Friday, July 30, 2004

Leeds Today

SULLIVAN SIGNS UP
United seal keeper deal

EXCLUSIVE
by Phil Hay
Leeds United were today poised to complete the signing of Chelsea keeper Neil Sullivan.
The former Scotland international travelled north for a medical this morning and was expected to agree a two-year deal after accepting a free transfer from Stamford Bridge.
Sullivan's arrival solves one of manager Kevin Blackwell's chief selection concerns with youngster Scott Carson the only other recognised keeper in the United squad.
Carson is likely to be second choice next season but Sullivan has been signed to help with the development of the 18-year-old, who Blackwell still sees as Leeds' long-term number one.
The United boss said: "I wanted to get the deal through before we travelled to Scotland to play Hibs tomorrow so I'm extremely pleased.
"I need that experience in my squad and it was also important to sign somebody who I felt would help develop Scott Carson because he is our future. I've been impressed by Neil's fitness and his attitude."
Sullivan established himself as one of the best keepers in the country when he signed for Spurs four years ago, and his form at White Hart Lane earned him 28 Scotland caps. But the 34-year-old failed
to make a single first-team appearance during the 2002-03 campaign and he left for Chelsea last summer.
Sullivan, though, was kept out of Claudio Ranieri's side by the performances of Carlo Cudicini, and the summer arrival of Petr Cech for £7m effectively ended his Chelsea career.
Blackwell said: "It's been two years of total frustration for the lad. I don't think he expected Carlo Cudicini to hit the heights in quite the way that he did. My goalkeeping coach Martin Hodge has worked with him and was very happy. He'll be a good signing."

Monday, July 26, 2004

Yorkshire Post

Teen's spirit gives Leeds lift


Leeds United 2
Valencia 2

Sam Wheeler
at Elland Road
Simon Walton has everything that Leeds United supporters usually require of their heroes: the 16-year-old midfielder is young, local, brash, combative, nerveless and foolish. With careful application of hair dye, he could soon take the place of Alan Smith in the fans' affections.
Walton was intimidated neither by the opposition – reigning Spanish and UEFA Cup champions Valencia – nor by the occasion of his first senior game at Elland Road in front of a crowd of almost 20,000.
In classic Smith-like fashion, he tormented the Spaniards with crunching challenges, grabbed the ball from infinitely more experienced team-mates to smash home the penalty that kick-started Leeds's come-back – and then got himself sent off.
Manager Kevin Blackwell, who felt that Walton's second yellow card was a "nonsense" decision, could not curb his excitement, although he has sensibly shielded his protege from the media.
"I don't want to put pressure on him, but the fans are looking for a new idol and a 16-year-old kid showed more today than some triallists we've had of 20 years' experience.
"That means he will be the one that they look to," he said. "If he can perform and develop like Alan Smith or James Milner – and he's already shown the desire to work at that level – then there's no reason why he can't go on to become a legend at Elland Road and a cult figure.
"His temperament is not a problem. He is one of the quietest lads you've ever met. It was just a little bit of youthful exuberance. You want to see someone who's got a little bit of devil in them, a little bit of physical. If you don't, you get walked over.
"He's not afraid to put his head above the parapet, not just physically, but psychologically when he took the penalty. That's an astonishing statement from a kid of 16, two weeks into his YTS."
When his school commitments allowed it, Walton played in central defence for Leeds's reserves. He can also play right-back and Blackwell sees no reason why the youngster cannot play a major part in the Coca-Cola Championship this season.
Even apart from Walton's contribution, which ended 19 minutes early, there was plenty of encouragement for and from the fans. After Mohammed Sissoko and Rufete had put Claudio Ranieri's under-strength side ahead against the run of play before the break, Leeds drew level through Walton's penalty, earned by the lively Julian Joachim, and a fierce 35-yard free kick from midfielder Matthew Spring.
Joachim's forward partner Brian Deane was also quick to find favour with the crowd. The former Sheffield United man – in his second spell with Leeds – is the sort of burly, traditional English centre forward that cultured Continental defenders only meet in their nightmares. His wholehearted approach may promise more than it delivers but cries of "Deano, Deano" were echoing around the ground on a regular basis.
The supporters have endured a torrid time of late but their humour appears to have survived intact.
Midway through the second half yesterday, a sizeable proportion broke into a spontaneous chant of "There's only one Jimmy Savile" at Spain goalkeeper Santiago Canizares, who has been left with a luxuriant white mullet by what appears to be an industrial accident involving concentrated peroxide.
Leeds United: Carson; Kelly, Duberry, Butler, Kilgallon; Richardson, Spring, Walton, Pugh; Joachim, Deane. Substitutes (used): Rzasa, Radebe, Carlisle, Guppy, Hignett, McMaster, Johnson.
Valencia: Palop; Torres, Navarro, Pellegrino, Carboni; Rufete, Sissoko, Xisco, de los Santos, Angulo, Mista. Substitutes: Garrido, Butelle, Lopez, Parri, Redondo, Salva, Moretta, Canobbia

Saturday, July 24, 2004

BLACKWELL CAUTIOUS FOR LEEDS FUTURE: Sporting Life | Premiership, Coca Cola & Scottish Leagues, Football News, Live Scores, Results

Kevin Blackwell feels Leeds can win this season's Coca-Cola Championship - but is also mindful of following in the troubled footsteps of Yorkshire rivals Bradford, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley.
Over the last few years all three have graced the Premiership, only to take a mighty fall into what was the Second Division, flirting with financial oblivion along the way.
Bradford represent the worse-case scenario for Leeds for twice they have almost gone out of existence, most recently this summer, and the club continue to tread a fine line.
There is the fear that if Leeds, with debts still raging at around £50million, do not make an instant return to the Premiership this season, then they could plummet still further on and off the field.
But, despite overseeing the departure of 21 players this season following relegation in May, Blackwell is confident he is rebuilding a squad which can challenge at the top of the table.
"I think everybody here knows if the squad I have plays to its potential then it could win this league," insisted Blackwell.
"I think with the extra three to four first-team players I will bring in, people will look at the squad and think that on paper we have a chance.
"But then if you looked at our squad on paper last season we should have stayed in the Premier League, so you don't take anything for granted.
"I know how hard it is going to be because come August 7 every team in our division will set off with the hope and aim of getting promoted. Obviously I'm no different.
"If we can bed the players in and do well there's no reason why we can't have a solid season, although many people will feel success for us will be to stay in the division.
"Particularly if you take into account the clubs who have dropped out of the Premier League and been heavily burdened by debt like Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford, Barnsley and Wimbledon.
"It's in the back of your mind what happened to those clubs. It shows how they have had to deal with the financial ramifications of dropping from the Premier League.
"So I'm under no illusions, and neither are the board, that's it's going to be a tough job and that the next year is crucial to us, but at least we are starting out by being a lot more solid club on and off the pitch."
Blackwell is aware the expectations of the supporters must be tempered with a dose of realism, which is why he has not rushed into making signings - with nine so far - ensuring the money he has had to spend on wages brings in the right quality of player.
"The first thing is we must make sure we grace the division we are in, but with the aim and an ambition of getting back to the Premier League as quickly as possible," assessed Blackwell.
"We have to do that without putting too much burden on the new players and new board and without raising expectations of fans that cannot be realised.
"This club has had expectations raised to such a level, only to be dashed so cruelly by the implosion of the financial state of the club, something we are trying to learn from.
"Some of the clubs that went down maybe brought in players of a calibre that club did not deserve and if you bring in sub-standard players, you play sub-standard football in sub-standard leagues.
"I'm trying to make sure we get the right type of player and the board know that and are trying hard to help me do that."
Leeds play Valencia in a pre-season friendly at Elland Road tomorrow, harking back to their glory days of just three years ago when United faced the current reigning Spanish champions and UEFA Cup holders in a Champions League semi-final.
The fortunes of the two clubs since then could not be more marked, but Blackwell said: "We've hit hard times and bounced back, and I've no doubt we'll bounce back again."
Yorkshire Post

Leeds look to future despite vision of past
Ian Appleyard

Elland Road welcomes back Spanish champions Valencia as United gear up for new season

