110 Days of Torture in Review: Week 5

In the wake of last week’s teasing comments from LUST and the rather more clear-cut assertion from The Square Ball’s own Dan Moylan, the messageboards and twitter timelines have been awash with comment and speculation on only one topic: the takeover.

After years of depressing infighting between supporters over the merits of Ken Bates, we finally appear to have found something that unites almost all in joy: the prospect of him finally f**king off!!

 

Rumours and counter rumours have already been thrown in from all directions, one major Canadian entertainment group harassed on twitter and searches conducted in recycling bins across the land for discarded season ticket renewal forms.

On Sunday evening I received a message from my source (just for a moment I was a vaguely ITK sort of person…but not that much so, so forget DMs!) that revealed the club were in talks with a North American consortium about a takeover while another group from the Middle East were also in the running. I was buzzing; I could only think “What the hell is gonna happen when this becomes official?” I didn’t have to wait long…

So here it is ‘110 Days of Torture in Review: The Takeover Diary – Part 1…

Monday 28th May

Speculation continues to dominate discussion on all things Leeds United, and then suddenly, it happened; never mind listening to those who extol the virtues of twitter on the grounds of it bringing to light social injustices and spreading awareness of current affairs, or its value as a conduit between media celebrities, sporting stars and politicians and their public; at 9.23pm on Monday 28th May 2012 AD, twitter finally arrived…

Those beautiful, beautiful words spread like wildfire, going viral more quickly than a Paris Hilton sex tape. Minutes later, similar word arrived from LUST. It’s actually happening – BEARDY BOLLOCKS IS IN TAKEOVER TALKS!!!! 

After 7 years of almost unremitting pain it is hard to do justice to the sense of elation that swept across the LUFC supporting community; an outpouring of joy hitherto unseen in the virtual domain. WACCOE, which remains in many ways, the most compelling medium in which to the follow the story was a uniform sea of celebratory GIFs and grown men claiming to have jizzed in their pants. To best capture the essence of the evening, I’ve chosen to include several examples of the former…mercifully no concrete evidence of the latter was ever provided! 

It seems a rather odd thing to say, but all of a sudden Ken Bates might just be in danger of becoming responsible for one of my happiest ever days as a Leeds fan…even if, true to form, he manages to trouser another boatload (or should that be yachtload) of cash in the process.

In the aftermath of the announcement, the celebratory hysteria continues on WACCOE, even as Monday departs and Tuesday arrives, there are still over 1000 people viewing the TOMA (Takeover, My Arse – just in case you been holidaying on Saturn). This is what the new servers were bought for! 

MIDNIGHT TOMA THREAD STATUS: 159 pages, 3162 posts

Tuesday 29th May

With the alarm due in 4 hours, I finally call it a day at 12.45am, leaving the best part of 400 hardy souls to continue the virtual celebrations. I check, one last time before secreting away the iPad – yes, it is actually happening.

Somehow I manage to wake up early and can’t resist another quick look online; it’s 5.00am and there’s another 60+ likeminded souls already there – Jesus! By 5.30am I’ve received my first text of the morning, asking if I’ve heard anything (Andy C, you’re lucky it wasn’t my day off). Not to matter though, I’m feeling as elated as Rik Waller did on the day he discovered an extra thigh in his KFC Bargain Bucket! I get into work and even find that Absolute Radio are playing The Smiths; the weather’s glorious and I’ve even got my trilby, ready to wear at the jauntiest of angles later in the day! 

Mid-morning, another landmark moment as the club issues a statement on the official website; this is a real first for the site, a published article that doesn’t contain a single spelling mistake or grammatical error.

The media are quick to pick up on the story; the Daily Mail claim that a Canadian consortium have bid £40m for the club, but have been told by Bates that the asking price is £80m – the Toronto Maple Leafs are again moved to deny any involvement. Also dismissing speculation in “Scottish soccer club, Leeds United” is Chicago Fire owner, Andrew Hauptman – we can only assume that the Chicago Tribune is another Murdoch owner newspaper. Doubtless feeling left out of the picture, Club 9 also distances itself from the story. 

More details emerge on Look North as Tanya Arnold reveals that there are actually three bidders in the running and the whole process should be concluded in “weeks not months”… those words immediately send a shudder down the spine. Even more tellingly, she claims that the bidder at the most advance stage of talks is Chicago-based.

So let’s get this straight now. According to the media, the leading bidder is most likely a Canadian consortium that denies having any interest in the club, is based in Chicago and has travelled to Scotland in search of the club? Plenty to go on! Still, at least a conversation with Lee Hicken from LUST assures me that there’s some merit in the “weeks no months” sound bite.

