Monday, January 24, 2005

Leeds United Football Club - Relief For Blackwell

United boss Kevin Blackwell was a relieved man as his team proved to new chairman Ken Bates that they are fighting for him in the 1-0 win over Stoke.
Leeds became embroiled in a tense battle at the Britannia Stadium and it took an own goal from hapless defender Wayne Thomas, who sliced David Healy's cross into his own net, to separate the teams and give the Bates era a winning start.
Blackwell was just pleased his side were able to show that the pressure of the last few weeks is off them.
"I am glad today is out of the way," he said.
"There's been so many things going on in people heads this week. There was talk among the players about the situation and I pulled them before the game and said we get on with it.
"This is a brand new era, we can start to look forward as a football club and I want to take all of you with me. And if we can do that, brilliant."
Blackwell says that despite the prospect, or at least the rumour, of administration now being lifted, a different kind of pressure is on the players now.
"We are going to be scrutinised in everything we do and everything we say, and none more so than the last few days when we've been in every paper," he said.
"But for the first time its the right image, that the club is moving forward and please God this is the point where people can look and say that was the day it all changed.
"But the lads who have been here since the start of the season, they've battled to be where they are. They've been given nothing. People talk about our agents fees being ridiculous, but all those fees were to get rid of players.
"I would have loved to have paid out £1.5m to get players in, but that hasn't been the case. But those lads there did me proud on Saturday."

This is me giving ken Bates what for, at least until he actually arrives Posted by Hello
Sport

Bates sounds dinner gong for Blackwell
Stoke City 0 Leeds United 1
By Jonathan Wilson
24 January 2005

Kevin Blackwell is probably right when he speaks of Leeds lying six points off the play-off positions as nigh-on miraculous. "In July the club was just me and Gary Kelly," the Leeds manager said after Saturday's drab victory, making a scarcely veiled pitch to keep his job.
The financial problems that threatened to send Leeds into administration may have retreated with Ken Bates' takeover, but while the club can now, to use Blackwell's phrase, "stop looking over our shoulders", his own position has been called into doubt. Bates has made clear in the past that he does not believe former goalkeepers make good managers.
A dinner meeting later this week should clear things up in the short-term, but Blackwell's contribution to Leeds' survival should not be underestimated. "I think I'm good enough to go all the way as a manager," he said. "I can wheel and deal with the best of them, and I can put out a side that can play and is well-structured tactically. When I took the job there were a lot of people who thought it couldn't be done, but I've proved that it can and we've now got something to build on."
That something is an impressively obdurate approach that, on Saturday, was barely tempered by invention. It is a measure of quite how dreadful the game was that, of the small posse gathered on the grassy bank between the Sentinel and South Stands for a free view, only four remained by half-time and only one lasted the full 90 minutes, perhaps driven to catatonia by the sheer awfulness of it.
The game was decided, almost inevitably, by a shocking gaffe, when David Healy's low cross from the right struck Wayne Thomas's standing leg as he wound up for a clearance and rebounded into his own net. Having failed to score at the right end in their previous 526 minutes of Championship football, Stoke never looked like doing so in the 19 that remained.
Blackwell spoke of needing four or five players to turn Leeds into a team capable of holding their own in the "top half of the top half" of the table, and Bates may be able to provide that. Even with what he's got, though, Blackwell has overseen three successive away wins and Leeds are looking up rather than down. As miracles go, it's a bit like turning water into Blue Nun: barely palatable but impressive none the less.

Goal: Thomas og (71) 0-1.

Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Buxton, Thomas, Taggart, Hill (Asaba, 82); Russell, Brammer (Eustace, 85), Jarrett, Clarke; Noel-Williams (Greenacre, 54), Akinbiyi. Substitutes not used: De Goey (gk), Hall.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Sullivan; Kelly, Carlisle, Butler, Richardson; Lennon (Joachim, 46), Wright, Gregan, Pugh; Healy, Deane (Ricketts, 69). Substitutes not used: Harrison (gk), Einarrsson, Spring.

Referee: I Williamson (Hertfordshire).
Booked: Stoke Russell; Leeds Pugh, Deane, Ricketts.
Man of the match: Carlisle.
Attendance: 18,372

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Cheery, cheerful, happy go lucky, affable ... delete any words that do not apply Posted by Hello
Times Online - Newspaper Edition

The ego has landed
ROB HUGHES
He made millions from selling Chelsea, but life out of the limelight does not suit Ken Bates, as Leeds will soon discover.

