 draw at Reading, despite being down to ten men. The Saints are invincible at home (having won all six matches at St Mary’s) but haven’t won on the road since the middle of August. Boro in second find it hard to score goals and were fortunate to defeat Derby County this weekend. Boro have claimed just seven points from their last six matches. Dougie Freedman’s Palace have arguably been the dark horses of the Championship thus far. United dominated the first half against them a few weeks back but were  fortunate to defeat them 2-1 in the end. The canny Scot has his players giving everything for their manager and I thought the 3/1 against Palace winning at Ipswich this weekend was a steal. They didn’t disappoint with a 2-0 win. West Ham lie in 4th place on 21 points and share that points total with Leeds United, Derby County and Hull City. The Hammers have gained more points on the road than Upton Park. They failed with an audacious swoop for Carlos Tevez on loan but are paying massive wages to Green, Nolan, Cole, Noble, Faubert and Crewe to name but a few. Leeds lie in 5th position. Most of us are perhaps over critical at times because we see things from inside a bubble. But just six points off the leaders with a game in hand is hardly the form of no hopers. United should have defeated Coventry but Lady Luck smiled at London Road. Whilst United have not cured their defensive woes completely and will rue the loss of Lonergan between the posts, few other sides can match their penetration when going forward. There is no QPR like side this season. Millwall in the bottom three went to money bags Leicester City and won 3-0. Sven has spent £20M ++ and may be gone before the Christmas turkey. Neil Kilkenny thought he was heading for the play offs with Bristol City. Instead his side holds up the whole league.  Cardiff City and Blackpool have disappointed but Notts Forest after ditching Stave McClaren look to have turned over a new leaf under the shrewd Steve Cottrill. Birmingam City also have a decent side and if they get knocked out of Europe soon, that may be to their advantage. Any side that strings four or five wins on the trot will be formidable. The games are coming thick and fast now (Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday) and those sides with the stronger squads should prove conclusive as injuries and fatigue start to become a factor. Leeds are well placed and it’s great to see so many members at almost every home game. Let’s hope they continue to see progress on the park.

Sat October 22nd. Peterboro 2-3 Leeds United 12 Rachubka, 02 Connolly, 22 Lees, 28 White, 48 O’Dea yc, 07 Vayrynen (Sam 48 yc) 14 Howson, 15 Clayton, 16 Pugh, 38 Keogh (Becchio 89) 44 McCormack (Nunez 82) Unused Substitutes :  30 Cairns, 03 Kisnorbo, Att – 12,080. A goal deep into injury-time by Darren O’Dea earned Leeds a win against 10-man Peterborough. Leeds went ahead through Andy Keogh’s stunning volley but Gabriel Zakuani levelled with a powerful header. Peterborough striker Lee Tomlin saw red for a challenge on Keogh before Leeds regained the lead when Adam Clayton took Lloyd Sam’s pass and stroked home. Mark Little thought he had earned Posh a point when he bundled in, only for O’Dea to head the winner. Leeds took the initiative as early as the fourth minute when Keogh hit a superb shot, which gave home goalkeeper Paul Jones no chance. Peterborough sprung to life after the goal and were level 19 minutes later when Zakuani headed home his first goal of the season. The home side were reduced to 10 men on 37 minutes, when Tomlin was red-carded for a late challenge on Keogh. And the visitors made their advantage pay nine minutes after half-time, when Clayton stroked home his third of the season following good work from Sam and Danny Pugh. With just two minutes to go it looked as though goalkeeper Paul Rachubka had cost his side the points. The former Huddersfield and Manchester United shot-stopper was caught in no man’s land as a ball sailed into his box and he got tangled up with his own defenders, allowing Little to force in from six yards. But Rachubka, who gifted Coventry a late equaliser on Tuesday, breathed a sigh of relief when O’Dea secured the win. O’Dea, who Posh felt should have earlier seen red for bringing down David Ball when he was the last defender, flicked in Clayton’s free-kick to have the final word five minutes into stoppage time. For the anoraks out there, this is the first time Leeds have won at Peterborough in the league. They were victorious in a League Cup tie in 1988 and an FA Cup match in 1974. Grayson said : “’It was a game we should have put to bed before that, we got a little bit sloppy. This is a difficult place to come to, but we’ve shown the quality we have all season. It’s not easy here and I’m delighted with how we played and the quality we showed.” “We were excellent, but to go down to 10 men gave us a problem,” an irate Darren Ferguson said. “That was disappointing and I’m told it was a red card. It wouldn’t have been a sending off if Boyd had have been on the pitch. But if he (Tomlin) has done it, I can’t tolerate that. “But I’m stood by the linesman, he (the fourth official) puts four minutes up, and then he adds two more minutes on and I can hear him say: ‘That’s time up’, but there’s another two minutes added on. “It’s all about them, you can’t go near officials, you can’t talk to them for 30 minutes. It’s all about them. “Four minutes of injury time and they score in 96 minutes. But don’t forget it’s Leeds United, so it’ll be okay.” On whether or not he felt O’Dea should have been sent off late in piece, not knowing that the Celtic loanee went on to score the winner, Ferguson added: “I don’t want to talk about Leeds United players being sent off.” Oh and that stench in the air is the smell of sour grapes. Regarding the red card, the lad had to go. Regarding O’Dea’s potential red card, definitely not. The player was going away from the goal and the ref called it correctly with a yellow card. Regarding the extra time allotted, Fergie Junior give your old man a ring and he’ll explain how it works. THE GAME DOESN’T FINISH UNTIL UNITED SCORE, AND WE ARE UNITED. O’Dea was really entitled to have scored the winner on Tuesday night versus Coventry so good luck to the lad and what a quality finish it was. In fact Keogh and Clayton also scored superb goals. I worry about Rachubka in goal but I worry more about our inclination to sit back on the slenderest of leads. We are at our most dangerous to the opposition when we keep attacking, and we are at our most dangerous to ourselves when we tey and hold on to what we have.

Sat October 22nd. Change to academy rules. Shaun Harvey says Leeds United will have to review their Academy operation after the adoption of revolutionary new plans for youth football was approved by the Football League. The new Elite Performance Plan was passed by a margin of 46 votes to 22 at a meeting of the clubs earlier this week. Under the new system, the amount of coaching contact time for players in the country’s top academies will be increased. Payments to clubs for youth development will also increase but the regulations also include the abolition of the transfer tribunal system, to be replaced by a fixed level of compensation – leading to fears that lower-league teams will lose top young talent to bigger clubs on the cheap. Harvey has highlighted the case of Luke Garbutt, who left United to join Everton as a 16-year-old for a tribunal-fixed fee of £600,000 with a further £750,000 possibly paid depending on appearances. Leeds were also granted a 20 per cent sell-on clause. The United chief executive said: “Under the new system, the £600,000 would have been replaced by £134,000. “Our costs and time will have been exactly the same so it’s fair to say that’s why I believe this is a dark day for clubs who actively develop youth players over a period of time. “We are going to have to review how we operate. Our Academy has actually generated some very substantial transfer fees but that’s not our motive for running the Academy. “Our motive is to try and bring players through into our first-team squad. The first-team squad at the moment has probably seven players who have come through our Academy. “I certainly think there will be a dilution of what clubs are doing because if you look at losing players for a reduced amount of compensation that doesn’t cover the cost of running a development scheme then there will be many clubs looking at the situation to see if it’s worthwhile.” Huddersfield Town joined Leeds in voting against the plans, as did United’s opponents today, Peterborough, whose director Barry Fry voiced concerns that many lower league clubs may opt to shut down their youth systems. League chairman Greg Clarke, however, said: “We hope Football League clubs continue to develop, retain and fill their first teams with top local talent. “There is always a danger under the new scheme that larger clubs will be a bit more predatory. We hope we don’t see that.”