Back on WACCOE, with the original TOMA thread descending into an anarchic malaise of ‘PM me’ in-jokes, the decision is made to retire it and start a second thread, devoted merely to serious chat about the takeover, making it possible for those who actually work for a living to keep track.

‘TOMA Pt.2’ is launched at 11.41pm, inside 10 minutes a new development breaks and whole new wave of hysteria commences…

Elsewhere, Tom Lees signs an improved and extended contract with the club. Tom almost cracks a grimace in happiness; takeover obsessed Leeds fans barely blink to notice.

MIDNIGHT TOMA THREAD STATUS: 284 pages, 5670 posts (retired)

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt2 THREAD STATUS 2 pages, 26 posts

Wednesday 30th May

It’s 1.30am and I’m still up. Just before midnight some keen-eyed tweeter had picked up on tweets in relation to Sheikh Fawaz al-Haswai. Thanks to the wonders of Google translate, they’ve discovered that the real estate tycoon and refrigeration magnate (seriously) has sold his interest in Kuwaiti top dogs, Qadsia SC, in order to buy a second tier English club with a glorious history.

Suddenly cautious optimism is replaced as the messageboards participate in a collective virtual masturbation event and ponder who’ll feature in our 2015 Champions League winning side. A video follows online which is painstakingly transcribed by the resident Arabic language expert on WACCOE (yeah, who knew?!) and the confusion starts. It could be Leeds, but then again it could be Forest…and yes, Warnock is mentioned, but maybe the Sheik wants to take him to Forest?

Confusion reigns, I go to bed, head spinning…

It’s my day off and I wake just after 8am; having left the realms of the TOMA thread at page 16, I find it’s now moved on to page 40 – Jesus! There appears to be a change in tack now though with the pendulum swinging towards a Sheikh move for Forest. Eddie Taylor (@EastStandUpper) appears to confirm our worst fears after speaking to his contacts in the region. In the space of hours, if you believe all the comments, Leeds has gone from Champions League winners elect to mangerless, relegation certs.

Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox & Bulls joins the queue of those ruling themselves out of the running. Adam Pope appears on Look North to update the team on developments and reels out the list of who ISN’T interested – he hasn’t got a clue either then…

After spending the evening speculating on twitter, I’ve decided to put my money on LA Galaxy owner, Paul Anschutz being our saviour. He’s not Chicago-based, but could quite feasibly have old associates from his Chicago Fire days fronting the bid for him. The well connected @ChicagoWhite backed up my musing by stating this is thing is a regular kind of practice. As AEG is absolutely minted, I’m buying into fantasy and will enjoy it for however long it lasts!

@SvendLeeds throws a whole damp blanket of nastiness over affairs by claiming his Norwegian agent friend believes the investment to be a stadium sponsorship; thankfully, a rumour that has a shorter shelf-life than Tony Capaldi’s Leeds career.

The Sheikh fridge magnate is back on the TV; it sounds like Forest again; the WACCOE transcriber supreme quickly quells a potential riot when he reveals the Sheikh didn’t say that Bates had declined his bid for 52% of the club as first rumoured, rather that statement had been in relation to an approach to QPR.

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 148 pages, 2958 tweets

Thursday 31st May 

It’s 9.15am and only 20 pages have been added to the TOMA thread since midnight – maybe I might enjoy my second day off? After everything that’s gone before, now a news vacuum; all that remains are the rantings of conspiracy theorists who put down the whole takeover business as an elaborate ruse, designed by Bates to stall player purchases, and those who have simply chosen to have emotional breakdowns. We need news, any news! Can anyone oblige?

Well, actually somebody can! Enter N11, WACCOE’s newest ITK knight in shining armour, offering news of when the torment will end – 1pm, Friday; that’s when the club will make an official announcement. He knows this as his source has text him to state it as gospel. He brings this news at lunchtime, amidst a wave of scepticism; offended, he resolves to post the text on the messageboard.

Some 7 hours later, N11 triumphantly returns, proudly posting up his text message, in the process, socking it all to naysayers – IN YOUR FACE WACCOE!! Here’s the proof…

For a few moments, N11 showered in the wave of indifference that follows, until one poster flags up a little detail they’ve noticed – the time of the text. It appears that N11 most own a Dolorean as the message arrived some 3 hours AFTER he’d posted to claim he’d received it. The silly sod had text himself and been well and truly rumbled. One of WACCOEs greatest ever outings had made nigh on 200 pages of bullshit all worthwhile!!

