the story of leeds football from 2005 to 2008

Into oblivion so very close to cessation. Continuing here with the seasons 2005-06 to 2007-08 and a Play Off Final for Blackwell's Leeds United in 2005-06 but too much too soon as United don't turn up. Luck doesn't stretch into 2006-07 for Blackwell's men and the chairman's friend Dennis Wise is called into the throw. Unpopular then but things get worse as Wise takes Leeds United down to third tier for the first time in their history. Pre-Season and so close to United becoming no more as the creditor's want their money but Bates get's the majority backing and somehow keeps them sweet. United eventually get their FL Share to start 2007-08 but with it comes a 15 point deduction. Wise wins friends as the deduction is quashed breaking records in the bargain. Things soon change when the brains Gus Poyet leaves as United slump. Wise scarpers off to Newcastle and fans hero Gary McAllister arrives with an end of season storm that takes United to the Play Off Final.


WAFLL Main | History Index | Period 2000 ~ 2005 | Period 2008 ~ Current

  2005-06 ~ 2007-08
2005-06 and It's reasonable to suggest that this was Kevin Blackwell's first real season in charge. Free from the backroom concerns that dogged his first season as manager and this time Blackwell now had money to spend. Blackwell added to his new squad bringing in the likes of Robbie Blake from Birmingham City for £800,000, Richard Cresswell from Preston for £115,0000 and Joel Griffiths from Neuchâtel Xamax for £150,000. Blackwell brought in more free signings; Steve Stone previously of Portsmouth and Eddie Lewis coming from Preston. Jonathan Douglas, Liam Miller and Danny Graham also came in on loan to add to Blackwell's growing squad. Realistically this was never going to be the season for promotion. Blackwell and chairman Ken Bates had cited a three year plan to get Leeds back where they belonged. A season at least was needed for the squad to gel and find their feet with their new team mates. Any squad that was going to hold its own in the Premiership should have at least a season together. Good early season runs had given Reading and Sheffield United the bolster they needed to see them both make the automatic promotion spots. Although at one stage Blackwell's team managed to get within shouting distance of the eventual runners up Sheffield United prompting the chairman Ken Bates to give Blackwell a three year extension to his contract. Unfortunately this show of confidence by the chairman was not reflected on the pitch and one can easily pin point United's turn in fortune to the time when Blackwell was given his contract. But despite the lack of success towards the end of the season; Leeds just managed one win in the last ten league games, Blackwell's Leeds United still managed to make it to the play-off's finishing in 5th position. Leeds United beat Preston in the Play Off Semi Final over two legs. The American Eddie Lewis scored in the 1-1 draw at Elland Road with Rob Hulse and Frazer Richardson netting in the 2-0 victory at Preston's ground Deepdale. In the final and any early season class and commitment was totally lost. Leeds United were easily beaten 3-0 by Watford in Cardiff. Maybe too much too soon for Blackwell and his team but despite an early exit in the FA Cup at the hands of Wigan and a 3rd round exit in the FL Cup with Blackburn winning 3-0 it was the promising spells in the league and the push to the Play Off Final at Cardiff that confirmed Leeds United were on their way back and far from finished.

  2005-06 United in fifth and Play Off Final But United Don't Turn Up.

