“Lend us a fiver”: How cash-strapped Leeds United begged fans for funds - in 1924

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A newly-discovered video has revealed how Leeds United’s squad were put up for sale as the cash-strapped club asked fans to pay an extra £5 each - in 1924.

The footage, released today by the British Film Institute, tells the story of severe financial strain at Elland Road following United’s promotion to the first division 91 years ago.

The silent newsreel begins with the headline “Leeds United in Financial Difficulties” and warns that a playing squad worth £25,000 “may be sold unless help is forthcoming.”

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At the time, chairman J. Hilton Crowther was seeking repayment of a loan of £35,000 made to the club. The woollen mill owner had previously run Huddersfield Town before investing in Leeds.

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Footage taken during a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United shows large advertising hoardings inside Elland Road reading ‘Lend Us A Fiver’ - a plea to supporters to help the club’s plight.

The release by the BFI today comes after a week in which Leeds and current head coach Steve Evans flatly denied national newspaper reports that every first-team player had been made available for transfer in January by owner Massimo Cellino.

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United also caused anger among their supporters by imposing a £5 ‘pie tax’ on adult tickets in the South Stand - a mandatory charge made in return for a food-and-drink voucher.

The black-and-white film of United is part of the BFI’s ‘Football on Film’ release, a large collection of “classic, archive football films” stretching from 1900 to the 1970s.

The online archive, which can be found at http://player.bfi.org.uk/collections/football-on-film, contains more than 120 films and is free to watch.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, who also chairs the BFI, said: “It offers a fascinating insight into the history of the beautiful game that everyone in the UK can enjoy.”

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