Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Leeds United have completed the signing of ex-England international Steve Stone from Portsmouth on a free transfer.
The club has beaten Championship rivals Southampton to seal a deal for Stone, 33, who has signed a two-year contract.
The winger becomes the fifth summer signing for Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell after Rob Hulse, Ian Bennett, Dan Harding and Eddie Lewis.
Stone was told at the end of last season that he would not be offered a new deal at Fratton Park.
He told BBC Radio Leeds: "I'm delighted to be joining. The club has turned it's debts around and is going in the right direction.
"The main thing for me is that we can push for promotion this season. It's a tough division and isn't going to be easy but hopefully we can get up this year. Leeds is a massive club, it's much bigger than Portsmouth.
"I've got promoted from this division with Portsmouth and Nottingham Forest. Everytime I have played at this level I have got promoted."
The former Nottingham Forest player joined Portsmouth on loan initially in October 2002 and two months later signed permanently at Fratton Park.
He was capped nine times for England.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Leeds stuff the scum - new pages uploaded at mightyleeds.co.uk
I've just uploaded my review of Leeds' 1-0 win at Old Trafford in December 1965, when the two teams were neck and neck for the title.You can find it at http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19641205.htm
Leeds travel to the home of the League leaders and see off the famous Connelly-Charlton-Herd-Law-Best forward line and take both points with a second half goal from Bobby Collins
Leeds chairman Ken Bates has slammed as "contemptible" rumours that he has put the club up for sale.
Bates has only been at the club since January and is angry that the speculation could undermine his efforts at Elland Road.
"These people do not know the damage they are causing," blasted Bates.
"It is contemptible. I want to make it perfectly clear that Leeds United's owners have neither received an offer, nor would they encourage one."
Bates added: "Quite simply the club is not for sale."
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Darlington have completed the signing of striker Simon Johnson from Leeds on a two-year deal.
The 22-year-old has become the club's first summer signing after talks with manager David Hodgson.
Hodgson told the club's website: "Simon is a young talented striker and has good experience of League football and will be a key member of our squad.
"We've been trailing him for some time and I'm delighted that he's decided to join Darlington."
Hodgson added: "We are still in talks with our other targets and hope to have some more good news for the fans in the next few weeks."
I've just uploaded my review of Leeds' infamous 1-0 win at Everton in November 1965, when there was a near riot at Goodison Park.You can find it at http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19641107.htm
In one of the most infamous games in First Division history the players of Everton and Leeds forget about football and are sent to the dressing rooms as the Goodison crowd bays for blood
Friday, June 24, 2005
Boss Welcomes Steady Eddie
United manager Kevin Blackwell says new signing Eddie Lewis will prove to be a key man for Leeds next season.
The USA international has agreed to join the Whites on a free transfer from Preston and will complete his move when he receives a work permit.
His addition will allow Blackwell to shuffle the rest of his team around, mainly, it will give him the confidence to put strikers David Healy and Rob Hulse upfront together.
"Eddie will be the left winger that we have really been crying out for since I've been here," said Blackwell.
"Even when we were in the Premier League we had James Milner playing there when he's really more a naturalised right sided player.
"Now for the first time in a long time we have got a naturalised winger that will allow me to bring David Healy alongside Rob Hulse which I have been desperate to do since he arrived."
Lewis's form was a major factor behind Preston's run to the play-off finals and Blackwell believes he has brought in a player who can make a huge difference to Leeds.
"He was arguably one of Preston's main players last season and he showed his tenacity by playing every game of the play-offs just three weeks after he had an appendicitis operation when it normally takes six weeks.
"He's a current international and he's played nearly every game in the last five or six years for the US and he's well respected.
"The intelligence he has and the quality of his left foot will give us a new dimension to our play."
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Sunderland misfit Sean Thornton is wanted by Leeds and Crystal Palace according to his agent.
Thornton, 22, has been told he has no future at Sunderland and his agent claims he is also attracting interest from Spanish side Malaga.
His agent Lee Payne told Skysports.com: "There's interest from Leeds and Palace but nothing concrete as yet.
"They're interested in Sean and would have to agree something with Sunderland first, but Malaga are a definite."
Aaron's taken a wage cut!
By PAUL DEWS
LEEDS UNITED boss Kevin Blackwell today admitted it was "impossible" for the Elland Road club to keep teenage star Aaron Lennon.
And Blackwell also revealed that the youngster even took a wage cut to join Tottenham Hotspur in order for the move to go through.
Leeds agreed a deal with Spurs last week for the homegrown youngster, believed to be worth in the region of £1m, sparking fury among a section of supporters.
But Blackwell today laid the blame at the feet of previous regimes at United and branded the youngster's contract "unsustainable" for Leeds in the current climate.
The terms of Lennon's United deal are a closely guarded secret, but it is believed that the teenager's salary was based on how many games he played and was due to rise substantially at regular intervals over the course of next season.
"If Aaron's contract hadn't have been of that nature he would not have been allowed to leave," revealed Blackwell. "It's as simple as that.
"I'm not going into figures because that is a private matter, but contracts where there is a substantial increase every so many games make it very, very difficult.