Before the 2006-07 season A new optimism surrounded Elland Road 'this had to be the season'. Blackwell now had two full terms under his belt and had proved in the previous season albiet with a little luck that he might have the ingredients to take leeds United all the way. Unfortunately the luck that aided Blackwell's Leeds United in the season before cruelly turned coat on him and the team. Although the performances by The Whites had greatly improved the results weren't reflecting the teams efforts. Seven league games in and some time after the home game with Sunderland which United lost 3-0 Blackwell was sacked by chairman Ken Bates. Blackwell had done an incredible job with Leeds United in what was unprecedented circumstances when he started. No one fan could have dreamed that after only two seasons he would have got the team as far as he did, but with fan expectation crushed by the early setbacks that United had encountered the chairman despite the improvements refused to give Blackwell more time to find that vital final ingredient and sacked him on 20th September 2006. Ironically the sacking came just after a United win in the Carling Cup where they beat Barnet 3-1, two goals from Ian Moore and one from Robbie Blake pushed Leeds into the next round but it wouldn't be Blackwell at the helm for the Whites in that third round tie. Wisely or not though it was felt by the chairman and certain sections of the Elland Road faithfull that Blackwell had taken United as far as he could. A home game with Birmingham City was just three days away and the United chairman Bates acted swiftly and announced the day after the sacking of Blackwell on the 21st September that he had appointed John Carver as caretaker manager. Carver was an immediate hit with the fans after his first game in charge which saw a revitalised Leeds United beat Birmingham City 3-2 in a home game thriller, with David Healy scoring two, one from the spot and an own goal bagging the points. There was even talk of Carver taking up the position on a permanent basis. Other managers were also linked with the job, Alan Curbishley, Glenn Hoddle and Dennis Wise were the three front runners in a host of managers mentioned. Speculation of a new manager soon turned to action from Bates though, the next five games proved fateful for Carver as United shipped 18 goals, losing four in the league and getting knocked out of the Carling Cup by Southend United at the 3rd round stage. There wasn't many Leeds fans who were surprised when it was announced on the 24th October 2006 that Dennis Wise was to be the new manager of Leeds United. Wise knew chairman Bates from his days at Chelsea, the two were good friends and Bates was actually Godfather to Wise's son. A lot of unease from the Elland Road faithfull surrounded this appointment, there is a certain history with Chelsea which almost certainly stretches back to the infamous 1970 Cup Final and no fan could deny or easily sweep aside the attachment that Bates and now Wise had with this club. Of course the Leeds United fans were prepared to give Wise a chance, certain sections sang Anti-Chelsea songs pre and post appointment but on the whole if he was seen as doing his best for Leeds then that was good enough for the majority of the Elland Road faithful. When Wise took over United were 23rd in the table, largely thanks to the dismal run while John Carver stepped in as care-taker manager. Leeds had already shipped 32 goals in just 12 games and the 23rd position in the table signalled what a big job Wise had took on. In his introductory press conference Wise said "I want them to be a bit like the Leeds of old - horrible, I want a bit of nastiness and togetherness...." It was music to a lot of Leeds fans ears, the hard talk and the advocacy of togetherness gave Leeds fans hope that maybe Wise indeed could turn the fortunes round. By the end of January the following year though United had slipped to the bottom of the table, largely relying on loanees and with little money to spend Wise struggled to live up to his big words. It seemed like the writing was on the wall for Leeds United, the form and position strongly indicated United could fall to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history. With two games of the season to go 22nd placed Leeds United found themselves in a position where they had to win against Ipswich Town while relying on Hull City to lose at Cardiff to give them any hope of survival. Adversely for United a late goal by Ipswich Town secured a draw for them at Elland Road and Hull City won at Cardiff. The late equaliser at Elland Road evoked a pitch invasion by thousands of United fans that lasted 15 mins, this proved to have no bearing on the game though and now Leeds 3 points behind Hull City with Hull having a superior goal difference were as good as relegated with just one game to go.

  2006-07 Wise takes Leeds to the third.

Off the field and United's financial difficulties grew worse and worse. Relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history was unsettling enough for the United faithful but it wasn't their only concern, indeed that was minor compared to the financial crises Leeds United Football Club found themselves in at that time.

