Saturday, May 28, 2011
BRADLEY JOHNSON SET TO MOVE ON
Midfielder considering alternative offers...
Leeds United can confirm that the club expects midfielder Bradley Johnson to exercise his right to move to another club this summer.
The player was offered a new contract by Leeds United, but Bradley's agent has told the club that the player is keeping his options open after receiving other offers, two of which are in the Premier League, and he is therefore unlikely to re-sign for Leeds United.
United manager Simon Grayson said: "It's disappointing that it looks like Bradley won't be re-signing. We felt we made the player a suitable offer. I'd like to thank Bradley for his contribution while I've been here, but the contractual situation that we work in nowadays means that players have the ability to make choices such as this.
"This is a situation we wanted resolving as a club because we are looking ahead to next season and planning ahead."
Yorkshire Evening Post 26/5/11
Whites to sign German teenage defender
By Leon Wobschall
LEEDS UNITED should complete the signing of highly-rated German teenage centre-half Monty Gimpel today – beating off fierce interest from Premiership giants Liverpool and Chelsea.
The 17-year-old six-footer, currently finishing his studies at Ardingly College in West Sussex, is rated as one of the most sought-after young footballing talents in the country and is the current independent schools Under-16 player of the year.
Wonderkid Gimpel, a former captain and player of the year at home city club Hanover, was also on the wanted list of Manchester City, Brighton and Southampton but will sign a one-year deal with United.
The young defender, who featured at semi-pro level at Tooting and Mitcham in 2010-11, impressed in making a handful of appearances at reserve and under-18s level for United last season, with boss Simon Grayson having now offered him his first professional contract.
Young goalkeeper Alex Cairns is also expected to sign on the dotted line with Gimpel today.
The full-time deals for Gimpel and Cairns follow hot on the heels of a trio of teenage academy players signing professional forms with United.
Earlier this week, 17-year-old defender Charlie Taylor – an ever-present for the under-18s last term who made nine reserve-team appearances – penned a three-year contract.
That followed 18-year-old twins Nathan and Lewis Turner signing one-year-deals with the club, the pair figuring 11 times apiece for the reserves in 2010-11.
United striker Ross McCormack played in Scotland’s 3-1 Carling Nations Cup victory over Wales in Dublin last night. He was replaced with 12 minutes to go by former United loanee Barry Bannan.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
We all love football, don’t we? It’s a simple game, and yet it inspires devotion in many millions of people. The desperate alchemists of Medieval Europe who toiled in their crude laboratories for years, attempting to turn base metals into fabulous and limitless gold, would marvel at just how much lucre has been generated in the modern era simply by trapping wind in a bladder and making twenty-two men kick it. We all, without thinking of the power these present-day alchemical geniuses hold over us, leave our money at the scientist’s turnstile so that the football club owners can transform it into Baby Bentleys and country mansions and Pouilly-Fumé, just so long as our half of the twenty-two do satisfactory things to a football on a reasonably regular basis.
Nowadays, as each year March turns to April and another season of football reveals itself as either joyous, disastrous, or futile, the brief moment when the secrets of footballing alchemy are partially revealed has begun to attract our attention: fans have become fascinated by the filing of the club’s accounts. It didn’t used to interest us; the finances were the exclusive affair of the chairman, his board, and their administrators. But just as the puffs of blue smoke emanating from the king’s chemist’s hovel drew the attention of god-fearing villagers, who demanded to know what devilish secrets he was trying to bring under his command, so modern football fans have been alerted to the strange bumps and noises that can be heard on Lowfields Road in the dead of night, and every Spring they form the 21st century equivalent of an angry mob to wave pitchforks at the suited bean-counters and their adding machines.
That is, from 31st March onwards we refresh the Companies House website twice a day to see if the accounts are available to download yet (Leeds United submitted them late, yet again).
Downloading documents – and there’s not just the Football Club, there’s the holding company and the radio station too – is only half the battle. Looking at the columns of figures and the unexplanatory footnotes in their strange hieroglyphics, the non-financially adept football fan feels beads of sweat form on his forehead, he feels like a whore in a church, an interloper in the house of a terrible majesty. He looks for a priest in his cassock to whom he can turn to for answers, or cower from in fear at what he may discover. He turns toward him, his hand shivering as he holds for examination the downloaded documents. He turns, at last, to a chartered accountant.
In other words we got the latest batch of Leeds United accounts from Companies House as soon as they were available, but didn’t understand a word, so we asked somebody who knows about these things to tell us what they mean. Our money-minded friend (who also happens to be a Leeds fan, as well as a professional accountant) made things as clear for us as possible, but all is still not quite crystal; the interconnections between Leeds United Football Club, Yorkshire Radio and Leeds City Holdings are difficult to unwind, especially as the information given in the publicly available accounts appears to be as minimal as is legally possible. Our man has had a good go at it though, and so here in bullet point form are the things you, as a supporter of Leeds United Football Club, probably ought to know about our finances:
- The latest accounts are for the year ending 30th June 2010, so take us to the middle of last summer, before the start of the Championship campaign; there are separate reports for Leeds City Holdings Ltd, Leeds United Football Club Ltd, and Yorkshire Radio Ltd.
- The accounts were signed off on 28th February 2011 (making their late arrival at Companies House – for which Leeds will have been fined – perplexing), and so make no mention of our impending takeover by Ken Bates. Two new companies have been added to the Group Portfolio: Leeds United Media and Leeds United Centenary Pavilion. Neither is currently trading.
- Overall, the club is in a better position than it was in June 2009.
- Turnover increased by 17% to £27.4m and the resulting gross profit increased by 18%.
- The club made an operating loss of £670k; this was turned into a profit before interest and tax of £2.158m thanks to player sales.
- Leeds City Holdings ‘head office’ made a loss of £636k; Yorkshire Radio show a profit of £81k, compared to a £700k loss in 2009. Group accounts suggest Yorkshire Radio had an income of £87k, meaning costs for the year would have amounted to just £6k. It is difficult to ascertain from the group accounts whether Yorkshire Radio has any paid employees.
- Forward Sports Fund have not invested anything further in the club beyond the initial £500k in 2007, of which £441k has currently been provided to another group company, so their investment currently stands at £59k.
