MP: 'Fans should know club ownership details'
Thursday 04 August 2011
Tory MP Damian Collins has rejected Leeds chairman Ken Bates' claim that he has a vendetta against the club and insisted fans have the right to know ownership details.
Bates launched a scathing attack on the Parliamentary culture, media and sport committee's review of football and accused Collins, one of the members, of having a "hidden agenda" after he called for an FA investigation into the past ownership of Leeds.
Bates took a 70% controlling interest in the club in May but it is still not known who was behind the offshore trusts that owned Leeds before then.
Collins told Press Association Sport: "It is important for fans to know who owns their club, whether they are fit and proper people, and it they have other interests in football which could be considered to be a conflict.
"Ken Bates clearly thinks that this is none of their business, and I think he is wrong.
"With Leeds we still do not know who the owners of the club were when it was controlled by the FSF trust. Given that tax-payers and other businesses lost large amounts of money during the period when Leeds was in administration, I think there is some legitimate public interest as well in understanding more about this."
Collins said he had no issue with Leeds and that many of the club's supporters wanted questions answered.
He added: "We have recently seen a great club like Leeds bought and sold by two offshore companies for an undisclosed sum, and we don't know the identity of the seller.
"Why was FSF so keen to sell to Ken Bates when the club looks like it is in contention to get back into the Premier League, and why was such a potentially lucrative deal concluded so quickly? I think it is reasonable to ask these questions.
"If I was to make one prediction it will be that soon Leeds will be back in the Premier League, and at some point after that Ken Bates will sell for a considerable profit."
Bates had said that with Leeds being one of the few clubs making a profit the focus should be on how it was being run.
He told Yorkshire Radio: "Why Damian Collins is carrying such a torch for Leeds when he is an avowed Manchester United supporter living in Kent, as many of them do, I do not know.
"I suspect there is a hidden agenda here or he has a vendetta against the club or myself.
"I remember Harry Redknapp saying fans wouldn't mind if Saddam Hussein owned a club so long as it was winning games and signing players and I think that applies to most clubs and certainly Leeds.
"The report says clubs should be financially secure and upwardly mobile and we are one of the few clubs that are. What's the problem? I own it now, or 70% anyway, so let's get on with running the club."
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