The ego has returned. While others were sleeping at 2.27am on Friday, the lawyer for Ken Bates was tying up the £10m deal that gives the former Chelsea owner all the trouble and strife and limelight he craves as chairman of Leeds United.
With typical acerbic brevity, he answered the question of whether he plans to bring his old mate Dennis Wise in as team manager. “A load of b******s,” said Chairman Ken. He’s back: 73 years young, offensive, blunt, supposedly open yet working in the dark, and taking on the challenge that cows other men.
Rescue Leeds on a £10m outlay? It sounds as credible as buying a derelict Chelsea for £1 and selling your stake 21 years later to a Russian oil billionaire for £17m.
Reworking the Leeds insolvency — reclaiming the land, the stadium, the training ground and the lost status of a perilously overspent northern club? As impossible as dragging Chelsea through the prospect of extinction to the cusp of European domination.
What Bates has done this weekend is, first and foremost, to buy himself a life. He has enough Roman Abramovich roubles to sit out the remainder of his days in his Monaco apartment overlooking the harbour — but life in the tax haven is surreal boredom. Ken Bates would rather be looking creditors, bankers, tax collectors, players, fans, hangers-on and cut-throat opponents in the eye. And preparing his chairman’s notes in the club programme.
The son of an Ealing lorry driver and a would-be Arsenal apprentice centre-half who underwent an operation as a child to cure a club foot, Bates soon became self-driven in pursuit of three things: football, money and putting one over the next man, lord or pauper.
Love or loathe him — and many do a bit of both — you cannot ignore our Ken. Chelsea was “the love of his life” for 22 years, but now it is Leeds. Long, long ago, it was Oldham Athletic when, as a 34-year-old sinking his energy and extracting his first fortune in Lancashire quarrying, he parked his Rolls at Boundary Park and bought a controlling interest.
It was Harry Massey, a retired builder and long-term Oldham director, who coined the saying “Mr Bates believes in a committee of two — with one absent.”
Yet Bates could be the saviour for Leeds.
He understands football fanatics, and Elland Road is filled even in adversity with many thousands of them. From the King’s Road to the Yorkshire pits, a common thread is the idiocy of grown men chasing a leather ball, and the community wishing above all else to be top dog at that passion.
Bates, with his gruffness and his sometimes calculatingly offensive put-downs, is as Yorkshire blunt as ever he was a Londoner. He’s prepared to pay for a new allegiance because the Abramovich cartel not only bought him out, but spat him out with little more charm than his own denunciation of the Mears family who preceded him at Stamford Bridge. He declared them less welcome than lepers.
A rugged toughness, hiding a sometimes soft-centred vulnerability, a desire to be admired and liked, brings Bates back into football chairmanship. The facts and figures of all his dealings — like many such affairs in football — may forever be clouded.
The outgoing board claim they reduced the debts from £103m to under £25m in 10 months. Once that old board leave the scene, the people who will work for Bates are his former confidants from Chelsea, Yvonne Todd and the lawyer Mark Taylor — although publican Peter Lorimer, the old Leeds winger, stays aboard to keep a face the Leeds faithful know and trust.
Whoever else is involved in the Geneva company Forward Sports Fund that made the £10m offer, and how much of that is Bates’s capital, will remain, to use a familiar Bates saying, for him to know and others to try to find out.
But his background in football is better established than rival bidders, from Sainsbury to fans’ trusts to supposed Middle Eastern benefactors.
Bates, at least, has been there and very nearly done a Leeds of his own. Many people point out that Bates took Chelsea to the brink of the same consequence through ludicrous overstretching — chasing the dream — as Peter Ridsdale, that ruinous fan in the boardroom.
One big difference is that Ridsdale backed the purchasing demands of his manager David O’Leary and sold Leeds into near terminal decline. Bates backed an awful lot of spending, but summarily sacked managers who wanted too much too soon.
And when disaster stared him in the bank balance, Bates had the luck, the guile, or the know-how to find a man more wealthy (for now) than any other buyer into the football dream industry. That, Bates will tell you looking over his tinted spectacles, is what life at the sharp end is all about.
In the year that “his” Chelsea are ready to finally buy the championship that eluded him, Bates is reaching down to try to pick up by the bootlaces a fallen giant that has been there and done that in the recent past. The wisest thing he is doing right now is looking into everything before he speaks about what he will do or how long it will take.
Buying back Elland Road from the property developers and restoring a team “in good time” are all on the chairman‘s agenda. When he entered Stamford Bridge, he fought property companies and local authorities to prevent housing on the pitch there — and though his detractors now point out that the stadium is enveloped by a hotel, restaurants and other real estate commissioned by Bates, the football field remains at the centre of everything.
Elland Road was sold last year in desperation to reduce the crippling debt pile, and Bates talked on Friday of exercising the buy-back option on that deal “in due course”. Until then, the club has to lease its own ground from the property company that owns it.
Bates might prove as patient, as obdurate or as accommodating as it takes to win that negotiation. But first, he addresses the prospect, marginal though it appears, of coping with promotion back to the Premiership. “I certainly wouldn’t like to get promoted this year,” he says. “If you go up too soon, you more than likely come down again.”
His talks to manager Kevin Blackwell will be intriguing — take us up, but not just yet? Blackwell, a former goalkeeper, has overseen the departures of the likes of Viduka, Smith and Kewell and their millionaire salaries and agents and rebuilt a team that is mid-table.
“I told Kevin I know nothing about his ability,” remarked Bates in the first hours of the new chairmanship. “But I’ll give him my full support and he will be judged on results. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” And there is as much substance to Yorkshire pud as there is to any of the richly hollow fillings to be had in Monte Carlo.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


David Healy gets the treatment from the Potters hard men ... where the hell is Duberry when you actually need him? Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Matchreport Stoke City vs Leeds United

Pre-Match

United boss Kevin Blackwell was able to call upon the services of fit again Brian Deane. The 36-year-old missed the previous four games with a shoulder injury and his height upfront was what Leeds lacked most in those games.
Also back in the side was midfielder Sean Gregan, missing from the draw with Cardiff with a bug that had been sweeping through the camp. He lined up in a three man midfield that also contained Danny Pugh and Jermaine Wright.
There were changes too in defence where Clarke Carlisle came in for Matthew Kilgallon. Kilgallon is suffering from an ankle injury which gave Carlisle his first start since completing a one match suspension.
With Scott Carson having completed his move to Liverpool, loan signing Paul Harrison, who made the reverse trip from Anfield, took up his place on the bench.

The Match

Both teams struggled to get into any sort of rhythm in the first quarter of an hour, just a few free-kicks for either side, none of which threatened to bring about the game's first goal.
Thankfully matters improved after that and the game opened up into a more attractive spectacle, even if the home side were having most of the chances.
Kevin Blackwell's first cause for concern came on 16 minutes when a ball was pumped forward for Ade Akinbiyi to chase and despite the striker being tightly marked by Carlisle, he managed to break free of the defender and only Neil Sullivan's quick reactions to the situation prevented Stoke from taking the lead as the keeper came out and cleared the danger on the edge of his area. Akinbiyi was so nearly onto the ball.
Leeds had earlier had most of the possession but without a strike on goal, that changed when Healy set about trying to work an opening for the shot on the edge of the area. When it finally came in the ball took an unfortunate deflection off the heel of Brian Deane and passed the foot of the post by about a yard.
Akinbiyi was proving to be a handful for Carlisle to deal with though and a minute after Healy came close he broke clear of his marker again to be left with just Sullivan to beat. Fortunately his shot was weak and Sullivan made the save look easy.
United had a penalty appeal turned down on 22 minutes when Danny Pugh chased a ball into the box and went over the challenge of Wayne Thomas in the box, but there were no real serious complaints from any Leeds players at the decision.
Straight down the other end and Sullivan pounced on a ball that Akinbiyi had fed into the middle of the penalty area and he took a heavy knock in the process but was alright to carry on after some treatment.
Frazer Richardson had spent a spell on loan at the Britannia Stadium last season and he was perhaps too charitable on his former team-mates as he wasted an opportunity to put a good cross in with four Leeds players waiting patiently in the box, putting the ball well behind instead.
By the end of the half the home side had gained the advantage territorially but there was nothing in their play to suggest they were going to break the deadlock. It had been an utterly forgettable first half for both teams.
Kevin Blackwell made a change at half time, bringing Julian Joachim on and taking Aaron Lennon off in a tactical change.
A Gregan foul gave Stoke an opportunity to tray their luck from a free-kick but it was poorly worked and Julian Joachim was able to break from inside his own half and run a full 60-yards down the right flank with two Stoke defenders struggling to keep pace with him, and for that matter the rest of the United frontline. If he had been able to square the ball he might have found a team-mate in space but instead had to settle for a corner for his hard work.
Just before the hour mark it got a bit nasty when Pugh and Russell got entangled together in a challenge for the ball. When they both got back to their feet went for each other and received a yellow card each for their actions. The booking was Pugh's fifth this season and he now serves a one match ban against Brighton.
A free-kick from Gary Kelly was headed out as far as Joachim on the edge of the centre-circle and his shot back in was easily held by Steve Simonson. It was typical of the game.
Brian Deane was the next United player to be booked for a foul on the former Leicester City defender Gerry Taggart, once the striker's team-mate. A minute later he was replaced by Michael Ricketts, with Blackwell wary that Deane had only just returned from a shoulder injury.
Leeds had been marginally the better side in the second half and had applied more pressure but they could not have expected to be gifted the lead through what was a bizarre own goal.
It came on 71 minutes when David Healy delivered a good cross from the right of penalty area, just a yard off the goal-line, and all appeared to be under control for the home side when it was easily cut out but centre-half Wayne Thomas attempted to clear and only sliced the ball into his own net.
David Healy looked sheepish as his team-mates ran over to celebrate with him for not even he would claim that one.
The task now for Leeds was to hang onto the lead and try and record their first clean sheet in 19 games.
Substitute Carl Asaba threatened to undo Leeds with three minutes left to play but Sullivan was more than equal to his low drive.
Leeds hardly had to 'hang on' with Stoke restricted to long range efforts at the end and as they left the field with the points in the bag, the squad saluted a fantastic following from Leeds who were the liveliest thing about this dull game.

