building bridges at new look united: lust, david haigh & salah nooruddinBack
Leeds United Supporters’ Trust met with the new men in charge of Leeds United at Elland Road today, while new Leeds United chairman Salah Nooruddin went on LUTV to talk about how the club needs to work more closely with its fans.
And following their meeting with David Haigh, the managing director, and Paul Hunt, acting CEO of Leeds United, LUST released a statement thanking its members for their support and hailing a new start for Leeds United.
The LUST statement ends: “If any Leeds fan is uncertain about whether to attend Elland Road this weekend, our message is simple: buy a ticket, and let Brian McDermott and the lads know they have 30,000 of the best fans in the land right behind them as they start the new campaign.”
Today’s meeting was arranged in the hours following the announcement that Ken Bates had “ceased to be president” and would “no longer have any role” at Leeds, when David Haigh phoned Trust chairman Gary Cooper to invite him to Elland Road.
In their statement, LUST thanked the fans who had joined the Trust on their march to Elland Road in February in 2012, and supported LUST in their efforts to represent the views of disenfranchised Leeds fans to Ken Bates and his board. They also gave details of a number of the points they raised in a meeting which lasted for almost two hours.
Describing Gary as “delighted” to accept the invitation from David Haigh, the statement continues, “With the past behind us, the Trust can use its local knowledge, its positive relationships with Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and with local businesses, and the support of over 9,000 engaged Leeds United supporters to help the club become successful on the pitch, in the stands, and in the city as a whole. To support the club’s strategy of seeking investment, Gary spoke to David and Paul about the Trust’s own discussions with potential investors, and explored how resources and ideas can be shared to the benefit of the club.”
The statement also stressed that LUST will “not be swayed from its responsibilities as a supporters’ trust … Gary told David and Paul that we will continue to closely scrutinise the running of the club and raise anything that is of concern to our members and the fanbase as a whole.”
Recognising the changes made at the club in recent weeks, which have seen Bates, Shaun Harvey, Gwyn Williams and Yvonne Todd all leave, and Yorkshire Radio close, the statement goes on to say, “LUST believe that a strong football club starts with its supporters, and that the fans now have the opportunity to play a massive part in building this club into a success once more.”
The role of the fans at Elland Road formed a major part of Salah Nooruddin’s comments in his interview on the official Leeds United YouTube channel. In a near ten minute video, the new Leeds United chairman says, “I think the fans are in fact the owners of the club. They should be pleased, and we have to work together very closely, and they should support us. I think there have been a number of rumours about GFH that were negative, and they shouldn’t listen to that.
“As we get closer we will understand each other – we have a common objective. We are the owners and they are the fans, and at the end of the day we want the club to be in the right place.”
Salah goes on to say that the club has and will contine to invest in the club, and look for new money that can be brought in. Describing manager Brian McDermott as “a great man,” he says the board will “back him all the way,” while making the Academy a focus. “I have discussed the issue of the academy with him,” says Salah. “I think that is an important asset for the club, and Brian has the ability to develop youth, and take the academy to a different level.”
The relationship with the fans is described by Salah as “most important.” “We need to reestablish the link with the fans,” he says. “I think we have been somehow absent on that notion, and the plan going forward is to be closer to the fans, and listen to them.”
That absence is something noted in LUST’s statement, which also looks forward to closer relationships. “The way the club was run by the previous owners caused problems with a great many Leeds fans over the years,” it reads, “And attendances dwindled as a result of loyal supporters deciding to stay away. Ken Bates’s involvement has now ended, and we hope that as many fans as possible will now feel they can come back to Elland Road and once more support the team they’ve always loved from inside the ground.
“The Trust will also be as active as possible in supporting the club, building on today’s positive meeting and making it the basis for a true fresh start. As such, we want to back the club’s recent calls for fans to return to Elland Road and play our part in what we hope will be a successful season on the pitch.”
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