"In the cold light of day, Aaron shouldn't have to leave this club. He didn't want to go and we didn't want him to go, but there was little anyone could do.
"Aaron's contract was such that even Tottenham couldn't match it and he took a wage cut to go there. That shows just how things were handed out here in the past.
"Aaron's contract was ongoing. It was a perpetual deal and you have to offer a matching contract to the player if you want compensation should they leave. Offer less and they can go anyway."
Lennon told the YEP last week that he had never asked to leave United and was happy to stay – like James Milner before him – and Blackwell was quick to hit back at the snipers who have accused the youngster of moving on at the earliest opportunity.
"It's not the fault of Aaron or anyone else at this football club now," insisted Blackwell.
"We're all trying to put this club on an even keel and have had to do whatever we can to work towards that.
"It's all down to previous regimes and the legacy of what has been left behind.
"It's the legacy of yesteryear when contracts that were so prohibitive were handed out.
"It's all what we have picked up. Like James Milner last summer – he didn't want to leave Leeds – it's been a case of picking up contracts offered by others that are just too prohibitive."
Lennon follows in the footsteps of fellow teenagers Scott Carson and Milner in heading through the exit door long before they have fulfilled their potential as future great Leeds players.
Since taking over as manager 13 months ago, Blackwell has presided over the departure of a staggering 17 senior players with the majority leaving in order to ease the financial burden.
Over £20m has been slashed off the Elland Road wage bill over the past year as United battled to get back on an even keel.
"We're not just trying to hang in there. We are trying to take this club forward, but without the debts," said Blackwell.
"That is what I've tried to do as manager. There are a lot of players who have left this club over the past 12 months who you would have liked to have kept, but not if it is going to financially kill the club.
"It's getting back to a point where we can control the finances rather than it's the finances controlling the club, but that's meant a lot of tough and unpopular decisions.
"I can understand people's frustration when they see young players like Aaron leaving, but whoever it was that offered some of the deals we have seen here...there was just nowhere the club could go with some of them."
Blackwell insists that the sale of Lennon was not a quick-fix for United – a portion of the cash raised from the fee will go towards the purchase of Dan Harding – but was necessary to ease the ongoing burden of hefty contract payments.
New chairman Ken Bates has already backed his manager financially by strengthening the squad, and Leeds have spent in excess of £1m this summer, but the contracts now being offered are what Blackwell and his chairman describe as "realistic".
While there is no official wage ceiling at Elland Road, Bates signalled his intentions last month when he said the club would not be held to ransom by players demanding £12,000 a week, and all new arrivals are on manageable deals well below that figure.
"The chairman is angry about the situation and some of the contracts he has seen here he cannot believe," said Blackwell.
"He has been at Chelsea, he knows all about the top players and top contracts, yet he is still staggered.
"He's as disappointed as anyone else about losing a young player like Aaron, but his responsibility is to the club and the supporters, and making sure they still have a club, and he's worked tirelessly since he came in to make sure that's the case.
"The alternative is to keep the player, lose fortunes and head back down a road that there is no way out of it. It's a catch 22 and, sadly, unpleasant decisions have to be made sometimes."
The consortium headed by former chairman Gerald Krasner set about recovering the situation at Leeds before passing the baton to Bates last January.
The stabilisation process has continued apace, but Blackwell firmly believes that other clubs should take note of United's near meltdown and is pleading for caution in the game.
He added: "Football is at a crucial time and I'm sure more clubs will go through what we have gone through, although maybe not of the same magnitude.
"The money now in the game centres around maybe five or six top clubs, with some trying to play catch-up. What happened here could have happened at the right time."
Monday, June 20, 2005
United boss all set to swoop
by Paul Dews
LEEDS UNITED boss Kevin Blackwell is set to strengthen his squad again this week as the countdown to the new season continues.
Blackwell has already snapped up striker Rob Hulse, England under-21 international defender Dan Harding and Birmingham City's experienced goalkeeper Ian Bennett.
But the United boss still has two key areas he is looking to strengthen – wide right and wide left – and is lining up another imminent deal before pre-season training commences.
Blackwell is keeping his cards close to his chest about his latest target but is optimistic that he will fill one of his "problem" roles.
Blackwell said: "I'm speaking to people all the time and I'm hopeful that we can do something else before next week.
"I don't want to give any names away and I don't want to alert other clubs, but I'm on with a few things and hopeful that something will come to fruition."
Fulham's out of contract midfielder Lee Clark is another player earmarked as a potential summer target for United and talks remain ongoing.
Meanwhile, Celtic are being linked with a move for United defender Frazer Richardson.
New Bhoys boss Gordon Strachan is on the hunt for a right-back after losing experienced defender Jackie McNamara to United's Coca-Cola Championship rivals Wolves.
Leeds have already turned down a £250,000 bid from Sunderland for Richardson – and Celtic would have to come up with more.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Leeds Net Keeper
Leeds United can confirm the capture of ex-Birmingham City keeper Ian Bennett on a free transfer.
The 33-year-old was out of contract with Birmingham and has been brought in by Kevin Blackwell to challenge Neil Sullivan for the number one jersey.