Tues October 18th 2011 – Leeds 1-1 Coventry City Leeds : Rachubka, Connolly, Lees, O`Dea, White, Howson, Clayton, Pugh, Snodgrass (Vayrynen 79), McCormack (Becchio 70), Keogh (Forssell 70) Simon Grayson was forced into one change to the side for the game with Paul Rachubka replacing the injured Andy Lonergan in goal, and that change was to cost him dearly. That said, United looked constantly dangerous when Snodgrass, the workaholic Keogh and too a lesser extent, McCormack when they were still on the field. More of that later.  Ross McCormack had the first chance of the evening for Leeds but his header missed the target after a good ball from Robert Snodgrass. Leeds started strongly with Snodgrass causing all sorts of problems down the wing. It took two to three Coventry players to halt his progress, with Deegan (the former Bohs midfielder) looking out of his depth. Rachubka was quickly in action for Leeds when he made a great save from Leeds target Sammy Clingan and Lucas Jutkiewicz missed the target with the follow up. Snodgrass tested Murphy in the Coventry goal when he pushed his free kick round the post for a corner. From the resulting corner, it eventually fell to Darren O`Dea who fired into the bottom corner for his first goal for the club. Snodgrass was again causing the Coventry defence problems. His free kick found McCormack who saw his shot saved. O`Dea went close again when he headed wide from a Clayton cross. Clingan again tested Rachubka at the other end as Coventry looked for an equaliser. McCormack then missed a great chance when he fired over from inside six yards out with the goal at his mercy. It really should have doubled the lead for Leeds as they headed into half time one ahead. In truth Leeds were totally dominant in the first half, but slender leads can cause moments of madness.  Danny Pugh had the first real chance of the second half when Murphy saved his header following a Snodgrass corner. Snodgrass came close to doubling the lead moments later when his terrific right footed shot went inches wide with Murphy well beaten. Adam Clayton was next to go close for Leeds, Murphy again denying Leeds with a good save. Clayton then saw another shot land on the roof of the net. Grayson made a double substitution soon afterwards with Luciano Becchio and Mikael Forssell replacing McCormack and Keogh. The pairing of Forrsell and Becchio simply didn’t work with Leeds drifting further and further back. Coventry were still in the game and McDonald came close to equalising when his effort hit the crossbar. Grayson made a further substitution, withdrawing Snodgrass for Varynen. Howson went wide on the right and all of a sudden the impressive Clayton was outnumbered in midfield. Coventry equalised deep into stoppage time when Rachubka spilled the ball and Richard Wood scored for the visitors. It was a mistake that you would rarely see in the Summer League. He was under no pressure and it was a very poor cross.  It was to prove the last action of the game as a host of missed chances came back to haunt Leeds United in the end. Did we deserve to draw ? In truth no, because we were totally in control, albeit conceding possession. Danny Pugh was out on his feet with 20 minutes to go and although he had a decent game up until then, the withdrawal of Snodgrass and Keogh proved fatal. McCormack really should have had a hat-trick but it’s hard to have a go at a player who has been in a rich vein of form up until now. Forrsell and Becchio are clearly lacking in match practice and I have doubts about how Forrsell fits into our way of playing. The keeper had a solid game and then he goes and drops a James like clanger. Even the most diehard City fan would feel that they were poor value for their draw. O’Dea, Lees, Connolly and White all looked solid. Once again White’s raids down the left flank caused the opposition all kinds of difficulties. Lees is quality. He’s not a Woodgate or a Ferdinand. He does the simple things really well and a for a better winner of the ball in the air, you would have to go back to Gordan McQuuen’s days. (Incidentally we wish big Gordan well as he recovers from throat cancer) Clayton had a terrific game but the match seemed to pass Jonny Howson by, as he played in the holding role and allowed Clayton to get forward. Pugh had a good 70 minutes but he was out on his feet at that stage. Snodgrass on the right played his best game of the season and Keogh caused the Sky Blues all kinds of problems. McCormack will have better games. Simon Grayson will feel hard done by and he probably has a right to feel hard done by. That said, by allowing a side like Coventry to press the ball so high up the field would be suicidal against better sides. As it happens the Ricoh arena club had more than a helping hand from Blackpool’s former third choice keeper. Andy, rush back soon because we need you ! Re Bates propaganda, I mean programme notes, only he could turn the BBC programme on “Who owns Leeds United” ? into a vindication for the way he runs the club. He quotes the parts of the programme he likes and ignores the rest, labeling the BBC as the “Biased Bloated corporation”. Gobshite ! Simon Grayson :” I`m obviously disappointed to concede in the last minute to draw in a game that we should have won. We had enough chances to put the game to bed. “It feels like a defeat and the boys are obviously very frustrated.” Coventry City boss, Andy Thorn saw things differently : “I`m obviously disappointed to concede in the last minute to draw in a game that we should have won. We had enough chances to put the game to bed. “It feels like a defeat and the boys are obviously very frustrated.” “I thought he’d gone forward too quickly, but I’m delighted he chose not to listen.” Thorn added: “I’m really impressed with our second-half performance. We stuck to our principles and didn’t just launch it forward. “We thoroughly deserved to get the draw. I thought we weathered the storm before they scored, but we stuck to what we do. “We have come into Elland Road, it’s an intimidating place, it’s a well-run, well-managed and well-supported club and we held our own. “We showed character, there was no point in shutting up shop.”

Tues October 18th.Barn door Billy set for the exit door. Leeds striker Billy Paynter is set to leave the club on loan and a host of Championship clubs are looking to sign him, skysports.com understands. The 27-year-old moved to Elland Road last summer from Swindon, but is now out of favour under Simon Grayson. Now a host of clubs are ready to try and battle for his signature on loan. Skysports.com understands that up to half-a-dozen clubs are interested in landing him with Coventry C, Barnsley, Derby, Doncaster, Blackpool, and  Brighton all believed to be keen on landing Paynter. Pigs do indeed fly.