THE LAW according to Kevin Blackwell is designed to give Leeds United a better future.
It is based on over a decade of study in the classroom of Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock and is currently being unveiled at Elland Road.
Blackwell, who acknowledges Warnock's contribution to his education but appears keen to keep it at distance, took his players go-karting and ten pin bowling last week.
If that is not borrowing a leaf from Warnock's book on management then neither is his use of witty one-liners at every possible junction in the sermon.
Blackwell is a chirpy chap with a ruthless streak and, just like his mentor, can often finish soft words with the sharpest of tongues.
Addressing the media ahead of his first match in charge at Elland Road, tomorrow's friendly against Spanish champions Valencia, Blackwell was burying the past and spelling out his vision for the future.
"I have been preparing for this job for a long, long time," he said. "But my role is no different to what I have been doing at other clubs for the last three or four years – it is just my name that is above the door now."
As introductions go, Blackwell has endured a baptism of fire in his first pre-season as a manager. With 21 players going out of the door and only ten new arrivals (including a club cat), it has been a summer of transition at Elland Road.
"Trying to find a whole new team is a very rare occurrence at any place," he said. "My challenge has been to find 15 or 16 players of the right calibre, attitude, and desire to play for Leeds United.
"With every one, the question I had to ask was 'could they handle playing for a high-profile club', could they handle playing at Elland Road in front of 35,000 expectant fans, the press and media, and maintain their discipline?
"Apart from Gary Kelly and Michael Duberry, everyone including the substitutes are new players from the team that finished last season. Morale is brilliant and we have had to build a new team spirit. Even the club cat is new and he has been shown where the milk tray is."
The irony of Leeds playing Valencia tomorrow is not lost on Blackwell. Just three years ago, the two clubs were locking horns in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
"People who look at the situation won't believe what has happened to Leeds but it is not the first time a major club has hit hard times," he said. "It is no good looking back because we can't play the team we had three years ago."
Blackwell is not a manager afraid to voice an opinion on matters controversial.
Reflecting on Leeds' decline over the last three years, he said: "Maybe the club had got a little bit fat. Money seemed to be the answer everywhere.
"Whenever there was a crack they just stuffed it full of money – but, when the money ran out, the cracks were still there.
"Whether people like it or not, we are in this situation because of what happened in the previous years before the current regime.
"They left us in a perilous state and the new owners have picked up the pieces. But they have still picked up the flak from fans who feel they should be spending money left, right, and centre.
"We are trying to learn from mistakes of the past," he added. "This is the set-up of a top European club but we have had the running of a non-league club
"The new board picked up a horrendous situation and they have had to meat out the medicine. I don't know anyone who likes taking medicine to get well but we are taking it. Although we were supposed to be 'living the dream' (the rhetoric of former chairman Peter Ridsdale), the nightmare lasts much longer."
Blackwell insists Leeds can avoid the same fate as Yorkshire rivals Bradford City, Barnsley, and Sheffield Wednesday who all suffered a second relegation soon after falling from the top-flight.
"Many people feel success this season will be to stay in the First Division, especially when you take into account big clubs that have come from the Premier League, heavily burdened with debt," he said. "That's why we are under no illusions that this is a tough job. They have shown how they have dealt with the financial ramifications of dropping out of the Premier League.
"Some of the clubs that went down with heavy debts maybe made the mistake of trying to fill the club with players of a calibre they did not deserve. Sub-standard players bringing sub-standard football.
"We will avoid that by trying to sign the right type of players; Michael Ricketts, Paul Butler, Jermaine Wright, Danny Pugh, Julian Joachim – these lads are quality players.
"I have got some other very good youngsters in Scott Carson, Aaron Lennon, Frazer Richardson, and Matthew Kilgallon. I think we have got the basis of a decent squad.
"Every team sets off with the hope and the aim of getting promotion. I am no different and if we can bed the new players in, there is no reason why it won't be a solid season. If we play to our potential we can win the league."
Tomorrow's game with Valencia will give fans a first opportunity to assess Blackwell's rebuilding efforts while also watch some of the best players in Europe.
Sadly, nearly all of those will be playing for Valencia.
Leeds United Football Club - Oldham 0 Leeds 0

Trailist keeper Rami Shabaan pulled off a string of excellent saves to impress on an otherwise low key night for Leeds as they drew 0-0 with Oldham.
For the second game running United had no goals to boast from a starting XI that also included two outfield trialists in Craig Hignett and Steve Guppy.
Arsenal stopper Shabaan kept the scores level with a point blank range save from a David Eyres header and somehow beat out a fierce shot from Rodney Jack shot from five yards after a ball-watching defence had allowed the St Vincent international striker to pounce unchallenged at the far post.
Shabaan's could have been tested even more but Oldham were as guilty of missing decent chances as Leeds were of presenting them with them.
Steve Guppy's cross that Brian Deane just failed to convert in the opening few minutes was the best chance United got in the first half, and at the start of the second Ricketts turned provider but Hignett put the header wide from the striker's cross.
Leeds threw men forward at the end but found their way to goal barred by the Latics trialist keeper Kelvin Jack.
Kevin Blackwell was pleased with a clean sheet, but is looking for goals against Spanish champions Valencia on Sunday at Elland Road.
United: Shabaan, Richardson, Pugh, Walton, Radebe, Carlisle, Cadamarteri (Leister 67), McMaster, Hignett, Ricketts (Johnson 51), Guppy (Keogh 67). Subs: Fredericks, Woods,Winter, Keogh, Leister.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Yorkshire Post

Blackwell starts United strengtheningMatt Reeder
VETERAN striker Brian Deane will be offered a one-year deal with Leeds United this weekend as manager Kevin Blackwell steps up his efforts to strengthen the Elland Road squad.
The 36-year-old will be given an opportunity to spend a second spell with his home-town club having impressed during a short trial spell on tour in Sweden; Craig Hignett and Steve Guppy could also earn similar deals next week.
Blackwell has already spoken of his desire to sign up four, possibly five, new faces before the start of the season and it appears the trio will form part of his plans for the coming campaign.
Just who will make up numbers four and five is likely to depend on the outcome of a board meeting yesterday which saw directors and chief operating officer Shaun Harvey discuss the size of budget available for the manager's re-structuring.
Somewhat in the dark while the money-men counted up their marbles and stacked up the finances, Blackwell has been waiting patiently for news on his Coca-Cola Championship war-chest.
Ideally he would like to have some ready cash to spend in the transfer market – especially if he still has an eye on luring young Burnley winger Richard Chaplow across the Pennines. A bid of £750,000, rising to £1.5m, has already been turned down by the Lancastrians and it is unclear whether United have the ability to up the offer. Indeed, it is not even clear whether they still have the ability to pay out such a sum as the realisation of life outside the Premiership dawns.
The wagebill may have been dramatically reduced this summer, through the sale of big-earners, but its current level of £18m is still the maximum chairman Gerald Krasner wants to pay and sacrifices may have to be made if the manager is to sign new players.
Of course, the situation could all change if Everton follow up their initial show of interest in Eirik Bakke. Goodison Park deputy chairman Bill Kenwright was understood to be thinking over the figures last night in the wake of Trevor Birch's departure, meaning manager David Moyes, desperate for a new summer signing after the snub from Robbie Savage, may yet make his move next week.
Bakke, who could command a decent transfer fee, has again stated his intention to stay with Leeds next season but he will be aware the decision on his future will be made at a much higher level.
His departure would not only herald an important injection of transfer funds but it would also relieve the club of another major salary as they look to reduce the running costs.
West Bromwich Albion duo Sean Gregan and Andy Johnson have been mentioned as possible replacements for the Norwegian international but Blackwell has not ruled out using the loan market for further additions.
While he is unlikely to embark on a mass recruitment drive from abroad like predecessor Peter Reid, he does see the benefit of bringing in quality players from the Premiership.
Arsenal's Jermaine Pennant proved a good acquisition last term but others, such as Roque Junior, did not last long.
"I don't think we want to go abroad and bring in six or seven players again, there are too many things that have to come right for them to work right," he said. "We would not rule out looking abroad, but we have to be a lot more selective in the future."
Deane, who has played for seven clubs in his 19-year career, scored 38 goals in 168 appearances for Leeds between 1993 and 1997 and managed to find the net in Wednesday's pre-season friendly against Bodens. He will again be a part of the side which takes on Piteas this afternoon in their second game of the tour.
Blackwell's job may not get any easier but at least he should finally know what finances he has to play with following yesterday's meeting.
Yorkshire Post

Everton target United's Bakke

Matt Reeder
EIRIK BAKKE, one of the few big-earners to remain at Leeds United this summer, could be on his way to Everton after the Merseysiders failed in a bid to lure Robbie Savage.
Eager to strengthen his Premiership squad before the start of the new campaign, Toffees manager David Moyes is understood to have switched his attentions to Bakke after his No 1 target signed a new four-year contract at Birmingham.
The Norwegian international was in United's starting line-up for last night's 2-0 win in the pre-season friendly against Swedish side Bodens in which new signings Brian Deane and Michael Ricketts both scored.
Bakke has stated his desire to stay at Elland Road but is realistic enough to accept his fate may lie elsewhere.
Twelve first-team players have already been sold off by a Leeds board desperate to slash the wage bill in preparation for a season outside the top flight. The drastic exodus of Alan Smith, Mark Viduka et al has ensured their self-imposed salary cap of £18m has been met, but a chance to off-load Bakke will not be ignored.
With two years remaining on his £28,000-per-week contract, he is simply a luxury the financially-stricken club cannot afford to keep.
The kind of talent who would also command a fee, his departure would not only save significantly on wages but also bring in some welcome ready cash.
Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has stated his intention to keep Bakke in the squad, knowing only too well that the player has the ability to stamp his authority on games in the Coca-Cola Championship.
The financial position at Leeds is such, however, that for him to bring in new players and strengthen the squad sufficiently, he is likely to have to sacrifice yet more of his better players.
Needing three new recruits at least, possibly even five, the only way he might be able to free up the finances he needs is if he bids farewell to Bakke and maybe even Gary Kelly, who also earns in the region of £30,000 per week.
A number of targets have already been lined up to replace the Scandinavian with the likes of Sean Gregan and Andy Johnson of West Bromwich Albion and Richard Chaplow of Burnley in the picture.
Everton had tabled a £2.5m offer for long-time target Savage on Tuesday, but the Welsh international spurned their advances and finally signed on a new long-term contract at Birmingham.
His manager Steve Bruce had described Everton's offer, which would have only seen £1m paid up front, as 'laughable', but a similar package would surely be welcomed by the United board if the Merseysiders came calling for Bakke.
Blackwell will use this week in Sweden to gauge the strength of his Leeds squad. Much has changed from the final day of last season at Chelsea and many new faces have been brought in.
One new player, defender Clarke Carlisle, is eager to make an impression but understands the team will need time to settle after such a troublesome summer.
"We've only been together for a short while, but everyone's getting on well together, there have been no big bust-ups and people are getting to know where they fit in," he said. "We're concentrating on getting fit and looking forward to that first game of the season.
"The first two weeks of pre-season are always the hardest to get through, then once you start playing friendlies it passes a bit quicker but the goal is the first game of the season. This first month is all about throwing your hat into the ring to be in that starting XI for the first game."
Leeds United Football Club - Pay-Back Time For Ricketts

