Ken Bates returns to face crisis-hit Leeds

Leeds fans stage a pre-match protest before the defeat against Hull City at Elland Road on Tuesday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson
Leeds fans stage a pre-match protest before the defeat against Hull City at Elland Road on Tuesday. Picture by Bruce Rollinson
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KEN Bates was back in Leeds today amid increasing pressure on the Leeds United chairman to decide the future of the Elland Road club.

Bates has returned to the city in the aftermath of fresh demonstrations against him and United’s board, fuelled by uncertainty surrounding the proposed takeover of Leeds.

Around 800 supporters staged a protest prior to Tuesday night’s clash with Hull City, calling on Bates to accept the offer from a Middle Eastern consortium to buy his majority stake in United.

Negotiations between Leeds and the group of prospective buyers have been continuing for almost four months, and public demands for a resolution are growing alongside a deepening injury crisis at Elland Road.

A threadbare United squad suffered their second defeat in four days on Tuesday, losing 3-2 to Hull, and the lack of transfer funds available to manager Neil Warnock during the summer window is threatening to impact on the club’s Championship season.

The Leeds boss has lost no fewer than four senior players to injury, and striker Ross McCormack is set to miss eight weeks of the term once he undergoes surgery on an ankle injury tomorrow. Warnock has as yet been unable to find a replacement for the Scotland international.

Sources on both sides of the takeover remain quietly hopeful of a successful outcome, with one telling the Yorkshire Evening Post that “significant progress” was expected this week, but the pressure for answers is growing ahead of Saturday’s clash with Nottingham Forest, a game which Bates is planning to attend after flying in from his Monte Carlo home.

Leeds United Supporters Trust chairman Gary Cooper told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The feeling we get is that a lot of supporters are at the end of their tether.

“They deserve to know what’s going on and for a long time I’ve advocated the buyers speaking in some form to offer reassurance. I don’t think it’s solely the club’s responsibility and both sides could put us in the picture without breaking their confidentiality clause. But the Trust are confident that this takeover will be in the best interests of Leeds United and from our point of view the club isn’t stagnating at the moment – it’s going backwards.”

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