This is my shoulder ... where has my chip gone? Posted by Hello
Leeds Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

Forward With Ken
EXCLUSIVE
By PAUL DEWS
FORMER chairman Trevor Birch today branded new Leeds United chief Ken Bates as the man to take the club forward.
Birch, who stepped down last March when Gerald Krasner's consortium took over at Elland Road, knows Bates well after the pairing worked together at Chelsea.
And the popular ex-United chairman reckons his old Stamford Bridge boss is the man to drive Leeds forward again.
"I think Ken will be a good man for Leeds United," said Birch, pictured left. "He's a successful man and he hasn't come to Leeds to fail.
"He will be giving it 120 per cent to get the club back into the Premier League.
"I think this will have taken 20 years off him – he'll have renewed energy at the age of 73 – and you won't find anyone with as much enthusiasm about the game."
Birch is still regarded as a hero by many United followers after his determined efforts to keep the club alive.
It was Birch who amazingly persuaded the creditors to keep them out of administration for a full three months before passing the baton on to Krasner's consortium and their rescue package.
Birch had a short spell with Everton after leaving Leeds and was also linked with the chief executive's job at the Football Association.
But he has maintained interest in United and is delighted to see them stay out of administration for a second time.
"What's happened shouldn't be underestimated," said Birch.
"The club has had a lot of problems and it's lucky not to have gone into administration. Once Leeds were relegated it was always going to be a big struggle.
"The board have done well because despite making some unpalatable decisions they have kept things going.
"Ken will now be looking to bring some stability back to the club and start building."
Birch is being linked with a return to Elland Road, but he recently took up the Leeds-based post as head of reorganisation services for professional services firm Deloitte in the north-east.

All hail me Posted by Hello
Guardian Unlimited Football | News | Bates takeover offers hope for suffering Leeds

Before anyone hails Ken Bates as the man who will transform Leeds United's fortunes it is worth remembering that before Roman Abramovich arrived at Chelsea they were around £80m in debt and confronted by the possibility of administration. Despite having transformed the club in his time at Stamford Bridge it was done at considerable cost so only those with selective memories will cast him as a saviour at Elland Road.
Bates is entitled, however, to believe yesterday's £10m takeover has not only stopped the rot but offered hope. Leeds had been hurtling towards administration and a 10-point penalty that would have left a financially shipwrecked club third from bottom of the Championship and contemplating relegation to the third division. There is no telling what might have happened after that but the long-suffering Leeds supporters will no longer have to consider the possibility of a regular Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers.
The matter of restoring Leeds to the Premiership, and keeping them there, is not so clear cut. Bates does not have the bags of gold to do an Abramovich or even come close. Leeds are still £24.5m in debt and they have spent virtually the entire season in the lower reaches of a division so mediocre the Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy recently declared "every team was as bad as each other".
Bates's first job will be to peruse Kevin Blackwell's record since his promotion to manager last summer. There are mitigating circumstances to Leeds' position behind the likes of Preston, Burnley and Derby but Bates has never been inclined to listen to excuses and Blackwell should be acutely aware that his new employer sacked Gianluca Vialli at Chelsea only five games into the 2000-01 season and three months after the FA Cup had been won.
Dennis Wise's name has already cropped up as a possible replacement and, despite a public declaration from Bates that he is "not looking to bring anyone else in", Blackwell certainly seems prepared for the worst. "I'm sure he will assess things," he admitted. "Someone who puts his own money into a club may decide he wants his own man and I have to respect that."
As a former goalkeeper, Blackwell will have also picked up on the fact that when Bates was exploring the possibilities of investing in Sheffield Wednesday he declared on more than one occasion that he would sack Chris Turner as manager. Bates does not believe former goalkeepers are cut out for the role and Blackwell will have to convince him there are exceptions to the rule.
"I've just started building something here and I hope I get a chance to finish it," he added. "But whatever happens I think I can look back on the situation here and say that if I leave the club it is in a lot healthier state now than when I found it."
Bates set out his appraisal of his new club. "It is no exaggeration to say Leeds are very hard up. It's going to be a tough job and the first task is to stabilise the cash flow and sort out the remaining creditors," he said. "But there is light at the end of a very long tunnel. For the past year it has been a matter of firefighting - now we can start running the club again.
"The first thing is to stabilise the team and the finances. Getting to the play-offs would be a bonus but I'm not quite sure if that's realistic. Certainly, I wouldn't like to win promotion this year because if you go up too soon you will just come straight back down."
Instead, he believes a more realistic ambition is to "get promotion in the next couple of seasons" and after that he does not consider it unreasonable to "establish ourselves, get into the top six and back into Europe".
As for Wise, Bates snapped: "It's a load of bollocks."
Uppermost in his thoughts will also be the buying back of the club's stadium, as well as their training ground at Thorp Arch near Wetherby. When the club's debts were at their worst, peaking at £103m 10 months ago, both assets were sold to the Manchester-based property developer Jacob Adler.
In a smart PR move, designed to win over the Leeds supporters, Bates said he planned to initiate talks with Adler "in due course". He added: "Fans could ensure that no would-be property developer will be able to end the playing of football atElland Road."
The appointment of a new chief executive would help to quicken that process and, to that end, it was highly conceivable that Bates would turn to one of his most trusted former colleagues at Stamford Bridge. A pity for him, perhaps, that Trevor Birch made it clear last night he would not entertain the idea of resuming their working relationship.
Bates has brought on board two other former employees, Chelsea's former finance director Yvonne Todd and lawyer Mark Taylor, but Birch said he would not leave his new position as a partner at Deloitte. "I've left football behind," he said, adding of Bates: "I think he's got enough knowledge to do the job himself."
Bates immediately set about showing just that by paying off an overdue £1.2m instalment that was owed to the Inland Revenue as part of a £3.5m debt.
Along with the outgoing chairman Gerald Krasner, Simon Morris, Melvyn Levi and Melvin Helme have all resigned as directors. Peter Lorimer, the former Leeds player, has been retained in another tactical PR move and Bates has asked Krasner to remain at the club in an advisory capacity. Krasner, who has done a better job than many people seem willing to give him credit for, will carry on working behind the scenes, albeit on a temporary basis.
"We saved the club from extinction," he said. "We solved 80% of the club's problems and, with no doubt, Ken will solve the rest. When Leeds are back in the Premiership and winning silverware I will be somewhere smiling quietly, knowing we played some part in it."
The negotiations were so quick that many Leeds fans will not even have had time to digest exactly what was happening. Bates, under the guise of a Geneva-based company known as the Forward Sports Fund, approached the club on Monday and offered to buy a 51% stake for £10m. Lawyers on both sides worked round the clock to get a quick agreement, finalising the deal at 2.27am yesterday.
Bates bought Chelsea for the grand total of £1 in 1982 and, despite all of Leeds's difficulties, he will consider he has another bargain. "This is a great club," he said. "It has just fallen on some hard times."
On the new board
Yvonne Todd
A loyal servant to Bates at Chelsea, where she served as finance director for 17 years. When she joined in 1988, the club were on their way to relegation from the old First Division. By the time she left last year, they were an established top-six Premiership club with a redeveloped stadium and a star-studded team. But the holding company was also £80m in debt before Roman Abramovich stepped in. Insiders say Todd worked well with Bates but that it was clear who held the purse strings. The most complex deals she assisted with were a series of moves in the early 1990s to transfer the club's assets into a new holding company, saving the club from the threat of insolvency.
Mark Taylor
While Bates was at Stamford Bridge, Taylor worked on a string of complex deals on behalf of the then chairman and Colin Hutchinson, then chief executive. He was Chelsea's lawyer of choice, advising on a string of deals which he handled through his own company Mark Taylor & Co, culminating in the £60m deal that saw Abramovich take over and netted Bates £17m.
What Leeds owe£4.5m To be paid over four years and the amount owed to directors, including Gerald Krasner, Simon Morris and Melyvn Levy
£3.6m Amount owed in income tax and VAT
£8.8m Amount owed to former managers, players and agents
£7.6m Other creditors and bondholders
£ 24.5m Total estimated outstanding debt

