Former Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink says the Premier League would benefit from the presence of his old side should they earn promotion this season.
Leeds haven’t been in the top division since 2004, when they were relegated with huge debts following several years of off-field turmoil.
Prior to that, at the turn of the Millennium, the Whites had regularly competed at the top of the Premier League and even reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001.
However, the club had gambled on their continued presence in Europe’s elite competition and when they missed out on qualification in 2002, their finances couldn’t cope with the drop in income.
A desperate fire sale of their key players followed, but that had an obvious effect on off-field performance, resulting in their relegation two years later.
The Yorkshire club even dropped down into League One in 2007, the first time they had been in England’s third tier in their 99-year history.
The outlook today looks much brighter; with the club having made an impressive start to the season under new head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
Hasselbaink, who spent two seasons at Leeds between 1997 and 1999, believes his old club deserve to return to the top flight.
“Leeds fans are one of the best in the country,” said Hasselbaink, speaking exclusively to 888sport. “They’re a one-city club and they’re a proud people.
“They need and deserve to be in the Premier League even if it’s just because of the fans who always create such an atmosphere at Elland Road. Also the numbers they take to the away games – it’s always lively. There are only a few clubs in the Championship who would make the Premier League better and Leeds is one of them.
“It’s not only the exciting football that the Premier League will benefit from with Leeds but from having the whole club.
“They would be a big addition to the league because they are a magnificent club.
“I’m extremely happy with how they’re playing – it’s such good football and nice to the eye and I’ve been to see Bielsa at Leeds to find out what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. He is an exceptional coach.”
Leeds are currently third in the Championship table, just two points behind leaders Norwich, raising hopes among the supporters that the club will soon return to the top division