- Wages were up by 12%, meaning Leeds must have one of the best Staff Cost to Turnover ratios in the league – wages were 50% of turnover, compared to 52% of turnover the year before. For comparison, UEFA recommend 70% of turnover as the threshold that most clubs should achieve (although most in the Premier League exceed this), and that spending 50%-60% of turnover on wages is the ideal target level. Leeds had £5.5m to spare before reaching the 70% figure.
- Undisclosed, unknown costs were up by 26%, an increase of £1m to just under £5m. As a percentage of turnover, this is very high compared to other clubs. We can only speculate about what makes up this amount: it does not include policing, as this is included in Cost of Sales, so we are left to consider items like legal fees (excluding those to R. M. Taylor), marketing, travel, stationery, IT, running costs, repairs, etc.
- Shaun Harvey got a 16% pay rise, taking his gross earnings to £174k, with an estimated base salary of £166k. “K. W. Bates did not receive any emoluments or benefits during the year.”
- In the Tangible Assets Under Construction is an additional cost of £919k on top of last year’s £517k – presumably the cost of the Pavilion. £93k was spent on ‘alterations’ – perhaps the smoking areas in the Kop. The club continue to use the 2009 valuation of Elland Road stadium at £49m, and development land to the east of £5.72m, for a total of £54.72m; the freehold can be purchased from landlord Teak Commercial Ltd for £14.49m.
- The club have committed to paying £1.76m in cash in the near future for undisclosed assets.
- “The average opinions of seven members of senior football management” valued the players registered with the club at 1st September 2010 at £6.67m.
- The club is only owed £25k in transfer fees that are due, with a further £13k coming due after one year – suggesting that all the fees for Fabian Delph have been paid.
- The club currently owes £202k in transfer fees, with future fees owed amounting to £91k. Overall, the club made £3.8m profit on player trading.
- The club has received £12.2m over the last three seasons (since materialising from Administration) for players sold, but has spent only £5.5m on replacing those players.
- Whilst it has improved, the working capital of the club (its liquidity, or immediately available funds) is still negative, meaning that they do not have enough funds to cover their short-term obligations – the shortfall is £3.2m, compared to £5.7m the year before. A new note has been added to this section possibly as a result of a query put to Shaun Harvey last year. This attempts to explain away the shortfall as an anomaly of pre-paid sponsorship and season tickets, arguing that season ticket money would only have to be repaid if Leeds failed to fulfil their fixtures; however, this is also going to appear in either cash or debtors as an asset, so the two just cancel each other out. What this essentially means is that the club has spent most of the season ticket and sponsorship money that it has received relating to next season already.
- The effect of administration in 2007 continues to dog the club. After coming out of administration, the Owners invested £500k to purchase shares of Leeds United, and lent the club £2m cash to cover the short term funding deficit. Also as part of the administration, the club paid off around £7m of debt and costs incurred before and during the admin process. In profit terms they were able to write this debt off to Profit and Loss over 50 years – it can be seen in the ‘Intangible Assets – Goodwill’ section of the balance sheet. But in cash terms it had to be settled. The £2.5m invested and loaned was not enough to settle this, so the club had to rely on its own trading. Essentially the club has used all the cash they received upfront from things like season ticket sales and sponsors to pay off these debts, leaving us short in terms of cash to pay for running costs and transfers. Today that £7m, while paid off to whoever was owed, still weighs the club down.
- Leeds City Holdings and Leeds United Football Club both incurred costs for legal services with Mark Taylor & Company, controlled by R. M. Taylor, who was a director of both Leeds City Holdings and Leeds United Football Club during this period. Leeds City Holding’s costs were £481k (2009: £332k), of which Leeds United Football Club’s costs were £279k (2009: 130k). The total costs incurred with Mark Taylor & Company over the two seasons were £813k; the total over the last three seasons is £1.5m.
- During the year a debenture for £1.5m (a form of long term loan that is essentially mortgaged) was granted and settled by Yorkshire Radio. The information about this debenture filed at Companies House shows that it was granted by Krato Investments and authorised on their behalf by Peter Boatman. Krato were granted rights over the assets of Yorkshire Radio as security for the loan. The debenture was granted on 4th August 2009, but Yorkshire Radio was released from the security provision three days later on 7th August, and Yorkshire Radio settled the loan the next day on the 8th August – the long term loan lasted four days. There is evidence that Leeds City Holdings provided funds for this settlement, as the balance sheet shows an unsettled intercompany transaction for the same amount between two group companies.
- Leeds City Holdings show a debenture for £1.5m, with security in this case being entitlement to the assets and investments of Leeds City Holdings (i.e. Leeds United Football Club and Yorkshire Radio) should they fail to pay it back, making the loanee a preferred creditor. No information about this debenture is available at Companies House.
In the manner of a priest who has delivered a sermon and expected us to understand god, our accountant friend closed his spreadsheets and regarded us over his half-moon spectacles. “Is that clear enough for you, my lads?” he asked. We shook our heads slightly no, feeling that while we had more information than we had when we started, that we didn’t really understand what it all meant, and that probably that was the point.
“Don’t worry about it too much, young fellows,” continued our guide. “Let me ask you another question. Do you understand how Bradley Johnson managed to score that goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup replay?”
We shook our heads again: hell, no.
“Well, but isn’t it the same thing?” he said, smacking his lips. “It’s football. It can be explained, but it can rarely be understood. I’ll see you in twelve months.”
I LOVED PLAYING FOR LEEDS - NAYLS
Outgoing captain Richard Naylor looked back on his two-and-a-half years as a Leeds United player this week and admitted: "I just loved playing for the club." The 34-year-old, Simon Grayson's first permanent signing following his arrival in December 2009, will move on to pastures new after first skippering the club to promotion then playing a part in the club finishing seventh in the npower Championship.
Richard had represented Leeds City Boys as a youngster, but it took a 15-year stint with Ipswich before he finally got the chance to represent the club he supported as a boy.
"I couldn't believe how it had worked out coming here," said Richard. "Having played for so long at Ipswich I never expected to come back and play for Leeds and for it to happen so late in my career was fantastic."
Richard made 76 appearances during his time with the club and, unsurprisingly, lists promotion from League One and the FA Cup success at Manchester United as the highlights of his time with the club.
Last season proved frustrating for the centre-back as he made just 15 appearances and watched from the sidelines until he returned for the final four games of the campaign.
But, Richard had stated his ambition was to help the club out of League One and to re-establish itself in the Championship, so how does he view his time at Elland Road?
