By Rob Atkinson
It came out of the blue in a terse statement from Leeds United: Ken Bates would no longer be club president, and all his connections with the club had been severed forthwith. No reasons were initially given - and quite frankly, nobody at first cared. The main thing was, Bates was gone. He was going to be President of the club for life, then it was going to be only three years (there may not actually have been much of a difference between those first two) - but now he was gone, history, end of. Bye bye, Ken. Don't let the door whack you in the arse on the way out.
Now, though, more details have emerged as to the reason for Bates' abrupt departure. It appears that Ken - never a man to underestimate his own importance - had committed the club to a £500k contract for private jet flight to and from the Monaco bolt-hole of il Presidente for matchday travel. No RyanAir or EasyJet for Uncle Ken, you see, he was going to do it in style and, as ever, the club - the fans - would be the ones forking out for it. This, then, is the straw that has broken the Dubai-based camel's back. Ken received a missive, delivered by hand, informing him that his non-services would no longer be required.
Staggeringly, Ken seems to resent this. After all the legal shenanigans that have punctuated his reign of terror in LS11, costing the club a reported £4m, he now feels that he is a wronged party, that Leeds United have treated him "despicably" and that he should be compensated. So, he intends to sally forth to pursue his favourite pastime of litigation - with Leeds United this time in the respondent's box, as opposed to blindly funding his deluded fantasies. The irony of this is breathtaking, and it is only to be hoped that the British legal system has finally had enough of this irascible old man's nonsense and will proceed to laugh him out of court. Football's had its fill of Ken - honestly, hasn't the whole country?
This, let us not forget, is the man who proposed (quite seriously) that fences enclosing fans on the terraces should be electrified to dissuade those of an eager disposition from getting at rival fans or the field of play itself. Who knows what that might have led to if the whole concept of fencing hadn't become deeply unfashionable in the wake of Hillsborough? This is the man who declared his ambition to be the ejection of Leeds United and it's "animal" followers from the Football League, following the actions of a group of freelance demolition contractors from Yorkshire in disabling the Stamford Bridge electronic scoreboard in 1984. Big Brother was watching us, and he decreed we weren't fit to be part of the football family. He wanted us out - and he so nearly achieved his objective, didn't he? This is the man, after all, who presided over the lowest point in Leeds United's history. Ken Bates is a name that will forever be associated in the minds of Leeds fans with failure, corruption and despair.
Ken Bates and his megaphone mouth, unconnected to anything remotely resembling a brain, has represented everything bad about football for decades now - and it's time we all had a well-earned rest from him. It is perhaps fitting that Bates and Ferguson - two markedly less-than-pleasant football personalities - should be heading into the sunset at the same time. Having the name of Ken Bates connected to the club I love has been a deeply horrible experience for me and thousands of my fellow Leeds United fans. The final separation looks highly unlikely to be amicable - Uncle Ken is far too self-involved and vindictive for that - but it is nonetheless a most welcome development for anyone with the best interests of Leeds United at heart. Ironically, GFH Capital are now quoting a confidentiality clause in refusing to comment on the reasons for the End of Ken, something the Bearded Gob used extensively during the endless takeover saga last year. So for the time being, Bates is wasting his bile on the desert air and getting no official response. But many thousands of happy individuals in Leeds United colours would be happy to deliver one last message to him.
Sod off, Ken, and take your legal team with you.