Tues Oct 18th 2011. Ormsby’s Not Bitter – (former Leeds Utd captain) by Shane Murphy Waterford United FC (first published in the March 2011 Finn Harps match programme)“We only drink Hoffmans and bottles of rum, the Waterford boys are in town!” So goes one of the long-standing songs of the Blues faithful, but if you ever happen upon The Spa Complex bar in Scarborough, you might want to sample the local brew, Ormsby’s Bitter, named after the former Leeds United captain, European Cup winner and Waterford United manager Brendan Ormsby. The mid ’90s was an unsuccessful period for Waterford United – languishing in the First Division for five seasons (finishing as low as 8th) and changing manager once a year until Tommy Lynch lead us back into the top flight. The first of those seasons actually held some promise as we moved into our new stadium and appointed a player-manager with vast experience in England. Ormsby, who turned 50 last October, came to Waterford with great pedigree. He captained the England Youth team and came through the Aston Villa youth system with Gary Shaw and Gordon Cowans, making his senior debut in 1978. His greatest moment came in 1982 when he gained a European Cup winners medal as part of the Villa squad that beat Bayern Munich in the final (having started three of Villa’s nine matches in the competition). A centre half, he only scored 4 goals in 8 years at Aston Villa, but is fondly remembered for one in particular in 1985. No TV cameras were present so we have to trust the memory of the fans at Upton Park when Brendan hit a 45 yard rocket to the net that some described as the greatest goal they’d ever seen. It was from such an unlikely source that it was met with stunned silence before Villa right back Gary Williams burst out laughing! In 1986, Brendan moved to Leeds United where he became captain. In his first season, he scored the goal that put Billy Bremner’s Second Division side through to the FA Cup quarter finals. However, a bad mistake from the centre back helped Coventry to win the semi 3-2 and cost Leeds a place in the final. He played with Strachan, Speed and Vinnie Jones when Howard Wilkinson managed Leeds to promotion in 1990, but left that summer for Doncaster Rovers. After two seasons there and a short spell with Scarborough, his next move was into management when the Blues came calling. Waterford’s tenancy in Kilcohan Park had come to a heart-breaking end in 1993 with a relegation play-off defeat to Monaghan. Alfie Hale stepped down as manager and was replaced by 32-year-old Ormsby. Having become the epitome of a yo-yo club with 3 relegations and 2 promotions in the previous five years, United were expecting to bounce straight back up in our first season at the RSC, but when we drew our first five matches the signs were clear that the yo-yo’s string was about to be cut. In total, we drew 13 of our 27 matches which was both critical and ironic given this was the first season when three points were awarded for a win. In fact, we only claimed maximum points six times – the highpoint being a 6-0 hammering of tonight’s visitors, equalling Finn Harps’ record defeat. Paul Stokes finished top scorer with 7 of our 32 goals as the Blues came 7th in the ten team First Division. A tame 1-0 home Cup defeat to Cobh on a wet, miserable Thursday afternoon just about summed up the season. When the League finished in April, the club wanted a change and, despite being regarded as a popular character here, Brendan left by mutual consent. Later that year, in a Leeds United matchday programme, he gave his views on his time with the Blues. “Let’s say it was a learning experience. It was quite amateurish in some ways. The facilities were bad. We were expected to train on car parks. Then in one game, I had to take the goalkeeper (Paul Flynn) off just after half-time because he was a big star for Waterford at hurling. The sport is really big over there. Waterford had a hurling semi-final that same day and that took preference. After coming out of our game he was given a fast car police escort to the hurling tie!” Despite his clash with the GAA, Brendan said he really enjoyed his time in Waterford and would’ve liked another year. After Waterford, he played a few games with Wigan before becoming a postman. “I start work at 4.30 am which is about the time I used to get in from a night out when I was a footballer”. He writes a weekly column about Leeds United in the Yorkshire Evening Post, and two weeks ago went back into management after a gap of 17 years. He is now in charge of the mighty Pontefract Colleries FC of the North Eastern Counties League Division One (the tenth level of the English football pyramid – five levels below the Conference). And whenever he feels like it, he can have a pint of Ormsby’s Bitter – official beer of the Scarborough branch of the Leeds United supporters club. Maybe he’ll raise a glass next November to toast Waterford’s First Division title success!

Saturday October 15th. As the Championship begins to take shape, big spenders Leicester remain in lowly 12th position, with Foxes fans questioning the former England, Mexico and Ivory Coast manager’s promotion credentials. West Ham United inflicted a 4-0 hammering on Blackpool but they remain inconsistent at best, and sit just four points ahead of Leeds in 2nd position. Southampton grabbed a 1-1 draw at Derby and are finding it difficult to replicate their St Mary’s form on the road. They are top of the table on 23 points.  Brighton haven’t won in their last six matches as their early season form seems to have evaporated. Surprisingly, Hull City and Crystal Palace find themselves in play off positions. Tony Mowbray’s Middlesbro have scored just one goal in their last four matches but still remain in 3rd. One thing remains clear. There is no run away side like QPR from last season and those sides who have invested big have seen very little return from the financial outlay. Leeds have moved back to 7th from last night’s win at Doncaster. They have a game in hand and look as good as any of the teams in the Championship. Grayson will take comfort from his £300K outlay on Ross McCormack and shrewd acquisition of Keohe. He has been often criticised (and correctly so) in this forum for his player signings, but Clayton and Pugh have been good signings. Sending White and Lees out to gain lower league experience is now serving Leeds United well. I still worry about Connolly at right back but there is a togetherness now about this group of players and maybe, just maybe many have written of this Leeds side too soon.

Friday October 14th. Doncaster Rovers 0-3 Leeds United. Team : 01 Lonergan, (Rachubka 77mins) 02 Connolly, 22 Lees, 28 White, 48 O’Dea, 14 Howson, 15 Clayton, 16 (Vayrnen 85mins)  Pugh, 23 Snodgrass  38 Keogh  44 McCormack (becchio 72mins)   Unused Subs : 12 Rachubka, 26 Bromby. Unsused Suns : Kisnorbo and Forrsell. Att – 12,692 (4,209 Leeds) All week Chairman John Ryan was talking up Doncaster’s appetite for revenge against Leeds for their CC exit, but Leeds gave almost the complete performance to cruise to a 3-0 victory in South Yorkshire. Leeds were first to every ball and they limited Donny to less than half chances. Leeds deservedly took the lead when Danny Pugh, unmarked, volleyed home from Snoddy’s corner on 20 minutes. After a neat passing interlude McCormack rapped up the points on six minutes into the second half with a neat overhead scissors finish. Tom Lees, a youngster in a man’s body out muscled Richard Naylor on 61 minutes to bury a header beyond Kirkland in goals. The icing on the cake would have been a goal for man of the match Andy Keogh, but his finish hit the inside of the crossbar in the 83rd minute. Once again his selfless running provided the ideal foil for McCormack who just can’t stop scoring right now. The central defence of O’Dea and Lees looks very comfortable, and both full backs did well, particularly White. Clayton played the anchor role in midfield very well and Howson owned the centre of the pitch. Snodgrass still hasn’t hit top form but I like the balance of Danny Pugh on the other flank. We look really good right now with the prospect of bagging a decent haul of points against poor enough sides over the next few weeks. Simon Grayson : “Even in the early part of the season we weren’t playing badly and the players kept going. They had confidence that the results would come and as much as we know there’s still work to be done, we want to maintain this momentum. “It was a comfortable night for us and it can’t have been far off a complete performance. There were so many good displays. “I didn’t know it was my 150th game but it’s not about me anyway. It’s about the team. Individuals will get credit because that’s the nature of football but this was a real team performance.” United’s first away win arrived at the fifth attempt but Grayson said: “We were unfortunate at West Ham, Ipswich and Brighton. It’s been coming and I’m delighted we’ve got it.” Dean Saunders : “I’ve learned more than I have in the three games before and I’ve got to have a think about the personnel and the way we try and play.”Have we got the right players for what I want us to do? We’ve lots of nice pretty footballers, but we’ve not got many Roy Keane types. “If our football isn’t working we struggle to resist.”