"I think it's been a successful time," he said. "The first season we laid a platform, winning promotion was fantastic, and last season was maybe a missed opportunity, but when I look back on it I can have pride that I have made a positive contribution and helped the club move forward.
"It is a tremendous football club and is everything I thought it would be. The fans are tremendous home and away and I just loved playing for Leeds United."
Now the skipper is preparing for life after Leeds. He is weighing up options of a career elsewhere and is also preparing for life further in the future.
"I'd like to play for another couple of years," he said.
"Of course I'm disappointed to be leaving, but I'll see what's out there and make a decision from there, although my family are settled in Leeds and that's important.
"I'm doing my UEFA B licence this summer as well and it may be that I can come back to Leeds and do some coaching with the kids on a night. I don't know if that would be possible, but it would be nice to keep that connection."
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Grayson pays tribute to Naylor as he opts to re-shape Leeds without his captain
LEEDS United manager Simon Grayson is allowing captain Richard Naylor to leave the club as part of his summer shake-up at Elland Road.
The Leeds-born defender was Grayson’s first signing as boss over two years ago and played a key role in getting the club back into the Championship.
However, his appearances this season have been limited by injury and added competition for places and Grayson feels the time is right to part company, albeit with a fond farewell.
“I’d like to thank Richard for everything he has done during his two-and-a-half years with us,” said Grayson.
“He’s been a great captain for the club, both on and off the field, and I can’t speak highly enough of him and what he’s done.
“Unfortunately, we’re not in a position where I can offer him regular football now and allowing him to move on will give him the best possible opportunity elsewhere.”
Leeds have been unable to agree terms with out-of-contract midfielders Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny but Grayson is keeping the door open for both to stay at the club.
He has also offered a new deal to Australian international defender Patrick Kisnorbo who returned from a 13-month injury absence in the final game of the season against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend.
“It was great to see Paddy come back. It’s obviously been a long, hard road for him and he’s had a tough time with injury. We will be putting together a contract which we hope will suit both parties,” said Grayson.
On Johnson and Kilkenny, he added: “I want things concluding quickly so we can plan ahead and move forward with certainty.”
Goalkeeper Shane Higgs, whose path to the first team has been blocked by Kasper Schmeichel this season, was also released last night.
Loan players Sanchez Watt (Arsenal), Jake Livermore (Tottenham), George McCartney (Sunderland) and David Gonzalez (Manchester City) have returned to their parent clubs.
“I’d like to thank all the loan players who have come at different stages,” said Grayson.
“Sanchez has obviously been with us for the full year and the end of last season, but each and every one of them has played a part in what we have done over the past 12 months.”
Leeds were beaten to a play-off place by Nottingham Forest in the closing stages of the season but had started the campaign targeting survival.
Grayson has also handed a new six-month deal to Honduran international winger Ramon Nunez, who finished the season on loan at Scunthorpe United.
Nunez, 25, has made only two substitute appearances for Leeds but scored three goals in eight appearances for the Iron.
“He’s a talented player and he’s proved that by doing well at Scunthorpe,” said Grayson.
“Ramon will come back in the summer with an opportunity to make an impression here.”
Leeds, meanwhile, have offered first professional deals to second-year scholars Nathan and Lewis Turner and goalkeeper Alex Cairns.
However, James Booker, James Baxendale and Johnny Birbeck have been released along with Brandon Cardwell.
Yorkshire Evening Post 9/5/11
Let’s get the fizz back for 2012 - Grayson
SIMON GRAYSON said the tardy timing of the findings of the Alejandro Faurlin inquiry left a lot to be desired after watching his Leeds United side triumph 2-1 at champions QPR.
The match became a side issue after Rangers were told around an hour before kick-off they wouldn’t be docked points following the FA hearing into the signing of the midfielder in 2009, the cue for mass celebrations in the home dressing room before a ball was kicked.
Whites boss Grayson was critical of the announcement, 60 minutes before the final fixture of the season, which the visitors went into with the slimmest of play-off hopes, needing a hefty win allied to a big defeat for Nottingham Forest at Crystal Palace to gatecrash the top six.
On the announcement of the Faurlin verdict, originally expected to be made on Friday, but delayed, he said: “It probably just typifies the whole scenario that’s happened.
“The verdict should have been done weeks ago. It should never have been left until the last minute and to an hour before kick-off or whatever time it was.
“You have an announcement before kick-off and it should have been weeks or months ago... That’s the ludicrous (nature) of it all.
“It’s not for me to decide but somewhere down the line there has to be some sort of wording or opportunity, or whatever way you want to describe it, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Despite missing out on the play-offs by just one place Grayson insisted his side can be proud of their efforts and, after watching the home players’ celebrations after the match, he challenged his troops to make sure it’s them cracking open the bubbly this time next year.
He said: “We wanted to finish the season on a real high. Not just for this season but in terms of the manner of next season, as we want to be out there celebrating in the manner that QPR were.
“You don’t like to come to a football ground and see another team celebrate. You want to be celebrating on your ground and hopefully this time next year we might be the team doing that. It’s got to be a motivation.
“We were celebrating at home this time last year and it’s a great feeling and we want to get back to that next year.
“We had to have a belief that we could win the game and that anything else out of our hands might happen for us as you never know. But we got off to the worst possible start.
“We warned the players there would be a party atmosphere, but we wanted to spoil the party. But, as the game went on, we got better and it was a good performance in the end. We came here to get a result and we’ve beaten the champions twice this season and that’s a great testament to the players.
“The players have given their all for the football club and the shirt.
“We could have won a few more games in the last six or seven but all credit to the players, we’ve had a really good season and achieved a lot of positives and we can learn from the experience and look to next year.
“We can’t be down too much as we’d have settled for our position at the start of the season. You look back at what we’ve done and we’ve done ever so well and we’ll learn from it.”
While it was ultimately no red-letter day for the Whites, it did at least prove a milestone occasion for defender Patrick Kisnorbo, whose appearance as a 79th-minute sub was his first in almost 14 months following his injury nightmare.
On the Aussie’s big moment, Grayson said: “The timescale was that he wouldn’t probably play again this season but, ultimately, his fitness levels were good, he’s done well in training. and we just thought 15 minutes at the end of the game would be ideal.
“He grasped the opportunity and looked very comfortable.
“He was in the squad and not used last week, but after another week’s training he was always going to play some part and he did very well.
