So the silence is deafening… and hopefully golden; undoubtedly infuriating too – but did we really expect anything different? This is Leeds United and Ken Bates we’re talking about, and potentially the most defining off the field event in the club’s history. No epic story ever pans out inside a short timescale; a look at the some of the most notable literature and cinema of our times stands testament to that – there are rules, an episodic blueprint to follow; three distinct acts that conform to the classic trilogy format.
The context and excitement provided by act one has now given way to the troublesome middle act where the initial hope and enthusiasm have faded and the heroes of the piece appear to be going nowhere, and pretty slowly too; and unlike with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, there’s a distinct lack of ‘cool shit’ like AT-AT vehicles, light sabers, family conflict and a green dude who lives in a swamp; no sadly this is one of those more stereotypical trilogies where onlookers find themselves frustrated, awaiting the big pay-off in the final chapter.
But fear not, almost all of the finest trilogies offer salvation at the death: the heroes triumph, the bad guy either snuffs it or makes his exit and best of all, there’s a big f**k off party to commemorate the whole damn thing! That is what we’re waiting for and I for one have the champagne on ice and a generous selection of mini-pork pies, chicken drumsticks, onion bhajis and cheesy footballs on standby!
You see, this whole takeover saga fits the classic model perfectly, in fact having taken some time off for reflection, the similarities with the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy are quite compelling (hey there, ladies 😉 ). Part one set the scene, the brave fellowship setting off on their epic quest to overthrow the dark overlord, Sauron (Bates) whose dark shadow has cast Middle Earth (LS11) into a period of darkness and infighting. The principal players are set in place, the role of Aragorn, the rightful king, leading the good fight, taken on with aplomb by Snoddy; the stoutly resolute, no-nonsense dwarf, Gimli, personified by Warnock; the eye candy and largely redundant Legolas? Step forward Robbie Rogers! Then at the forefront, Frodo, the everyman charged with delivering the knock-out blow at the heart of Mordor (the East Stand), Gary Cooper of LUST. Any ideas for his noble assistant Samwise Gangee? I’m thinking, surely somebody from the The Square Ball…
Of course a nemesis is required for the scenario; a Gandalf to Bates’ Sauron – a bidder! As the hope faded at the end of the first act, our US hopeful was seemingly cast indefinitely into a dark expanse, otherwise known as a media blackout. Now, here we are in act two, we find ourselves watching the fellowship pacing onwards almost indefinitely, in the staunch belief that salvation is theirs to be had. The only thing is, after two weeks of this, the audience is losing hope, a couple of the fellowship appear to have got stranded in the forbidden forest, having taken a wrong turning on a day out at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, while the remainder are struggling to coerce allies to fight the good fight…
Literary history tells us that this, seemingly the lowest ebb, is where the worm turns. As the fellowship and their meagre army try and stave off Bates’ army of purple vested stewards at the Elland Road version of Helm’s Deep, so Gandalf returns, only now he’s Gandalf the White, his transformation a representation of his commitment to the LUFC cause (and possibly a new incarnation as a Middle East based bidder); he’s bigger, better and ready to kick some top-level ass! – For the title ‘The Two Towers’, now read ‘The Two Takeovers’!
Throw in at this stage, Shaun Harvey, playing the conflicted Gollum, no longer sure whether to stick with the dark side, or facilitate the transition of power in the hope of retaining a role after the demise of the evil one, and surely the destiny of the LUFC power struggle is inevitable…surely?
As I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s been another quiet week and I’m grasping at straws here. Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the slim pickings of week 7…
Monday 11th June
The YEP reports that Aidy White is to request a final round of talks at Elland Road in an effort to clarify his future; expect his agent’s opening gambit to be along the lines of “Look, is the club getting taken over, or can we just f**k off, here and now?”
Eddie Gray also appears in the paper, stating that Warnock will want to get players in for next season as soon as possible – expect another instalment from Eddie Gray’s ‘Guide to Stating the Bleeding Obvious’ in the near future.
On WACCOE, the TOMA threads pass the 1 million views landmark – a true sign of the scale/dedication/desperation* (*delete as appropriate) of the LUFC fanbase. True to WACCOE, even after in excess of 15,000 posts, nobody is any the wiser about the whole affair.
Tuesday 12th June
The big news of the day in the YEP centres around the future of Michael Brown; with the combative/dirty/useless* (*delete as appropriate) midfielder set to decide on his future at the club, having been offered drastically reduced terms for next season. Warnock is full of praise for Brown’s contribution under him but also states:
“I’m looking to bring a few players in that area, but I’d like to think that he will come back and surprise a few people again next season”
Expect that line to be cut and pasted for every ‘contract rebel’ currently at Elland Road, the surprise being that any of them do come back and play at all…
Huddersfield are reported to be set to hijack United’s move for out of contract Derby midfielder Paul Green… nobody cares.
On a more positive note, Dominic Poleon and Ross Killock join Simon Lenighan, Sam Byram and the magnificently named Charlie Clamp and Monty Gimpel in signing professional contracts at the club…quite possibly on the grounds of being offered starting places in August.