Sat 15th of October 2011. Who Owns Leeds United ? An Inside Out Special – by David Conn Guardian reporter and football journalist – When the House of Commons select committee for culture, media and sport began its inquiry into the running of football in December – its brief to encourage supporter ownership of clubs – the MPs did not envisage the spotlight they would ultimately shine on Leeds United. On 29 July, when the committee finally reported, its members had, according to one of the committee’s key MPs, Damian Collins, been “appalled” by what they had discovered. For six years, between 2005 and 2011, with Ken Bates the chairman throughout, nobody in football knew who owned Leeds United, one of football’s biggest and most famed clubs. Bates had arrived as the chairman when the club was suffering the latest in a series of dire financial crises. After the 2005 takeover for which he was the most visible figure, he said he did not own any shares in Leeds, was not connected to the ownership, and that he was only the UK representative of the company that had bought Leeds. That company was Forward Sports Fund, registered in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. The public cannot see who owns companies in tax havens; secrecy is one of the key services offered by such countries, many of them former British colonies or protectorates. The Forward Sports Fund’s investment in Leeds was administered by a financial firm based on the fifth floor of an elegant building in well-appointed Geneva, where we filmed for the BBC’s Inside Out documentary. Switzerland‘s law also preserves the anonymity of investors, according to the firm administering Forward Sport’s Fund’s investment, Chateau Fiduciaire. Ken Bates has banned the BBC from covering Leeds United at Elland Road  In the summer of 2010, when the Football League introduced new rules requiring its clubs to publish who owned substantial stakes in them – 10% or more – to improve transparency in football, Leeds stated that no individual owned 10% or more of the club, so no names needed to be disclosed. Shaun Harvey, the club’s chief executive, told the select committee at a session in Burnley that he did not know who the owners were, and – “to my knowledge,” he said – neither did his chairman, Ken Bates. The Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, gave evidence to the committee shortly afterwards, saying that if Leeds were promoted, the Premier League would interpret the rules more strictly and require Leeds to say who the owners were. Just days later, Leeds announced Bates had bought the club. The unnamed investors who had apparently owned Leeds for six years, and certainly since the club came out of administration in 2007, had decided to sell it to him. Bates, a UK tax exile resident in Monaco, had bought the club from the anonymous investors, via a company registered in Nevis, the West Indies, another tax haven. Neither Bates, the club nor Chateau Fiduciaire said how much Bates paid to buy Leeds, why the unnamed investors had decided to sell when the club could achieve promotion and be worth a great deal more or, when they decided to sell, what efforts they had made to find a buyer, perhaps internationally, before concluding Bates was the buyer for them. Preparing for the programme, we asked Leeds United and Bates to appear for an interview to discuss these issues, but he declined. He has banned The Guardian from Elland Road after articles I wrote covering Forward Sports Fund’s ownership, and he has now banned the BBC from non-contracted coverage of the club. Relations between Leeds United’s fans and the club’s ownership are strained He uses his own page in the Leeds United matchday programme, which costs supporters £4, and Yorkshire Radio, a station Leeds United actually owns, to deliver his world view, although he has never disclosed who owned Leeds between 2005 and 2011. We asked the Football League‘s chairman, Greg Clarke, on to the programme, to explain why the League approved the declaration Leeds made that nobody owned 10% or more of the club, without the League actually ever being shown who the shareholders were, so they could see the evidence for themselves. Clarke too declined to be interviewed. In a debate in parliament, Collins said of Leeds United: “There can be few people in football who do not privately believe that Ken Bates has effectively been in control of the club for most of the past six years. The answers given by the club to questions about its ownership over that period stretch credibility, to say the least.” In its report, delivered in July, the select committee called for more transparency in football, so that supporters, who pledge their loyalty to their clubs for life, at the very least know who owns their clubs, and to whom they are giving their money. Of Leeds’ ownership during six years, via a company registered in a tax haven administered in Switzerland, the committee said: “There is no more blatant an example of lack of transparency.” The committee called for the Football Association, the national game’s governing body, to investigate who owned Leeds between 2005 to 2011, with the assistance of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs if necessary. Three months on, the FA has not responded to the report. It is waiting for the government to issue its response, due this month.

Friday October 14th 2011. YEP – Phil Hay – Are fans falling out of love with Leeds United ? Monday night’s TV documentary on the ownership of Leeds United was followed by a fans forum on Tuesday, staged by BBC Radio Leeds at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I was part of a three-man panel alongside David Conn, the Guardian journalist who presented Inside Out, and Rob Wilson, a sports management lecturer from Sheffield Hallam University. Around 30 fans attended an hour-long debate about Leeds United past, present and future. The BBC advertised the forum as a reaction to a documentary which, while providing a clear overview of United’s ownership structure under chairman Ken Bates, presented little in the way of new facts to those who have followed the story with forensic interest. Tuesday’s discussion ranged from Leeds’ insolvency in 2007 to Bates’ purchase of a majority shareholding in April of this year and examined the commitment of the Football League, the Premier League and the Football Association in seeking transparency from English clubs. Leeds United’s view is that demands for transparency at Elland Road were met by Bates’ acquisition of a 72.85 per cent stake from their previous owners, the Forward Sports Fund (FSF). The deal has been approved by all three of England’s governing bodies, the FA included, and the fight for detailed disclosure about FSF might well be at an end. The FA was urged to examine United’s ownership structure by a parliamentary select committee but there is no sign of an investigation in waiting and Wednesday’s Government response made no direct reference to it. Talk about the lack of clarity between 2005 and early 2011 was prevalent on Tuesday but, by the end of the forum, United’s system of ownership in that period had become a side issue. The overriding theme was one of frustration among of collection of supporters who are disillusioned and disenchanted with their club; not yet disassociated, since all of those who spoke were regulars at Elland Road, but lacking the sense that they are valued or respected by the board at Elland Road. An air of apathy, if apathy is the right word, has been obvious in Leeds for months – an atmosphere which, in my opinion, feels at its lowest ebb since the 2006-07 season. That is something of an irony when promotion in 2010 was followed by a seventh-placed finish in the Championship last season, but there was no sparkle or joy in the fans who attended Tuesday’s gathering. One outlined his loss of faith by explaining how he takes a flask of coffee to Elland Road, simply to ensure he pays the club no money over and above the cost of his ticket.  The recent close season was dominated by complaints about United’s transfer strategy but it seemed clear on Tuesday that investment in the squad is only part of the issue. It was discussed at the forum, as it had to be, but not at great length. Time and again the debate returned to supporters claiming that their views are not heard or welcome at Elland Road; describing themselves as undervalued or alienated – some the subject of direct criticism from Bates. They gave the impression that their relationship with Leeds is at a seriously low ebb, at a time when average crowds at Elland Road are down by 4,000 on last season. It should be said at this point that a forum about the ownership of Leeds United was most likely to attract critics of Bates and his board. It is also true to say that the views of 30 people are not automatically representative of Leeds’ support as a whole. But they are representative of some of them and it is logical to assume that those at Tuesday’s debate share pubs, clubs and rows in the stands with like-minded people. However widespread this feeling is, it cannot be in Leeds’ interests to have a disconnected element at the core of their support. Rob Wilson spoke in favour of United’s financial strategy and was most qualified to do so, describing the club as a solid business model, but he made the point that the strength of any business depends on reliable and satisfied custom. In other words, a football club should not risk losing fans over grievances which are reasonable or honestly held. One of the recommendations in Wednesday’s Government report on football was that English clubs engage in and maintain communication with independent fans groups. The report said: “The Government believes that every club should have a dedicated and mandatory supporter liaison officer. Furthermore, that every club should officially recognise the relevant supporters groups or trusts and keep an open dialogue with them.” In Leeds, you have the Leeds United Supporters Club. You also have the Leeds United Supporters Trust, an organisation which is growing and whose profile has been enhanced by the appointment of Nigel Martyn as its president. There are avenues for dialogue and opportunities for an exchange of views so long as the will to talk constructively exists on both sides. If Tuesday’s forum was at all reflective of the wider mood, the process of re-engagement cannot begin quickly enough.