“It’s his first minutes on the pitch at any level this season, even reserve team or practice match, but he’s come on and done what he’s needed to and worked ever so hard.
“Physically and mentally, it’s been a really tough time for him. But what he’s achieved is full credit to him and the medical staff.
“Unfortunately, the season is finishing a little bit too early for him, but he’s worked really hard and if we can get him really fit over this summer and get a good pre-season inn him, then we’ve certainly got a player on our hands.”
Sunday, May 08, 2011
We won’t hold Howson back - Grayson
By Phil Hay
Jonathan Howson will travel to the European Under-21 Championship with Leeds United’s blessing if he makes the final 23-man squad selected by England coach Stuart Pearce.
Howson was named in a provisional group of 40 players announced by the Football Association earlier this week and will learn before June 1 whether Pearce plans to take him to Denmark for next month’s tournament.
United’s vice-captain, who will turn 23 ahead of the European Championship, but who is eligible having been 21 when qualifying started, broke into the under-21 squad for the first time in February having caught Pearce’s eye during a full and impressive season in the Championship.
Howson completed an ever-present term at Queens Park Rangers, making his 46th league appearance and his 50th in all competitions, but the European Championship runs throughout June and Leeds manager Simon Grayson admitted to concern about Howson’s rest and recovery after a demanding domestic season.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger recently took issue with the impending call up of midfielder Jack Wilshere for the tournament, claiming that the teenager would be at risk of burn-out if he is asked to take part.
Grayson is similarly aware of the demands facing Howson and Leeds winger Robert Snodgrass, who is likely to play some role in friendlies contested by Scotland later this month.
The United boss said: “It’s something to consider. If we’d been in the play-offs or the play-off final – and there’s still that possibility for us – then the season would have been extended anyway but ideally you’d like your players to have as much rest as possible.
“It’s a difficult decision and managers have their own best interests at heart – that’s keeping players fresh and ready for pre-season.
“But when international games come calling, you can’t turn them down and I don’t think I’d have much choice in it.
“Jonny may be in that squad or he may not when it’s whittled down, but if he goes away then we’d give him a bit of extra time off before he comes back (for pre-season training).
“he’s had a fantastic season and has been called up to the England squad with some really good midfield players in there.”
Howson’s under-21 debut came against Italy in February, an opportunity which suggested that Pearce would consider him for the European Championship and the midfielder admitted at the time that he would be ready for selection if he made the 23-man squad for Denmark.
“I’ll keep playing the way I have and if I get a shout then I’ll be ready and waiting,” Howson said. “But I must admit that it’s secondary – if it comes along then it will be an added bonus. For me, it’s back to the club and playing well for Leeds.”
Pearce’s under-21s are to feature in a friendly with Norway in Southampton before beginning their European campaign against Spain on June 12.
Further group games against Ukraine and the Czech Republic will be on June 15 and June 19 respectively.
Snodgrass, meanwhile, could take part in two international matches before the end of this month, both in Dublin. Scotland meet Wales on May 25 before playing the Republic of Ireland four days later, 24 hours before the Championship play-off final takes place at Wembley.
Grayson said. “He could do with a bit of a rest after a few niggles over the last couple of weeks but he’s got a couple of Scotland games in Dublin at the back end of May.”
Pearce, meanwhile, is sceptical of predictions of burn-out amongst his players and Wilshere was included in his provisional squad this week, despite Wenger’s protestations.
Pearce said: “I have to bring my own experiences as a player to the fore.
“By the time I was 21, I’d played 250 non-league games. I then played until I was 40.
“I played a full set of internationals and probably played 1,000 matches in my career. What I can tell these players is play football – it says it in your contract. That’s your job title.”
Saturday, May 07, 2011
Leeds Spoil QPR’s promotion party
Leeds missed out on the play-offs but did their bit to spoil the QPR promotion party after coming back from going a goal down early on to win 2-1.
The day started horribly for Leeds. The news that QPR were found guilty on two charges but would not be deducted any points was released almost exactly an hour before kick-off. It was bad timing from the FA and no doubt helped QPR fly out the traps the way they did.
Within thirty seconds QPR won the ball and blitzed forward. Tommy Smith received the ball in the box and shot at Schmeichel who spilled it into the path of Heidur Helguson to tap home. The Leeds defence was static and didn’t seem to know what had hit them. QPR started with pace and Leeds just weren’t ready for them.
After that the game took on the typical feel of the last game of the season. QPR didn’t really move up a gear, though Schmeichel was forced into action a couple of times. Slowly Leeds started to see more of the ball though chances were sparse. There was a brief glimmer of hope as Billy Paynter found himself through on goal only to be brought down by a flailing leg. Inexplicably referee, Mark Clattenburg, waved away the appeals. It would certainly have been a red card and a chance to equalise.
Leeds were starting to push QPR back and finally equalised through Max Gradel. A long ball from Richard Naylor deceived the QPR defence and Gradel’s excellent movement allowed him to flick the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper. The home crowd had been surprisingly muted up until then but that silenced them. The Leeds fans were in great voice as the team saw out the rest of the half reasonably comfortably to head in level.
The Whites started the second half much better than they started the first but QPR were still able to demonstrate their pace coming forward and frightened the Leeds defence on a couple of occasions. After initially flapping at a cross, Schmeichel made a great save from a header back at goal.
Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny were playing very well in the middle of the park and were on hand to keep Adel Taarabt quiet once he was introduced. Leeds were creating chances but nothing clear cut while Paynter was having a nightmare up front and was replaced by Davide Somma who immediately looked sharper than Paynter had all game.
Leeds took the lead through a Ross McCormack deflected shot on 68 minutes. He showed good control on the edge of the box before looking to slide it into the corner, his shot came off QPR defender Kaspars Gorkss and ballooned over Radek Cerny and into the opposite side of the goal. McCormack, who also shaved the post with an ambitious drive later on, will be claiming the goal despite the massive deflection.
There was a huge ovation for the return of Paddy Kisnorbo, complete with head bandage who came on for Richard Naylor. It was great to see him back in action.
QPR threw on defender Danny Shittu up front to try and salvage something from the game but aside from one snap shot that Schmeichel saved comfortably he was ineffective and Leeds held out well to do their part in spoiling the QPR party.
The stand out performers were Kilkenny and Johnson, who passed and tackled superbly. Max Gradel was impressive in the first half but went quiet in the second and was replaced by Sanchez Watt. Eric Lichaj was typically tireless as he busted his guts getting up and down the left flank all game.
