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Ken Bates claims Leeds United had 'no alternative' but to sell Jonny Howson

Jonny Howson scored for Norwich against Leeds United this week, so what has the man who sold him had to say?

Former club captain Jonny Howson returned to bite the hand which once fed him this week as he scored to set Norwich City on their way to a 2-0 win over Leeds United at Elland Road.

Howson was controversially sold in January 2012, and club chairman at the time Ken Bates has been speaking to Radio Yorkshire in an attempt to clarify the circumstances of his sale.

The controversial octogenarian admitted the club decided to cash in, even suggesting the midfielder was in part to blame for his departure. 

He said: "The problem is he was in the last year of his contract. He would not even discuss a new contract. I suspect it was his agent."

Referencing an injury Howson picked up against Millwall in December 2011, a month before his eventual sale, he added:

"Out of the blue Norwich came along and offered £1.8 million for him while he was still injured. We discussed it, and really had no alternative. He wasn't playing, we were paying his wages. They estimated six weeks to two months. Do we pay his wages to get better and then he walks out for nothing?

"So we bowed to pressure and took the £1.8m and put it in the pot.

"It was a great tragedy,  I was disappointed in Jonny as I was great supporter of him and he came through the Leeds United academy."

Adding further context, Bates unusually blamed Howson's birthday for putting the club in a poor position with regard to his expiring contract.

He discussed how a club can be entitled to compensation on players 23-years-old and under leaving a club on a free transfer.

However with Howson's birthday on May 21st and his contract expiring on June 30th, Leeds were on the wrong side of him turning 24 and stood to lose him without any compensation. Bates' memory failed him somewhat in the interview, claiming Howson's birthday was on June 29th.

The above is at least Bates' version of events. Howson may well have a different tale to tell - and was very complimentary about the club upon his return this week.

Perhaps if Leeds had a team under Bates which were capable of challenging for promotion to the Premier League, his departure may never have happened regardless.

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