A few days before the last game of the season with Derby County the former Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner announced that as a result of the relegation United would be forced into administration "...unless a white knight comes along..." and true enough the day before the final game of the season United entered voluntary administration on May 4, 2007. United incurred a ten point deduction which which was immaterial to United's position but markedly because of the administration the debt that had dogged the club for so long had now been wiped out. Administration had been on the cards for some time, due in part to the debts Peter Ridsdale and the PLC had created. By April 2007 United owed over £35m to various creditors.
If the club had not gone into administration they would have been forced into liquidation by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs who had lost patience with United, in affect if United didn't clear their debts with the HMRC by June 25, 2007 who the club owed £6 million to Leeds United would have been finished. KPMG Restructuring were appointed as the administrators of Leeds and within minutes the club was sold to Leeds United Football Club Limited, a limited company which was set up the same day United went into administration, the directors were Ken Bates, Shaun Harvey and Mark Taylor. The HMRC challenged the new ownership and the club was put on the market by KPMG.
Administration gave the club the opportunity to develop a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), a legal procedure, which enables a company to settle its debts at a discounted rate but requires the go ahead of 75% of the voting creditors. The Football League only allows a club to get out of administration by means of a CVA if it wants to keep league membership. Bates was sure he had the 75% of creditors onside to go ahead with the CVA, he planned to give each creditor 1p back for every pound owed.
The challenge by the HMRC however gave the opportunity for other parties to offer bids for the ownership of United, there were four offers from interested groups including one from Simon Morris the property entrepreneur, another from Don Revie's son and one from Simon Franks the chairman of Redbus. KPMG declared that Astor and the Krato Trust, two of United's major creditors, would only support the Bates bid and combined they had enough votes to defeat any other offer. None the less a meeting was set up by KPMG for June 1st where each proposition was put to the creditors. 75.02% of the creditors voted for the Ken Bates' propositon but the vote was so close a recount was scheduled for the following Monday. This prompted Morris to better Bates' bid by 40x which meant creditors would get 20p back in the pound straightaway and 20p over a set period of time. Morris' bid was not accepted though because it was a recount that had been scheduled rather than another vote. Bates won the recount again with 75.20% of the vote.
Bates now had full control over the club. An appeal period of 28 days was given which allowed any appeal against Bates to be set, one day before the 28 days were up Bates altered his offer to sweeten the creditors thus countering any challenge. Creditors were now to recieve 8p in the pound and if the club made it back into the Premiership within ten years (the former offer was five) they would recieve an extra 30p in the pound. The 28 day appeal period was minutes away from being over, it was due to come to a close on 3 July 2007 at 4pm (BST), when the HMRC challenged it. This forced Leeds to dispense with the CVA which left major doubt over the club with possible liquidation looming.
Bates had previously said "If there is a legal challenge, it could take two or three months to get to court and be decided. In the meantime, who is going to pay to run the club? So far it's been funded by the 'new Leeds', but if there is a challenge, the 'new Leeds' won't do it because it's a risk. The implications are that the club would close down. It would mean liquidation. Leeds United would cease to exist."
The news of the challenge by HMRC brought another offer from Simon Franks of Redbus, He commented "We are absolutely committed to gaining control of Leeds United and to rebuilding the club, We have already told the liquidator that we will cover short term liquidity problems and that will be standing by our bid and will increase it given certain information. Our bid was significantly better than Ken Bates' and we are in a position to move very quickly if we are offered the right commercial terms." The club was put up for sale again by KPMG after the challenge with all offers to be made before 9th July. Franks and Morris this time joined forces in their bid to buy Leeds United but again after much deliberation KPMG announced that they had chosen Bates' bid.
It all looked good for United the creditors had been satisfied and Leeds were expecting their League Share without any further complications so they could start the up and coming season in League One. The Football League however failed to give the new Leeds United the share because the administrators KPMG had failed to send in the documentation to them regarding the sale. On July 12 the Football League said it was unable to consent to the request for the share until they recieved the required documentation and assurances regarding the sale of the club. After the Football League's announcement the KPMG hurried the documentation to the League but there was no word from the League on the matter for two weeks. The problem was the Football League require a club to leave administration through a CVA but the CVA had been dispensed after the challenge by the HMRC. After a meeting between United officials, the KPMG and the Football League on July 31 the Football League Chairman Lord Mawhinney said "...the best way to proceed was to try and reconstitute the CVA. This is the normal way we get clubs out of administration." On August 2nd the KPMG responded by rejecting the wishes to bring back the CVA saying the intransigence of the HMRC meant such a move was doomed to failure.
The Football League eventually accepted the sale to Bates without the club going through another CVA under the "exceptional circumstances rule" they finally transferred the club's share in the Football League to Leeds United 2007 Ltd, the new group created by Bates when the club went up for sale the second time. They did however impose a 15 point deduction on the club which would be applicable from the start of the 2007-08 season because United didn't comply with the terms of the League's Insolvency Policy. United appealed the 15 point deduction and the vote was put to the other 71 League chairman, the chairman with a vast majority voted in favour of the League's decision.
On the 31st August the HMRC ended their legal challenge and accepted Bates' final offer of 8p in the pound.