Trust me, my boy Posted by Hello
Telegraph | Sport | Bates back to revive fallen Leeds

By Christopher Davies
(Filed: 22/01/2005)

Ken Bates, the former owner of Chelsea, yesterday made a remarkable return to football as chairman of Leeds United, insisting that he wants to lead the club back to their former glories and relishes "one more challenge".
Bates, 73, has bought a 50 per cent stake in the club for £10 million. He will head a four-strong board which will also include Peter Lorimer, the Leeds legend, who will continue in his role as director and point of contact for the fans.
The takeover should eliminate the threat of administration for Leeds, who were top of the Premiership as recently as three years ago.
Bates ended a 10-month exile from football after leaving Chelsea, which he had sold to Roman Abramovich for £17 million. Bates said yesterday: "I'm delighted to be stepping up to the mantel at such a fantastic club. I recognise Leeds United are a great club that have fallen on hard times.
"We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to get the club back to where it belongs in the Premiership and with the help of the fans, who have stuck by the club through thick and thin, we're going to do everything in our power to ensure that happens.
"Our first task will be to put short, medium and long-term plans in place to secure the financial future of the club and these will include buying back, in due course, Elland Road and Thorp Arch. Fans could then ensure that no would-be property developer will be able to end the playing of football at Elland Road."
Former chairman Gerald Krasner was forced to sell Elland Road and the Thorp Arch training ground last year to Manchester-based property developer Jacob Adler to ease the club's debts.
Leeds are eight points off the play-offs but Bates does not want promotion this season. "I'm not sure whether getting to the play-offs is realistic or not but I wouldn't like us to get promoted this season," he said. "If you go up too soon you only come down again. Maybe if we can win promotion in the next couple of seasons, establish ourselves in the Premiership, get a top six place and go back into Europe."
Bates has also reassured manager Kevin Blackwell about his future. "He has got a contract until the end of next season," Bates said, "so I'll tell him to go out and prove himself. He has had a difficult job to do. I'm not looking to bring anyone in and I will help him however I can."
Bates also paid tribute to Krasner and his fellow directors who had assumed control in March 2004. "Gerald Krasner and his team have performed miracles by reducing the club's debts from £103 million a year ago to a present figure of £21 million. Obviously, everything has had to be sold," Bates added.
"Though the old board have done 80 per cent of the work they needed someone else to finish off the job. We have bought the shares in the club for a nominal consideration and now it's a question of working capital.
"It's no exaggeration to say Leeds are very hard up. It's going to be a tough job and the first task is to stabilise the cash flow and sort out the remaining creditors. But there is light at the end of a very long tunnel. For the past year it has been a matter of fire-fighting - now we can start running the club again."
Among the existing debts are £8 million owed to former managers and players.
"This is a good day for Leeds United which dispels all the rumours," said Blackwell, who was appointed last May. "What I will say is that I've just started building something here and I hope I get a chance to finish it."
Sport

Revealed: the ex-players and managers still owed £6.85m
By Nick Harris
22 January 2005

The financial mess inherited by Ken Bates at Leeds United is so convoluted that the former Chelsea chairman has not yet been able to buy the majority share of the club he wanted.
New details about Leeds' crisis have been obtained by The Independent, including the particulars of debts and future liabilities to former managers, players, the tax authorities, the outgoing board, institutional bond-holders and the owners of Elland Road.
Sources close to the club have revealed that Bates was prevented from buying more than 50 per cent of Leeds because of technicalities arising from the £60m loan acquired during Peter Ridsdale's chairmanship
Bates had hoped to buy 51 per cent for £10m. His marginally lesser stake will make no practical difference to his control at Leeds - the structure of the deal has guaranteed that - but the reason he was thwarted is illustrative of Leeds' plight.
The loan Ridsdale arranged, from four institutional bondholders, was for £60m. When the Ridsdale dream died, the incoming consortium, led by Gerald Krasner, inherited the debt. He restructured it, paying £12.6m in partial settlement and agreeing a raft of future conditional payments, depending on Leeds' League position between now and the year 2025.
One clause related to the sale by Krasner's group of either Leeds' assets or their own shares. The upshot was that if they had sold more than 50 per cent of Leeds to Bates, a payment would have been triggered, potentially costing millions. Because Bates bought no more than 50 per cent, the clause was not activated. At a pre-set time, thought to be March 2007, the clause will expire and Bates will be able to buy the rest of Leeds.
Other clauses relating to the loan are ongoing. Leeds will pay the bond-holders £5m if they return to the Premiership. A schedule of other "League Performance Amounts" could see them pay £500,000 per year for 17 years thereafter. Those potential liabilities are in addition to Leeds' stated of debts of around £21m.
Bates knew these details well. Indeed, he had them written on a piece of paper as he discussed Leeds' financial situation with Sebastien Sainsbury in The Dorchester hotel a few weeks ago - before their proposed partnership hit the buffers.
Whether Bates knew of all Leeds' creditors until much more recently is doubtful. He eschewed due diligence to rush his deal through, meaning he may not have studied some extraordinary facts.
A recent Leeds balance sheet, drafted in September, showed liabilities of £6.85m to former managers and players, including a staggering £2.1m to Robbie Fowler, who left two years ago, £1.8m to Danny Mills, £1m to Nick Barmby, plus outstanding six-figure sums to David O'Leary and Peter Reid. The tax authorities were owed £6.86m, of which £1.2m was paid yesterday.
Another startling fact is that last autumn the Leeds board officially valued Elland Road at £29m. They sold it shortly afterwards for less than £10m, and agreed to rent it back over 25 years from the new owner for more than £1m a year.
Bates said yesterday he hopes to repurchase the stadium and the club's training ground, Thorp Arch. They will cost him £17.7m because the owners have healthy profits built into their "buy-back" contracts.
Although Krasner and his board have resigned, they will help with the handover. Krasner said Bates "will require our assistance" to buy back the properties. He denied that he would make any commission for this, but admitted he and his outgoing colleagues would receive a "nominal sum" for selling to Bates. The figure is around £200,000. It is not known what extra payments kick in when Bates' holding rises above 50 per cent.
Krasner has always maintained that he and his fellow consortium members did not exploit Leeds for profit. Indeed, they loaned Leeds almost £5m when they took over last March. Loans included £100,000 from Krasner, £2.4m from Simon Morris, £1.7m from Melvyn Levi and £620,000 from David Richmond, son of the man who took Bradford into administration, Geoffrey, who himself initially acted as an advisor to Krasner.
The directors' loans will remain with the club for four more years. It is thought this is because of issues relating to the triggering of payments to bond-holders rather than the stated philanthropic reasons.
Krasner has declined to confirm the existence of "consultancy agreements" for some board members, drawn up when his group took over.
Informed sources say Levi originally had an agreement for the club to pay him a fee of up to £20,000 per month for consultancy work from last July onwards. The deal had a notice period of 16 months.
Neither the board nor Bates will comment on whether any consultancy agreements remain in place. If not, the board will leave with only their original investments (plus the nominal sum for their shares, plus any future sums for as yet unsold shares, plus any consultancy fees already banked).
Bates has declined to say who, if anyone, is backing him, beyond stating that he has used a Geneva-based company, The Forward Sport Fund, to do the deal.
Fans were divided over Bates' buy-out. "We're looking for stable management and someone who knows the game and he fits the description," Ray Fell, chairman of the official supporters' club, said.
John Boocock, chairman of the independently run Leeds United Supporters' Trust, said: "It's the blackest day. Ken Bates is interested solely in himself."

