Leeds United have announced the sale of almost 11,000 season tickets for the 2011-12 campaign as chairman Ken Bates mounted a staunch defence of the club’s transfer policy.
Leeds are closing in on the figure of 13,096 season tickets sold for this term after reaching the deadline for early renewal applications last week.
More than 80 per cent of existing holders have taken up seats at Elland Road next season, a response described by Bates as “amazing” and an injection of cash which is likely to underpin United’s summer transfer budget.
But the Leeds chairman hit back at claims he was unwilling to invest funds in the playing squad at Elland Road, saying that new signings were likely to materialise “this week or next”.
The 79-year-old reiterated the club’s commitment to support manager Simon Grayson in the emergency loan market after he failed in an attempt to recruit a midfielder before last weekend’s defeat at Swansea.
The suspension of Bradley Johnson left Leeds short of options in central midfield at the Liberty Stadium and Grayson was unable to secure a temporary replacement ahead of an important Championship fixture. United were beaten 3-0.
Grayson has taken a strong interest in Manchester City’s Michael Johnson – a player whose match fitness remains questionable after a long-term knee injury – and he is also being linked with Birmingham City’s Jordon Mutch and Aston Villa youngster Barry Bannan.
Bates said that any signing made by Leeds would come from the Premier League due to the unwillingness of Championship clubs to consider loaning players to teams in the same division. He also claimed that three bids made by Grayson last week had proved unsuccessful due to complications beyond United’s control.
Bates said: “We hope to make one or two signings this week or next but we’re only interested in signing players from the Premiership. Nobody competing with us will let players out, just as we wouldn’t let any of our players join our competitors.
“But Premier League clubs are suffering injuries and suspensions and we have a situation where three players Simon had in mind – who we had provisionally agreed to sign – are now on hold because their present clubs are concerned they may need them themselves. Neither is it any good signing a player who’s rusty when you have 12 games to go and it takes them three or four games to get fit.”
“Someone has suggested that we’re not signing players because of Ken Bates’ wages policy. If we get promoted, players will have their wages reviewed but we’re not making long-term policy decisions based on future performance. That is the only limit Ken Bates’ wages policy is applying – for the future of Leeds United.”
Bates, however, said he was “overwhelmed” by the number of applications for season tickets submitted before last Friday’s early deadline.
Late renewals will be accepted by the club between March 5 and March 18, with new applications unlikely to be invited until the outcome of United’s fight for promotion from the Championship is known. Prices for new season tickets are still to be announced.
Bates said: “I’m overwhelmed with the response. As of last Friday we had 10,500 renewals. It’s amazing and I don’t know how else you can describe it.”