United striker Michael Ricketts is determined to reward Kevin Blackwell's faith in him by scoring goals - hopefully lots of them.
The burly striker grabbed his first goal for Leeds in Wednesday night's friendly against Bodens BK, his first since putting a penalty past Scott Carson for his former club Middlesbrough in January's 3-0 defeat for the Whites, and is feeling good about his football again.
He quite openly admits that his time at Middlesbrough was a disaster. A £3.5m move produced just four goals and in 16 months at the Riverside he made just 17 starts in all competitions which came as a major disappointment after two very successful spells at Bolton and Walsall.
Understandably keen to leave his Boro nightmare behind him, he has no qualms about dropping down a division if it means he can make a fresh start.
"I just need to look at the club I have stepped into here - it's still a massive club," said Ricketts.
"The club has had it's problems recently but it's a chance for both of us to recapture former glories.
"If I didn't go through a bad patch at Middlesbrough then the chance probably wouldn't have been there for me to come to Leeds, but I am really looking forward to the opportunity here."
The 25-year-old knows he needs to find his goalscoring touch again to make sure his time at Elland Road is successful and show Kevin Blackwell that he was right to take a 'gamble' on signing him.
"The boss impressed me with the way he wanted to push the club forward.
"I was stagnating at Middlesbrough and I wanted to reintroduce myself into football and he's given me the opportunity so I need to repay him now.
"I want to improve as a player and I want to play football, hopefully I can do that here.
"No-one has named the team yet, there might be another striker to come in too, so I know I have to work hard in pre-season, do well and impress the manager."
Blackwell for his part in the deal was looking for a proven striker in the First Division; Ricketts produced a return of one goal nearly every two games at Bolton, and he agrees that 20 goals this season should be a realistic target for him.
"That's a decent target, I will take that challenge up. I am here to be challenged so if people are after twenty goals a season from me I will do my best."

Leeds United Football Club - Season Ticket Sales Soaring


Leeds United are well on their way to exceeding all expectations for season ticket sales after reaching the 17,000 mark.
And interest in the club's 'United for 20 Years' season ticket scheme is still growing after one supporter arrived at Elland Road today with a cheque for £37,500 to buy ten of them for himself and an unofficial supporters group as a gesture of their commitment to the club.
The board had anticipated a drop of around 8,000 season ticket holders following last season's relegation from the Premiership, but that figure has already been bettered with just under a month to go before the start of the season.
Interest generally picks up and the number of season ticket holders is on course to be in excess of 19,000. The club have frozen season ticket prices to encourage sales.
David Thomson, United's Head of Ticketing & Retail, said the now tremendous support the fans gave the team last season was once again being shown by the uptake in season tickets.
"The figures are very encouraging for us and I am sure it will give Kevin Blackwell and his players a lot of encouragement knowing that the fans are very much behind them.
"Twenty year season tickets are still available and today one supporter bought ten for his group. This shows the interest in the 20 year season tickets is still strong and it represents fantastic value.
"We see this as a show of faith from our supporters."
Leeds United Football Club - Boss Wants Four More

Whites boss Kevin Blackwell is looking to strengthen his squad by bringing in at least another four players before United begin their Coca Cola Championship campaign against Derby County.
Leeds have so far added eight new players to the squad but 20 players have left the club since the beginning of last season and Blackwell is keen to find cover for a number of positions.
Blackwell did hope to be able to announce the signing of another keeper before the squad left for Sweden, but that deal is on the back burner now until the squad return next week. United are still confident of getting their man.
"I don't think it's a secret that I have put a few bids in for players and we're waiting on the progress of those now," said the Leeds manager.
"I have no doubts that we will get four or five new players in before the season starts."
Three of those signings could be trialists Craig Hignett, Brian Deane and Steve Guppy, all of whom played in last night's 2-0 friendly win over Bodens.
All three are available on free transfers after being released or falling out of contract at their previous clubs, and they will be given enough time and plenty of opportunities this pre-season to impress Blackwell.
Blackwell has also not closed the loan option route despite United having mixed success after embarking down that avenue last season.
Arsenal's Jermaine Pennant was a good acquisition, but others, such as Roque Junior, did not even last the full term. The new United boss is likely to look at the Premiership only if he does bring in a player on a season long loan.
"I don't think we want to go abroad and bring six or seven players again, there are too many things that have to come right for them to work right.
"We would not rule out looking abroad, but we have to be a lot more selective in the future."

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Leeds Today
CAPTAIN'S CALL TO ARMS

By PAUL DEWS In Sweden

Leeds United skipper Paul Butler today savoured the start of a new era for the Elland Road club and declared: "We can't wait to get started."

The 31-year-old will wear the captain's armband for the first time tonight when Kevin Blackwell's new-look United side kick-off their pre-season programme.
Leeds take on Swedish outfit Boden and Butler is relishing the prospect of leading his new team-mates into battle for the first time.
Said Butler: "I can't wait to get started playing games now.
"We've been doing more fitness work, but this is a great opportunity for the squad to get together and work on bonding. With all the new players we have here that is important.
"All the lads are looking forward to the games. When you start playing, the gaffer can start sorting the team out. You get an idea of how we're looking to play and can start working on things in a game situation.
"These games are a vital part of our preparation.
"We've done a lot of running and it has been hard at times, but it's to our benefit because we know what the first division is all about.
"It's all about being fit and being fitter than the others.
"We know what to expect and that's what we're working towards."
Butler has already made a big impression since his summer arrival from Molineux and Blackwell had no doubts about handing him the captaincy.
Butler said: "I've just been myself since I joined Leeds - I've not been trying to impress. I've just been me.
"Maybe I am a shouter, but that's just the way I am.
"The gaffer said he was looking for a leader and I'm happy to take responsibility."
Butler is also playing a key role as link between the players and the management.
Blackwell was keen for his captain to have a bigger say in events off the field and Butler, who says skippering Leeds is the biggest challenge of his career, is revelling in his role.
He explained: "The gaffer asked me if I wanted to be involved with the management side of things, more so as a middle man between the management and the players."
Blackwell has already signed eight players and Butler won't be the only one making his first start in a white shirt tonight.
But the captain will be taking on the added responsibility of helping the new faces to blend in during the short stay in Sweden.
"There's been a good atmosphere that started the first day we came back in," said Butler. "There's been a buzz around the club."
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Richmond leaves Leeds board

Richmond leaves Leeds board
David Richmond has stepped down from his position as Leeds managing director for personal reasons.
The son of former Bradford chairman, Geoffrey Richmond was an integral part of the consortium that saved the club from going out of business last March.
"His decision has come as a surprise," Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner told the club's official website.
"He has done a wonderful job with the players and without him we would have had big, big problems."
Richmond follows his father out of the club - Geoffrey Richmond resigned from his role as advisor to the board in April.
Krasner said the club's chiefs would meet soon to discuss their future structure.
"Hopefully David will be around to help us with the changeover," added Krasner.
"The board wish him well and we are very sorry to lose him."
Leeds Today

United's sell-off is over

BY PHIL HAY
Leeds United were today preparing to close the exit door at Elland Road as Danny Mills finalised a move to Manchester City.