October 13th 2011. Taken from website 200% . Who owns Leeds United ? Many years ago, I listened to prize-winning author and ultra-famous Arsenal fan Nick Hornby reading extracts from the book which made his name, Fever Pitch. And the reading was a disappointment. Hornby was good, but just not as funny as the voice, indeterminate and certainly not my own, in which I’d read the original. The same disappointment arose when listening to speeches by Guardian journalist David Conn. Conn is a decent speaker – even when “10-minute” speeches to Supporters Direct conferences exceed half-an-hour, but his words spoke louder from the page in the voice inside my head. This I know to be unfair, after watching the long-heralded documentary Who Owns Leeds United, which aired on October 10th in the BBC’s Yorkshire and Lincolnshire area. For the core material of the programme overpowered concerns about presentation, and the presentation itself was of a standard to which all football documentaries should aspire. The twenty-nine minutes on Leeds’ recent ownership history focused its attention, for reasons lawyers may be best-placed to describe, on the club’s current owner, Kenneth William Bates. Conn told the story of their ownership, since the departure of former chairman Mr Peter Ridsdale esq, with a refreshing clarity. And while the story contained nothing new to close observers of Leeds since 2004 – which would include many readers of this site – it would have provided valuable insight to those new to it. Conn took us methodically and simply, though never simplistically, through Leeds’ tale of financial woe, beginning with Ridsdale “living the dream” at the start of the century. “It is generally accepted that the Peter Ridsdale was financially disastrous for the club,” Conn noted. This isn’t, of course, accepted by Ridsdale himself in his current energetic efforts to re-write this part of Leeds United’s history. But this was a documentary didn’t get side-tracked on such side-issues – unlike me. The tribulations of the “Yorkshire Consortium” of local businessman who in 2004 tried, and failed, to repair the financial damage done by Ridsdale, were faithfully recalled by then-chairman Gerald Krasner. Eyebrows may have been raised when insolvency practitioner Krasner stated that the consortium “were not rich men,” having claimed his Leeds chairmanship to be a “labour of love” for which he would normally have charged “a lot of money,” – many BBC Iplayer viewers in the Plymouth area would know roughly how much per hour he may have meant by that. But the documentary was honest enough about the consortium’s failings, even in its rush to get to the star of its show, Bates, the “unlikely guardian angel from the tax haven of Monaco.” The documentary was at its most revealing and disturbing at this point, with two stark, black-and-white photos of a younger Bates. The second was demonstrably Bates, though with dark hair. The first showed a clean-shaven, portly yet kindly-looking face, peering innocently out of a car window; proof that the camera may not perpetually tell the truth. Bates’ “colourful” business history was given a brief, wilfully disrespectful airing – “wheeling and dealing… he dabbled in ready-mixed concrete”, as dodgy-sounding a business CV as you could write, bang-updated by the addition of 21st-century business bêtes-noires, “property and banking.” Author Tom Bower, who devoted thirty-three pages of his book Broken Dreams – Vanity, Greed And The Souring Of British Football to Bates, gave us his précis of Bates’ 23 years at Chelsea, buying the club from bankruptcy and selling it just before it became bankrupt again. “Not a great achievement,” he noted. In a warning to fans currently protesting against Bates for developing Leeds’ Elland Road ground rather than the team, Bower said Bates, while Chelsea chairman, “redeveloped the ground and earned a lot of money for himself from it.” And he added that he didn’t think “selling (Chelsea) to a Russian oligarch was a great service to the fans,” which is not a view held by everyone with Chelsea allegiances – not yet, anyway. But the idea of Bates as self-serving twister was established. And Conn warmed to that theme immediately. Newspapers heralding the “Bates Era” at Leeds in January 2005 “suggested Bates had personally taken over Leeds. But Bates denied being anything more than the “UK representative” of an indeterminate entity called ‘Forward Sports Fund’ (FSF), which had actually ‘bought’ Leeds. With heavy emphasis on the words “overseas” and “tax haven,” Conn showed how difficult it was to demonstrate whether Bates was lying… or even telling the truth, for that matter. Economist John Christensen cited a purely hypothetical example of “someone who’s resident off-shore, say in Monaco.” Tax havens weren’t just havens from tax: “Professionally we call them ‘secrecy jurisdictions,’” he told us, adding emotively that “money-laundering and bad activities” could be going on “because we can’t find out who actually owns the club.” The secrecy of Leeds’ ownership, it was implied, also cost the club a £25m loan from Leeds City Council, and seconds of airtime later Conn added that “just two-and-a-half years after Ken Bates took over Leeds, the club was effectively bust.” At which point the documentary played the “small business” card. Conn interviewed Stuart Russell, whose ‘small’ firm Russell’s Patisserie, was owed £2,700 by Leeds. Not “a lot of money in the big scheme of things,” Russell himself noted, “but you have to make a lot of rolls to make £2,500.” So, a third of the way into the documentary, Bates was already established as a secretive failure who took Leeds into administration. This was the cue for a topical dig at the ‘Football Creditor’s Rule’ which ensures that usually highly-paid players get all their money out of an administration process, while Stuart Russell “got back a cheque for just under £50.” “Incidentally”, said Krasner, pretending the thought had just come to him, “a football manager is not a football creditor.” So Bates’ first Leeds manager, Kevin Blackwell, was left to scrabble for a small fraction of the, ulp, £993,332 he was owed. But two organisations stood to lose much more, “obscure off-shore companies called Astor Investment Holdings and Krato,” which had apparently loaned Bates’s Leeds £15m. Astor and Krato were quickly linked to “tax havens” and “closely-guarded” secrecy, just before Krasner explained that they insisted “that the person who has lost them that money be allowed to buy back the club,” as they told administrators, KPMG, that they would waive their bumper debts if, and only if, Bates remained “in charge” at Leeds, on behalf of… well, no-one, exactly, seemed to know. “Just to repeat,” added Conn, directly addressing the many viewers who had just shouted “Eh?” at their screens, “the investors who lost a staggering £18m under Ken Bates still insisted that he remain in charge.” The viewer was then taken on a European tour of companies and court cases to determine why Astor and Krato were so keen to get Bates back in charge. But even high court judges couldn’t find out ‘who’ let alone ‘why.’ Bates, of course, was “the most obvious person… to clear up the mystery.” The documentary had already shown him saying that “the one condition they made of coming in was that they did not want any publicity or their identities being disclosed.” But this was immediately followed by an “incredulous” Krasner saying Bates “didn’t even know who he was working for,” inviting the viewer to ask how, then, did Bates know what they were thinking? As the documentary-makers strongly suspected, Bates wasn’t about to answer their questions, claiming in an e-mail worthy of a school exercise book belonging to “Ken Bates, Class 2D, aged seven,” that he found the BBC (the “Bloated, Biased Corporation”) “thoroughly untrustworthy.” Further examples of Bates’ literary skills were cited; his reference to Leeds fans as “morons” (comfortably refuted by fan representatives’ concise, well-informed contributions to the programme) and his likening, in the official club programme column, of Leeds United to sex, in a passage which would have had any children reading the programme asking “what does that mean, Daddy?” Daddy, of course, wouldn’t have known, as what Bates wrote was, in fact, nonsense. But, as Lee Hicken of the Leeds United Supporters Trust pointed out: “there’s usually something in there that will offend someone.” Conn then turned to the football authorities’ regulations “designed to make sure that the people who own clubs are upstanding,” having just established that Bates was pretty far from “upstanding.” We were the taken on another tour of ignorance, as it was revealed that the Football League and the Football Association had declared Leeds’ owners to be “fit and proper” without ever knowing who they were. Nobody from the League, “including its chairman Greg Clarke, was prepared to talk to us on camera,” Conn added, implying that not even Clarke could defend their (in)action in public debate. The League instead provided a statement which said little more than that Leeds’ owners were fit and proper because the club said so, to which the most reasonable retort can only be, “Right, so who are they, then?”. And they couldn’t say what the club said because it was confidential. They, and Bates, would like to file such matters under ‘history’ now that Bates has bought the majority, controlling shareholding in Leeds – via “an obscure company based in (a) tax haven”, Conn added, probably unnecessarily by this stage. But even this apparent clarification raised more questions, as “just at the point when the riches of the Premier League were out of the club’s grasp,” – i.e. just as the club’s market value plummeted – it was put up for sale by FSF. This was yet more anti-logic for newcomers to the story to ponder, before being told Bates was the buyer, having been about the only person who seemed to know the club was for sale. Viewers were left to draw many of their own conclusions, not least on how Bates could redevelop Elland Road without apparent reference to its owners – a “company based in (a) tax haven,” as Conn noted “while we’re at it.” But the documentary transcript was much longer than other recent football documentaries of comparable length. It never felt too rushed to understand. And the right interviewees made the right points at the right times. And whilst the title’s eponymous question was never going to be answered – unless an anonymous source dropped the answers through David Conn’s letterbox in a brown envelope – it never felt like the piece of failed investigative journalism it technically was. Of course, seasoned observers already suspect who has beneficially controlled Leeds United since 2005, whether they have (exacted) that control directly or through, shall we say, ‘related’ individuals. But the point now is to force the football authorities to guard against a repeat – in that sense, the documentary was well-timed, coming hours before the government’s response to the parliamentary select committee’s report on ‘football governance.’ It is small wonder, on the basis of stories such as this, that even a government naturally inclined towards a laissez-faire attitude towards governance in so many areas of life is taking such a hard line on football at the moment.