Finally there’s also universal agreement on WACCOE as the TOMA thread provides its first constructive and wholly appreciated contribution to the lives of those doomed to spend their days in the dark corridors of its mis-truths, speculation and tired, repetitive in-jokes; it arrives in the form of a GIF of a charming Russian supporter, caught on camera, attending the Euros – that girl’s sweet smile, enough to at least temporarily halt the name calling and spark mass adulation amongst all those who encounter her.
Wednesday 13th June
The Premier League announce a new deal for domestic TV coverage, worth £3bn over 3 years. From the 2013-14 season, clubs will enjoy a modest 71% hike in television income with even the division’s bottom club guaranteed a minimum of £60.6m a season. Ken Bates’ decision to withhold a couple of million pounds from Simon Grayson when the club sat in the top two at the turn of 2011 looks ever more shrewd.
Lee Peltier is again linked with the club with a deal worth in the region of £300k reported to be on the cards, later in the month. The long-running Paddy Kenny saga is also expected to resolved soon as the player returns from his holiday on Thursday. That’s now two players back off their holidays – do they not adhere to Ken Bates’ ‘Guide to the Summer Transfer Window’?
Back on WACCOE, a proud new moment in the site’s history after its members WACCOE their own club, bombarding Shaun Harvey in forthright, but surprisingly expletive-light terms via email, to ask what the hell is going on. Word from the club is that they’re not best pleased; the TOMA 2 thread is temporarily closed (causing severe withdrawal symptoms for some of the most notorious addicts) and the mod who offered up his intended email for feedback, thus sparking the chaos, is moved to apologise to the masses.
The most remarkable revelation of the day is made on the official website though as the club make the astounding, commendable even, announcement that the South-East Corner will be reserved next season for to enable families to attend who have chosen NOT to buy membership! Holy shit – Ken Bates has approved something akin to a non-conditional discount at Elland Road? Well, if you ever needed a sign he was selling up…
Thursday 14th June
It’s the Capital One Cup first round draw day; an event so exciting and pivotal in the pre-season calendar that it’s almost demands checking the twitter timelines to catch up on the news. Fanciful dreams of a day out in Morecambe or York are shattered as the soul-destroying spectacle of Shrewsbury Town at Elland Road is thrown up instead. The club announce that they may seek to move the tie to the Saturday before the season… it’s obviously a more appealing spectacle than the previously brazenly touted ‘prestige’ friendly against the newly crowned European champions.
Leeds Online reveal that Neil Warnock flew over to Monaco to meet/confront* (*delete as appropriate) Cuddly Ken over his summer spending resources. Mercifully, he returned to the UK, still as Leeds manager… we can only hope the news represents the takeover, rather being imminent, rather than Paul Lambert’s fetish for Leeds players being indulged once more.
It’s an encouraging sign for all; even marquee signing and newly appointed club spokesman for EVERYTHING on the official website, Jason ‘@jpearcedog87’ Pearce was in the dark over matters, having eloquently tweeted the day before, “Haven’t heard any news on transfers as yet – kno as much as u. Cnt wait until I’m bk”… his form of textspeak, almost Shakespearian in comparison to Grant Holt’s efforts.
Friday 15th June
Peter Lorimer’s column, as tradition dictates, skirts around all the pressing issues at the club, instead focusing on the revelation that there are a lot of northern clubs in the Championship. Lorimer’s especially pleased for the supporters as shorter away trips must be welcome in a period of financial hardship… home ticket prices might also be an issue, Peter.
Gary Walker, YEP columnist, aka the conscience of the newspaper, is rather more reticent this week, theorising that with the confidentiality clauses that inevitably come into play during takeovers, then maybe silence is golden. Now either… a) he knows something or b) he’s now grasping onto that same security blanket of blind hope/rationality/denial* (*delete as appropriate) that most of the fanbase have a hold of.
Jason Pearce is wheeled out AGAIN on the official site to speak of his excitement of facing Shrewsbury ahead of the league campaign. Oh, and by the way, did you know that the Capital One Cup tie is included in the cost of all the 2012/13 seasonal hospitality packages? Tempted now, I bet? Yes?
Saturday 16th June
Nothing happens! Absolutely nothing! Where the f**k is this Arabian re-incarnation of Gandalf? Why aren’t those other two back from Yorkshire Sculpture Park with the walking, talking trees? Will Snoddy, Warnock and Rogers finish recruiting and get to the ass-kicking battle scene already?!?!
Sunday 17th June
No news, but then again no surprises there as everyone knows that players, agents, representatives of billionaires etc. don’t do their business on a Sunday.
At least the YEP reveals that The Duke’s epic one-man show has been immortalised, as the 4-3 defeat of Liverpool is voted the best United game of the 2000s. In the end it polled 44% of the vote, ahead of the 21% attracted by the 3-2 win at Highbury and the 17% who opted for the 3-0 defeat of Deportivo; the 1-1 draw in the San Siro (13%) and the play-off triumph in Carlise (4%) completed the line-up.
The fact that the most complete performance of the decade (the 4-1 victory over Anderlecht) was omitted is rather a disappointment, but bearing in mind the ‘Match of the 90s’ poll offered the Coca-Cola final debacle and the European exit to Rangers as options, to moan too much this time almost seems churlish.