Securing a play-off place was always a tall order but Leeds can be happy with how they performed and it rounds off a fantastically entertaining season excellently. How much of this team runs out in August remains to be seen and today may well have been the last time we see some players in the Leeds shirt. It would be fair to say though, that despite our ups and downs this season, most of the players have been good servants for the club. For Leeds fans, all eyes turn to the summer transfer window and the start of a new season.
Whites takeover deal’s worth ‘tens of millions’
By Phil Hay
The majority stake in Leeds United purchased by Ken Bates is likely to have been worth “tens of millions of pounds,” a leading sports lawyer claimed today.
Richard Cramer, a partner with Leeds-based solicitors Cohen Cramer, said the value of the controlling interest acquired by Bates could stand at eight figures with United closer to the Premier League than they have been for almost five years.
Bates, United’s chairman since January 2005, became the club’s majority shareholder last week in an attempt to tackle scrutiny of Leeds’ previous owners, all of whom were anonymous.
The 79-year-old purchased a 72.85 per cent stake in Leeds City Holdings Limited – the firm which owns Leeds United Football Club Limited – on April 26, installing himself as United’s new owner and moving to comply with Premier League rules demanding full disclosure of the identity of shareholders with an interest of 10 per cent or more.
Bates bought his stake from Forward Sports Fund, the offshore company which took up a controlling interest after United’s insolvency in 2007.
The purchase was made by another offshore company, Outro Limited, owned by the former Chelsea chairman.
Leeds said that Bates paid an “undisclosed sum” for the shares but Cramer, a specialist in sports law, told the YEP: “I’d estimate the value that sort of stake to be in the region of tens of millions of pounds. The club are very close to a big pay-day in the Premier League and they got rid of a lot of toxic debt when they came out of administration.
“They’ve got a hard core of 20,000 supporters and they can rely on crowds of 30,000 for the bigger games.
“In the Premier League, I’d expect them to sell out every week.
“It’s also true that the squad is worth considerably more than it was two or three years ago. At the moment you’re buying a franchise in the Football League but you could end up with a franchise in the Premier League.
“The investment is about potential but there’s an awful lot of it.”
Cramer believes that Bates’ decision to purchase a controlling interest – a move which came on the back of pointed questions about United’s ownership structure during a government inquiry into football governance – had ended any threat of future sanctions from England’s governing bodies.
Leeds are understood to have met both Football League and Premier League rule on disclosure of shareholders, and approval from the Football Association is expected to follow in the near future.
Cramer said: “My assessment of this is that there must have been a certain degree of pressure brought to bear on the club.
“This deal can’t have happened overnight and I’d guess that Leeds have been working on it ever since the parliamentary hearing began asking questions and raising doubts (about whether United might be denied entry to the Premier League in future).
“But this has clarified matters and what it seems to have done is shut the door on any future inquiries or penalties.”
Why did Leeds sell to Ken Bates, who claims he has no money to invest?
Leeds United's mystery owners have just sold out to Ken Bates for an 'undisclosed sum' at a time when they stood a good chance of realising a thumping return on their outlay
Ken Bates was attempting to "end the speculation" and settle what he derided as "scaremongering" over Leeds United's anonymous offshore ownership by announcing todaythat he has finally bought the club himself. Characteristically of this saga, in which the proud Yorkshire club have been owned by unnamed beneficiaries of trusts in tax havens since Bates arrived as chairman in 2005, he said he had bought Leeds from those anonymous owners "for an undisclosed sum", via a company, Outro Ltd, registered in a tax haven – Nevis, in the West Indies.
Leeds said in an official club statement that the "change in ownership structure" was meant to settle the issue, the lack of transparency over who owns Leeds, in which the Premier League and the football inquiry by the culture, media and sport select committee has recently taken a keen interest. Yet many more questions are prompted by this move than Leeds are answering.
Will Leeds supporters, the wider football public and the parliamentary select committee ever be told who those owners were? Why, after buying Leeds back after administration in 2007, seeing the club up from League One and to the brink of the playoffs for Premier League promotion, did those owners decide to sell now? Leeds's statement said the reason was to satisfy the Premier League whose chief executive, Richard Scudamore, told the select committee inquiry last month that if Leeds were promoted he would seek more details about the owners than the Football League had required.
"The Football League have chosen not to apply the rule as robustly as we think we will be applying it," Scudamore said.
That, though, seems a strange reason for the offshore owners to sell. Their investment would have been worth a fortune, at last, if Leeds did win promotion, so why would they not have happily furnished Scudamore with any information he wanted?
And when they decided to sell, whatever their reasoning, why to Bates? Leeds is widely regarded as one of the last remaining good prospects as a football club to buy – in a one-club city, with a huge support which has stayed solidly loyal, paying eye-watering ticket prices in League One and the Championship. As Bates and the chief executive, Shaun Harvey, have proudly said, the club's financial position is healthy as the £35m debt was wiped out when Bates and his fellow directors put Leeds into administration.
So did the investors, having waited through the rebuilding from League One under Simon Grayson's inspirational management, market the club far and wide, to Gulf state sheikhs and US sports-franchise owners, but find Ken Bates, with his offshore company, the one person offering the best deal?
Bates told the high court, in a libel action brought against him by the former Leeds director Melvyn Levi in 2009, which Bates lost, that he had never put money into Leeds. Bates said he did not have cash; his wealth is mostly tied up in assets. So is this a good deal for Leeds fans who might think, with a bit of investment, their club could be in the Premier League?
Yet of all these questions, the most curious episode in the Leeds United ownership saga remains the way Leeds emerged from administration. In that financial wreckage one offshore company, Astor Investment Holdings, was owed £17.6m after the two years in which the club was owned by the Forward Sports Fund, a company registered in the Cayman Islands, and run by Bates. There were four competing bids to buy the club, one of which was Forward, which wanted to install Bates as the chairman again.
The administrator, Richard Fleming of KPMG, said Bates, his solicitor Mark Taylor and Harvey had stated there was no connection between Bates or Forward and Astor. Yet Astor said it would write off millions of pounds if Forward was allowed to have the club back with Bates as the chairman. If a competing bid for Leeds was accepted, Astor would add its £17.6m to the debts for repayment.