The England international has lined up a three-year contract with Kevin Keegan's side and United chairman Gerald Krasner confirmed that his departure will complete the summer exodus from West Yorkshire.
Mills, who joined Middlesbrough on loan last season, has endured a frustrating summer with potential moves to the Riverside and Newcastle failing to materialise, but Keegan has stepped in to take the defender back to the Premiership.
Krasner said: "He will be the final major departure this summer.
"We're happy that we've got the wage bill down but it's still slightly higher than we would like. However, things have probably gone better than we had hoped for."
Mills was one of several high earners that Leeds could no longer afford to keep following the club's relegation from the top flight in May.
The full-back was believed to be earning around £40,000 a week at Elland Road, and United will contribute to Mills' wages at the City of Manchester Stadium after allowing him to leave on a free transfer.
Leeds have already parted company with Paul Robinson, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka among others, with Ian Harte leaving on Friday.
The string of out-goings has given manager Kevin Blackwell increased freedom in the transfer market, and West Brom midfielder Andy Johnson, pictured right, is the latest player to be linked with a switch to Elland Road.
Johnson - a crucial member of the Baggies' promotion-winning side last season - is understood to be one of a number of players interesting Blackwell, but his availability may depend on the success of West Brom's own recruitment drive.
Manager Gary Megson is reluctant to lose Johnson until he has strengthened his midfield ahead of the new Premiership campaign.
United, though, are close to adding to their squad again after launching a bid for an unnamed goalkeeper.
Youngster Scott Carson currently holds the number one jersey after Robinson's move to Tottenham, but Blackwell is anxious to secure an experienced keeper before the start of the season and is waiting for a response from his target.
The United boss confirmed: "At the moment I've got a bid in for somebody and I'm waiting to find out where we stand with that."
Birmingham's Ian Bennett has repeatedly been linked with United, who have travelled for the pre-season tour of Sweden with Carson as their only keeper.
Leeds United Football Club - More Cuts May Be Necessary

Leeds United are still looking to reduce the club's once crippling wage bill despite having managed to slash it by half in less than a year.
The wage bill has over the past two years dropped from £57m to £41m last year and now, after recent departures that have seen Mark Viduka, Dominic Matteo and Alan Smith leave, stands just over £18m.
Danny Mills pending move to Manchester City will still leave that figure above £18m, a figure that is the board's maximum limit and as such more departures from Elland Road are still likely.
The current board are still having to compensate for the mistakes of the past.
"We will have to trim the squad slightly more," confirmed United chairman Gerald Krasner.
"That is largely because we are still having to subsidise the wages of some players we have got rid of. A player may have been on £40,000 a week here but may only receive £20,000 or £25,000 elsewhere, and we have to make up that shortfall on his contract. There were 18 players on more than £1m a year when we first arrived.
"Unfortunately in most cases there is no other way of reducing our wage bill, some supporters do not seem to realise that.
"The simple fact remains that if we do not start to live within our means there will be no future for Leeds United."
Despite the need to reduce the wage bill of the playing staff, the man who dictates where those savings are made is manager Kevin Blackwell.
Events of last week when Michael Duberry's transfer to Wolves was called off by Blackwell, even though a move would have saved the club money, emphasise that.
"We are completely backing Kevin as to how he thinks in terms of our resources. Kevin is our football specialist, he liases with us and we act upon his wishes.
"One thing we have learnt not to do is interfere in the football side of things."
The chairman spent the weekend responding to reporters and reassuring supporters after stories that the club were looking into the possible sale and lease back for Elland Road.
Time and time again, the club have made it clear that whatever avenue the club go down to raise finance, football will be safeguarded at Elland Road.
Said Krasner: "From day one we made it clear that we were looking at two options; remortgage the ground or do a sale and lease back with a minimum 25 year lease and a buy back clause.
"That position has not changed one iota.
"Leeds fans are entitled to be angry if they think we will not be playing football at Elland Road but we have always said that whatever happens, football stays at Elland Road. It is not in the club's interests to accept a shorter lease than 25 years, that is the minimum.
"In the talks we're having there is also a clause to buy back the ground. That's at any point during the lease, not necessarily at the end of it."
Guardian Unlimited Football | News | Leeds to sell home to fund wage bill

Louise Taylor
Monday July 12, 2004
The Guardian

Leeds United will almost certainly have the highest wage bill in the Football League this season and their anticipated £18m outlay partly explains why they announced over the weekend that Elland Road is up for sale.
Since being relegated from the Premiership Leeds - who are adamant they will insist on leasing the ground back from any buyer - have sold an array of high-earning players including Mark Viduka, Alan Smith, Paul Robinson and Nick Barmby.
As Gerald Krasner, the club chairman who has reduced the debt from £103m to around £50m now, explained: "There were 18 players earning over £1m a year when we came in and the total wage bill was over £40m. It is down to an £18m maximum this season but, in order to ensure a viable future, we still have to get the financial model right."
Last season Sunderland's £17m bill - slashed this summer - was the highest in the First Division. West Ham were second with a £16m outlay, while promoted West Brom paid out just £8m on salaries.
Krasner claims that the wage bill, plus inherited debts and a determination to cling on to the training ground near Wetherby, left him with no alternative but to sell Elland Road. The latest repayment instalment on a loan from the property developer Jack Petchey is also due shortly.
Krasner stresses that Leeds will continue to play at Elland Road for the foreseeable future - a minimum 25-year lease would be a condition of sale.
"If fans look back to the statements made at the time we saved the club from liquidation, we had two options - to remortgage the ground or do a sale and lease back," said Krasner. "It's the difference between renting your house and paying a mortgage, and sometimes paying rent is cheaper."
Simon Jose of the Leeds United Independent Fans Association is not impressed. "The board are selling the club's assets and not generating any income," he said. "This simply shows the directors have no ambition in our future."

Saturday, July 10, 2004

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Elland Road up for sale

Leeds United's home ground Elland Road is up for sale, the club's chairman Gerald Krasner has confirmed.
Krasner is currently negotiating a sale and lease agreement in a bid to cut the club's debts of more than £50m.
However despite the talks, Krasner insists that the club will not be leaving their 100-year-old home.
"Any deal will have to include a minimum 25-year lease because football will be staying at Elland Road," he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
"We are currently talking to a number of people about a sale and lease agreement."
Yorkshire Post

Now Mills quits in Leeds exodus

FORMER England defender Danny Mills is set to join the Leeds United exodus and return to the Premiership with Manchester City.
His departure, hot on the heels of Ian Harte's move to Spanish club Levante, will all but complete the demolition of a squad that reached the semi-finals of the European Champions League just three years ago.
In a strange twist of irony, Leeds have arranged to play Valencia, their semi-final conquerors, in a pre-season friendly at Elland Road in just over two weeks' time.
Only two of the players who lined-up in the Leeds squad on May 8, 2001, will still be around to renew acquaintances with the Spaniards; long-serving full-back Gary Kelly and Norwegian midfield player Eirik Bakke.
The break-up of that talented and exciting group of players has been as hasty as it has been brutal.
Leeds have struggled to survive financially and are preparing for life in the Coca-Cola Championship after being relegated from the top-flight of English football after a 14-year residency.
Full-back Mills and Harte have both been sold to reduce the club's wage bill.
Harte, who spent nine seasons with Leeds, signed a four-year deal with Levante, who have just won promotion to Spain's Primera Liga.
Mills travelled across the Pennines yesterday to discuss a free transfer move to Manchester City after spending the majority of last season on loan with Middlesbrough.
"Negotiations are at a delicate stage but we have been speaking since the middle of the week," said his agent, Neil Featherby. "There has been a lot of interest in Danny with clubs knowing he is available on a free."
Harte, who was unveiled by his new club at a press conference, said: "I am sad to have left Leeds because I have left some good friends there. But I think I have made a positive step in my career coming to Levante, this is where you find the best teams in the world."
Manager Kevin Blackwell signed youngster Danny Pugh from Manchester United earlier this summer with a view to replacing Harte at left-back. Both Gary Kelly and Frazer Richardson will compete for the rightback slot.
Former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Martin Hodge has been appointed as Leeds's new goalkeeping coach.
Hodge, who was also in charge of the reserve side at Hillsborough prior to being released two seasons ago, replaces the departed Steve Sutton.
Blackwell is still looking for a goalkeeper for Hodge to coach after missing out on Everton's Steve Simonsen.
Teenager Scott Carson is the only goalkeeper on the books following the sale of Paul Robinson to Tottenham and the release of Shaun Allaway.
Blackwell said: "Martin knows the League and knows how to develop a keeper. Steve has left and he did a great job over the six years he was here but it was part of the cost-cutting that went on and Martin's now come in. His role is to make sure the goalkeepers develop well," he added.
Blackwell is hoping to add a new goalkeeper in time for next week's training camp in Sweden but says any new arrival will not affect Carson's progress.
"We're looking for someone with proven Premiership or First Division experience," said Blackwell.
"But we're also looking at the situation with a view to developing Scott, to bring him into the team and if he's playing well then he'll stay there."
Times Online - Sport

Mills closes on City move as Harte leaves for Spain
By Oliver Kay

THE exodus from Leeds United continued yesterday when Ian Harte became the eighth high-profile player to leave the Yorkshire club during the close season and Danny Mills prepared to become the ninth. Harte, the Ireland full back, completed a surprise move to Spain to join Levante on a free transfer, while Mills, the sometime England defender, spent the day discussing personal terms with Manchester City.
City hope to sign Mills on a free transfer as Leeds continue to slash their wage bill after their relegation to the Coca-Cola League. Harte, James Milner, Stephen McPhail, Dominic Matteo, Nick Barmby and Mark Viduka have all left Elland Road for new clubs in the past eight days, with Paul Robinson and Alan Smith having joined Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United respectively earlier in the summer.
Mills, 27, was expected to join Middlesbrough, where he spent most of last season on loan, but that deal collapsed when the player failed to agree personal terms, with Middlesbrough subsequently signing Michael Reiziger from Barcelona. No such problems are anticipated with his proposed transfer to City, whose manager, Kevin Keegan, has been monitoring the right back for several months.
Harte is another player that Leeds have been eager to clear from their wage bill, but his destination was less predictable. He has signed a four-year contract with Levante, the little-known Valencia-based club, who are preparing for their first Primera Liga campaign in almost 40 years. “Levante are a really ambitious club and I’m keen to help the team and to stay here for a long time to come,” Harte, 26, said yesterday.
Leeds United Football Club - Harte Joins Levante

