Ken Bates: This ‘idiot situation’ over Jonny Howson and Leeds United

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LEEDS United chairman Ken Bates has called the club’s acceptance of Norwich City’s bid for Jonny Howson a ‘no brainer’.

Mr Bates said he was “astonished” at the offer Norwich made for the Elland Road skipper.

The 23-year-old midfielder was confirmed as a Norwich player this week, after the Canaries had an undisclosed offer “reluctantly” accepted by the npower Championship club last week.

Howson, who made the first of his 227 Leeds appearances against Barnet in 2006, had previously stated his desire to reach the top division with the club he has supported all his life and captained for the last two years.

Mr Bates said on Yorkshire Radio: “He hurt his leg against Millwall when he fell awkwardly and he has been out action ever since and he will be expected to be back either sometime next month or even March. We were astonished when Norwich came in and offered us, which after a bit of bartering end up at about £2 million, and to take the offer was a no-brainer.

“We have been working on Jonny for over 14 months, trying to persuade him to sign a contract and he steadfastly refused to do so, saying he wanted to keep his options open, because he wanted to play in the Premiership and of course we couldn`t guarantee promotion nor can any other club.

“It was a bit idiot situation, where the club captain wouldn`t commit himself to the club, but as usual the matter was left to the manager because we had a precedent with Beckford.

“The question was, do we take the money for him now or say no and with a bit of luck, we get six weeks out of him, maybe eight games and then he leaves for free.”

Mr Bates added: “It was left to the manager to make the final decision; he consulted his backroom staff and said take the money. Now we have that fighting fund in the pot to reinvest, which it will be invested in players.

“However, we are not going to invest the money for the sake of buying players. There is no point in doing that and we intend to buy players who will commit their future to Leeds United and have the ability to improve on our present squad, to strengthen the squad and not just make up the numbers.”

Howson said on Tuesday: “I am going to a very good club with good support, but at the same time I know I’m leaving a club I’ve loved from being such a young boy. That’s not going to change.

“Leeds has been a massive part of my life. But this is a great chance for me. This is the sort of chance that doesn’t come around too often, and it’s a chance I feel I have to take while it’s there.”