Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe demise of Leeds United - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The demise of Leeds United - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The demise of Leeds United

It is still hard to comprehend quite how spectacular Leeds United’s fall from grace was during the Naughties.

For the fans it must be especially difficult as the club has a rich and proud history; Don Revie’s Leeds of the 60s are considered to be one of the best teams in football history.

In the late 90s and early 2000s it appeared that Leeds, under manager David O’Leary, were ready to reach those successful heights once more; in 2001 they reached the Champions League semi-finals and were consistently challenging for the Premier League title.

The financial implosion that followed, however, could not have been predicted by anyone and the consequences saw the club fall all the way from the top tier to the third tier of English football.

The fateful moment occurred when ex-chairman Peter Risdale took out a number of large loans, gambling that the club would be able to repay them with the revenue windfall that comes from qualifying for the Champions League. Leeds narrowly missed out on the qualifying places for two consecutive seasons and as a result had to sell most of their best players, including the £30m transfer of Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United, in order to lower the wage bill and pay off the loans.

Things went from bad to worse as O’Leary left and subsequently there were numerous mangers who came and went in the following years.

By 2004 Leeds had been relegated and a consortium of local businessmen had taken over the club and overseen the sale of most the club’s assets including key players.

Leeds, under new manager Kevin Blackwell, were forced to start from scratch, unable to make any significant transfers because of the fact they had no money to spend. The squad was mostly made up of free transfers as Leeds soon had to sell their stadium just to pay the player’s wages.

In 2007, Leeds inevitably entered administration and entered their darkest period as they incurred a 10-point deduction which saw them relegated to the third tier of English football, somewhere they had never been before.

At the beginning of the 2007-2008 season, the club had another points deduction rule imposed on them, this  time 15 points, and the club was taken over by former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates after £10m was accepted.

Despite the the significant point deduction then manager Dennis Wise still managed to guide Leeds to the Playoff finals that year only to be beaten by Doncaster Rovers.

After a disastrous number of years for the club the 2009-2010 season saw Leeds return to the Championship and beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Cup.

Recent times have seen Leeds United continue their pursuit in a return to the top flight of English football but have struggled to make the final push for promotion.

Ken Bates announced in 2011 that he had bought the club but Bates’ relationship with the fans is poor as they have bemoaned a lack of investment in the team. Bates replied by describing Leeds fans as ‘morons’.

Currently, they lie six points off of the play-off places and in Neil Warnock they have an astute manager who can motivate his players.

It may be a while until Leeds finally make a return to the Premier League but after such a spectacular capitulation the club appear to moving in the right direction. In December last year a Middle-East based equity group completed their takeover of the club gaining 100% share holding. Hopefully, this points towards investment in the team that will allow Leeds to climb out of the Championship and into the top flight.

Leeds United and their passionate fans have certainly seen brighter days but the gloom looks to be rising and light can be seen at the end of the tunnel.