Ian Harte has completed his move to newly promoted Spanish side Levante.
The 26-year-old Republic of Ireland international has signed a four year deal with the Spaniards and joins the long list of players heading out of the exit door at Elland Road this summer.
Harte joins high profile names such as Alan Smith, Paul Robinson, Mark Viduka, James Milner Stephen McPhail and club captain Dominic Matteo who have all moved on to pastures new in an attempt by the board to release funds for new boss Kevin Blackwell.
By releasing the high earners Blackwell can now concentrate on rebuilding the squad.
Harte expressed his sadness at leaving Leeds but says he sees it as a new chapter in his career.
"I'm sad to be leaving Leeds as they are the only club I have ever played for but I see this as a fantastic opportunity to further my career.
"It's exciting times for Levante as they have just been promoted and I'm really looking forward to it.
"I spoke to them in the summer and they seem very ambitious and I can't wait to play in La Liga.
"But I don't see why Leeds can't get back in the Premiership, the players Kevin has brought in are very capable of winning promotion."
Harte made 199 league appearances for The Whites and during the club's successful Champions League campaign was linked with Barcelona. He also scored 39 goals for Leeds and his ability from set pieces was a valuable asset to the side.
Leeds Today

Butler at your service
United boss Blackwell names new skipper

EXCLUSIVE
BY PAUL DEWS
PAUL BUTLER was today confirmed as Leeds United's new captain.
The ex-Wolves defender will take over the armband from Dominic Matteo, who has joined Blackburn.
United boss Kevin Blackwell said he was looking for a similar character to lead his troops.
Butler, 31, was Blackwell's second summer signing when he joined Leeds on a free transfer.
He has played more than 500 senior games, enjoying successful spells with Wolves and Sunderland, and his experience made him the number one candidate for the job. Butler has captained his previous clubs and Blackwell says he has a vital role to play.
Said Blackwell: "Paul has shown leadership qualities at every club he's been at. He's captained Wolves, Sunderland and Bury and he's a great leader of men.
"One of the reasons I was so keen to bring him was because of his experience and the fact that he sets a good example to others.
"He's already shown those qualities in the six days we've been working and I think he is a fitting choice to take over from Dom."
Blackwell says Butler will have a role to play in working closely with the new management team at the club.
"I think he will be a great addition to the management team," said Blackwell.
"I want him to work closely with us and he will have a big role to play both on an off the pitch."
Butler also follows in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand, Lucas Radebe, Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan.
Strachan wore the armband when Leeds last won promotion to the top-flight in 1990.
Sport


Viduka signs for Boro as Leeds exodus accelerates

The exodus from Leeds United gathered fresh pace yesterday as Mark Viduka completed his long-touted £4.5m move to Middlesbrough while the defenders Ian Harte and Danny Mills were both in transfer talks.

Viduka was one of the main scapegoats as Leeds slipped out of the Premiership last season with horrendous debt problems and the move puts an end to an acrimonious few months. The 28-year-old Australian international signed a three-year deal at the Riverside Stadium, which includes the option of a fourth. However, the former Celtic forward, who is understood to have waived around half of the £2m he was owed by Leeds, has insisted that he will look back on his time with the club with great fondness despite the sourness with which it ended.

"That's the sort of thing that happens when you're involved in a club that's going through that sort of period," he said. "I gave my best for the whole four years I've been there - I was top goalscorer every year - and those sort of things go out of the window when times are tough. I had a great time at Leeds. I enjoyed my time there and made a lot of friends, and I was proud to be a Leeds player.

"But it's good to start afresh, and I think there's no better club for me to do that with than Middlesbrough." Boro have also confirmed that the Cameroon international Joseph-Désiré Job has accepted a new two-year contract.

Manchester City are in talks with Mills. The England right-back has been given clearance by Leeds United to thrash out a contract with Kevin Keegan's side. Mills's wages - around £2m a year - have put off Newcastle United, Birmingham City and Middlesbrough.

Manchester City are now the main option for him, but Leeds may have to give Mills some money to go because Keegan's financial men are reluctant to hand the defender a three-year deal.

Harte will travel to Spain to sign for the recently promoted Levante, the Primera Liga side said. The club added that the Irish international was due to undergo a medical this morning before signing terms.

One player who will now not be leaving Elland Road is Michael Duberry. His move to Wolves is off after the Yorkshire club pulled out of the deal. The Leeds manager, Kevin Blackwell, wants to keep the former Chelsea centre-back, particularly in view of the sale of Dominic Matteo to Blackburn on Wednesday. Duberry had agreed in principle to having his contract terminated.
Leeds Today

A piece of me will always be Leeds United - Matteo

EXCLUSIVE
By PAUL DEWS
FORMER Elland Road skipper Dominic Matteo today insisted: "A small piece of me will always be Leeds United."

The 30-year-old became the club's 16th summer departure yesterday when he completed his switch to Blackburn Rovers.
Matteo had said he wanted to see out career his at Leeds, but sacrificed his desire to stay on in the hope that his exit will help the club re-build on a firmer footing.
He said: "It was a hard wrench to leave because I have made so many close friends inside and outside of the club since I came to Leeds.
"It was very difficult, but the club thought it was in their best interests and I wanted to help.
"Maybe they will be able to use the money they have saved to bring other players in and build again.
"I was very happy at Leeds - I think most people knew that - but the circumstances surrounding the club changed over the past 12 months and financially things weren't right.
"It's a necessary evil that some players had to go over the summer and I think most people accept that. We've lost a lot of good players, but that is all down to circumstances."
Matteo is adamant that his four-year stint at Leeds has seen the best football of his career and the defender forged a special bond with the fans that he hopes will remain.
He added: "The fans have been fantastic ever since I came here. I love the supporters at Leeds and I want to thank them personally for all they have done for me. I hope Leeds can bounce back and I'm sure they will. Leeds were the team that got me playing my best football.
"I left on good terms and I will be back again next season. The manager has invited me back to games when I get the chance and I will definitely be taking him up on that.
"A small piece of me will always be Leeds United."
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Duberry stays at Leeds

Duberry stays at Leeds
Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell believes it made "no footballing or economical sense" to allow defender Michael Duberry to move to Wolves.
United pulled out of the proposed deal after Blackwell feared he would be left short of centre-back cover following Dominic Matteo's transfer to Blackburn.
"What we were saving on wages was negligible," he said. "It was going to cost us as much to replace him.
"Michael expressed a desire to stay and I know he can do a very good job."
Duberry had agreed in principle to having his contract terminated but he will now stay put.
"I would have hated to see him playing for one of our rivals next season," Blackwell added.
Blackwell is due to appoint a new captain to replace Matteo in the next few days.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - Viduka Makes Boro Move

Viduka Makes Boro Move
Mark Viduka has become the latest departure from Elland Road after completing his move to Middlesbrough.
The Australian striker passed a medical with the Teesside club last weekend and was given permission to train with the Teesside club before officially become a Middlesbrough player today.
Viduka arrived at Leeds from Celtic in July 2000 for £6m and quickly began to find the net, scoring 22 goals in his first season.
In 166 appearances for The Whites he scored 72 times, perhaps the most memorable performance being the four goals he scored in one game against Liverpool in November 2000.
Meanwhile, Ian Harte is also moving closer to leaving Elland Road.
The Irish international is set to undergo a medical with newly promoted Spanish Primera Liga side Levante, and is understood to have already agreed personal terms with the Valencia based club.
Harte is set to be unveiled as a Levante player on Friday afternoon.
Leeds United Football Club - Dom's Rover And Out

Dom's Rover And Out
Leeds United are looking for a new club captain after Dominic Matteo completed his move to Blackburn Rovers today.
The 30-year-old passed a medical at Ewood Park and has now agreed personal terms on a three-year contract.
Leeds Chief Operating Officer Shaun Harvey said: "I would like to thank him on behalf of everyone at Leeds United for his efforts whilst at the club and we wish him every success in the future."
Matteo was an inspirational figure during his time at Elland Road, having played through considerable pain for the club over the past two seasons to try to save the club from relegation.
Dominic was handed the captain's armband by former boss Terry Venables following Rio Ferdinand's departure for Manchester United in the summer of 2002.
He made 146 appearances in all competitions for Leeds, scoring twice in Europe including a memorable goal against AC Milan, and twice in the Premiership - both goals coming last season.
Leeds Today

