Good afternoon and a warm welcome to Elland Road as we embark on an intense festive period where we have the opportunity to re-establish ourselves in the Play-Off places.
The victory against Norwich may not have been our most flamboyant performance, but what was impressive was the resilience and character the team demonstrated. We all recognise these are critical qualities required to be successful in this league.
As we look back on 2017 there is an immense amount to be proud of. As Andrea Radrizzani secured full ownership, the foundations have begun to be built, for our great clubs return to sustainable success.
The arrival of Thomas Christiansen and his coaching staff has brought a new football philosophy to the club and the team responded superbly to the positive new direction - quicker than almost every critic predicted.
The squad was strengthened with a mixture of new signings and the contract extensions of many of our proven talents. This work continued at Academy level to ensure we have can build on our heritage of developing young players and bring them into the first team. Simultaneously Victor Orta built a global scouting capability that will be a competitive advantage for years to come.
Off the pitch Andrea quickly delivered on his promise of buying back Elland Road and we embarked on a programme of improvements to our home, whilst setting out a bold vision for its long term future and our training and Academy facilities.
Importantly we have made great strides in rebuilding the relationships with our key stakeholders Leeds City Council, Leeds United Ladies, the Leeds United Foundation, all of our formal supporters groups, our neighbours in Holbeck and the broader business community of Leeds, who have all been hugely supportive of our vision and plans. But critically it is the supporters who have been at the heart of the new spirit of optimism. This season we have the highest average attendance, not only in the championship, but in any second tier league across Europe. The average gate of well over 32,000 also exceeds 11 Premier League clubs. Away fixtures have been selling out in minutes with no away ground capable of accommodating our demand.
Needless to say the vocal support is unmatched and when the call came to come together to support a member of the Leeds United family experiencing a tough time the response to the Toby Nye appeal was phenomenal.
Despite all this activity we are all aware that we have not achieved anything yet. The true measure of our progress will only be known in May.
Finally I would like to thank all the staff at Elland Road and Thorp Arch for their passion and commitment over the last year. I have yet to meet a Leeds United employee who views their role at the club as 'just a job'. Whatever department they work in, they are all fully vested in the success of the team every time we take the field.
Please give the team your full support this afternoon and ensure we sign 2017 off at Elland Road in style.
Marching on Together