Friday, January 21, 2011

21 January 2005 - For That Price, He Could Have Bought 10 Million Chelseas

On 21 January 2005, controversial former Chelsea owner Ken Bates completed his takeover of Leeds United, purchasing a 50 percent stake for £10 million.

In 1982, Bates bought Chelsea, then in the Second Division, for £1 (also assuming responsibility for their massive debts). His 21 years there were successful but volatile, going through 9 different managers, but ending with the club in the top flight. Meanwhile, Bates drew constant attention, including heavy criticism for his proposal to separate supporters from the pitch with an electric fence. He ended up selling Chelsea to Roman Abramovitch in 2003 for £140 million.

When he acquired his stake in Leeds, they were deep in debt and struggling in the Championship. Bates' investment allowed the club to stave off an imminent bankruptcy, though they entered administration in 2007 after being relegated to League One. The club was then sold to a company that included Bates as one of the directors, a shady bit of business that marked him as a target for unhappy supporters. The Guardian's investigation into the club's new ownership resulted in Bates banning the paper's reporters from the club's Elland Road ground in 2009--a ban that that currently remains in effect.

Nevertheless, under Bates' stewardship, Leeds rose back to the Championship in 2010 and currently sit in 5th place, which would qualify them for the playoffs to earn promotion back to the Premier League.

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