Ken Bates says he was abruptly sacked from his tenure as the Leeds United president by the new owners, GFH, after he entered the club into a contract with the private aeroplane company 247 Jet that could be used to fly him to Leeds from his Monaco home.
The cost of this contract to which Bates committed the Championship club, which is under financial strain, is thought to be £500,000 over three years.
Previously Bates has been flown by private jet. The costs of use of a private jet to the club is understood from sources who have seen the Leeds accounts to be around £120,000 a year. He told the Observer that his expenses had not changed for the eight years he was Leeds chairman, and that GFH were well aware of them when they bought the club in December. He declined to cover the details of precisely what they covered.
A key sticking point with GFH is that Bates did not gain the approval of the board for the new, three-year private jet contract. Bates argues he was not able to do so, and he was advised in June that as a director of the club, he was able to bind the club into the contract.
"I saved the club money, because this was a sterling contract, rather than euros," Bates said. "I did it in the best interests of the club."
Currently on holiday in Italy with his wife Suzannah, Bates said he received a hand-delivered letter last Wednesday from GFH, raising concerns. He expected to deal with it on his return from holiday, but instead: "Two days later, they told me I was sacked."
Describing his treatment as "despicable," Bates said he is considering suing. GFH said there were confidentiality agreements in place, and declined to comment.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Chris Robertshaw