United started the new season of 2007-08 with minus fifteen points and a manager who was becoming increasingly unpopular, not just because of the side he used to play for but the confidence wasn't there either, United had only won two of their nine pre-season games and many fans thought that he had more than enough time to keep Leeds from the drop to the third tier the previous season. When the clearance was given for United to sign players by the Football League manager Wise immediately stepped into action. Alan Thompson, Casper Ankergren, Tore Andre Flo and Matt Heath all signed permanent deals with new blood Leon Constantine, Curtis Weston, David Prutton and Andy Hughes adding to the youngsters coming through for United who were also given new contracts. Into the season and an early exit in the Football League Cup at the hands of Portsmouth was positively overshadowed by United's remarkable run in the league which saw the minus fifteen points quashed after just five games and Wise's Leeds United equal a club record of seven consecutive league wins. The winning league run which saw Leeds United beat Tranmere Rovers, Southend United, Nottingham Forest, Luton Town, Hartlepool United and Bristol Rovers ended after a home win against Swansea City where United won 2-0 with goals from Jermaine Beckford and David Prutton in front of 29,476 fans, the biggest crowd of the season so far. Only a 1-1 draw at Gillingham and a diabolical refereeing display ended the winning streak but it didn't stop United furthering their unbeaten run to 13 games with Leeds winning 11 and drawing just 2. It was a remarkable achievement for Wise and his assistant manager Gus Poyet not only had United dismissed the minus fifteen points but after just 13 games Leeds had pushed their way to a Play Off position only six points behind top spot. Unfortunately for Leeds though it was at this time that assistant manager Gus Poyet was to leave Leeds and become the assistant manager at Tottenham Hotspur. Many fans had Poyet down as the brains behind United's success and it seemed the loss had an impact on the team almost immediately as United lost their first league game of the season away at Carlisle United 3-1, this was after Leeds had took the lead with a Jermaine Beckford affort in the midst of the first half. The results for Leeds United followed a familiar pattern of inconsistency since the departure of Poyet with United often losing by the odd goal in games they should have won, the team spirit that had held the team together through the magnificent run was by now gone. What brought it home more to the fans that something was definitely amiss was the two defeats in the cup competitions. First a 2-1 home defeat to Bury in the Football League (Johnstones Paint) Trophy quarter final soon followed by another home defeat at the hands of Hereford United in a FA Cup first round replay where United lost 1-0. Despite this hit and miss run of form United were still in third spot come the end of the year but Wise soon became active in the transfer market after a 3-1 home defeat to Oldham which saw Leeds slip to fifth bringing in Neil Kilkenny, Peter Sweeney and Bradley Johnson. United maintained the fifth spot position until out of the blue it was announced that Dennis Wise was to leave Leeds to work with Kevin Keegan at Newcastle United. Wise left United on the 28th January just two days after the away draw with Luton Town. A surprised and disappointed Bates soon swung into action in finding a replacement and brought in former player Gary McAllister. McAllister's appointment was welcomed wholesale by the United fans, a hero as a player who was instrumental in United's Championship win of 1992 and had a reputation for entertaining football in the role of manager. McAllister brought with him Steve Staunton as his number two and Neil McDonald as first team coach. McAllister had no realistic time left to make moves in the transfer market but saw through the moves that were already in motion. Anthony Elding, Lubo Michalik and Alan Sheehan joined United to bolster the squad for the final push for promotion. United dropped out of the Play Off positons after McAllister's first game in charge as the team were beat 2-0 at Elland Road by Tranmere Rovers. Mcallister had to wait till his fifth game as manager until United were to win, with Leeds drawing the previous three Leeds beat Swindon Town at Elland Road 1-0 with a Tresor Kandol goal but after another draw three games later against Port Vale Leeds had slipped to tenth position and the Play Off's now looked a more challenging proposition. Gary McAllister's United though much to the relief of everyone involved stormed the rest of the season, winning seven of the remaining nine games and losing just one. United finished the season in 5th spot and had made the Play Off's. United's chairman Ken Bates still had hopes that United wouldn't need to qualify for promotion through the Play Off's. After the Football League deducted United 15 points in August for not complying with the terms of the League's Insolvency Policy Ken Bates promised to fight the decision. If Ken Bates was succesful in getting the points reinstated United would be promoted automatically in second place just one point behind Champions Swansea. The Football Association rejected Bates' request for a review in September and after another request in October rejected it again but decided the matter should be looked at by an independent arbitration panel which was eventually set for April, 14th. The decision of the arbitration panel was delivered just over two weeks later on the 1st, May. It was a dismal conclusion for Bates and Leeds United as the appeal was rejected and United would have to go the route of the Play Off's if they were to get promotion. United met Carlisle United in the first leg of the Play Off's at Elland Road but found a Carlisle United goalkeeper who was on top form denying United several times. A goal did finally come for United in the 90th minute from Dougie Freedman but by this time Carlisle had already scored twice leaving an uphill battle for the Whites in the second leg at Brunton Park. It was Jonathan Howson in the second leg who delivered the goods for Leeds and delivered his home town team to the Play Off final. Two goals from the Leeds youngster were enough to see Leeds United through, United dominated most of the play after his first on ten minutes and when the game looked certain for extra time with the scores level on aggregate up popped Howson again in the 90th minute to score from the edge of the box, sending the travelling White Army into raptures. In the final against Doncaster Rovers and it was a different story for Leeds United. United fell behind just two minutes into the second half after a goalless first and could not find a way back. Doncaster Rovers were always the better side against a Leeds that were missing that cutting edge up front.

  2007-08 Gary Mac is back with a Play Off final as United finish 5th.

WAFLL Main | History Index | Period 2000 ~ 2005 | Period 2008 ~ Current

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