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Leeds United FC

Leeds United FC is an English professional football club from the city of Leeds in the West Yorkshire metropolitan county.

It presently plies its trade in the Premier League, the highest level of league football in England after spending a large part of the previous two decades in the 2nd tier.

As one of the more successful football clubs in the land, Leeds Utd has won 3 League Championship titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup and 2 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. The club were runners-up of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972/73 and also reached the final of the European Cup in 1974/75.

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Identity

While blue and gold are the traditional colours of Leeds Utd, it has changed its playing strip quite a few times before adopting a full white kit in 1961. The crest on the shirt depicts a shield with the White Rose of York, the symbol of Yorkshire. The club-anthem is an original song called ‘Marching on Together’ released in 1972.

Leeds Utd plays its home-matches at Elland Road and it has been the only home-ground for the club since its formation. The stadium is the 14th largest in the country with a full seating capacity of 37, 792 spectators. The huge local fan-base of the club is known to stir up an intimidating atmosphere inside the arena.

Statistically, Leeds has the 10th highest average attendance in English football. Its major rivals from Yorkshire are Huddersfield Town, Bradford City, Sheffield Utd and Sheffield Wednesday. Leeds also has a long-standing hostility with Manchester Utd while Chelsea has become another big nemesis in the last half a century.

History

The predecessor to Leeds Utd was Leeds City FC which was formed in 1904 and became a member of the Football League the following year. In 1919, Leeds City was disbanded and forced to sell off its players by the Football League after allegations regarding illegal payments to its players during World War I.

Therefore Leeds United Football Club was established at the Salem Congregational Chapel in 1919. Later in the year, the club received an invitation to join the Midlands League and take the spot of Leeds City Reserves. It also received a 35,000 pounds loan from Huddersfield Town chairman and moved into Elland Road as its home-stadium.

The Early Period

Leeds Utd was elected into the Football League on 31st May 1920. It started its journey in the Second Division and finished the maiden 1920/21 season in 14th position. The club improved steadily over the next couple of years before winning the league-title in 1923/24 to earn its first promotion to the top-flight.

In its debut campaign in the First Division, Leeds Utd earned 15th position at the end of 1924/25. In 1925/26, it barely managed to survive the drop finishing only a point above the drop-zone in 19th spot. The club dropped further down the table in 1926/27 to 21st position and was relegated to the 2nd tier.

Leeds ended 1927/28 as runners-up in the Second Division to earn an immediate return back to the top-flight. It stayed in the First Division for the next couple of years and even took 5th place in 1929/30. But in the following 1930/31 campaign, it ended in 21st spot and was dropped down into the 2nd tier once more.

Yet again Leeds Utd was able to earn an instant promotion by finishing as runners-up of the Second Division in 1931/32. The club was able to consolidate itself in the mid-table of the top-division until the Football League was indefinitely suspended at the end of the decade due to World War II.

The Post-War Era

After the end of the war, the Football League resumed with the 1946/47 season. But like many English clubs, Leeds had suffered tremendously during World War II and was only a shadow of its former self. It finished the campaign at the foot of the table in 22nd spot and was relegated back to the 2nd tier.

But there was no instant return this time as Leeds finished the next couple of seasons in the bottom-half of the Second Division. In the early half of the 1950’s, the club managed to develop into a regular top-6 team before taking in 2nd position at the end of 1955/56 to move up to top-flight once again.

On its return to the First Division, Leeds Utd finished the 1956/57 campaign in 8th position. The club remained in mid-table for the next couple of years although it was unable to improve any further. In 1959/60, it was relegated from the top-tier once again after ending the season in 21st spot.

After failing to gain an immediate return, Don Revie became the manager in the middle of 1960/61. The club barely survived relegation in his first full season before jumping up to 5th position at the end of 1962/63. In the subsequent 1963/64 campaign, Leeds won the Second Division and earned its 4th promotion to the top-tier.

Upon its comeback to the First Division, Leeds immediately announced itself as a top contender by ending the 1964/65 season as runners-up behind Manchester Utd due to an inferior goal-ratio. The club also reached the final of the FA Cup for the first time where it lost 2-1 against Liverpool in extra-time.

The club ended the following 1965/66 season in 2nd place once again, this time losing the league-title to Liverpool. In 1966/67, the club finished in 4th spot and reached the semi-final of the FA Cup. It also went into the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup where it lost 2-0 to GNK Dinamo Zagreb.

The Golden Age

During 1967/68, Leeds Utd once again finished in 4th position and was knocked out in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. However, the club lifted its first trophy by beating Arsenal 1-0 in the final of the League Cup. Later on, it also added the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup with a 1-0 aggregate win over Hungarian side Ferencvarosi TC.

Leeds eventually picked up its maiden First Division title in 1968/69 after a goalless-draw at Anfield against nearest challengers Liverpool, breaking numerous records along the way. Its 34-match unbeaten-run stretching into the following season still remains unmatched to this day.

