Peter, making Johnny Howson captain did not retain him!
Unbelievably, like you, I am sceptical about conspiracy theories – I guess you are referring to my “The Grey Destroyer?” thread. 1984 is long past, as is the hooligan rivalry between teams. Ken Bates was unpopular with Chelsea fans and, I imagine, his rant against Leeds was a ploy to appear as a hero to them. It is irrational that anyone would hold a grudge against a rival team for over two decades, based solely on a few hoodlums wrecking a shiny new scoreboard!
However, Ken Bates’ rationality is different to that of most people; his seems hidden behind a thick-skinned, deliberately objectionable, veil of secrecy. He may well have a rational plan for Leeds but for as long as he keeps it secret and continues to alienate Leeds fans, his plan will be as much use as winking in the dark.
For sure, Ken Bates wants success, as you say, “on his terms”, but that is the rationalism of a dictator. Although in the past, businesses dictated terms to customers, today few businesses with that attitude survive.
The ‘CVA’ explanation for Ken Bates’ lack of investment has some credibility based on Leeds returning to the Prem in 2013 when it is debt free. Yet, I suspect, there is more at stake than avoiding an estimated £6M debt liability.
The completely shady business of Ken Bates’ ownership (or not!) of Leeds United (and, possibly, Elland Road and Thorp Arch) will be brought into question if Leeds returns to the Prem. While Leeds remains in the Championship, his tax-dodging offshore activities may pass under the radar of HMRC.
If HMRC decided to act against Ken Bates, a good forensic accountant could uncover his dealings and that, probably, is why he is holding Leeds back.
As Sir Walter Scott said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive”.