October 12th 2011. Leeds United have rewarded Zac Thompson for his impressive start to his career with the club with a new contract. The 18-year-old joined Leeds’ scholarship scheme from Everton in January and has been handed a new contract until 2013. He made his senior debut against Middlesbrough in August and his first start the week after. Manager Simon Grayson told the club website: “Zac has made an impression since he’s been here.” He continued: “He had a good pre-season, he got himself involved in merit, and not only did he play a part, he impressed in what he did and how he went about things. If I believe young players deserve an opportunity I will give them one.”Unfortunately, we lost him with an ankle injury at a time when he was in and around things, but hopefully he shouldn’t be too far away from stepping things up again.” Thompson is one of three youngsters to have impressed for Leeds this season, with Charlie Taylor and Tom Lees both appearing in the first team. “We like what we’ve seen with a number of the younger players,” Grayson added. “They’ve grasped their opportunities and they’ve done well. Young players are always the future of your club and we’re pleased to have some youngsters here who are ready to step up and take their chances.”If I believe young players deserve an opportunity I will give them one.”

 October 8th. 25-year-old Honduran, Ramon Nunez agreed terms on a deal which will keep him at Elland Road until at least 2015 after a string of impressive performances in recent weeks. And Grayson believes the Honduran international can continue to make an impact. “He is an important member of the squad and we believe he will keep progressing,” he told the club’s official website. “We know his favoured position is behind the striker and we haven’t been playing that way over the past couple of weeks. “He is versatile though and has had an impact on games he has been involved in. “There’s a number of players working very, very hard who haven’t been in the team or on the bench and Ramon is one of those. He’s probably been the most unfortunate one in that he wasn’t involved in our last two games, but we like what we see and we know what he can do.”

Sat October 1st 2011. From YEP – Leeds 1-0 Portsmouth.  Team : 01 Lonergan, 02 Connolly, 22 Lees, 28 White, 48 O’Dea, 14 Howson, 15 Clayton, 16 Pugh, 23 Snodgrass (Vayrynen 77) 38 Keogh (Becchio 68) 44 McCormack (Forssell 78) Unused Subs : 12 Rachubka, 26 Bromby,  Ref : Miller. Att- 22,476.Danny Pugh marked his second home debut for Leeds with a goal as Simon Grayson’s men finally put their defensive frailties to one side to beat Portsmouth. United’s defence is notoriously porous and arguably cost them promotion last season, while it has been little better this time around, with a number of combinations failing to return a clean sheet prior to today. But Grayson stumbled across the right formula this afternoon – although Greg Halford did go close to scoring for Pompey – and Pugh’s 14th-minute header, his first since returning to the club from Stoke after five years away, helped extend Leeds’ unbeaten run to four games. Leeds took a 14th-minute lead when Pugh raced in unmarked to head home from a deep corner from Robert Snodgrass. Leeds dominated the opening half but Andy Lonergan went full-length to keep out a header from Greg Halford following a free-kick and the centre-back headed against the bar when the ball was chipped back across. Lonergan also produced a smart save at the foot of his post to deny Halford from a fierce free-kick just before the break .Kanu replaced Riise at the break to give Benjani a strike partner and Leeds began to look uncomfortable as Lawrence moved wide and attacked down the right. Leeds responded by bringing on Becchio for Keogh in the 68th minute. Forssell and Mika Vayrynen came on for the nervy closing stages for McCormack and Snodgrass. Leeds were feeling the tension of having failed to score a second when on top, and Halford’s ability to get on the end of almost every ball played into their box added to their worries, with Darren O’Dea deflecting one of his efforts behind.At the other end, substitute Mikael Forssell was denied a clinching second by Henderson’s flying save, but even though Lonergan had to scramble to tip over a Halford cross, Leeds held on without extending their advantage. Leeds move up into the top half with the victory. They are 10th on 14 points, three points behind sixth-placed Hull City with one game in hand. Simon Grayson : “We worked hard on the playing pitch trying to make things right and I thought the boys did we did well today. We limited them to few chances and  I’m delighted with the clean sheet. There’s going to be a lot made of it but we worked hard to make it like that.  The lads who came into the team today did well. I thought about changing the central defence but  Connnolly, O’Dea and Lees all did exceptionally well. The two two strikers were a constant threat. It was a hot day and we worked them hard given that they had a game on Tuesday.I looked at Paul Connolly in training during the week and and he’s had the bit between his the teeth. He’s a good pro and I thought he deserved his chance, but I was delighted with his performance and that of all of the team. It’s a reward for what we have done on the playing pitch all week.  We’ve not had much breaks when we could do it. Portsmouth have some great players, but we wanted to maximise points from this break of games (last four) before we go to Doncaster on Friday week”. Steve Cottrill  felt the goal was a poor one to concede, but believed his team’s display warranted a return. He said: ‘From that second-half display we deserved something out of the game, that’s for sure. ‘We didn’t test their keeper enough to get a win, but we were well worth a point. ‘I thought we played really well after the break, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the Leeds fans so quiet when I’ve been here. ‘It was a mistake in the first-half for the goal. ‘We looked tired but we stepped it up after the break and deserved a return.’

