FORMER Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has lifted the lid on his plans for a radio station based a stone’s throw from his old club’s Elland Road ground.
Speculation about Mr Bates’s intentions has been rife since he took up office space above the Subway restaurant opposite Elland Road’s South Stand earlier this year.
Now he has confirmed that he is acting as an “adviser” to a new station called Radio Yorkshire that he hopes will begin broadcasting on digital and online “sooner rather than later”.
Mr Bates told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s going to be a freestanding station, not aligned to any particular cause. It will be independent and discussion-worthy.”
Explaining why the station had chosen the base next to Elland Road, Mr Bates said: “It’s cheap and cheerful and had been standing empty for a long time. It’s also in good condition and we were able to get a seven-year lease.”
Mr Bates said Radio Yorkshire – whose name is a play on Yorkshire Radio, the now-defunct station he launched while in charge at Leeds – would cover all sports. He added: “It will be interesting to give [BBC Radio Leeds football commentator] Adam Pope a run for his money.”
Asked if the new station was looking to recruit any of Yorkshire Radio’s old staff, Mr Bates said: “Yes, some of them are being interviewed now.”
Documents lodged at Companies House show that Radio Yorkshire was incorporated in September. Its registered address was switched to the Elland Road premises on Monday.
Radio Yorkshire’s sole director is listed as Yvonne Allen, who worked alongside Mr Bates at Leeds and his previous club of Chelsea.
Her other directorships include Leeds TV Limited, YTV Limited and WHYTV Limited, all registered to an address in Bingley. Mr Bates yesterday confirmed that “stage two” of the plans for his new media venture involved an expansion into television.
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KEN BATES set up Yorkshire Radio in 2006, just over a year into his reign at Leeds.
Based at Elland Road, the station covered many sports and clubs but its biggest attraction for listeners was its full United match commentaries.
It closed abruptly in July, less than a week after Mr Bates’ removal as United president – a role he had assumed after selling Leeds to current owners GFH Capital at the end of last year. GFH had signed a deal in June that allowed BBC Radio Leeds to resume United commentaries after a lengthy absence.
Mr Bates made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Yorkshire Radio, LUTV – Leeds’s official TV station – and the club website for around £2m before his departure from Elland Road.