When that issue came up in the libel trial the judge, Sir Charles Gray, told Bates he was "exceedingly puzzled" about why Astor would "kiss goodbye" to so much money, if it had no connection to Bates and Forward.
Bates replied that he could only "presume" Astor wrote off its £17.6m because "there would be the option for business in the future", if he and Forward remained in control. Presumably the company believed it would not have the opportunity to lend more money to Leeds if anybody else took over.
In the two years since, Astor never did lend money to Leeds United again. When Bates wanted the club to buy back their Thorp Arch training ground he sought a loan from Leeds city council, which ultimately was not agreed.
Some chinks of disclosure in the ownership of Leeds have emerged in a court action Bates himself brought in Jersey against a company, Admatch, he claims owed the club money. First it was revealed that Astor had actually owned Forward originally, then Taylor said that connection had been "severed" in late 2006, before the Leeds directors put the club into administration.
Bates's solicitor then told the court that he and his long-term Guernsey-based financial adviser, Patrick Murrin, owned Forward Sports Fund, being the sole owners of two "management shares". Subsequently, however, Bates told the court in a sworn affidavit that was not correct, he had made "an error", and in fact did not have a management share. Instead Murrin and Peter Boatman, "a representative of a Geneva-based fiduciaire [financial administrator]", owned the management shares, on behalf of investors.
"This information has only just come to light," Bates told the court. In that affidavit, he said that although he was authorised to manage Leeds, "Neither I, Mark Taylor or Shaun Harvey are able to confirm who the ultimate beneficial owners of Forward are."
Now, apparently, nobody will ever know, and Leeds believe they have put a lid on all the questioning. Those never-named beneficial owners, who had no connection to Bates, for whom Astor wrote off millions so it and Bates could remain charge, have now sold to Bates "for an undisclosed sum". Why it did, why now, why to Bates, and how much he paid, nobody is to be told.
Yet Leeds are confident neither the Football League nor Premier League rules require any more information to be given.
"This change in ownership structure … delivers the transparency sought," said Leeds United, now owned by the 79-year-old Monaco-based Ken Bates, via Nevis, in the West Indies.
Bates in Leeds buy-out to end ownership saga
Ken Bates has sought to lay speculation about the ownership of Leeds United to rest by buying control of the club.
Leeds last night issued a statement saying Bates, the club’s chairman, had bought out the near 73 per cent stakeholding of off-shore company Forward Sports Fund (FSF).
Bates has bought control – for an undisclosed sum – through a company called Outro, which he wholly owns. Both Outro and FSF are based in the Caribbean tax haven of Nevis.
FSF is owned by three discretionary trusts with no public recognition of who the trusts’ owners are.
Leeds said no individual owned more than 10 per cent of any of those trusts, which meant they did not have to provide further details to the Football League and FA under their ownership disclosure rules.
But the apparent anonymity of Leeds’s ownership has become an increasing bone of contention and last month MPs running an inquiry into football governance questioned how the game could allow the situation to continue.
Leeds’s statement criticised MPs for “scaremongering” over the issue but Damian Collins, one of the members of the Commons committee running the inquiry, last night hit back and called the club’s claims “ridiculous”.
Collins, a Tory MP on the culture, media and sport committee carrying out the inquiry, said: “We asked legitimate questions – questions a lot of people have been asking – over who owns Leeds United. The fans of the club have a right to know and I don’t see how the Football Association or the Premier League can enforce their regulations on ownership without knowing who the investors in Leeds are.
“It’s ridiculous to call that scaremongering, they’re legitimate and reasonable questions. The fact that Leeds have moved to resolve the matter means we were right to be asking those questions.
“If our inquiry has had something to do with the new clarity of who owns Leeds then I am very pleased.
“I could not see how the FA could ensure there were no conflicts of interests or issues of dual ownership if they did not know who the principle investors were.”
The club statement said: “There has been much speculation in the media over the ownership structure of Leeds United and its compliance with the relevant regulations of the Football League and Football Association. The speculation has been further fuelled by the coverage of the Football Governance enquiry and the political obsession with the ownership of Leeds United.
“The scaremongering arising out of the football governance inquiry has not been helpful and, whilst the board were always confident that there were no issues, recognise the concern the unknown outcome of any Premier League questions may have on our members.
“To address this issue and in the hope that this brings an end to the speculation, the chairman, Ken Bates, has completed the purchase of FSF Limited for an undisclosed sum. FSF Limited is now owned by Outro Limited which is wholly owned by Ken Bates. This change in ownership structure makes Ken Bates the controlling shareholder of Leeds United and delivers the transparency sought.”
During evidence to the inquiry in March, Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey told MPs the owners of the trusts behind FSF were unknown but that they had appointed two men, Patrick Murrin and Peter Boatman, to run the club who in turn asked Bates to be chairman.
Harvey said neither he, nor to his knowledge Bates, knew who the shareholders of the trusts were.
Last month, the FA admitted to the committee it also did not know the identities of the people behind the trusts. The Premier League added to the controversy when chief executive Richard Scudamore told the inquiry that Leeds would have to reveal the exact identity of the owners if the club won promotion from the Championship.
At the time, Bates insisted he had no problem with the Premier League’s requirements and the club did not anticipate having any problem meeting them. It is unclear whether Bates had already decided to bring the ownership issue to an end at that point and he was unavailable for comment last night.
Leeds are now unlikely to win promotion with Nottingham Forest in a strong position to take the final play-off sport, barring a defeat at Crystal Palace and a big win for Leeds at QPR in Saturday’s last round of Championship matches.
The involvement of FSF in Leeds’s affairs has been controversial ever since the offshore company and Bates retained control of the club when it slid into administration in 2007.
At the time, local MPs and creditors questioned why major offshore creditors, who effectively controlled the outcome of the administration process, were prepared to waive millions of pounds owed to ensure FSF retained control when other bids to buy the club might have delivered a greater return to creditors.
Bates denied any connection with the offshore creditors, which were registered in the Caribbean, and said FSF was favoured because it was the only bidder at the time prepared to cover running costs while Leeds remained in administration.
STATEMENT - NEW LEEDS UNITED OWNERSHIP
Ken Bates announced as new Leeds United owner...
There has been much speculation in the media as to the ownership structure of Leeds United and its compliance with the relevant regulations of The Football League and The Football Association. The speculation has been further fuelled by the coverage of the Football Governance enquiry and the political obsession with the ownership of Leeds United.
