In the wake of the Leeds United takeover, Neil Hudson asked a group of people who wouldn’t ordinarily comment on football issues what they made of the sale.
And also what effect it might have on the club, the city and its people.
‘Leeds United is an international brand’
FORMER Leeds beauty queen Joanna Miller, who was crowned Miss Britain in 1974, Miss England in 1981 and took part in numerous other talent contests across the world, said: “I remember working at the club after I won the Miss Britain title, I did some pictures at Elland Road with the team. My eldest son supports Leeds United, he grew up hearing about the team, we even got him a signed T-shirt for his 18th birthday.
“I’d be very interested to find out more about who is behind the new consortium. I think it’s absolutely a good thing for the city. Leeds were at the top of their game for many years.
“I used to travel the world when I had my beauty career and no matter where I went in the world, if someone asked where I was from and I said Leeds, there was one thing you could always guarantee – they had heard of Leeds United. People just knew of it.
“Leeds United is synonymous with the city.
“I think the club is on its way up again now. The one thing I would ask is, are the players happy? If they are then I would say it’s starting to look promising, not just for the players but the team, the city and the fans.”
‘A good club won’t solve city’s problems’
Duncan Dallas is an entrepreneur and part-time philosopher who set up Cafe Scientifique in Leeds - the informal talking shop has now spread worldwide with over 380 branches in countries from North Korea to Japan and America.
He said: “I’m not opposed to a successful club but I think we live in different times now. No-one knows where the economy is going. Leeds is not a bad place to live in, it’s got a lot going for it. Certainly, when you think of places like Manchester, which is all about the football, or Liverpool, compared to those places, Leeds seems to have so many more options open to it in terms of local businesses and innovations.
“So I don’t think we need to rely on a good football club as a solution for the city’s problems.
“I remember the glory days and I remember when clubs were run by local people for local people. Now they are run as international businesses and you can have people from around the world involved with them but that’s not a bad thing.
“One point I think is important is: there’s always been a lot of talk about the north/south divide in Leeds and with Elland Road being in the south, it can play a positive role in bringing people from those two communities together.”
‘Glory days can return if we can get the passion back’
Terry Uttley, bass player with Cleckheaton-based rock band Smokie, which tours all over the world and this year has played more than 100 gigs, said: “Leeds United is like a fallen angel that wants to spread its wings again.
“When you think of United, you think of players like Billy Bremner, Allan Clarke and also of the places they all tended to live, like Collingham.
“People think of the club as being in the Premier League and they still think it deserves to be up there. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, it’s had some trouble with its finances in the past.
“Also, I think the way football players are paid has a lot to do with it, because when a team begins to fail these days, the players just leave.
“Back in the glory days there was a sense of players wanting to play for their local club, because they had pride in it and because they were passionate about it – that was before the money days, now players just follow the money.
“I heard people talking about it in the pub and even right up to the deal being signed, people wouldn’t believe it was happening. There’s a lot of animosity about Ken Bates but then the flag of the ship always takes a lot of flak.
“A return to the glory days would be wonderful, not just for the club but for the city and the region in general. I know that’s probably a long way off but it’s what people want for the club, it’s where they see the club. The sale is all about money and more importantly what that money can do for the club.”
‘Football success is all that matters’
Vicki Gilbert is a motivational speaker from Yeadon, Leeds who runs signing classes for children and team-building classes for adults.
She said it didn’t matter who ran the club so long as it rediscovered its success.
She said: “A strong Leeds United helps focus the city.
“When they are doing well, it gives off such a positive vibe, it brings people together and it gives the city a real sense of identity.
“I know football fans feel very strongly about it, so a strong successful club can only benefit the city and bring good things our way.
“In a sense, I don’t think it matters who runs the club – we’ve had all the controversy and our fair share of problems over the years and I think it’s a case of beggars cannot be choosers. It’s either have someone come along, like this consortium, and run it and make a success of it, or just having everything go down the pan. We can’t afford to be too picky at this stage.
“There’s more to Leeds than Leeds United but I do think that if the new consortium are able to turn the fortunes of the club around, then it’s bound to be good news for the city as well.”
‘This is an opportunity we must grasp and exploit’
Rebecca Roach is a personal trainer who runs keep-fit classes in Morley. She said: “If you went abroad and said the words Leeds United, people would recognise them.
“I think the club has an important role to play. There’s no denying it’s had problems in the past, such as hooliganism and so on but you don’t hear about that much now.
“These days it’s more about where they are in the league table. If they started to do better, that’s only going to be good for the city.
“In terms of who runs it, ideally, it would be good to have someone who is passionate about the club, but at the end of the day it’s a business and it needs money from a source. We have to live in the real world in terms of realising that.
“This is a great chance for the club and it has to take it and I think it can have a positive knock-on effect for the city. Just as the Olympics saw an increase in the popularity of athletics, so a successful Leeds United can inspire youngsters.
“On that front, though, I think they need to look at the whole picture – it’s not just about being successful and inspirational, it’s making sure things like family tickets are affordable, so people can go watch them.”