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Jan 5, 2012

Bates predicts doomsday for clubs

Leeds chairman Ken Bates has predicted a doomsday scenario for football in 2012 and thinks that banks will finally stop supporting financially-crippled clubs.

Bates, 80, has owned Oldham, Wigan, Chelsea and now Leeds, as well as serving on various Football League committees and acting as a major force behind the scenes within the FA and Premier League.

There have long been forecasts of doom and gloom for the financial side of the game and Bates, whose club take on Arsenal in Monday's big FA Cup tie on ESPN, is certain that it will come to a head this year.

"The s**t is about to hit the proverbial fan in football this year, mark my words,'' he told ESPNsoccernet. "The banks will no longer lend money to football clubs. There has already been a hint of this at Blackburn, but I know for a fact that at least three banks have crossed football off. I see football clubs facing increasing financial debt, but no longer will the banks bail them out.

"The banks don't want to admit this, because they know it will attract some unsavoury reaction from certain sections of clubs' support. They don't want to be the man who bounces a football club's cheque. They don't want a brick coming through their window.

"The banks will support their local club, through sponsorship or buying a box, but they will no longer prop them up. They are going to refuse to prop up clubs they can see using their funds to overpay for players. Not when there is a credit crunch. Not with a recession on. The banks are saying to clubs, 'sorry, no more money'."

The image of football finance in 2012 is that it continues to rumble along unchecked, mainly because the biggest clubs appear to show no signs of abating their spending, despite the pending application of Michel Platini's Financial Fair Play rules.

Bates is scathing about "absentee owners" and their "stooges" who represent their clubs while remaining in their own countries and has concerns about their long term commitment.

He added: "Clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham have a lot in common... none of their owners put a single penny of their own money into the club. Instead those clubs are run on commercial structures that allow them to spend what they earn, but the fans always believe that they never have enough money to invest in players."

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