KPMG score own goal with Leeds

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The FT has reported that:

The Football League is refusing to sanction the sale of Leeds United to Ken Bates, the club's chairman, and has launched an inquiry into the handling of the club's affairs by its administrator, KPMG.

In a hard-hitting statement released on its website on Thursday, the league said it had failed to receive the required documentation and assurances from KPMG over its intended sale of the club to Mr Bates.

The League statement says:

At its meeting in London today, the Board of The Football League considered the reported sale of Leeds United by its administrators, KPMG.

To date, no documentation regarding the sale has been submitted to The League by the administrators. Notwithstanding this, the Board was asked by the reported purchasers to consider an application to transfer Leeds United's share in The Football League to them.

The Board was unable to consent to this request this morning. Instead it has requested, from the administrators, certain required documentation and assurances regarding the sale of the club. The Board also requires certainty on the current legal proceedings surrounding the administration.

The Board had been expecting the administrators to attend today's meeting, as KPMG originally requested. However, The League was informed late yesterday afternoon that they would not be attending, with no explanation provided.

Additionally, the Board expressed concern at the handling of the whole process by the administrators and the Chairman was instructed to obtain legal advice in that regard.

Clearly any further delays in this process will be frustrating for Leeds supporters. However, like the club's fans, the Board recognises the pressing need for certainty regarding the future of League football in Leeds and has agreed to convene at the earliest opportunity to re-consider the share transfer, once it has been provided with all the relevant information.

Also, for the avoidance of doubt, The League would like to make it clear that there is nothing in its regulations to prevent a club beginning a new playing season whilst in administration.

In an industry noted for false votes of confidence, that comes nowhere near an endorsement for KPMG's actions. Candidly KPMG have made a complete hash of this whole issue and as a result have shown:

  1. A lack of objectivity with regard to the original sale to Bates;
  2. Gullibility in accepting Bates' assurance on the ownership of offshore companies without undertaking further due diligence;
  3. Incompetence as managers of this process;
  4. A lack of transparency in failing to attend yesterday's meeting;

One is left with the feeling that the firm has shown willing to participate in what might best be called shady financial dealing. I guess that this is no surprise to us who are long term KPMG watchers, but I hope it's an eye opener to many people in the UK. It is time they called their professions to account. Because right now KPMG's conduct in this issue appears way below any acceptable ethical, professional or commercial standard of conduct. And it's appearances that count.

As a result you can be sure that, yet again, it's KPMG who will be dragging the profession through the mud.