Bennett will have an excellent chance to stake a regular starting spot this summer as Sullivan is set to go under the knife to cure a shoulder complaint.
Bennett will become Leeds' third signing this close-season behind the permanent capture of Rob Hulse and Dan Harding, who is due to arrive from Brighton subject to a tribunal.
And boss Blackwell was quick to defend his transfer policy which now seems to be paying dividends with quality players arriving.
"To be fair, I did sign people such as Shaun Derry in the second half of last season and we are still looking at three or four players that we might bring in," said Blackwell.
"I'm not going to go talking about who I would or wouldn't like to bring in or what areas I need to strengthen."
"If the young players like Frazer Richardson and Simon Walton play any more games than they did last season then they will be playing about 50 games.
"Hopefully they will come back fresh for next season but we do have to try to look after them."
Aaron Move Was Inevitable Says Kevin
Kevin Blackwell has revealed that he expected to lose the services of Aaron Lennon before the end of last season.
The 18-year old midfielder will complete his move to Spurs on July 1st, pending a medical and his agreeing on personal terms, but the manager says that both he and the player knew that a switch to White Hart Lane was on the cards towards the end of the recent Championship campaign.
Lennon's performances in midfield earned him glowing reviews, and it was perhaps inevitable that a Premiership club might come calling, but Blackwell admits that despite this he is still disappointed to have lost the talented teenager.
"We are disappointed to lose any player of quality," Blackwell told the Yorkshire Post, "but such was the money offered and the contract he was on that a move became inevitable. He only had a year left on his current deal and I became resigned to Aaron leaving before the end of last season.
"Spurs first made their interest known quite a while ago and the player knew that. He wanted to play in the Premiership and this gives him the opportunity to do that."
Meanwhile, some of the current squad are already back at the Thorp Arch training ahead of the scheduled resumption of training later this month. Sean Gregan, Michael Ricketts and Stephen Crainey have all returned to work, with Crainey in particular being keen to get back to full fitness after his season was ruined by a groin injury.
"It is nice to see four or five of the lads coming in early to ensure they hit the ground running next season," says Blackwell.
"We are all eagerly looking forward to the new season and I expect quite a few others to come in before June 27."
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Leeds enjoy a profit as Bates ties up loose ends
By Mihir Bose
Five months after Ken Bates flew in from Monte Carlo to rescue Leeds United, the takeover of the Yorkshire club has finally been completed, and the Championship side are on course to make a £5 million profit for the season just ended.
That profit, however, is almost entirely due to transfer activity. And although there will be more sales over the next 12 months - they have just sold Aaron Lennon for £1 million to Tottenham - Leeds are expected to make a loss of around £6 million for next season.
Bates said: "When I first arrived at Leeds it was on life support machine but it is now in intensive care.''
One of the most delicate jobs has been to upgrade the electricity wiring at Elland Road, which was 40 years old and, according to Bates, was "an accident waiting to happen like the Bradford City fire".
However, because of the way the previous board reduced the huge debt, it is only now that Bates has taken complete control.
The previous owners, Adulant Force, did a deal with the bondholders, who had lent £60 million, by paying them £2 million in full settlement.
However, this had an anti-embarrassment clause which stipulated that if within six months there was change of control which involved more than £5 million, the new owners would have to pay the bond holders a further £6 million. So in January, Forward Sports Foundation, in which Bates has an interest and is also managed by him, bought only 50 per cent and had an option to buy the remaining shares.
Now Silkey, an offshore investment bank, have got the other 50 per cent, completing the deal.
There could be future investment in the club but the immediate task for Bates is to try to reclaim Elland Road and the training ground which were sold by Adulant Force for £8 million. Both can be bought back for around £18 million and, given that their value would be £43 million, they could be great assets.
Bates has raised ticket prices for the first time in five years and, although slightly fewer were sold, Leeds have still made a profit.
Bates is making no bold promises that Leeds will be back in the Premiership next season. ''There are seven clubs which could make it back and we will be one of the seven,'' he added.
Should Leeds return in the next two seasons, a further £5 million will be payable to the bondholders.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Tottenham have agreed a deal to sign Leeds midfielder Aaron Lennon, subject to a medical and agreeing terms.
Locally-born Lennon made 27 appearances for Leeds in the Championship last season, starting 19 games, and was named Leeds' young player of the year.
Lennon, 18, already has a link with White Hart Lane, having made his first Leeds appearance there in August 2003.
Aged just 16 years and 129 days, he became the youngest Premiership player ever when he came on as a substitute.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Leeds United have completed the signing of Brighton defender Dan Harding.
The 21-year-old England Under-21 international has signed a three year-contract at Elland Road.
Harding's contract at the Withdean Stadium expires on 1 July and it is expected a Football League tribunal will set a fee of around £250,000.
Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell said: "There has been major interest from other clubs and we are delighted to have Dan on board."
He added: "We had been talking with him and the signs were good, but you are never sure until the deal has been done.
"Dan is a young player with plenty of potential. He wants to develop his career with us and I'm looking forward to working with him."