A tearful farewell
Milner: I didn't ask to leave United
EXCLUSIVE
by Paul dews
TEENAGE star James Milner today delivered a tearful farewell message to Leeds United supporters.
The 18-year-old homegrown winger joined Newcastle in a £5m deal on Friday and was today preparing to meet his new team-mates for the first time.
The youngster has maintained a dignified silence during a summer of speculation, but he opened his heart to the YEP and revealed the truth behind a move that shocked United's loyal supporters.
Said Milner: "I want people to know that I didn't ask for a move from Leeds. I was hoping to talk about a new contract and was preparing for the start of the new season.
"I'd seen all the speculation, but all I've been bothered about is the football and being ready for Dean Riddle's notoriously tough pre-season training sessions at Leeds.
"As far as I was concerned, up until the end of last week I was all set to start the new season with Leeds. I'd just bought a new house and my mum and dad had paid for their season tickets at Elland Road.
"I did have mixed emotions when I was told that Leeds had accepted the offer from Newcastle because I had never said that I wanted to move anywhere. As soon as Leeds told me they had agreed a deal with Newcastle I had to look forward and that meant speaking with them and moving things along.
"Leaving Leeds is disappointing because all I have ever wanted to do is play for them. It's disappointing I wasn't there longer. I watched the club as a kid and have been there nearly all my life.
"But I knew the club was struggling financially and if the money helps Leeds and helps the manager then that is what is best for the football club."
Milner's representative Mick McGuire admits the youngster left the club with a "heavy heart" and there were a few tears shed behind closed doors.
But the teenager admits it is an opportunity for him to develop as a player and says he is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Forward
He said: "For me this is a chance to stay in the Premiership and it's a new challenge.
"I am nervous because it is a new club, but I'm looking forward to settling in.
"What's happened is in the past now and I have to look forward.
"Hopefully, I can become a better player and improve my game at Newcastle.
"Newcastle is a fantastic set-up and it's a massive club so this is a great opportunity for me now."
He added: "I'd like to thank the Leeds fans for all the support they have given me and the team.
"Last season was horrendous, but they kept going and kept singing and I'm sure they will be the same again this year.
"The way they took to me was amazing and I'll never forget that.
"I wish the club and the fans all the best and, hopefully, it won't be long before Leeds bounce back."

Monday, July 05, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - Viduka Exit Closer: "Viduka Exit Closer
United striker Mark Viduka is expected to complete his move to Middlesbrough in the next 24 hours.
The Australian striker passed a medical with the Teesside club at the weekend and after all the loose ends are tied up will officially become a Middlesbrough player.
Viduka arrived at Elland Road from Celtic in July 2000 for £6m and quickly began to find the net, scoring 22 goals in his first season.
In 166 appearances for The Whites he scored 72 times, perhaps the most memorable performance being the four goals he scored in one game against Liverpool in November 2000.
Another player potentially on the move is Nicky Barmby.
The former England midfielder is in talks with Leeds to try and reach a settlement on his contract, after which he would become a free agent.
Barmby arrived at Elland Road for £2.75m in August 2002, but has failed to make a big impact at the club, making just 17 league starts.
His hometown club, Hull City, are rumoured to be interested in signing him for their first season in Coca Cola Division One."
Leeds Today

A tearful farewell
Milner: I didn't ask to leave United

EXCLUSIVE
by Paul dews
TEENAGE star James Milner today delivered a tearful farewell message to Leeds United supporters.
The 18-year-old homegrown winger joined Newcastle in a £5m deal on Friday and was today preparing to meet his new team-mates for the first time.
The youngster has maintained a dignified silence during a summer of speculation, but he opened his heart to the YEP and revealed the truth behind a move that shocked United's loyal supporters.
Said Milner: "I want people to know that I didn't ask for a move from Leeds. I was hoping to talk about a new contract and was preparing for the start of the new season.
"I'd seen all the speculation, but all I've been bothered about is the football and being ready for Dean Riddle's notoriously tough pre-season training sessions at Leeds.
"As far as I was concerned, up until the end of last week I was all set to start the new season with Leeds. I'd just bought a new house and my mum and dad had paid for their season tickets at Elland Road.
"I did have mixed emotions when I was told that Leeds had accepted the offer from Newcastle because I had never said that I wanted to move anywhere. As soon as Leeds told me they had agreed a deal with Newcastle I had to look forward and that meant speaking with them and moving things along.
"Leaving Leeds is disappointing because all I have ever wanted to do is play for them. It's disappointing I wasn't there longer. I watched the club as a kid and have been there nearly all my life.
"But I knew the club was struggling financially and if the money helps Leeds and helps the manager then that is what is best for the football club."
Milner's representative Mick McGuire admits the youngster left the club with a "heavy heart" and there were a few tears shed behind closed doors.
But the teenager admits it is an opportunity for him to develop as a player and says he is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Forward
He said: "For me this is a chance to stay in the Premiership and it's a new challenge.
"I am nervous because it is a new club, but I'm looking forward to settling in.
"What's happened is in the past now and I have to look forward.
"Hopefully, I can become a better player and improve my game at Newcastle.
"Newcastle is a fantastic set-up and it's a massive club so this is a great opportunity for me now."
He added: "I'd like to thank the Leeds fans for all the support they have given me and the team.
"Last season was horrendous, but they kept going and kept singing and I'm sure they will be the same again this year.
"The way they took to me was amazing and I'll never forget that.
"I wish the club and the fans all the best and, hopefully, it won't be long before Leeds bounce back."
Clarets call Leeds bluff over deal for Chaplow: "Clarets call Leeds bluff over deal for Chaplow
BURNLEY have called Leeds' bluff by turning down over £1m for midfield star Richard Chaplow.
I can reveal that, contrary to earlier reports, United's second attempt at luring the England U21 ace to Elland Road included several add-ons to the £500,000 bid, which would have eventually landed the cash-strapped Clarets a windfall in excess of seven-figures.
That protracted offer winged its way to Turf Moor late last week after an initial £250,000 bid for the highly-rated midfielder was rejected out of hand by Burnley chairman Barry Kilby.
He is determined to keep hold onto Chaplow, even offering the 19-year-old protege a new, improved contract despite two years remaining on his present deal.
And Kilby, who insists no more star players need to be sold to ensure financial stability, appears to have won the fight after Chaplow's agent, former Burnley defender Gordon Armstrong, today revealed Leeds' were unlikely to launch another offensive.
Armstrong insisted: 'Leeds' improved offer was very much take-it-or-leave-it.
'They made that perfectly clear when they tabled the offer, but it was instantly turned down so now it's just a matter of waiting to see what happens next.
'Burnley have their own valuation of Richard and clearly it has not been met, so my understanding is that a deal is now dead unless Leeds change their minds.'
The news will come as a huge relief to Clarets boss Steve Cotterill, who is in the process of trying to build a side - not see one of his shining stars cherry-picked by a big city First Division rival.
Leeds have already snapped up eight players this summer despite massive debts after selling off many of their stars.
Winger Jermaine Wright has joined from Ipswich along with former Luton midfielder Matthew Spring, Clarke Carlisle (QPR), Paul Butler (Wolves), Julian Joachim (Coventry), Michael Ricketts (Middlesbrough), Danny Pugh (Manchester United) and Danny Cadamarteri (Bradford).
Leeds United Football Club - Blackwell Ready To Spend Milner Money: "Blackwell Ready To Spend Milner Money

United boss Kevin Blackwell is ready to spend money on new signings after his warchest was boosted by the sale of James Milner.
Blackwell will be able to use a considerable amount of the £5m received as a transfer fee after 18-year-old Milner's departure for St James' Park, and although in an ideal world he would have liked to have kept the future England star, believes that the board have made the right decision.
Said the United boss: 'It is disappointing to lose a player of James calibre, someone who is going to have a fantastic future in the game, but it is a deal that suits everyone at this time.
'James gets to stay in the Premiership, and I know Sir Bobby is looking to build that club with a base of British players, and for my part I now have a bit more money available to build a decent squad with.
'I am delighted with the players we have managed to bring in so far, they all have past Premiership experience or are proven in this division, and having this money now will help us get a better calibre of player.'
United Chairman Gerald Krasner explained that the decision to accept Newcastle's bid for James had not been easy, but the board have to stick by their decision.
'This is a good offer for the player and reluctantly we felt it was something we had to consider for a number of reasons,' Krasner told the Evening Post.
'Of course we are disappointed to see James leave, but the choice the board had was whether to keep him and not have money to give Kevin or go ahead with the sale and have some money to spend.
"It's not been an easy decision and it's one we've not taken lightly, but we believe it will be for the good of everyone concerned.
"James is a Leeds lad and has done well for the club. He goes with our best wishes."
Milner is excited about the challenge ahead of him at Newcastle, particularly the chance to play with Alan Shearer.
He told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle: "Obviously I've got mixed feelings about leaving the club I've been with for such a long time. But I am very excited about the challenge ahead of me - coming to a club like Newcastle United is fantastic.
"You just have to look at the squad list and the coaching staff. They have got some unbelievable players, internationals and some who are at the top of their game.
"Alan Shearer has been scoring goals for a long time and keeps on doing it. To play with guys like him is a dream come true and can only help me become a better player. I always watched him as I was growing up and the number of goals he has scored in his career is incredible. I'm looking forward to training and playing with Alan and the rest of the players. It will be a joy just to do that.
"I cannot wait to meet up with everyone. I know I can become a better player at Newcastle and the standard of the side around me can only help make that easier."

