Gerald Krasner: An unlikely saviour for Leeds

Gerald Krasner: An unlikely saviour for Leeds

There is nothing like football to get you noticed. Just ask Gerald Krasner. A few weeks ago, he was simply Gerald Krasner FCA, FABRP, specialising in 'corporate recovery, re- structuring and insolvency' at Leeds-based accountancy practice Bartfields, where he is the director.

The independent firm – started as a family business back in 1927 by one Isaac Bartfield – provides accountancy, business advice and IT services to small and medium-sized firms. That would be sufficient to get you well-known locally – and in insolvency circles, no doubt – but certainly not to make you a household name.

That all changed when Krasner led, or was at least the public face of, the local consortium that agreed a £22m takeover of Leeds United FC, the beleaguered Premiership club.

Before this, the biggest headlines Krasner made were probably back in May 2001 when 14 directors at The Parcel Exchange company were disqualified for misconduct, which at the time it was thought to be a record. Bartfields and Krasner helped the DTI in its investigations.

From there, trying to save one of the country’s best-known sporting institutions seems quite a jump. But Leeds United is a passion for Krasner and it has led to him becoming one of the most talked-about people, unlikely as it may seem, in the world of football.

Now he is Gerald Krasner, ‘saviour’ of Leeds – responsible for the hopes and dreams of thousands of fans of the largest one-city club in the UK.

He is also the Gerald Krasner who, in the past few days has had dinner with Sven Goran Eriksson, been widely described as ‘charismatic’, was lampooned by national radio for looking like a coach driver and for bearing a striking resemblance to that famous old actor Charles Laughton.

It is the very same Gerald Krasner who has yet to convince many supporters that, as chairman, he has the best interests of the club at heart, and no secret agenda relating to the sale of the club’s ground Elland Road.

‘Elland Road will continue to be the home of Leeds United Football Club as long as I am chairman,’ he said when the takeover was announced.

But how long will he be the chairman? A fire sale of the team’s star players to cut costs seems inevitable.

At least the fact that the 54-year-old is a lifelong supporter of Leeds should help assuage some of the more suspicious supporters. But Krasner will have to take decisions in the near future not as a supporter, but as a hard-nosed restructuring expert.

This is something in which he is well versed, but making decisions about Leeds may prove the ultimate test of his skills. Some fans have already written to websites expressing their disbelief that they now have in charge, of all things, an accountant.

But it may just be that an able accountant is what the club needs now, as much as a new Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter, Alan Clarke or Gary MacAllister or any other of Leeds’ footballing legends.

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