In 1969/70, Leeds laid a serious challenge for completing a domestic treble but ended the season empty-handed. It finished 2nd in the league behind Everton and lost the FA Cup final to Chelsea after extra-time in the replay. The club had also exited the European Cup at the semi-final stage to Scottish giants Celtic.

Leeds Utd finished as runners-up in the First Division once again in 1970/71, losing the title by only 1 point to Arsenal after a controversial defeat against West Bromwich Albion. It had to endure a humiliating FA Cup exit to 4th division side Colchester Utd before defeating Juventus on away-goals in the final of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.

The club was runners-up in the First Division for the 3rd straight season in 1971/72, surrendering the title to Derby County by a single point. Leeds Utd had also managed to reach the final of the FA Cup and defeated Arsenal 1-0 to lift the trophy for the first and only time in its history.

In 1972/73, Leeds finished the league in 3rd position and was handed another huge disappointment after it went down 0-1 to Second Division side Sunderland in the final of the FA Cup. It also reached the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup where it was beaten 1-0 by AC Milan at the Kaftanzoglio Stadium in Thessaloniki.

Manager Don Revie was offered the Everton job but chose to stay at Leeds and the club reclaimed the First Division title in 1973/74 after finishing 5 points ahead of Liverpool in 2nd position. However, Revie called time on his 13 year tenure at the helm and left to become the England manager at the end of the campaign.

His successor Brian Clough lasted a mere 44 days before Jimmy Armfield was appointed to the job and Leeds ended the 1974/75 season in 4th position. He also led the team to the final of the European Cup where it went down 2-0 German powerhouse FC Bayern Müchen at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

An ageing team was rebuilt over the next few years and Leeds was unable to challenge for any trophies and gradually slipped into mid-table by the end of the decade. Craving success, the board changed managers regularly and the club was relegated after ending the 1981/82 season in 20th position.

After dropping down to the Second Division, Leeds was stuck in mid-table for the next 4 years. In 1986/87, it ended in 4th position and earned a spot in the promotion-playoffs before losing 2-1 to Charlton Athletic in the final. Leeds won the league-title in 1989/90 to win a direct promotion to the top-flight.

The Contemporary Period

Leeds Utd made a big impact upon returning to the First Division and finished the 1990/91 campaign in 4th spot. In 1991/92, it won the League Championship for the 3rd time in its final season as the top-division of England. A few weeks further on, Leeds became a founding member of the Premier League.

The Premier League Era

In 1992/93, Leeds was knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in early stages before ending the inaugural Premier League campaign in 17th position. Nevertheless, the club improved to finish regularly in the top-5 of the league-table for the remainder of the 90’s including a 3rd place in 1999/2000.

While Leeds remained at the top-end of the Premier League during the turn of the millennium, it had not picked up any silverware in a decade. The club had borrowed substantial amounts of money without earning the expected rewards and had to sell its best players to pay off the debt.

In 2002/03, the club managed to avoid relegation on the final day of the season and finished in 15th position. Leeds made a dreadful start to the 2003/04 campaign with the club in a state of insolvency and eventually ended the campaign in 19th position and was dropped down to the 2nd tier.

Further Decline

For the 2004/05 season, almost the entire squad was sold off to reduce the wage bill and the squad was largely composed of youth players and free transfers. In 2005/06, Leeds took 4th position in the Championship to earn a playoff-berth but went down 3-0 to Watford in the final.

In 2006/07 the team began poorly and looked doomed for relegation before the club went into administration and received a 10-point deduction which completely sealed its fate. Leeds ended the season in 24th position and was relegated to the 3rd tier of English football for the very first time.

Leeds Utd began 2007/08 in League One with a 15-point penalty yet ended the season in 5th place, which would otherwise have been enough to win the league without its deduction. It moved up to 4th position in the following campaign before finishing as runners-up in 2009/10 to earn promotion to the 2nd tier.

Recent Resurgence

Over the next 8 years, ownership of the club changed on more than once occasion while Leeds Utd remained in the mid-table of the League Championship without making any real effort towards promotion. After finishing 2017/18 down in 13th spot, Leeds named Marcelo Bielsa as its new manager.

Leeds started 2018/19 in excellent fashion but a poor end to the campaign dropped it down to 3rd position before losing 3-4 on aggregate to Derby County in the playoffs. It continued its strong form in 2019/20 and won the Championship to seal its return to the top-flight after a 16 year absence.

In its first season back in the Premier League, Leeds played an energetic attacking-football to finish the 2020/21 season in 9th position. But it began shakily in 2021/22 and Bielsa was sacked with the club hovering above the bottom-3. Jesse Marsch came in as his replacement and guided the team to safety by ending the Premier League season in 17th spot.

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