Even ‘big’ clubs like Leeds United need champions - Lorimer

Norman Hunter.
Norman Hunter.
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Leeds United has been part of my life for longer than I care to remember and I’ve always valued my association with the club.

For the likes of me, Eddie Gray and other ex-players, the link with Leeds is one we’ll never break.

I’m very proud to be an ambassador at Elland Road but I’d be involved in the club one way or another anyway. They mean that much to me.

Like many people, I read an article in a national newspaper last week saying that the three club ambassadors – myself, Eddie and Dominic Matteo – are to be sacked by Massimo Cellino.

That’s news to me and the reality is that none of us has been told as much.

Time will tell as it usually does but until we hear otherwise, we’ll carry on doing what we do.

I go home and away to every game and I’m involved in a lot of events like Lorimer’s Bar, golf days, that sort of thing.

Working as an ambassador can be a full-time job.

The interaction with fans is the best part of what I do and, as I say, I’d never want to lose that.

The supporters are the lifeblood of the club and a fantastic, loyal bunch – the same as they’ve been for the last 50 years.

To be fair, people might ask what the point of an ambassador is.

Why do you need people to sell and champion a club as big as Leeds United?

For me, I think it’s a good thing to have former players around the ground on matchdays and working to represent the club.

In my opinion, the lads who spend time in the corporate and hospitality suites do a very good job.

You’ve got Paul Reaney, Norman Hunter, Mick Jones and plenty of others – guys who played for Leeds in (what most people would agree is) the best era the club ever had.

It’s important not to lose touch with those days.

And I think it adds value to the hospitality boxes to have high-profile, recognised faces mixing with the fans who pay an awful lot of money to use them.

It improves the experience.

That said, I won’t pretend that the club don’t need to make cuts.

It’s no secret that the losses at Elland Road are pretty big – far bigger than they should be for a Championship side – and there’s only one way to rein them in.

My hope is that whatever cuts are coming don’t affect the day-to-day workers at Elland Road – the guys in the commercial department and such like.

I’ve seen them operate for a good few years now and they do a bloody good job.

It’s not easy bringing in extra money to a football club, especially with the economy the way it is, but they all understand that revenue can’t just come from 23 home matches.

You’ve got to have cash flowing in from other sources.

As I see it, the big expense at Elland Road is the players’ wage bill.

It’s climbed higher and higher in the past 18 months and the league table tells you that the club aren’t getting value for money from it.

I touched on this in my column last week when I spoke about the excessive size of the squad and the number of players in it who earn good money while hardly kicking a ball.

I don’t blame them for that because contracts are contracts.

But the crucial thing for a club losing money is that they don’t waste funds on nothing.

People either like Ken Bates or they don’t but I still maintain that he made the club stable.

Many fans would probably say that things moved forward too slowly under him but compared to him, the time with GFH in charge was a total disaster.

The trouble with the bank was that it bought Leeds to sell Leeds.

It didn’t buy the club to make a success of things on the pitch or to really take it forward.

That, I hope, is the difference with Cellino. I do think football matters to him and I believe that he wants Leeds to be a real success.

He has my support and he really deserves everyone’s while he tries to get things in order.

He’s going to make changes without a doubt and if I’m one of them then that’s his prerogative and his decision. If you pay big money for a club – which he has – then you earn the right to do as you please.

This is about what’s good for Leeds United at the end of the day, not what’s good for me or any other individual.

But for now I’ll carry on with my work.

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