Ex West Ham Man Key To Leeds Utd Renaissance

Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani made his fortune in global sports media and completed his takeover of Leeds in May ending the sometimes bizarre three year reign of Massimo Cellino who had a series of disputes, two bans from running the club by the Football League and a ban and a fine from the FA for breaching agent rules.

Appointing Thomas Christiansen as manager is now looking to be a clever move, along with the arrival of Victor Orta from Middlesbrough as director of football. However the 'missing link' and key to the administrative stability of the club culminating in it's resurgence and genuine possibility of returning the the cash cow that is the Barclays Premier League, was the appointment of Angus Kinnear who came from West Ham as managing director.

While the arrival of these people has been crucial, the most symbolic investment has been in bricks and mortar as Radrizzani bought back Elland Road 13 years after the club sold the ground to reduce debts, progress is already being made with a few some key cosmetic changes, banners around the ground celebrating past successes and a club history timeline running along Elland Road are part of the 're-Leedsivation' of the once proud club as they search to regain their identity.

"Buying back the ground was a seminal moment," said Adam Pope, who commentates on their games for BBC Radio Leeds and has covered every twist and turn since 2005-06. "Owners have come and gone saying they would buy the ancestral home back but only Radrizzani has delivered. "The emotional attachment to Elland Road is immense to Leeds fans and by buying it back for what is believed to be around £20m, investing and developing it, you can see Radrizzani means business."

Angus Kinnear was known to have extreme reservations about West Ham United's, move from the Boleyn Ground to the London Stadium despite being brought in to oversee the transition. Kinnear, who had previously been Arsenal's go to marketing man, thought the purchase of properties adjacent and surrounding 'Upton Park' ahead of the proposed increase of capacity from 35,000 to 48,000 to have been very shrewd, however it now transpires that the 'improvements' outlined for the Boleyn were never going to be agreed by Messrs Gold & Sullivan, moving to the London Stadium was viewed as paramount to their plans for the club.

There were worries about transport infrastructure etc, but the real reason that the Boleyn wasn't refurbished and expanded was because the numbers just didn't add up. The capital investment required did not justify the relatively small increase in capacity and would have taken years to pay for itself, so all the talk about 'moving to another level' was slightly disingenuous, the reality is that dear old Scott Duxberry had begged, borrowed and mortgaged season ticket sales years in advance in a desperate effort to keep the club afloat following the melt down of the icelandic economy (excuse pun) ahead of the arrival of the two Davids.

Perhaps Kinnnear's initial vision for the Boleyn was actually a better choice, it would definitely have been so in the short term. This brings us to the need for 'upscaling', Chelsea are, as are Tottenham, but there are a host of teams doing rather well in the Premier League who don't need massive gates. This is because of the obscene amount of TV revenue all top flight clubs now receive, the need for a vast capacity is actually a thing of the past if you look at the co-efficient between gate receipts and income. With the advent of increased on-line purchasing, merchandising does not rely on huge numbers at the club shop, rather on a massive social media and International media presence, that is where the big money is!

"You sold you're soul for this sh*t ho*e" was a constant chant of away fans visiting the London Stadium during Hammer's first season of tenancy, and maybe they were right, but there is no point crying about a situation that is irrevocable as we are stuck with the London Stadium and are going to try and make the most of it, but it won't truly be able to be called home for another 25 years until it is possible to buy the ground outright. There will then be a need for someone of the same ilk as Angus Kinnear to rediscover the club's identity won't there? - Ed


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