ADAM PEARSON knows a thing or two about what is required to reconnect a club with its home city.
After calling time on his stint as commercial director at Elland Road in March, 2001, to rescue Hull City from administration, one of his primary tasks as chairman at Boothferry Park was restoring a credibility that had been stretched to breaking point by previous regimes.
Unpaid bills, broken promises and years of rancour between boardroom and terraces meant patience with the local football club had all but run out on the banks of the Humber.
Pearson, though, quickly set about repairing relationships and, before long, both sponsors and supporters were back on board as the Tigers embarked on a long overdue period of success.
Even allowing for the travails that befell Leeds last term, the Championship club are in nowhere near as bad a state as Hull were when Pearson took control.
Nevertheless, a chasm has opened up between the club and supporters in recent years that, despite an initial honeymoon period afforded Massimo Cellino, has shown no signs of being repaired. The anti-Cellino chants heard at several games towards the end of the season were ample proof of that.
Now back at Leeds after 14 years away that included a stint in charge of Derby County, Pearson admits a priority is bringing harmony back to a club that has had far too much discord.
“There are so many things that are positive at Leeds United,” said the 50-year-old to The Yorkshire Post in his new office at Elland Road. “Just look at the talented young lads that have broken through in the first team.
“Our challenge is to harness that talent and if we can do that, we can get the fans on side. There needs to be a link with this football club that is restored all across the city.
“We need to re-engage with both the corporate market and the club’s supporters. We need everyone back together and pulling in the same direction.
“Leeds United has always been at its best when that happens. There is no more tough a place to play in the Championship than Elland Road when it is at its loudest and the fans are right behind their club.
“We need to be united and fully in this together. If we do that, we will take some stopping.
“This club’s support is tremendous. I witnessed that at Sheffield Wednesday just a couple of weeks ago (when Leeds won their final away game 2-1).
“There is an intensity that you don’t see at many football clubs. You walk into the stadium and it is a stadium that is steeped in history, a history that you simply don’t get with the new ones that have been built.”
Pearson is back at a club where he spent five years after being brought in by media company, Caspian, following their takeover in 1996.
United, of course, was a very different beast back then. His stint as commercial director brought not only Champions League football on the pitch but also, by the turn of the Millennium, a £10m profit on an annual turnover of £80m – then the 11th highest in Football’s ‘Rich List’.
Leeds have since been out of the top flight for 11 years and counting, but Pearson insists the future can be bright.
“There are some really good staff here and they all know what they are doing,” he said. “My role is to be Mr Cellino’s right-hand man and to help out in areas where he needs assistance. It is too big a job for one person.
“I am here all the time and, basically, working across all areas of the club and will work wherever he wants me to work.”
On his return to Elland Road earlier this week, Pearson added: “You have to take opportunities when they arise. This is my hometown club and I have a strong allegiance to it.
“I enjoyed my time here back in the late Nineties. Mr Cellino approached me to help out and that was a strong pull for me.
“It felt good coming back in through the door and I felt very much at home.”
Pearson’s return has been welcomed by United supporters, even if there are concerns over the possible longevity of the move considering that Cellino has already got through two previous ‘right-hand men’ in Graham Bean and Matt Child.
“He is fully committed and that is what attracted me,” added Pearson. “He lives Leeds United 24 hours per day and he is desperate for this club to be successful.
“The owner wants to be in the Premier League as soon as possible. He has put in an enormous amount of money and is desperate to get Leeds where we all believe the club should be.
“He is passionate and charming. He can also be volatile, but he is definitely someone who people can work with.”