Bates' inherited debt

Leeds' Big-name footballing creditors


Robbie Fowler £2,106,000
Danny Mills £1,841,000
Nick Barmby £1,055,000
Robbie Keane £400,000
David O'Leary £356,000
Peter Reid £355,000
Stephen McPhail £311,000
Dominic Matteo £181,000
Danny Milosevic £156,000
Brian Kidd £87,000
Other £7,000

TOTAL £6,855,000
as of September 2004

Six good men and true... Posted by Hello
Sport

'I'll do same for Leeds that I did for Chelsea' says Bates
By James Lawton Chief Sports Writer
22 January 2005

Ken Bates last night spelled out his improbable dream for Leeds United. "It's quite simple really," the 73-year-old maverick of English football said, "I'm going to do for Leeds United what I did for Chelsea.
"You know what that was," Bates said. "I bought them for £1 and left them with the best ground in the country and £150m worth of players. Obviously, it's not going to happen overnight but I know what I can do - and I know what I've done before. I'll sell Leeds off when I'm 94 and then sit back and enjoy the rest of my life."
Bates said it was time for Leeds to turn their back on the recent past, when the former chairman Peter Ridsdale tried to buy his way into the élite of European football, then watched the financial foundations of the club break apart.
Details revealed yesterday showed the extent of past misadventures, with still unresolved debts to players like Danny Mills (approaching £2m) and a web of unresolved obligations.
But Bates insisted: "The present board have been magnificent in fire-fighting to keep the club alive but soon enough I believe we will be able to be a lot more positive than that."
Bates, who is believed to have invested £10m of the £17m he received when he sold out to Roman Abramovich, said the immediate challenge was careful book-keeping and that the manager Kevin Blackwell would be given the chance to continue his work. He added that he would spend the rest of the season examining the club's situation both on and off the field.
"I haven't come to Leeds just to try to keep things ticking along over the years," Bates said. "Leeds United is a great club with great potential and that is the big appeal for me. Yes, of course we have to steady the situation, we have to meet our obligations of the present, but if you don't have any dream for the future, any sense of what can be achieved, well, you just shouldn't be in the game.
"Some people say that after all the years at Chelsea, the ups and downs, I should go off and I enjoy myself. But that wouldn't do for me. The way I enjoy myself most of the time is being involved in football ... you get the taste of it and you don't want it to go away." The former Leeds manager Terry Venables, who from time to time has wrestled to get in a word in edgeways over the dinner table while in the company of Bates, yesterday reported that he was not one of the former Elland Road employees still owed money. He also said that the return of Bates was probably a good thing for both Leeds and football.
"He's no doubt a controversial figure and if he hadn't been away for a while the Premiership probably wouldn't have had to tell Ferguson and Wenger to tone it down ... they just wouldn't have had so many column inches. Ken Bates has gone away and rested and has come back refreshed. I have to think he's going to be good news for Leeds United."
A major figure from Leeds United's past, Johnny Giles, also welcomed the arrival of Bates. "I haven't always agreed with Bates's style," Giles said, "but if I was a Leeds fan I would be happy at the news. He saved Chelsea and if you care about Leeds you have to say it's good someone who knows his way around the game has come on the scene. For the longest time I've had this fear that the club just wasn't going to make it."
Bates claims that his initiative got off the ground only last Monday, but is candid enough about his attention to the course of the club's crisis. "I'm convinced Trevor Birch [his former chief executive at Chelsea] saved the day here, I think the club would have been dead without him. The present board have done brilliantly. More recently they've been magnificent in keeping the show going. Now I think we can move forward with some more confidence."
It was Birch who brought Abramovich to the table as Chelsea floundered financially two years ago, but as Bates points out in his own defence: "We had a superb ground and all that value in the players. You never know what's in the future in football, but if you invest in talent and you believe in the club you are always going to have a good chance of seeing things work out well in the end." He says that one of his least difficult decisions after winning control of Leeds was to retain the services of the former player Peter Lorimer as a working director.
"Peter is a great lad and he knows the club and the fans inside out. He cares very much for the club and he's going to be a valuable asset as we rebuild the confidence of everyone in Leeds. Too much has been achieved over the years for this football club to die. I felt exactly the same about Chelsea when I paid £1 and took on some of their debts (£4m) because I believed in their future. Now I'm going to work towards the same end in Leeds."
When that is achieved he says he may return to his home in the South of France. "I suppose you could say this is my last dream in football - but only maybe. Who knows what will crop up when this job is done?"
In the gritty streets of Leeds this may sound like heady talk. But Bates knows that they want to believe. "One thing a football club needs more than anything else," he says, "is hope. I believe I can supply some of that."

Musical chairs Leeds' hot seat

Ken Bates is Leeds' seventh chairman in the last 10 years.

1995 Bill Fotherby
1996 Chris Akers
1997 Peter Ridsdale
2003 Professor John McKenzie
2003 Trevor Birch (acting)
2004 Gerald Krasner
2005 Ken Bates

Ken's Clubs
Oldham: chairman, late 1960s.
Wigan: director, early 1980s.
Chelsea: chairman, 1982-2004
Leeds: chairman, 2005-?