Both the Football League and the Football Association have confirmed that the current ownership structure of Leeds United complies with both their regulations.
The scaremongering arising out of the football Governance enquiry has not been helpful and, whilst the Board were always confident that there were no issues, recognise the concern the unknown outcome of any Premier League questions, may have on our Members.
To address this issue and in the hope that this brings an end to the speculation, the chairman, Ken Bates, has completed the purchase of FSF Limited for an undisclosed sum. FSF Limited is now owned by Outro Limited which is wholly owned by Ken Bates.
This change in ownership structure makes Ken Bates the controlling shareholder of Leeds United and delivers the transparency sought.
The revised details have been submitted to The Football Association, The Football League and the Premier League in accordance with their regulations. Further to the submission of these details both the Football League and the Premier League have confirmed that the new ownership structure satisfies their regulations. The Board do not anticipate any issues in securing approval of the Football Association in due course.
Leeds United Football Club Limited ('LUFC') the company that holds the share in the Football League, is a member of the West Riding County Football Association and an Associate Member of the Football Association.
LUFC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leeds City Holdings Limited ('LCH').
LCH has five unconnected shareholders, four of these hold 27.15% collectively with no one of these holding more than 10% of the issued shares.
FSF Limited (a company incorporated in Nevis) holds 102,000,000 or 72.85% of the issued shares.
On the 26th April 2011, FSF Limited was acquired by Outro Limited.
Outro Limited is wholly owned by Mr K W Bates and is registered in Nevis, West Indies.
On this basis, Mr K W Bates is deemed to be the controlling shareholder of LUFC.
May 3 2011
Gradel eyes new deal
Whites ace happy committing his future to Elland Road
Leeds United winger Max Gradel has confirmed he would sign a new deal if offered one by the club.
Gradel has one year left on his Elland Road contract, although Leeds are currently waiting to see which division they will be in next term.
Simon Grayson's side still have an outside chance of making the Championship play-offs, but they need help from elsewhere on the final day of the season.
Gradel has been superb for Leeds following a permanent switch from Leicester and his displays following promotion earned him the club's Players' Player of the Year and Fans' Player of the Year awards.
The Ivorian is enjoying his time at Leeds and despite reported interest from Newcastle the 23-year-old is looking to commit his future to the Whites.
"If there is a new contract on the table I'd sign it because I am very happy at Leeds," confirmed Gradel.
Kisnorbo’s back in the frame
By Leon Wobschall
PATRICK KISNORBO is eyeing a shock final-day appearance at QPR on Saturday, as he bids to end his season from hell on a high note.
The redoubtable Leeds United defender, left, whose physical qualities and whole-hearted atittude have been missed badly at the back end of this term, is hoping to draw a line under his 14-and-a-half month injury nightmare by featuring at Loftus Road, while boosting his hopes of earning a new deal in the process.
The former Leicester City stopper, who recently turned 30, hasn’t played competitively since rupturing his achilles tendon against Millwall in March 2010, but returned to full training earlier this spring, virtually a year after suffering his horror injury.
He was in the provisional squad for Saturday’s clash with Burnley, only to just miss out on a sub’s place and is desperate to be involved this weekend.
Kisnorbo, who won the fans’ player and players’ player gongs last season and earned a place in the PFA League One Team of the Year for 2009-10, said: “It’s been a long year, but I’m back. I was in the squad (for the Burnley game), but unfortunately didn’t make the sub’s bench. That’s how it goes.
“It’s nice to be back training and playing and doing the things I haven’t been able to do for such a long time and I feel good. Hopefully, things can keep going the right way.
“I’ll just train as hard as I can and whether the manager decides to put me on or choose me (at QPR), that’s up to him.
“It’s up to the gaffer. But if I can travel or play some part, I’ll be happy. We’ll see.”
On his future, the Australian international added: “I’m out of contract this year, so I can’t even say where I’ll be next year, although I hope to be here.
“But I have no idea, I haven’t spoken to anyone. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity next year.
“Hopefully, there’s more highs than lows to come.
“There’s a teriffic fan base here and great people to work with and coaching staff. It’s a great place and a club I’d like to stay at. They’ve been very welcoming to me.”
Meanwhile, Max Gradel was the big winner at the club’s end-of-season members dinner, scooping the two main prizes on the night – the fans’ player-of-the-year award and players’ player accolade.
It followed the 17-goal Ivorian picking up the YEP player-of-the-year award ahead of United’s 1-0 victory over Burnley on Saturday.
Jonathan Howson was named young player of the year and also picked up a community award for his efforts off the field, with the goal of the season accolade won by Bradley Johnson, for his 30-yard screamer in the FA Cup third-round replay loss to Premiership giants Arsenal at Elland Road in January.
Leeds United 1 Burnley 0: Final flurry not enough to give Leeds play-off chance
THE mathematicians may claim Leeds United are still alive in the hunt for the play-offs after completing the double over Burnley.
But the body language of the United players as they embarked on their now customary lap of honour after bringing down the curtain on another season at Elland Road told a different story.
Among the back-slapping and applause was an unmistakeable sense of ‘what might have been?’
Nottingham Forest were, at the time, still to play Scunthorpe United but few genuinely believed the Iron had any chance of upsetting the odds at the City Ground.
So it proved with Forest romping to a 5-1 victory that leaves Billy Davies’s side all but confirmed in the final play-off place due to Leeds needing to not only close a three-point gap on the final day but also overcome a six-goal deficit in the for and against column.
It is, quite plainly, not going to happen – hence the muted response of players and supporters alike during the end-of-season lap of honour. Minds, it seemed, were focused on the many instances where points had been dropped from seemingly unassailable positions.
Ken Bates had even alluded to this in his programme notes, the United chairman lamenting the September night when Preston North End somehow fought back from being 4-1 down to win 6-4.
In truth, there are several moments that can be looked back upon with regret with Leeds having squandered two-goal leads several times this season.
As frustrating, however, as missing out on the play-offs will be for United and their supporters, once the dust has settled a sense of pride will no doubt be felt at how well Simon Grayson’s side have performed on their return to the Championship.
Clearly, there is plenty to build on for Leeds with their attacking play having, at times, been a joy this term.
Luciano Becchio, Davide Somma, Robert Snodgrass, Jonny Howson and Max Gradel can all be happy with their contribution, not least as they have netted an impressive 66 goals between them.
