Leeds Return To Premier League Gerald Krasner Remembers Pain Of 2004 Relegation

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Leeds Return To Premier League Gerald Krasner Remembers Pain Of 2004 Relegation

When Leeds United walk out to face champions Liverpool on Saturday they will do so as an upwardly mobile club with a bright future under Marcelo Bielsa.

It is a stark contrast to the state they found themselves in on 2 May 2004, when the only defiance came from their supporters as Leeds collapsed to a 4-1 defeat at Bolton and slid out of the Premier League, unable to return for a scarcely believable 16 years.

There will, of course, be no supporters at Anfield because of coronavirus restrictions. If the opportunity had allowed, the visiting allocation could have been sold many times over.

But even with no fans, it is the game of the opening top-flight weekend – two of England’s biggest clubs colliding, just as they used to before one of them collapsed, going from Champions League semi-finalists to Championship-bound in exactly three years.

“It was the biggest thing of its time,” said Gerald Krasner, the club’s chairman in 2004. “Let’s be honest, Leeds were the first of many clubs that spent to get success and didn’t do it.

“You still see it today – clubs paying ridiculous wages and transfer fees to get into that golden zone known as the Premier League.

“Leeds were bottom of the table when we bought it but I was the chairman who took it down. That will never be forgotten.”

Sixteen years ago, Krasner was a chartered accountant who had developed an impressive reputation as an insolvency practitioner, offering advice to companies without the means to pay their debts.

Crucially, he was also a Leeds fan.

The financial slide at Elland Road that started under the chairmanship of Peter Ridsdale gathered momentum under Professor John McKenzie. By the beginning of 2004, Leeds were in a desperate state.

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“For 30 years in my business life I have been telling people what they did wrong,” said Krasner.

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“I thought it was about time I showed people I could do it. I have never been frightened of putting my neck on the block, which is why I did the job when nobody else wanted it.”

Krasner put together a consortium of local businessmen to rescue the club. Others, including former Bradford City owner Geoffrey Richmond, were also involved, but Krasner was very much the public face.

“It was an interesting experience, especially on Thursday nights when the News of the World would phone you up hoping you were drunk, to get a story,” said Krasner.

Leeds Return To Premier League Gerald Krasner Remembers Pain Of 2004 Relegation

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