Friday, January 21, 2005


Glad it's all over. glad it's all over... Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Krasner: Bates Is Right For Leeds

Outgoing United chairman Gerald Krasner says Ken Bates no-nonsense approach towards business helped convince him he was the right man for the club.
Lawyers worked throughout the night to get the deal done as soon as possible and at 2.27am on Friday morning, everything was complete.
Krasner outlined the speed at which Ken Bates completed his takeover at Elland Road, saying:
"We met Ken Bates on Monday in London and discussed at length the outline of the deal that was necessary for Leeds United.
"We shook hands on it and the board backed it unanimously on Tuesday. We got him into Leeds on Wednesday without anybody knowing and this morning it was concluded.
"I have to pay tribute to Ken because he has moved one iota from the handshake we had on Monday."
Krasner did reveal that a number of other parties made a late play to try and gain control of the club, but having been involved in lengthy negotiations with Sebastien Sainsbury's consortium only to see them fail to produce the money, and then Norman Stubbs group struggle to raise the necessary capital, once Bates came forward with the money the club was his.
"You have to bear in mind that I hadn't seen Ken until Monday, it was only the second time in my life I had met him.
"Mr Stubbs and their consortium had been with us since October but I believe they were short of the money they wanted to do the deal, then on Monday they issued a press statement delaying it at least another seven or ten days. So I took a view over the Christmas break that we needed other contingencies in place.
"At the time we were doing the deal with Ken, everybody suddenly jumped out of the woodwork when it looked good but quite simply Ken put his money where his mouth is - immediately.
"He's sat down with us man to man, not done due diligence and I like the way he does business. He's kept his word and you can't ask for any more."
Krasner is in no doubt that Bates has the wherewithal to make a success of his stewardship of the club. The 72-year-old rescued Chelsea from despair when they nearly dropped into the old third division over 20-years ago and is ready to do the same again with Leeds.
"What this takeover will enable Leeds United to do is consolidate its position much quicker than the old board was able to do. The debts were £103m and are now under £25m. We have done 80% of the work, Ken will do the rest and take Leeds United back to the Premiership where they belong.
"Ken has long term plans here, he's had a year's sabbatical and he's come back to show everyone he can do it all again."
"I think that when the Leeds fans hear his plans I think they will be pleased."
Krasner urged Leeds fans to get behind Ken Bates in his bid to complete the rescue of Leeds United, and said they shouldn't be distracted by scare stories from those who might have ulterior motives.
"I think Leeds fans should support Ken like they've supported us.
"There will always be self-propagandists who have gone public for the wrong reasons and that has really unnerved some of the fans in the last few months.
"They've gone out and told us we are going into administration, we're going bust but it was never even considered by this board. We knew we had done too much work and we weren't going to fail. We had other contingencies but Ken was the best by far.
Krasner and his board have stepped down but will remain at the club for the meanwhile to help ensure a smooth transition of power and complete work already started, and his spirits have been lifted by the huge number of supporters who have thanked him and the old board for their efforts over the past year.
"I have received a load of emails all thanking us for what we have done.
"At the end of the day actions speak louder than words. When we are back in the Premiership and I am sat back watching the team as a fan again, I will think I've done my little part in helping the club get back there. That will give me and the board great pleasure."
Times Online - Sport

Bates returns with £10m takeover deal for Leeds
By Ashling O'Connor
KEN BATES, the former chairman of Chelsea, was last night poised for a dramatic return to football by buying control of Leeds United, the debt-ridden Coca-Cola Championship club. Bates, 73, was in talks yesterday with the Leeds board and, as he boarded a train for London, rumours abounded that he had agreed a deal.
Bates, now based in Monaco, is believed to have offered about £10 million in cash for a 51 per cent stake in the club and the position of chairman. To acquire such a majority he would need to buy out Simon Morris and Melvyn Levy, two of the directors, whose shareholdings together make 51 per cent. Leeds would only confirm that the club was considering an offer of investment from Bates. There is still a rival offer on the table from a local business consortium led by Norman Stubbs and backed by Allan Leighton, the City financier and former Leeds deputy chairman.
“We are still talking to all consortiums and Mr Bates is one of those,” Bryan Morris, a club spokesman, said. “No deal has been finalised but as soon as negotiations have been concluded we will issue a press statement.” Bates was unavailable for comment.
It is understood that the Stubbs and Bates deals are separate. The Stubbs consortium has agreed only to put £15 million directly into the club. It does not intend to buy out the present board of directors, who saved the club from administration in March last year.
The club’s directors, led by Gerald Krasner, the chairman, are owed about £4.7 million in loans that have been guaranteed by their homes and businesses. While they have reduced Leeds’s debt from £103 million to about £25 million, the club is still on shaky financial ground and they stand to lose out financially if it goes into administration.
Leeds are fourteenth in the Championship, eight points above the relegation zone. Administration would lead to a ten-point deduction by the Football League.
The board will be keen to recover some of its money, so the Bates deal is a sweeter one for them to consider. Krasner told The Times last night: “No deal has been signed, sealed and delivered.” Yet Leeds sources expected an announcement as soon as today that the club had been sold to Bates.
Fans are likely to be in two minds about the prospect of Bates running their club, given his tempestuous relationship with Chelsea supporters during his 22-year reign at Stamford Bridge.
“This is the man who wanted to put up electric fences at Chelsea and his business track record leaves a lot to be desired,” John Boocock, chairman of the Leeds United Supporters Trust, said. “At no point has he shown any interest in Leeds as a club or a city. He just wants to have a toy to play with. If he is doing this without due diligence, he is not aware that the club needs far more.”
Bates has long been searching for a way back into the professional game after selling Chelsea to Roman Abramovich, the Russian oil billionaire, for £140 million in July 2003. He made at least £17 million from the deal.
Bates tried to invest in Sheffield Wednesday but his approach was rejected by the board, despite the club also being £25 million in debt. His interest in Leeds first came to light through Sebastian Sainsbury, the great-grandson of the supermarket chain founder, who claimed that he had been offered £10 million in exchange for 51 per cent. At the time, Bates denied any link to Leeds.
Sainsbury’s proposed takeover eventually collapsed, leaving the path clear for Bates to negotiate directly with the board. If he completed a deal, it would end the continued uncertainty surrounding the club’s ownership.
Since Krasner’s consortium took over nearly a year ago, there have been 13 groups that have considered investing in Leeds. Fans have grown weary of hearing about takeover talks that amount to nothing. “We never believe anything at Elland Road until it actually happens,” Ray Fell, chairman of the Leeds United Supporters Club, said.
“If it did, there would be a little apprehension, but we are in an awkward position of not being able to resist takeovers like other clubs. We need investment. If Mr Bates is the one to provide it, then so be it.”
Leeds still needs substantial investment to cover debt repayments, the most pressing of which is £1.2 million owed to the Inland Revenue. There are still outstanding repayments owed to the bondholders who bankrolled Peter Ridsdale’s failed dream to qualify for the Champions League every season