Sat Oct 1st 2011. Leeds extends stay but other contracts winding down. Leeds United defender Tom Lees has been rewarded with a new four-year deal after an impressive start to the new season. Lees has been a regular for the last two months after making his first-team debut against Bradford City in the Carling Cup. He spent the last two seasons playing League Two football on loan with Bury and Accrington Stanley but has now cemented his future at Elland Road. “I’m really chuffed with how things have gone so far,” said Lees yesterday. “It’s been tough, and I’ve been learning lots, but I’ve really enjoyed playing regularly and being a part of the first team. “It’s been a step up for me and it’s a good challenge. ”Manager Simon Grayson turned to Lees ahead of both Alex Bruce and Paul Connolly and the 20-year-old has played his part in a solid start to the season.“I wouldn’t have thought I would be in this position now,” he admitted. “But I know my future is here and my aim is to keep improving, keep learning, and keep getting better. I’m delighted to be in this situation and I’m delighted to sign a new contract.” Leeds host Portsmouth at Elland Road this afternoon after seven days without a fixture, because scheduled midweek opponents Birmingham City were involved in the Europa Cup. Grayson has been working on defensive improvement after his team conceded three goals against both Brighton and Manchester United. “We had a clear week on the training pitch and we have sorted out a few problems to make sure we become the all round team that we want to be,” he said. “My philosophy is trying to score goals and be entertaining and we have players who can do that – but we are also working hard on the training ground to get the right balance”. Grayson blames some of the goals on lapses in concentration but also believes his side have been on the wrong end of bad luck at times. “I’m not saying we are flawless but we have had to change personnel and we have also had a couple of own goals and penalties go against us,” he said. “If those decisions had not gone against us, the goals against column would be less than it is. But I’m not getting away from the fact that we need to be harder to beat and we must not give our opponents as many chances. “You need an enthusiasm and desire to stop goals and an awareness to sense danger around the box. That’s what we didn’t do last Friday (at Brighton),” he reflected. “But the hardest part of a football match is trying to score goals,” he added. “If we were drawing 0-0 every week, I would have slightly more concerns.”Portsmouth may have a smaller squad than Leeds but Grayson says that is a decision down to manager Steve Cotterill rather than a lack of finances. “Everyone says they have a small squad but it’s full of players who have a huge amount of Premiership experience. “They have players who are earning a lot of money in this division,” he said. “That’s how you work out a budget. Do you go for top earners and just get (enough) players in or do you get more bodies in and be covered in different positions”? Steve Cotterill decided to go down the line of buying top players on high wages but lacking numbers. “They are a tough team and we had two decent games last year,” he said. “Hopefully, we can build on two consecutive home victories in the league against Bristol City and Crystal Palace and finish for the international break in a positive manner. We have had a fantastic home record since I arrived here and that’s testimony to the players and fans.” Leeds are currently two points above Portsmouth, who have played one game more, and victory today could lift the club as high as seventh in the table depending on other results. One player desperate to figure for Leeds is veteran midfielder Michael Brown who quit Portsmouth last summer. Former team-mate Hayden Mullins knows exactly what to expect from Brown and said: “I’d like to play against him – he leaves his foot in and his elbow and all the rest of it. I stayed away from him but I saw him in a few dust-ups in training.” Portsmouth supporters will be the first to be re-located in the new away supporters area in the West Stand at Elland Road. Grayson believes it will be an advantage having Leeds supporters behind both goals. The move also entitles the club to charge away supporters increased admission prices. United have opened contract talks with several players including captain Jonny Howson. Leeds-born Howson has entered the final year of his existing deal at Elland Road and has yet to accept the terms being offered by the club. Winger Ramon Nunez and defender Aidy White are also likely to be offered new deals this month but others may have to wait until later on in the season. Other players out of contract next summer include veteran midfielder Michael Brown, defender Ben Parker, striker Lloyd Sam and Finnish duo Mikael Forsell and Mika Vayrynen (who only recently joined the club). “We’re well aware of the contractual position of all our players and we don’t want to get backed into a corner,” said chief executive officer Shaun Harvey. “Discussions with all of those players who we’d want – and who you’d expect us to want – to keep beyond the end of their existing contracts have taken place and, or, will commence shortly.” On Howson’s future, Harvey said: “We’ve made an offer to Jonny and we’re waiting for a response. Discussions have been ongoing for a period of time and since the transfer window shut.” Leeds will have six players on international duty next week. Midfielder Robert Snodgrass has kept his place in the Scotland squad for Euro 2012 qualifying games against Liechtenstein and Spain while Forssell and Vayrynen are both on duty for Finland who play Sweden in Helsinki and Hungary in Budapest. On-loan duo Darren O’Dea and Andy Keogh will be on duty for the Republic of Ireland while defender White is in the Republic’s Under-21 squad to play Liechtenstein. Manager Simon Grayson, meanwhile, insists that he has no intention of abandoning his attacking principles. Only Ipswich Town have conceded more goals than Leeds in the Championship so far this season but Leeds are also the division’s leading goalscorers. “I am not going to sacrifice my philosophy of attacking and entertaining football,” Grayson said. “What I am striving to do is find the right balance.”

Sat Oct 1st 2011. Grayson on transfers. Simon Grayson has admitted that out-going transfers from Elland Road will be necessary before any new players come to Leeds United after describing the club’s squad as “top heavy”. The United manager said he would not consider making further signings without first making space in his dressing room, with the number of professionals at Leeds now in excess of 25. The club increased the size of their squad last week by signing Danny Pugh on loan from Stoke City – a deal which will become permanent when United pay a fee of around £500,000 in January – but Leeds’ 3-3 draw with Brighton and the concession of three cheap goals at the Amex Stadium raised the question of whether Grayson would use the emergency loan market to deal with his leaky defence. He ruled out the possibility of any fresh arrivals before today’s game against Portsmouth, preferring to rely on his existing squad, and he insisted that he could not justify increasing his resources unless a number of his fringe players were to leave Elland Road on a temporary basis. A centre-back is likely to be prominent among his targets if United’s poor defensive record affects results in the month ahead but Grayson already has five fit options in that position, despite losing Alex Bruce to a minor ankle injury earlier this week. Grayson said: “If anything was to happen in terms of someone coming in then we’d have to let a couple go out at the same time. We’re totally top heavy, particularly in the centre-back department.  “Alex was injured before a reserve game (against Middlesbrough) on Tuesday but even without him, we’ve still got plenty of very good centre-halves here. “Nearly everybody is fit at the moment, really for the first time this season, and we travelled to Brighton with the 16 lads who played and six who were left out of the squad. That shows that we’ve got a good strong squad, and strong enough to see us through a tough group of games in a short period. If I decided to bring any more in then we’d have to shuffle it around to make that happen. The early stages of this season were a time of selection issues for Grayson, with several players suffering from injury and four – Max Gradel, Jonathan Howson, Aidan White and Patrick Kisnorbo – sidelined by suspension after incurring red cards. But striker Davide Somma, who damaged knee ligaments in July, was the only absentee prior to last week’s match at Brighton, and the injury suffered by Bruce is likely to heal soon after the forthcoming international break. As a team, United are scoring goals regularly but Grayson continues to be hampered by a defence who are conceding at a rate of two a game. He attacked his side’s “mindset” and “mental dips” after seeing a 2-0 lead evaporate at Brighton but decided to rely on the same players ahead of today’s meeting with Portsmouth. The emergency loan market offers another avenue to a stable defence if Leeds continue to leak goals but Grayson said viable options would be hard to come by on a short-term basis. “That’s the difficult thing,” he said. “People say ‘just go out into the loan market and bring someone in’ but it’s not always that easy. “I saw Malky Mackay saying the other day that when Cardiff had a few injuries, he tried to get someone in and couldn’t. The difficulty in the Championship is that you’ve only really got the Premier League loan market to go into. We’ve been fortunate in getting Danny Pugh out of there. “In League One, getting players out of the Championship wasn’t a problem but Premier League players have big egos and they see dropping into the Championship as a step down. That can make it harder to persuade people to come, even if they’re not playing. Some of them are reluctant to play at this level. “Over the past three or four weeks we’ve been talking about three or four players – some of them internationals – but I’ve found a few of them unwilling to come to the Championship. Some think they’re too good for it.”

