Leeds chief Bates hopes Norwich City are promoted

Controversial Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has revealed he has a soft spot for Norwich City – and would like nothing more than to see the Canaries promoted alongside them at the end of the season.

The two clubs have become almost inseparable in the last 18 months – battling for promotion from League One last season, and continuing the contest at the top of the Championship this campaign.

City laughed loudest in the third tier of course, taking the silverware by nine points before United followed them up in the other automatic promotion spot on the last day of the season.

It is arguably surprising the two sides – who meet at Elland Road on Saturday – have carried on where they left off in 2009-10.

And United chairman Bates, known for his more cutting outbursts, has clearly enjoyed the sparring with Norwich – so much so he wants it to continue next season in the Premier League by City and Leeds completing simultaneous double promotions.

“Saturday is a real six-pointer because if we beat them we can go above them,” said Bates. “Why have we both done well so far this season? Because we’ve both got good teams and good managers.

“Paul Lambert was at Colchester at the beginning of last season and they beat Norwich 7-1 at Carrow Road. Norwich appointed him and he’s never looked back.

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“They are a good team, a good club, and they are well run. We have a good manager, a good team, a good ground, great supporters, and we’re being run carefully and wisely.

“It would be nice if we both got promotion this season: us automatically, them through the play-offs,” added the Leeds chairman, speaking to Yorkshire Radio.

Late goals settled both encounters between the two sides last season, with Jermaine Beckford’s injury-time winner at Elland Road – following a terrible error by City goalkeeper Fraser Forster – putting League One leaders Leeds 11 points clear of sixth-placed City in October 2009.

And at the end of the following March, Chris Martin’s dramatic 89th minute header did the damage to complete City’s turnaround, putting them 11 points clear of United in second and on the brink of promotion.

This season has been a closer affair, with Leeds holding on for a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road in November.

Third-placed City currently sit three places and two points above Leeds in the Championship table, ahead of Saturday’s eagerly anticipated clash.