Saturday, July 03, 2004

MORE LEEDS SALES ON WAY- CHAIRMAN: Sporting Life | Euro 2004 Football News, Live Scores, Results & Comment: "MORE LEEDS SALES ON WAY- CHAIRMAN

Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner has warned the Yorkshire club's fans to expect more departures next week as the club seeks to halve their Premiership wage bill.
James Milner, previously thought to be untouchable by Leeds fans, has departed for Newcastle in deal worth up to �5million while Australia international Mark Viduka has all but completed a �4million move to Middlesbrough.
And Krasner said: 'We haven't finished yet. I won't discuss what's happening next week but there's a number of options.'
Paul Robinson and Alan Smith have already left and, although Milner's departure in particular has alarmed Leeds fans, the chairman wanted to make it clear that slashing costs at the club had to be a priority.
He added: 'This was the plan from day one. The wage bill was �40million last season, next season it has to be below �20million.'
The emergence of Milner, 18, was one of the few bright spots of Leeds' season but he signed a five-year deal with Newcastle on Friday.
However, Krasner believes the money generated by the move will allow manager Kevin Blackwell to bring in the players needed for a swift return to the top flight.
He said: 'We received an offer (for Milner) and we put it to him. It's allowed us to give Kevin fund to bring players in.
'There will be players coming in to get us back into the Premiership.'"
Leeds Today: "UNITED SET TO BUY!
Milner sale to fund re-building plans

EXCLUSIVE
By PAUL DEWS
LEEDS UNITED manager Kevin Blackwell will be handed a transfer war chest following the sale of James Milner to Newcastle.
Newcastle's interest was first revealed in the YEP last month and the player put pen to paper on a five-year Magpies contract last night. The clubs have agreed a �5m deal with Newcastle expected to make a downpayment of more than �3.5m.
The remainder of the controversial deal is subject to add-ons, and there is also a sell-on clause.
Milner was hoping to sign a new deal with United, but no talks took place and the Toon Army were quick to swoop for the disappointed teenage star.
The homegrown youngster left Leeds with a 'heavy heart', but United chairman Gerald Krasner today moved to ease the pain among fans by insisting Blackwell will receive funds for a shopping spree.
Leeds haven't paid cash for a player for two years � Nick Barmby was the last funded transfer � and the Milner deal will line Blackwell's pockets as he looks to strengthen his new-look squad.
Krasner said: 'This is a good offer for the player and reluctantly we felt it was something we had to consider for a number of reasons.
'Of course we are disappointed to see James leave, but the choice the board had was whether to keep him and not have money to give Kevin or go ahead with the sale and have some money to spend.
'It's not been an easy decision and it's one we've not taken lightly, but we believe it will be for the good of everyone concerned.
'James is a Leeds lad and has done well for the club. He goes with our best wishes.'
As revealed in later editions of last night's YEP, United have already tabled a bid for Burnley's teenage star Richard Chaplow.
Ironically, Chaplow, who made his England under-21 debut in February, was a target for Newcastle last season but Sir Bobby Robsonwas put off by a £3m price tag.
The Clarets are unlikely to make the same demands this time around, but Leeds will refuse to join an auction for the player.
Former United striker Brian Deane is also being linked with a return to Elland Road.
Leeds Today: "NEW FACES
Blackwell on the lookout

BY PAUL DEWS
LEEDS UNITED boss Kevin Blackwell today vowed to continue his summer recruitment drive.
Blackwell's eight new signings were on show at Thorp Arch for the start of pre-season training but the manager insists his shopping is far from over.
With Mark Viduka set to join Middlesbrough and Stephen McPhail heading to Barnsley, Blackwell has additional funds for wages and the Leeds manager's position will again be boosted by any further departures.
Said Blackwell: 'I'm still hoping to bring in more players. Some of what we can do depends on other deals being done, but I'm looking around and have a few irons in the fire.
'I'm still looking for a couple of left-sided players and I feel we need to have more strength in depth in the squad.
'Last season we looked around at the subs bench at times and we didn't have the players you could bring on to change a game.
'I don't want to be in that position again. I still feel we need another four or five players to come into the club, but I won't be rushing into anything.
'If we can get the right players in then we will better equipped.'
Blackwell is staying tight-lipped over his targets, but goalkeepers Steve Simonsen and Ian Bennett are being linked with Leeds.Simonsen is out of contract at Everton while the vastly experienced Bennett is available on a free transfer from Birmingham City.
The United boss is also on the hunt for an additional striker to increase competition for places and is hoping to further strengthen his midfield.
United chiefs were aiming to slash the wage bill by �18m and they have now achieved their goal.
That amount - now standing at �20m - will fall even further if skipper Dominic Matteo completes his protracted move to Blackburn Rovers.
The new board have given Blackwell licence to continue his search for players, although any cash transfers will be dependent on what other deals are done.
The potential sale of James Milner to Newcastle would raise cash to re-invest, but the teenager is training with Leeds and is staying focused on giving his all to his hometown club.
Yorkshire Post: "The future is Milner � the future is sold


TEENAGE star James Milner finally completed his controversial move to Newcastle United last night less than two months after the Leeds United board promised they would keep him.

Frustrated supporters, resigned to the likes of Alan Smith and Mark Viduka leaving Elland Road following relegation, had their worst fears realised as one of the brightest young talents in the English game departed for Tyneside.
Struggling to make ends meet financially, the Leeds board have been forced to sell a player loved by the fans and one whom they insisted would remain at the club no matter what.
To make matters worse, it has emerged that while reports have suggested the transfer fee to be �5m, the Yorkshire Post understands Leeds are only likely to see �3.5m of the funds up front with the rest dependent on future performances for club and country.
Milner, for his part, did not ask for the transfer and is understood to have waived a financial package owed to him in order to ensure his home-town club earned the maximum from the deal.
The club yesterday refused to give further details of the player's fine gesture which is thought to amount to �200,000 in fees relating to the four years remaining on his �4,000 a week contract.
Quite why they did not want to flag up Milner's generosity, maturity and good faith is a mystery. Instead, the move will be over-shadowed by thoughts of the mistrust supporters must have with a board which has again gone back on its word.
Managing director David Richmond said in May, soon after Tottenham Hotspur had made an unsuccessful bid for the player, that he was not for sale.
'The young players are not for sale,' said Richmond. 'We can't stop offers for any of them but we certainly haven't been touting players such as James Milner around. The young players like James are the future of the club and all we can do is say no to any offers that are made."
Even at the time his words seemed hollow. In his defence, he could not have realised the complete financial effects of relegation from the Premiership but, at the same time, he should have known his words would come back to haunt him at some stage.
When will football directors learn? Leeds fans have suffered enough in recent seasons through assorted mistakes and misinformation emanating from the boardroom.
Chairman Gerald Krasner even got in on the act yesterday as a statement from him was posted on the club website at lunch-time stating no decision on Milner's sale would be made in haste. A meeting, he claimed, would be held between himself and Richmond next week to discuss the matter before any sale was agreed.
It was removed rather hastily as news of the deal broke around three hours later.
Richmond was right when he said Milner was Leeds United's future. A player who did not want to leave, he should have been allowed to stay and develop into the star performer he will undoubtedly become.
The 18-year-old signed his new five-year contract at Elland Road last year and was due to renegotiate his salary next week.
His agent, Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive Mick McGuire, said: "There has never been a more committed player to Leeds United than James and he will always be a huge fan of the club. He signed a five-year deal last year, he bought a house in the area and his mum and dad have already renewed their season tickets for the coming season.
"It is common knowledge, however, that, as part of Leeds's survival plans, they need to generate income from transfers. We appreciate their dilemma and understand their decision to let James go because the money this raises helps safeguard the future of the club.
"Once Leeds agreed a fee with Newcastle and gave him permission to speak to Sir Bobby Robson, he felt that it was only fair and proper to talk to a club of that magnitude. James is excited about joining one of the premier clubs, who can offer him a major stage and European football. He leaves, however, with a heavy heart and is glad that the money his move has generated will help Leeds in the longer term."
Leeds fans are again left with a sour taste in their mouths.
Sky Sports - The Best Sport Coverage From Around The World: "MAGPIES SEAL MILNER CAPTURE

James Milner has signed a five-year deal with Newcastle United in a deal that could be worth up to £5.25 million to Leeds United.
The young midfielder, one player Leeds had seemed determined to keep despite their relegation to The Coca-Cola Championship, has already put pen-to-paper with The Magpies.
Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell was concerned that he could lose his teenage starlet when interviewed on Thursday, and his fears have been justified following the announcement of the deal.
The Premiership's youngest-ever scorer is believed to have deliberated over the transfer due to his allegiance with Leeds, but the pressure on the Elland Road outfit to sell has proved too strong.
Tottenham have previously failed in a bid to sign the Horsforth-born youngster, and Sir Bobby Robson will be delighted at landing one of his chief summer targets.
'I know the fans will be disappointed, but when a Premiership offer comes in...' explained director Peter Lorimer to Sky Sports News.
'He is not built like a Wayne Rooney, he is a spindly kid but his attitude is fantastic and once he gets into that frame he is going to be a super player.'"
Leeds Today: "NOW THE END IN NEAR
Viduka leads hat-trick of departures from United