Oct 1st. Shaun Harvey on the Strategy at Leeds. YEP- Hay. In his final exclusive interview, Leeds United chief executive Shaun Harvey told Phil Hay that good housekeeping would underpin a return to the Barclays Premier League. On the day when Ken Bates first became Leeds United chairman, the club held 14th position in the Championship. More than six years later and with near-perfect symmetry, Leeds lie 13th in the same division; a comparison which lends itself nicely to the subject of progress at Elland Road. In plain footballing terms, Leeds are as they were midway through 2005: a second-tier team with the stated aim of winning promotion to the Premier League. It is as a business where the differences are most pronounced and most supportive of the Bates era, creating what his chief executive, Shaun Harvey, calls a “great record”.. Leeds are no longer the money-losing entity they were for much of the past decade. The financial results make impressive reading and buck the trend of English football but it is going some to describe United’s progress as a football team as extraordinary. Relegation from the Championship was followed by three seasons in League One, the first time Leeds had competed at such a low level of the Football League. Automatic promotion drew a necessary line in the sand, and a seventh-placed finish in the Championship last season was creditable if, ultimately, disappointing. In the city, there is a tangible sense of impatience about an exile from the Premier League which is now into its eighth year, and United are not oblivious to accusations that they, as a club, prioritise the health of their business over the strength of their team. It is a claim which Harvey strenuously denies. “We’ve got two clear objectives,” he said. “One is to get the club playing at the highest level – ie the Premier League – as quickly as practically possible. The other is to make sure our success is supported by a business which is healthy, profitable and doesn’t rely on third-party support.  “If you take a step back, I’d suggest that our objectives are exactly the same as the objectives of our fans. Most of them would want a successful team and a club who are financially secure in the long term. The only difference between the board and the fans is over how we should achieve those aims. “We maintain a realistic budget and I’ve no doubt that our strategy will work. I’m not saying it might work; I’m saying that it will. We’re properly run, we operate at a profit and ultimately big clubs will always be big clubs. We might not get into the Premier League overnight but it’s going to happen and, when it does, we’ll go into the Premier League as a sustainable club.” The mention of third-party support raises the topic of major external investment, of which Leeds – to the naked eye – have seen little since 2007. Substantial investment is widely seen as a path to a stronger playing squad, though Harvey said Leeds would continue to work towards a profit regardless of any injection of funds. Bates has spoken many times of potential investors on the horizon and Harvey admitted that, in the aftermath of United’s insolvency, talks have taken place with a number of interested parties without success. He is still of the opinion that external investment is not pivotal to the strategy of United’s board, but rather a means of quickening the club’s progress. “We already have a plan to achieve our aims and a plan which we know will work,” Harvey said. “Investment would simply help us achieve them. Without investment it might take longer. “As a board we’ve always said that we’d welcome investment, and that remains the case today, but it has to be right for us and right for the club. We’ve had any number of people approach us, some credible and some less so, and nothing’s come to fruition as yet. No-one has come up with a proposal which felt acceptable to us, but I remain confident that investment will be found.” When it comes to investment, many supporters wonder why it proves so elusive. Are rich individuals reluctant to deal with Leeds? Harvey’s view is that many potential investors, particularly those who live in the city, are scared off by the implication of having a say in the club’s operations. The board at Elland Road witnessed protests against them before Leeds’ 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough on August 13, and criticism of Bates has been audible among sections of United’s support. “Part of the reason why people come forward and express an interest in investing is because one of Leeds United’s biggest assets is our fans,” Harvey said. “But there are also times when the fans don’t help. When people see protests and unrest it makes them think twice about getting involved.” I make the point that the first organised protest took place less than two months ago, against a board who have been in place for several years.  “I’m talking about general disharmony,” Harvey said. “Whenever there’s disquiet or a feeling of unease, it’s very difficult to persuade people to come on board. “I know of local businessmen who wanted to get involved but didn’t want the aggravation or the attention they’d get. Somebody once said to me ‘I’d like to invest but my kids go to school in Leeds.’ It can put people off. “We don’t get everything right as a club, but the staff here genuinely care and they’re some of the best in the country. I want people to realise that what we’re doing is in the best interests of Leeds United and trust us to make it pay off in the long term. We believe in our strategy.”Part of the disquiet Harvey talks of was caused by a lack of clarity over United’s ownership structure. Many months of questions over who precisely owned Leeds – a matter which attracted the attention of the Houses of Parliament – led to a sudden development in April when Bates acquired a 72.85 per cent shareholding in Leeds City Holdings Limited, the firm which owns Leeds United Football Club Limited. Previously, the majority stake in Leeds was held by The Forward Sports Fund (FSF), an offshore company registered in Nevis. The identity of FSF’s beneficiaries was never revealed and the announcement of Bates’ buy-out came with limited details. His payment to FSF was described as an “undisclosed sum”. The issue will be examined again in a forthcoming BBC documentary, due to be screened next month. “For a club in the Championship, we get an excessive amount of media coverage,” Harvey said. “The club are now owned by Ken Bates and that’s been approved by all the relevant footballing authorities. From our point of view, they’re the only people we need to satisfy. Harvey, meanwhile, is happy to accept that present-day Leeds United are a reflection of the current board. The name of Peter Ridsdale, the former Leeds chairman blamed for the club’s spectacular collapse, continues to be mentioned in unfavourable dispatches but Harvey increasingly sees Ridsdale as an irrelevance; a legacy with which Leeds are no longer seriously burdened. “The only legacy of the Ridsdale era is that we’re no longer a Premier League club,” he said. “To some extent you could say that the fact we don’t own Elland Road or Thorp Arch and are required to rent both properties is down to what happened while he was chairman, but a different board sold them. Ridsdale isn’t relevant to what’s going on here now. “We’re following our own plan and the aims we have are clear. “A main part of our objective is to get into the Premier League. Achieving that is down to us and our strategy.” There is, I suggest, a possibility that the strategy won’t work. “It will work,” Harvey said. “Clubs who make best value of their financial resources are always going to do well over time. “In the four years since administration, we’ve posted a profit every single year and we’ve claimed a higher final league position season-on-season. “That’s a pretty good record and it doesn’t suggest that we’re going in the wrong direction.”