IN N11’s defence, it was still more than the press could offer. The Sun had run a story that morning, proclaiming Forest to be the chosen club of the infamous fridge magnate (a collection of tweets and WACCOE postings, assembled by Andrew Haigh), while the Daily Mail were forced to retract their previous article. Ken Bates denied he was either looking for £80m, or talking to a Canadian consortium…no denial of a takeover then? IT’S ON!!!!!!!!

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 219 pages, 4375 posts

Friday 1st June

There are even slimmer pickings on the news front, only a tweet from ITV’s Chris Hawkes, claiming that Shaun Harvey is flying back early from the Football League meeting in Portugal. The news sparks several people to check times of incoming flights at Leeds & Bradford airport – has it really come to this?! They needn’t have bothered; shortly after it is revealed that Harvey was seen exiting the East Stand the evening before at 6.30pm.

Harvey is of course a prominent board member with the Football League and was mercifully still in the Algarve to help the board push through the two major decisions of the week: to reverse the stupid decision to revert to 5 subs; and to implore everybody to play nicely and not cheat – revolutionary stuff!

The big question now was why was Harvey back early? Was the deal in jeopardy and our Big Cheese was needed to get things back on track, or was he there to oversee the final details? Either way, it’s hard not to have total confidence in our CEO (surely?). My only concern is when our postman-cum-hapless presider over (another) failing football club comes face to face with a CEO from a huge multi-billion dollar corporation, will the latter still be in a fit state to sign the paper work, having been chewed up and spat out in the negotiations process? Go get him Shaun!

If the takeover does go through and Shaun remains as our key man in transfer negotiations, he could maybe do a lot worse than pursue Grant Holt. Seemingly on his way out of Norwich, and perhaps, just about stupid enough to fall for our CEO’s patter? The evidence is there…

Back in the YEP, Peter Lorimer’s weekly stand-up act carried on regardless; the pick of this week’s pearls of wisdom: 

“The fact that investors are speaking to the club is, in my view, down to the way Leeds United have been run for several years”

Priceless stuff again from the voice of the fans!

Still little concrete news or whispers about on the message boards and the timelines; N11’s glorious failure, seemingly a lesson to all – so when’s the next storm coming?

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 261 pages, 5210 posts

Saturday 2nd June 

Conspiracy theories and despondency continue to roam the desolate wastelands of the TOMA thread. One lone story from the Temple of Truth that is the Leeds United Rumours site alleges that a Washington group is to invest in the club with an option to buy after 3 years. The poster begins his exclusive tale confidently, proclaiming “This is the real deal”, but the fact his second sentence includes the classic “I can’t disclose my source” line and the third changes tack to “Here is what is allegedly happening” rather betrays the conviction of the piece.

Despite takeover fatigue, it is at least reassuring to see that WACCOErs are able to mobilise against gloating visitors; the gloating post of a Scum supporter meeting with the retort: “I’d like to tear your arsehole apart with my bare hands, turn you inside out and roast your Scum flesh to medium to well done” – we hear you bro!!

Still, the website has announced some big news; after doubtless fighting off an even field of competitors (?), Yorkshire Radio has prevailed and will continue to provide full match commentaries next season. Those without a DAB and living in the York region (and also anyone in Leeds who possess an aerial strong enough to pick up the Faroe Island’s shipping forecast) can continue to enjoy the same privilege through Minster FM. 

With little else to keep myself occupied it was time to switch my focus onto the Euros and in particular, England’s final warm-up game against the Belgians. Having sat through 20 minutes of a mind numbing spectacle it became to switch my attention again to another more compelling pursuit and so began ‘Operation Redders’.

Mindful that new ownership often means a new broom and new philosophy; it’s important that the heroes of today are recognised before they are lost in the name of progress…if only there was a way to publically proclaim our love one more time for Redders? Ah wait, what are those Mars bar advertising boards saying? “Get your ‘good luck’ message on the TV, now!”

It was time for a plan, to pool twitter resources to spam the living hell out of that Facebook change until people power triumphed and after 62 minutes after of the it did. God love you Redders!!…

 

It worked! It only bloody worked! Needless to say, @jenberlufc stole my glory, but it was still beautiful! We had to try again now! Didn’t we? Surely? Hell yeah…

We can only hope those two boys felt the love. 

Still a stony silence on the gossip front post match so time for an extended twitter chinwag with Laura C about Smurfs, spelling, punctuation, lion tamers, drunken chihuahuas, Avril Lavigne, Xanadu and shoulder pads… then I go back; still nothing doing!!

MIDNIGHT TOMA Pt.2 STATUS: 277 pages, 5523 posts

Sunday 3rd June

Still nothing this morning; but that’s a good sign, yes?…

Takeover Diary: Week 2 is looking inevitable…

 

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