All will be looking to improve on that next season, a sentiment that Ross McCormack will share.
The 2010-11 campaign has not been a happy one for the 24-year-old who joined from Cardiff City for £300,000 last August.
He has started more games for the reserves than the first-team and until the visit of Burnley had been yet to score in a white shirt.
All that changed against the Clarets, however, with McCormack capping a hugely-impressive display by netting the only goal of the game on 33 minutes to remind everyone at Elland Road of the ability that just two summers ago persuaded Hull City to bid £3m for his services.
McCormack said: “My first goal was a long time coming, though I don’t know what was sweeter – starting a game or scoring a goal.
“But it was nice and, hopefully, I can bag another one next week (against QPR).
“This season has been frustrating, though I am also realistic and know that Luciano (Becchio) has been in good form and so has Davide (Somma).
“But I think I have now shown what I can do. Everyone knows now what I can do. The most important thing was getting the three points to make sure we take it to the last game. Hopefully, after winning the league, QPR will be on the beer all week.
“I thought the team played well. Winning by two or three goals would not have flattered us. Burnley are a good side but we thoroughly deserved the three points.”
McCormack’s assessment was a sound one, Leeds having dominated against a disappointing Clarets side who had started the afternoon still firmly in the race for the play-offs.
Burnley can, admittedly, point to the dreadful 18th-minute decision by referee Phil Crossley not to award a penalty when Chris Iwelumo was knocked to the floor by Andy O’Brien as mitigation.
But, on the balance of play, there was little doubt that United were worthy winners.
With Grayson opting for a 4-4-2 formation that saw McCormack paired with Billy Paynter, the Yorkshire club produced their most impressive performance in weeks.
In midfield, Neil Kilkenny’s return in place of Jake Livermore meant a return to the neat passing style that has proved so effective this term while up front Paynter benefited hugely from having a partner to share the workload.
But for the heroics of Brian Jensen, Paynter could have been celebrating a hat-trick at the final whistle with the 31st-minute save that kept out a goalbound header being so impressive it drew applause from the partisan home fans.
Jensen also denied Jonny Howson with a brave block, while O’Brien and Max Gradel were denied during a second-half onslaught.
The Clarets goalkeeper was, however, unable to do anything about what turned out to be the winning goal when McCormack latched on to a sublime pass from Bradley Johnson before coolly rolling the ball into the corner of the net.
Forest’s resounding win against Scunthorpe meant, ultimately, that McCormack’s first goal in a Leeds shirt was not enough to keep his club in with a realistic chance of nabbing sixth place.
It did, though, at least ensure what has been a hugely entertaining season at Elland Road ended on a high.
Captain Richard Naylor said: “We wanted to finish on a high regardless of whether it put us in that play-off place or not. It was important to end on a positive note for the fans, who have turned out in force all season. We wanted to put on a display for them.
“Everyone is happy that we have finished on a high note in front of the fans but we wanted to get promoted so we are all disappointed we haven’t achieved that.”
Sunday, May 01, 2011
Match – 12 August 1972 – Chelsea 4 Leeds United 0
United lose Mick Jones and David Harvey after 25 minutes and Peter Lorimer gives a remarkable goalkeeping display but there's no halting Chelsea as the season kicks off in disastrous style
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Evelyn Lintott – True Corinthian (half-back)
Evelyn Lintott was one of the most celebrated footballers ever to wear the colours of Leeds City, a full England international and a man who resolutely maintained the finer aspects of the Corinthian age
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John Saunders (centre-back) 1971-72
M Keith Edwards (defender) 1969-72
Norris Hepworth (1905-14)
Leeds City's first chairman and the benefactor who kept the club afloat for a decade
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Tom Coombs (Receiver) (1914-15)
The accountant who spent 18 months minding the store after the death of Hepworth
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Leeds United 1-0 Burnley - Grayson not giving up on play-offs
LEEDS UNITED’S fight for a play-off place will go the final weekend of the season after Ross McCormack’s first goal of the season was enough to beat Burnley.
The signing from Cardiff City struck on 33 minutes to settle an often fiery War of the Roses clash.
It means United will still have a chance of claiming sixth place next Saturday at QPR, even though Nottingham Forest kept a tight hold on their berth with a 5-1 thumping of relegated Scunthorpe.
Leeds manager Simon Grayson will not accept his side’s play-off challenge is over until it is mathematically impossible while also alluding to champions QPR’s pending disciplinary hearing for allegedly breaking Football League rules over third-party player ownership, which could result in a points deduction.
He said: “We always had hope. We never stopped believing we can still achieve it because we know things can happen. One or two things might still happen over the next few weeks, but we had to do what we had to do and that’s win the game.
“The way that we played was really encouraging, really positive and now we just wait and see what happens.
“We had to make sure we are still in with a chance this time next week and we’ve done that, but for me the manner of the performance was very encouraging.
“The players will learn from the experience. We’ve had good times and bad times this year and if we get in the play-offs or we don’t we’ll learn from the experience and be better next year.”
McCormack, making only his fifth start of the season following his arrival last summer from Cardiff, finished in style following Bradley Johnson’s fine through-ball in the 33rd minute to send Burnley crashing to their first defeat in five matches.
Grayson added: “He’s had to be patient to be fair. When I bought him in the summer he would have thought he’d be one of the two strikers we would play in a 4-4-2.
“But he got injured, we changed the system and his opportunities have been few and far between.
“But testament to the lad. He’s kept working hard in training, he’s looked really sharp over the last few weeks and that’s why we played him today.
“His movement we thought would cause Burnley problems and it did and the bonus was he got his goal as well.”
Defeat for Burnley leaves them in eighth place, two adrift of Leeds going into the last day of the season next weekend, and manager Eddie Howe admitted his side’s play-off hopes had been dashed.
Howe, who felt his side should have been awarded a first-half penalty after Leeds defender Andy O’Brien appeared to have climbed on Chris Iwelumo’s back, was unhappy with his players’ performance as much as the result.
He said: “Yes disappointed with both. We started quite bright early on, I felt we should have had a penalty, but from then on Leeds closed us down very well and we gave the ball away an awful lot in our own half.
“The penalty was nailed on from where I was. If it had been at the other end it would have been given.”
Howe added: “But I think that’s it for us now, definitely. It’s out of our hands now and we’ve got to look to next year.
“It’s been a disappointing end to our season because we’ve been very close, but just not close enough.”