Conversation with Angus Kinnear
LFU Shareholders’ Conversation with Angus Kinnear A Summary from Leeds Fans CBS Annual General Meeting
Angus opened with a clear statement that both he and Andrea remain open to discussing fan involvement in Leeds United and explained his own thoughts on fan ownership and how having fan investment, if structured correctly, could benefit the club. He continued to talk conversationally and expanded on subjects, rather than giving a “prepared statement” sort of answer to each question.
Having been a senior figure in football for over a decade Angus said he has seen the impact of ‘bad ownership’ at other Clubs and understands that having fans properly involved in the running of the club can lead to a positive outcome. He talked about how Leeds United views the importance of everyone being ‘Together’ and that the club works best when absolutely everyone is united – the team, management, owners, fans and staff – and how fan ownership is potentially one way to facilitate this feeling of togetherness.
Angus views the fans as crucial to the success of Leeds United, hence being open to exploring the option of fan investment. Angus spent time explaining how he had set up the attempt to expand fan ownership at Arsenal and how much value he had got from having fans as critical friends and allies.
Angus talked about how meetings between the club and LFU have progressed since last summer, from the early stages of understanding LFU’s proposals to getting into higher levels of detail and being prepared for different possible scenarios. He explained how LFU’s plans have developed to a point where the decision on next steps sits with the club now, and reiterated the need for LFU to continue to be flexible and creative – meetings have taken place regularly and continue to do so and this matter is being taken seriously.
The subject of a fan on the board has come up many times in discussion between LFU and the club, and this is one area that needs further consideration. LFU has looked at many different models of how fan representation can work in a situation where there is a financial stake, and considered how we could set a fan rep for success. Angus agreed that the fans need a voice at the right level but Board membership has its challenges, particularly around accountability and a working model that allows the club’s board of directors to enact its day to day business while fans are involved in longer term policy, needs to be carefully detailed.
In doing any deal between the club and LFU, the future shape and unity of all fans needs to be considered. It’s important that an LFU deal is inclusive to all fans and not just those who can put money in to a scheme. Angus acknowledged the inclusive nature of the current LFU scheme that allows fans to put just £10 into a group
We talked about the benefits of an external / overseas investor vs bringing in investment from the fans and Angus made it clear Andrea Radrizzani has no plans to concede a majority share in the club, so the decision to do a deal with LFU is his alone and therefore wouldn’t be impacted by another source of investment. If a minority equity investment were to be successful it would be critical for the investor to be aligned to the values of and vision for Leeds United. This naturally places fan investment led by LFU very well.
In referring to BadgeGate, Angus explained how the events showed the depth of loyalty of fans to the club and its traditions. He understood why LFU was keen to enshrine certain Heritage or Legacy issues into a formal long-term right for fans.
Angus went into more detail around what fan investment might be spent on. LFU has said that it wants any investment to be spent on something that has a long-term benefit to the club, and something meaningful for all fans. Academy investment and a longer-term involvement into the plans around development closer to the city centre is something that we have been discussing.
The key to advancing discussions is dependent on LFU providing further confidence on the magnitude of investment. LFU explained that we have mapped out where and how these sums would come from and that Angus said that raising half a million pounds in the circumstances was extraordinary and gives the club confidence that higher sums can be raised.
Angus said the club and LFU will continue to talk on a regular basis. Both sides acknowledge that there are still details to be agreed but that in talks so far we have identified problems and worked them through satisfactorily and Angus said he expects that to continue.
In a final question from the floor, Angus was asked whether he thought significant progress could be made this year and answered simply “Yes I do, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t”. He said that the LFU Board is top quality and they give him confidence that LFU can deliver.
LFU thanks Angus for his time and clarity in explaining many items concerning the club and negotiations with LFU and we thank all our members for your continued support.