By PAUL DEWS
LEEDS UNITED were today bracing themselves for a triple exit with striker Mark Viduka heading the Elland Road exodus.
On a day when the United squad returned to pre-season training, Viduka was expected to head north to Teesside for a medical with a view to completing his move to Middlesbrough within the next 24 hours.
Leeds and Boro have agreed a fee - believed to be around �4m - and the Aussie marksman has been involved in lengthy discussions about his personal terms.
Viduka's move to Middlesbrough will save Leeds around �3m a year in a wages.
And Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen McPhail is set to follow Viduka out of Elland Road.
The 24-year-old, who only returned from honeymoon earlier this week, has agreed personal terms with Barnsley and is set to undergo a medical with the Oakwell club.
McPhail had one year remaining on his existing United contract.
James Milner is also on the brink of joining Newcastle, but the youngster has yet to speak with Bobby Robson and, while the two clubs are understood to have agreed a �5m package, any deal is still some way off completion.
The triple exit would allow new manager Kevin Blackwell to move back into the transfer market.
He can expect a slice of the cash from the potential sale of Milner and will also have additional funding for wages.
Blackwell returned to Thorp Arch today after completing a course at Warwick University and insists the hard work starts now for his players.
Relishing
The new Leeds manager has drafted in eight new faces with the promise of more to come and the United squad had a vastly different look about it when the players were put through their paces for the first time.
Blackwell was relishing the prospect of relishing the prospect of returning to the training ground and, after a 30-minute pep-talk with his players, the hard work commenced.
The new boss insists it is a fresh start and is keen to draw a line under the sand, following last season's relegation.
Said Blackwell: "We went down, but it's gone now. It was a season which culminated in us hanging on for as long as we could by our fingertips before we finally went down.
"But that's it now. It's over, in the past, and we're starting again.
"We had to change as a club and we're already getting somewhere with that.
"If we hadn't have changed we would have continued to struggle.
"This is the new era and it's important everyone is focused about what lies ahead.
"It's a challenge and everything won't go our way all the time - but it's something I'm looking forward to and I believe the players are too."
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Middlesbrough | Viduka passes Boro medical: "Viduka passes Boro medical

Striker Mark Viduka is set to complete his £4m move from Leeds to Middlesbrough on Monday after passing his medical.
The 28-year-old Australia international travelled to Teesside to undergo tests on Thursday ahead of the deal.
'Mark has passed his medical and we're hoping to complete a deal by Monday,' said Boro spokesman Dave Allan.
Viduka earns a reported £65,000 a week at Leeds and is likely to want Middlesbrough to match those wages.
When Viduka, who joined Leeds from Celtic in a £6m deal four years ago, completes his move he will become the latest in a long list of big names who have left the Yorkshire over the past year.
Alan Smith joined Manchester United for £7m in May, while goalkeeper Paul Robinson moved to Tottenham for £1.5m and Newcastle have just completed the £5m signing of youngster James Milner.
Leeds have recruited Luton's Matthew Spring and Jermaine Wright from Ipswich in recent days.
They have also signed Julian Joachim, from Coventry, Paul Butler, from Wolves, and Michael Ricketts, from Middlesbrough, in the close season."
Leeds United Football Club - New Faces Report For Pre-Season Training: "New Faces Report For Pre-Season Training

The Leeds United team of 2004/05 reported for the first day of pre-season training yesterday with eight new faces amongst them.
New boss Kevin Blackwell has been busy over the past few weeks talking to out of contract players and players clubs have been prepared to release, and a number of those players will officially complete their moves today by signing on the dotted line.
The new arrivals at the club on free transfers are Former Ipswich winger Jermaine Wright, Matthew Spring from Luton Town, Clarke Carlisle from QPR, Paul Butler from Wolves, Julian Joachim from Coventry, Michael Ricketts from Middlesbrough, and Danny Cadamarteri, formerly of Bradford City.
Blackwell though has not finished there, he is hoping to complete at least another two further signings before The Whites step out onto the Elland Road turf for their first game against Derby on August 7th.
Said Blackwell:'I do have a few more irons in the fire and hopefully, fingers crossed, we can see if one or two or those can be brought to the club.'
On his list of targets are a goalkeeper and a midfielder. Talks are ongoing with a number of players.
Meanwhile, a number of last season's squad have still not resolved their futures, and some who were expected to have left the club in the summer break, have reported for pre-season training.
Danny Mills, Ian Harte and Michael Duberry were all expected to make moves to other club in the last month, but those moves have broken down and they remain, for the time being, Leeds'.
SPRING JOINS LEEDS: Sporting Life | Euro 2004 Football News, Live Scores, Results & Comment: "SPRING JOINS LEEDS

Luton midfielder Matthew Spring has signed a three-year contract with Leeds to become manager Kevin Blackwell's seventh summer signing.
The 25-year-old playmaker passed a medical at Elland Road this week and joined his new team-mates for pre-season training on Thursday.
Spring was on his way to link up with former Luton boss Joe Kinnear at Nottingham Forest until Blackwell came in with a late bid.
He said: 'It was a bit of a shock because I was lined up to go to Forest and I was pleased with that. Then a couple of days later Leeds came in with an offer.
'I had a decision to make but as soon as I saw Elland Road and thought about the atmosphere of 35,000 fans at every home game my mind was made up.
'I feel great about it. It's all been a bit of a whirlwind but it's a great opportunity.'"
Leeds in £9m Vid jackpot

By MICHAEL MORGAN
LEEDS will land a £9million cash bonanza by selling Mark Viduka and James Milner inside the next 48 hours.
Aussie hitman Viduka, 28, looks certain to complete his £4m switch to Middlesbrough today.
And teenage whizkid Milner will undergo a medical at Newcastle before checking in as a £5m capture for Bobby Robson. Ditching Viduka will save the relegated club his annual £3.4m salary.
The former Celtic striker, who arrived at Elland Road in a £6m deal four years ago, was earning £65,000 a week.
He has taken a £25,000-a-week pay cut to join Boro, who clinched a European place by winning the Carling Cup last season.
Milner, 18, became the Premiership’s youngest scorer when he netted against Sunderland on Boxing Day 2002 at 16 years 357 days.
The Leeds-born youngster rejected a £4.5m switch to Spurs because he did not want to live in London.
Now he will link up with his former team-mates Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer, despite being offered a double-your-money £80,000-a- week deal by Leeds.
Leeds now hope Danny Mills, 27, will lower his wage demands and follow Milner to Newcastle.
Director Peter Lorimer said: “Mills is a guy who will want top dollar. Middlesbrough had him on loan last season and made him a good offer — but, clearly, not good enough!”
The Wright Stuff

Jermaine Wright has explained his decision to quit Ipswich Town for Leeds and says that he wanted a new challenge, and he likes the look of Leeds United.
Wright, who had been with The Tractor Boys for five years making 221 appearances and scoring five goals also helped Ipswich reach the play-offs last season. But he says that the time is right to move on.
"Having spent the last five years at Ipswich I just felt it was time for a new challenge really. Ipswich are a lovely club and I have made a lot of friends over the years, but I am now focussed on the challenge that lies ahead."
Jermaine who has also played for Millwall, Wolves and Crewe felt the challenge posted by United boss Kevin Blackwell was too good an opportunity to pass up, as he explains:
"Although there was interest from Premiership clubs, as soon as I saw the set-up at Leeds and spoke to the manager, I decided that this was where I wanted to play my football. Leeds are a huge club and I cannot wait to try and help them back into the Premiership."
Jermaine has already had experience of the Premiership. From 2000-2002 Ipswich were in the top flight and Wright fits the criteria that Blackwell is looking for in all his new signings.
Magpies land Milner


Newcastle have completed the signing of Leeds midfielder James Milner on a five-year deal worth up to £5m.
Milner had penned a new five-year deal at Elland Road only last year but agreed with a "heavy heart" to be sold to help the cash-strapped club.
His agent Mick McGuire said: "He's glad that the money his move has generated will help Leeds in the longer term.
"There has never been a more committed player to Leeds and he will always be a huge fan of the club."
McGuire, also the Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive, added: "He signed a five-year deal (with Leeds) last year, he bought a house in the area and his mum and dad have already renewed their season tickets for the coming season.
"However, it is common knowledge that, as part of Leeds' survival plans, they need to generate income from transfers.
"We appreciate their dilemma and understand their decision to let James go because the money this raises helps safeguard the future of the club.
"However, things have moved on since then and once Leeds agreed a fee with Newcastle and gave him permission to speak to Sir Bobby Robson, he felt that it was only fair and proper to talk to a club of that magnitude.

MILNER FACTFILE
1986: Born 4 Jan 1986, Leeds
2001: 1 Aug, joins Leeds as trainee
Summer 2002: Plays or England U17s
Nov 2002: Makes Leeds senior debut. Becomes second youngest player in Premiership behind Coventry's Gary McSheffrey
Dec 2002: Breaks Wayne Rooney's record as youngest scorer in Premiership at 16 years and 357 days
2004: 2 July signs for Newcastle on five-year deal

"James is excited about joining one of the premier clubs, who can offer him a major stage and European football."
McGuire also dismissed reports that Milner had already been offered a 100% pay increase to stay at Leeds.
He added: "It is important that I again stress that no discussions took place about a new contract for James, and I was surprised to read quotes from some very responsible people claiming they had offered to double his money.
"The reality is that talks were put on hold until Dave Richmond returned from holiday next week."
Milner is the second-youngest player to play in the Premiership behind Coventry's Gary McSheffrey.
At 16 and 309 days, he is the second-youngest ever player behind Leeds legend Peter Lorimer to have played senior football for the club.
The Horsforth teenager broke Wayne Rooney's record as the youngest-ever Premiership scorer by four days, aged just aged 16 and 357 days when he sealed a win for United at Sunderland's Stadium of Light in December 2002.