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Leagues: Championship

Ken Bates Misdeeds at Leeds United Put Football League Chief Executive At Center Of Controversy

Football League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey, the former Ken Bates associate who was the Chief Executive of Leeds United during the lamentable ownership tenure of the former Chelsea owner, is at the heart of a ruling by Ofcom (the regulatory authority for the UK communications industries) regarding Yorkshire Radio. The club owned radio station, which was essentially a propaganda arm of the Bates regime, was ruled to have made “unjust and unfair” broadcasts  that amounted to “harassment” of former club director Melvyn Levi, according to Ofcom.

Last year, Bates was ordered to pay Levi £10,000 after losing a harassment suit. At the heart of the suit were the broadcasts of Yorkshire Radio. It was the second lawsuit Levi had won against Bates. In 2009, Levi won a libel suit against Bates after several programme notes referred to Levi as a “shyster who was trying to blackmail Leeds United.” But the court actually found Bates had maneuvered through the administration process a method to avoid repaying £1.5million that Levi had personally loaned to Leeds United during its most difficult financial times.

Harvey now finds himself at the center of a storm that reinforces that he essentially served as a hatchet man for arguably one of the most detestable people in the football world. When Levi was not in town, Harvey — according to the Ofcom ruling — pressed for broadcasts that were authorized by Bates to urge Leeds supporters to look for Levi and contact the station (essentially the club) if he was found. This, Ofcom ruled, was harassment. And in the ruling, the regulatory authority stated, “The fact that Yorkshire Radio deemed it acceptable at the time was of great concern.”

During the leadership of Bates and Harvey, Leeds consistently sold its best players yet continued to regularly increase ticket prices to a level unseen in the history of the same Football League that Harvey now leads. Bates’ tenure was also characterized by megalomania. Under his stewardship, Leeds United failed to buy back its Thorp Arch training ground or Elland Road ground despite finding the capital to begin and maintain a radio station widely known for its propaganda about the club.  When Bates bought the club in 2005 (though claiming at the time he had no ownership interest and just was serving as an executive for the owners), he promised to quickly buy back both the ground and training facilities. Often Bates used this radio station and his column in the Leeds United official match programme to attack journalists and enemies on the board beyond Levi.

After the 2011 Tottenham riots, Bates — himself a tax-exile, based in Monaco — used his favored weapon, the matchday programme notes, to attack British society, writing:

“Educational standards have been destroyed by … left-wingers and trendy liberals”… “human-rights laws” should be abolished, corporal and capital punishment should be brought back, single mothers should be put into hostels and benefits slashed, and illegal immigrants and asylum seekers should be “chucked out.”

Now this is an issue for the Football League. Having the Chief Executive of the league closely associated with Bates was a concern to many fans of the game, like me. Now that he has been found to have been doing Ken Bates own dirty work brings great shame to the league as a whole.

Editor’s note: For the latest LUFC news, analysis and opinion, visit the Leeds United team page.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. OzTyke

    December 19, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    You went in a bit soft on Bates there, Kartik.
    No mention of the millions in incoming transfer fees (always understated or undisclosed) that vanished into thin air.
    You touched on his deliberate forcing of the Club into insolvency, thereby dodging creditors including HMRC and St John’s Ambulance, while at the same time retiring millions of his own personal debts.
    He never – by his own admission under oath – put a penny of his own money into the Club which he acquired by force for nothing yet denied owning it, systematically asset-stripped it and eventually received a rumoured 22 million jackpot for a then average playing squad, a useless manager and no stadium or training ground.
    There have been daft owners of other clubs, whether deranged loonies or vain potentates, but surely no parasite as vicious and disastrous for its host as Ken Bates.

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