So tonight, as the Leeds United U23s celebrate a fantastic achievement, let me dwell on a darker time in our glorious history.
The final death knell was sounded a few days ago for the company that was Leeds United for almost a century, as Leeds United AFC, founded 1920, was finally committed to oblivion by the liquidator who, having spent ten years (and almost one million pounds), filed the last accounts at Companies House.
Many fans may have thought that the famous AFC had ceased to exist in 2007 when it went into liquidation while Ken Bates was running it, but no. The liquidator has spent the last ten years trying to actually bury our dear old AFC.
For me, reading through the liquidator’s final eulogy of the Club, there is only sadness. Yes, I have great memories of excitement, pleasure, dismay, joy and emotions I probably shouldn’t put in writing but those are faded just now as the liquidator lays our AFC to rest and closes his books of accounts never to be opened again.
The modern way is to clap for a minute in recognition of what a deceased has achieved but I’ve never warmed to that notion; I prefer to stand in silent contemplation of the good times and bad times we’ve known and thank the deceased for everything I’ve gained from being associated.
I didn’t clap for a minute as the books of accounts were closed on the AFC, although I’ll have a bally good time at the wake.
I stood in silent contemplation over the final, filed testament and seethed.
Yes, I’m not afraid to admit, I seethed as the AFC was laid to rest. I’ve never done that at an internment before and I promise I never will again. Unlike with many other similar occurrences, the AFC didn’t die of old age, it didn’t die through neglect from its family or relatives; the AFC died because its carers killed it.
The final testament and other documents laid out by the liquidator show the damage done in the last three years before its death. The deceit played upon fans of the AFC, the players who never received wages, the staff who did not get paid in full, over three thousand people and businesses owed money by Leeds United AFC got just four pence for every pound coin they were due.
Think about that; people had worked to provide a service or sold goods to the AFC – just like you and I go to work because we will be paid a fair wage for it – and they got just four shiny new pennies when they were due a full pound coin.
Disgraceful. However, I’m not going to harp on any more.
In total, people and businesses were owed almost £19 million. The liquidator spent almost £1 million but did manage to not spend three quarters of a million pounds which went to the little people. Yes, the liquidator spent £1 million in getting just £750 thousand pounds to be split between 3,000 creditors.
Who were these little people? That’s not really for me to reveal, they were powerless in the face of the liquidation process and I’ll not prolong their pain.
What does annoy me is that amongst the liquidator’s documents is evidence that some players were sold by the AFC between 2004 and 2007 on deals where the AFC would continue to pay a portion of the players’ wages… but those wages were not paid. The AFC still took my season ticket money though.
There are other issues that emerged from the liquidator that I was going to include, but perhaps I should return to silent contemplation.
Debts after ‘owner’ write off were almost £19m
Assets were just under £2m
Liquidators spent £1m
Creditors were owed £19m but got £750k
Leeds United Association Football Club, founded 1920, finally laid to rest 2019. RIP.
Mike Thornton 25th March 2019