LET’S DO THIS: PLAYERS & FANS,
MARCHING ON TOGETHER
A big statement from Leeds United Supporters’ Trust this evening. According to chairman Gary Cooper, speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, the players approached LUST through an intermediary, to get their views across:
The players want the fans to know loud and clear that they share our passion for Leeds, and that they have a burning ambition to get our club to the Premier League. Equally, they share in the frustration and pain the fans have been feeling. Players who want to play for Leeds United fear that they will be forced out of the club this summer, and have to go and play elsewhere for the good of their careers and personal futures. They are frustrated that the people in charge of the club do not share the ambition of the players, and the fans, to make Leeds United a great football club again.
I can’t think of another occasion when players at a club the size of Leeds United have approached a supporters’ organisation to express their frustration this way. This should mark a significant shift in the relationship between the fans and the players - those that Leeds keep, that is.
Wayne at The Beaten Generation called this eighteen months ago, when he wrote about how fan run media will steal the initiative away from Ken Bates:
When he wasn’t using it to slam Leeds fans, Ken Bates deployed Yorkshire Radio to attack Bradley Johnson (who had to use Talksport to defend himself) and to ascertain the whereabouts of former director Melvyn Levi so he may be issued with legal papers – on Boxing Day. One wonders more than ever whether the station is in the service of Leeds fans at all, or simply fighting Ken Bates’ corner. He’s still yet to take a single fan’s call live on air.
So thank heavens for those who do whatever they can to provide and take opportunities for Leeds United fans’ voices to be heard. 2010 saw them crescendo into new, authentic forms and in 2011 authenticity’s struggle with authority will intensify.
Already first ports of call for valued opinion, they will begin to set agendas at Leeds: the back to front, inside out, upside down United where we haven’t a voice because we have too many, yet also we don’t have nearly enough. If you haven’t already, this is the year to start making yourself heard.
In his judgement yesterday, Judge Gosnell ruled that Leeds United club media was used to feed a grudge, in a personal campaign of harassment:
Standing back from the situation for a moment therefore and taking everything into account I find that radio broadcasts and article dated 1st January 2011 constitute acts of harassment. They were targeted at Melvyn Levi, and were calculated in an objective sense to cause alarm or distress; I find them to be oppressive and unacceptable when viewed objectively; I find them to be more than unattractive and boorish and are serious enough to sustain criminal liability in the event of breach.
Today the players swerved around official club media and went straight to the people they think matter at Leeds United: the fans. They didn’t have to. The Trust statement says:
A number of players have grown so frustrated by the situation at Leeds United that they are on the verge of giving up, walking away and accepting offers to play elsewhere.
They could just do that. Leeds have some very good players who are wanted by Premier League clubs. They could leave tomorrow if they wanted, get better wages, play in a better division, for a better chairman.
But our players have played a different card. They’ve spoken to the fans, to let them know what is really happening, because they know that wherever they go they won’t play for a better set of fans.
Let’s do this: players and fans, Marching On Together.>