Former Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan has lifted the lid on Leeds’ transfer activity under Ken Bates and Dennis Wise.
Keegan’s book has been serialised by the Times and as part of a story about the Magpies’ poor business, he reveals a tale from Wise.
It dates back to Wise’s time at Elland Road and tells of a young player who joined to the club just because Wise wanted to keep his father happy.
Wise was engaging in similar practice at Newcastle, only for the benefit of agents, according to Keegan.
In his own words
Speaking about a deal to ‘park’ Ignacio González at Newcastle, Keegan said: “I wanted an explanation and I asked Dennis if he would have agreed to this kind of “favour” when he was managing Leeds.
“I told him I could ask the same question to a hundred managers and none would have put up with it. Wise’s argument was that it was not out of the ordinary for these kinds of deals to happen in football; referring to them as “commercials”, and telling a story about his time at Leeds to illustrate his point.
“According to Dennis, Ken Bates approached him to suggest they offer a boy of seventeen a professional contract. The boy wasn’t good enough to be a footballer but that, plainly, was not the most important detail as far as Leeds were concerned.
“The boy’s father had a successful business and a lucrative deal had been arranged for that company to sponsor Leeds — on condition they signed the boss’s son. It wasn’t explained to the boy. His dad didn’t tell him. It was completely wrong. It might be the way Leeds worked back then, it wasn’t the way I wanted Newcastle to be.”
Leeds in a better place now
If there is any club that can empathise with Newcastle’s plight off the pitch, it’s Leeds. From Bates to Massimo Cellino, the Whites have seen their fair share of madness at board level; as Keegan’s story shows.
Andrea Radrizzani’s regime has had to endure its fair share of critics but Keegan’s tale proves how bad it used to be; and how far Leeds have come since that era.
While Mike Ashley lingers at Newcastle, Leeds will hope they have rid themselves of boardroom bad apples. It is hard to imagine the deal Keegan describes going through these days.