Ken Bates was sacked over £120k private jet row


Ken Bates says he was sacked as a Leeds United director for renewing a contract for his private jet hire without the club’s approval.

The outspoken former Leeds chairman, who used to own Chelsea, lives in Monaco and has travelled to matches using a hired plane – which is believed to cost £120,000 per year – for the past eight years.

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The interior of a Cessna Citation, which are used by private jet company 247 Jet

Bates said that use of the jet was in his contract with the club and, when the deal with 247 Jet had expired, he renewed it after being offered better terms than previously.

The 81-year-old claimed that he then left for holiday in Italy, during which time Leeds’ owners GFH Capital asked him why he had struck the deal without their knowledge.

Bates claims that they then sacked him before he had a chance to explain himself.

"Basically I had a chance of renewing that travel expense contract at a price that is cheaper than existing and at the same time, more importantly, it was in sterling and protects Leeds' (accounts) because all gas is bought in dollars and most of the handling charges are in the EC.

"So, I checked… with the solicitor who wrote me the letter when I met him socially and he confirmed that a director had the authority to commit a club or a company in which he was a director.

"So I did it and he left the details at the office, and I thought no more about it.

"That was on June 27. On July 24 I had a hand-delivered letter (from GFH) telling me that I had broken the contract or agreement and asking me for my comments.

"I immediately rang the lawyer concerned and his office was closed and I left a message on his answerphone on which I said 'there's a perfectly clear explanation for this, let's have a board meeting when I get back and we'll sort it out around the table'. That was on July 26.

"On July 28 I get another letter telling me they have terminated my contract. In all that time, not one person from GFH had rung me to discuss the matter.

"In fact, I've spoken to one of their directors on a very regular basis and he had not even mentioned it. There's nothing I can do about it until I get back next Tuesday and then we'll have to see what happens."

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Ken Bates (right) has endured a tricky relationship with David Haigh of GFH Capital (left)

Bates is adamant the contract he signed to become president continued that arrangement with the full knowledge of GFH.

He added: "If you look at the contract which they drew up - I only signed - I have been doing that mode of transport for the last eight years and they included it in the contract, so there's nothing new there, I don't have to justify it.

"It said it in the contract, which they signed."

The former Chelsea chairman bought Leeds in January 2005 and held power at Elland Road until signing over to GFH Capital in December last year.

He is reported to be considering taking legal action against GFH capital, who are trying to cut costs at a club that infamously went into administration when Peter Ridsdale was chairman.

Expenses played a part in their downfall back then, with goldfish maintenance and flower deliveries among the items paid for by the club.

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