Warnock and talk of a takeover fuel Leeds United promotion hopes
Unpopular Ken Bates regime at Elland Road may be nearing conclusion
Few clubs have ever fallen so far and so fast as Leeds did in slumping from the Champions League semi-finals to League One in six seasons, but their return to prominence could be just as drastic.
Despite completing the first part of the climb two years ago, there has still been little to celebrate at Elland Road recently, only two managers lasting two years since David O’Leary left a decade ago and chairman Ken Bates proving hugely unpopular.
There are suddenly reasons for optimism though, a process started by the appointment of Neil Warnock in February following his rather harsh sacking from QPR.
The Sheffield United fan hasn’t always had a great relationship with the Whites and his initial results were underwhelming. However, it is in his first pre-season that his methods usually start having an effect.
Warnock’s ability at this level is certified by seven promotions as a manager, three of those into the top tier. That is a joint-English record and his prospects of seizing sole control of it with Leeds next season are enhanced by talk of a takeover.
The investors currently in discussions about a complete takeover of the club are widely believed to have Middle East connections, prompting supporters to hope that significant spending beckons after years of frugality since their fall.
The prospective owners are currently carrying out due diligence having agreed an exclusivity period, so the end of Bates’ despised seven-and-a-half year regime of minimal investment juxtaposed with exorbitant ticket prices may be imminent.
Leeds are currently tied joint-fifth favourites to win the Championship at 11/1. They have finished seventh and 14th since promotion so could feasibly challenge without an injection of cash, aided by a sprinkling of Warnock-approved additions.
That process is already underway with the first few signings – Portsmouth defender Jason Pearce, Derby midfielder Paul Green and former Norwich captain Adam Drury – appearing a decent starting point.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.