Same as the old boss... Posted by Hello
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Lorimer welcomes Bates takeover

Leeds legend Peter Lorimer has welcomed Ken Bates' £10m takeover of the club, saying the former Chelsea chairman is "the right man for the job".
Lorimer was a member of the board which had to deal with the club's huge debts and will stay on in the new era.
"The board did a great job knocking £80m off the debts but now the club has to go forward and I'm sure Ken is the right man," he said.
"I'm sure he knows what is needed and what to do about the finances."
The news will be a relief to everyone at the club, who are 14th in the Championship and were in danger of going into administration and being deducted 10 points.
"The team has been rebuilt and we are moving ahead," he said.
"The Leeds fans should thank the board. There have been a lot of sleepless nights."
Lorimer's former team-mate Norman Hunter was similarly relieved by the news.
"I'm delighted," he said.
"First and foremost, the situation is resolved at the moment. It was a trying situation and I don't think it's enough in the long run but I think Ken Bates will sort something out.
"If he does anything like the job he did at Chelsea, the Leeds public will be absolutely delighted."
Leeds' supporters club chairman Ray Fell also said he expected the fans to give Bates a warm welcome.
"We're looking for stable management and someone who knows the game and he fits the description," he said.
"He does things the Bates way, we're all aware of that, but if he can do things the right way we'll all benefit."
Before the news was confirmed, manager Kevin Blackwell said he welcomed the prospect of the former Chelsea chairman's arrival if it could clear up doubts over their future.
"It'd be good news for the players and the club to get out of the uncertainty," he told BBC Radio Five Live.
"With Mr Bates hopefully the club can start to look and move forward."
Blackwell has taken Leeds to within eight points of the play-off places in the Championship and said he was optimistic that Bates could bring in new funds to bolster the team's chances of a return to the Premiership.
"It's been a difficult job," he added.
"Everyone knows that there were no players left here in June last year. We've built from that, we're halfway up the table and we're looking up instead of down.
"I've been very proud to be manager of this football club. We're proud people up in Yorkshire and things haven't gone well for us in the two or three years.
"I think the fans here deserve some good news - and with investment in the right areas I don't see why we can't give it a good push."
Bates is on record as saying he does not think goalkeepers make good managers, but ex-keeper Blackwell laughed off any threat to his job and insisted he would carry on working as hard as he could for the club.
"There were no players left here in June but we've built on that. We've moved halfway up the table and are looking up rather than down," he said.
"What will be will be, but if he comes in with his own ideas, who am I to say he's wrong?".

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Look over there while I carefully insinuate this delicate little blade ever so gently between your ribs ... nice knowing you, son, always remember ... IT'S JUST BUSINESS Posted by Hello
LeedsUtdMAD - the definitive Leeds United website. Independent news and stats from footymad.net

Ken Bates Factfile

Story by Kevin Markey
ANYONE who buys a business for £1 and sells it 21 years later for a personal profit of £16,999,999 is obviously no mug. Factfile on Ken Bates....

1931: Born December 4 in Ealing, West London. Made his personal fortune from a ready-mix concrete business and dairy farming and was briefly chairman of Oldham in the 1960s, as well as buying control of Wigan in 1981.
1982: Bought Chelsea Football Club for £1, albeit taking on significant debts in the process.
1985: The Football Association and the Greater London Council rejected his proposals for electrified fencing to deter hooligans.
1986: Joined Football League management committee and submitted planning application to rebuild Stamford Bridge as a new stadium, rather than an opposing bid by Marler Estates to build flats.
1991: Chelsea fined £105k for alleged illegal payments to players. Bates resigned from the Football League management committee.
1992: Formed Chelsea Village Limited after winning his battle for control of Stamford Bridge. Under Bates, the transformation of the ground began and a hotel was built backing on to the stadium.
1993: Appointed Glenn Hoddle as manager, the decision which initially sparked Chelsea's recovery and they reached the FA Cup final in 1994 only to lose to Manchester United.
1994: Matthew Harding was appointed to the board after Bates called for new investors.
1996: Harding, having been elevated to chairman of Chelsea Village plc, was killed in a helicopter crash.
1997: Bates joined the board of Wembley National Stadium Limited. His vision for Wembley was later scaled down by the Football Association. Chelsea won the FA Cup under Ruud Gullit.
1998: Bates sacked Gullit. Chelsea won the European Cup Winners' Cup and Coca-Cola Cup under new boss Gianluca Vialli.
2000: Chelsea reach the Champions League quarter-finals only to lose to Barcelona. Vialli was sacked four months after leading Chelsea to FA Cup success. Claudio Ranieri was appointed in his place.
2001: Bates resigned from the board of WNSL.
2003: In July, Bates sold his controlling stake in Chelsea to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for £17m. Bates remained as club chairman.
2004, March 2: Bates announced his decision to step down as Chelsea Football Club chairman, having already been replaced as chairman of the Chelsea Village parent company.
March 25: Announced his willingness to invest upwards of £10m in Sheffield Wednesday if given access to the club's financial records.
2005, January 20: Leeds open negotiations with Bates over a potential investment in the club.
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Leeds and Bates in takeover talk

Leeds have confirmed they are in talks with former Chelsea chairman Ken Bates with a view to him investing in the debt-ridden Elland Road club.
Sebastien Sainsbury had been close to a takeover of the Championship side but withdrew his £25m offer last week.
Leeds spokesman Bryan Morris confirmed: "We are still talking to all consortia and Mr Bates is one of those.
"No deal has been finalised, but as soon as negotiations are concluded we will issue a further statement."
Bates stepped down as Chelsea chairman in March last year following Roman Abramovich's £140m takeover of the club.
In May, he made a proposal to invest £10m in Sheffield Wednesday, but this was rejected by the club.
Administration threat
Sainsbury, great grandson of the founder of the supermarket chain, had been trying to buy the cash-strapped club since October.
But his efforts failed after he revealed it would take £40m to stage a takeover, and that the club will also lose £10m over the next six months. Thirteen potential consortia have expressed an interest in the club since chairman Gerald Krasner took control 10 months ago, including Leeds-based property developer Norman Stubbs.
Their failure to agree a deal, however, leaves the club on the brink of administration, potentially within the next three months.
Should Leeds be served with a winding-up order, they would suffer an automatic 10-point deduction by the Football League.
Leeds United Football Club - Looking To Make The Difference

