Exclusive - Leeds United chief Angus Kinnear on coronavirus impact, cash flow, 45,000 pints and season ticket renewals

In the first of a news weekly series, Angus Kinnear writes his programme notes exclusively for the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 5:56 am
Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear has issued an update on season ticket renewals on the day of the priority deadline

"My programme notes traditionally open with ‘Welcome to another sold-out Elland Road’ so it is particularly sobering to be writing these having just locked the doors to our wonderful home with no immediate prospect of re-opening them.

Like many businesses across Leeds, the act of sending home a passionate and committed team from jobs they love couldn’t have been more disheartening.

We attempted to find positives, we offered the use of Elland Road to Leeds City Council and donated all of our remaining food to the team at Holbeck Together, whose small band of volunteers are courageously stepping up to the challenge of those in our community who are most affected by the crisis we are facing.

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Angus Kinnear has addressed the season ticket renewal deadline in today's programme notes, for the YEP (Pic: Getty)

Whilst we appreciate there are much bigger issues at stake, there was still heartbreak at the ‘criminal act’ of not being able to find a home for 45,000 pints, of what would have been, pre-match beer.

From a club perspective our first priority has been to the health and the wellbeing of our staff, players and the wider Leeds family and the second priority has been to maintain the integrity of the club’s business model.

As part of this, we took the lead in what became a growing number of voices across the wider European football family who asserted the importance of finishing this season, whatever the date, before we start the next.

This will protect the individual club business models, the integrity of the individual leagues and the entire football pyramid. Importantly it will also honour the investments made by clubs and the endeavours of players, coaches and supporters over the last 37 games.

Inncer City Roofing Yorkshire Ltd sponsor Angus Kinnear's programme notes

Our next challenge has been to manage a cash flow ravaged by the postponement of games, the curtailment of our ancillary businesses and the closure of the football financing market.

This amounts to a gap of several million pounds a month whilst the league is suspended and a real risk to our 272 full-time staff and 2,000 casual workers whose livelihoods rely on Leeds United.

Fortunately, our senior players, coaching staff and management have all stepped up to the plate and volunteered to a wage deferral until the crisis has passed.

In an age where professional footballers are much maligned, Leeds United have a team of men who immediately appreciated the gravity of the situation and understood the part they could play.

Never has Billy Bremner’s mantra of ‘Side Before Self’ been more enthusiastically embraced.

I couldn’t be prouder of our group of players and, when they secure the promotion they so richly deserve, their status as heroes will be justified for more than one reason.

Their heroics are, however, currently being dwarfed on a daily basis by frontline health workers across the globe. One of the positives that I am sure will emerge in the UK from this pandemic is that the commitment, skill and selflessness of our NHS will be truly valued by the country as a whole.

The bravery of our NHS staff is humbling and puts the relative importance of football into sharp context.

But football is still important, and it is no surprise that, after the headlines on the extent of government lockdowns or global infection rates, the next-most covered topic is when football will resume.

Over the last week we have seen 50,000 supporters watch each of the video game simulations of our postponed matches and, despite the economic challenges, we have had over 500 supporters a day renewing their Season Tickets for a season that is yet to have a start date (for those who simply can’t renew, due to circumstance, the window will obviously be extended).

This wonderful show of commitment is helping sustain the club through dark days and is fuelled by a pride and a sense of belonging and shared passion which will always be bigger than 11 players and whether we win or lose.

I know that when matches do return we will all appreciate the game, and our part in it, even more and, if there is one city and one club that can emerge from this crisis stronger, it is Leeds and Leeds United.


Angus Kinnear’s programme notes are sponsored by Inner City Roofing Yorkshire Limited.