Returning United duo Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke are hoping they can provide that bit of extra quality the club needs to start climbing the Championship table again.
The midfield pairing have just started their playing comebacks after recovering from cruciate ligament injuries and are on course to be available for first team selection again in mid-February.
After spending a frustrating last eight months on the sidelines the pair want to return to a side that's looking to get into the play-offs and not merely survive in the Championship.
Former England under-21 international Seth believes a top six finish is still possible.
"We can definitely still do it," he said, "just look at what Crystal Palace did last season. I think they were right near the bottom weren't they,
"If you look at us over Christmas we put a good run together and we shot up the league a bit and I think whoever gets a consistent run going will be there or thereabouts.
"There is still a lot of football to be played and lots of points to be won."
Norwegian Bakke has been watching how the clubs above United have failed to create any considerable gap between themselves and the bottom of the table, which makes him confident Leeds can catch up.
"It's been frustrating watching the club struggle over the past six months and not being to help," he said.
"There's no real difference at the moment (currently eight points stand between Leeds and a play-off position), and the boys have done well to be where we are now.
"We can push on from this position and it will be very tough to get into the play-offs, but I hope we can. Again we have to be consistent and start winning."
Johnson is well aware that as two of the few remaining players that played a part in the Premiership for United, the expectation will be on them to perform well right from their first match back. He's confident they can both handle the pressure.
Said Seth:"I am sure there would be some expectations on us, I would just be happy to be playing.
"I have had enough stick off a lot of people since I came to Leeds so I am not too fussed about that, what matters is if I can make a difference to the team. If I can't make a difference I won't be playing.
"We (him and Eirik) want to make a difference though and I am sure if we both get back to full fitness we will do."
Leeds United Football Club - Carson Bound For Anfield

United's under-21 international Scott Carson is undergoing a medical this morning after an undisclosed fee was agreed with Liverpool for the keeper.
Liverpool won a two horse race with Chelsea also interested in the 19-year-old but Liverpool was always the player's first choice once it became clear he was not going to agree a new deal at Elland Road.
Carson also made it clear he would prefer to move to Anfield with his desire to play first team football being more important to him than financial reward.
United spokesman Bryan Morris said: “We wish Scott the very best at his new club. He has proven himself to be a top class keeper during his time at Leeds United and we are sure he will continue to impress at Anfield.
“His steady nerve in pressure situations and his professionalism on and off the pitch will ensure that he has a bright future ahead of him.”
With Chris Kirkland out injured for most of the season and Jerzy Dudek's form has been called into question after a series of recent blunders, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has been targeting a new stopper and Carson has been top of his list for some time.
Leeds are obviously looking for a replacement as back up to Neil Sullivan and top of Blackwell's list is current Liverpool reserve Paul Harrison who starred for The Reds in a recent reserve game against Leeds and is thought of very highly by Rafael Benitez.
Leeds would be looking to bring in Harrison on loan.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Injured pair making good progress

Leeds duo Eirik Bakke and Seth Johnson are close to first-team comebacks after playing in a behind-closed-doors game against Darlington.
The pair are long-term absentees with knee ligament damage, but are poised to play 90 minutes for the reserves against Manchester United next week.
"They came through it well with no problems and said they felt stronger", said reserve boss Steve Agnew.
"We just have to build them up for when the manager feels he can call on them."
The imminent return of two such experienced players will be a boost for manager Kevin Blackwell.
As well as the club's much publicised financial problems, he has also had to deal with losing strikers Nathan Blake and Brian Deane to injury recently.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Yorkshire Post Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

Administration now, urges Butler
Richard Sutcliffe
at Elland Road
Leeds United 1
Cardiff City 1
Leeds captain calls for drastic action to save club

PAUL BUTLER believes administration is looking inevitable for Leeds United and is calling on the board to act quickly or risk slipping out of the top two divisions for the first time.
The ailing club are approaching a pivotal moment in their history with Norman Stubbs's consortium set to decide later today whether to invest around £15m.
Sebastien Sainsbury's withdrawal from talks with Leeds over a proposed takeover means only the Stubbs group remain and if they decide not to invest then administration seems the likely outcome.
That would result in a 10-point deduction which, if incurred today, would plunge Kevin Blackwell's side into the bottom three with just 17 games left in which to escape. Should Stubbs decide not to invest, the impending sale of Scott Carson may buy the board time to try and find a fresh cash injection, a source close to Sainsbury's Manchester-based backer suggesting over the weekend a fresh £25m bid will be made without the 42-year-old as frontman.
However, Butler is tired of the speculation and is adamant the uncertainty hanging over the club must be brought to an end as soon as possible.
The Leeds captain said: "We need to know now because I think it is only a matter of time before they take the 10 points off us. If the club get it sorted out at least we will know in our minds where we are – we will be looking at a relegation battle.
"We will be on 27 points and know exactly how many wins we will need to get out of trouble. The worry is it (administration) happening in March, which will be horrendous as there will only be a few games left to get out of trouble.
"The one thing we do not want is to go through the leagues like Sheffield Wednesday or Manchester City. I support City and what happened to them was crippling.
"We need to know where we stand and so does the manager. Going into administration will be for the good of the club because once it happens we can then all move forward together. At the moment, it is all set up for the last day of the season when we play Rotherham United at home."
It will be ironic if it is the Millers who condemn Leeds to a second successive relegation, Rotherham sliding out of Division Two 22 years ago after a 2-2 draw at Elland Road on the final day of the season.
If Leeds are to avoid a similar fate they will have to improve on their sorry showing in the final hour against Cardiff. United started brightly and deservedly led through Simon Walton's 14th-minute goal, the teenager exchanging passes with Aaron Lennon and David Healy before coolly finishing from eight yards.
Healy, playing in his preferred role up front, also tested City goalkeeper Tony Warner with two stinging shots from outside the penalty area in the early stages while Gary Kelly's effort went inches wide as United threatened to over-run the visitors.
However, Leeds failed to build on their encouraging start with Cardiff duo Graham Kavanagh and Junichi Inamoto allowed to assume control in the centre of midfield. Their incisive quick movement of the ball, in stark contrast to some woeful attempts at passing by Leeds, meant the Bluebirds were able to pin the home side back for long periods.
Inamoto rattled Neil Sullivan's crossbar in first-half stoppage time while the onslaught continued after the break with Peter Thorne bringing a fine save from the goalkeeper. Cardiff drew level in the 51st minute when referee Neale Barry harshly ruled Sullivan had tripped Richard Langley, Thorne sending the Scotland international the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
The equaliser failed to galvanise United who continued to commit basic errors, Jermaine Wright being guilty of continually giving away possession.
It could have been a lot worse for Leeds with James Collins somehow diverting his header wide when unmarked just six yards out. Alan Lee and Jobi McAnuff were also guilty of failing to capitalise on decent openings late in the game.
Butler admitted: "We started well but for the last 60 minutes there was nothing there at all. We were lucky to come away with a point as we were hanging on at the end."
Leeds United: Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Richardson; Wright, Walton (Spring 85), Pugh; Lennon (Carlisle 57), Healy, Joachim.
Cardiff City: Warner; Weston, Collins, Gabbidon, Barker; Langley, Kavanagh, Inamoto (Ledley 88), McAnuff; Jerome (Lee 30), Thorne.
Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe)
Leeds man of the match: Healy.
Sport

Supporters' consortium backed by Krasner
By Damian Spellman
17 January 2005
The Leeds United chairman, Gerald Krasner, said yesterday that he is hopeful the club's future could be secured within weeks.
Krasner, who will hold talks with a consortium led by a local businessman, Norman Stubbs, today following the collapse of Sebastien Sainsbury's take-over bid last week, said: "They are the first consortium that consists of true Leeds United supporters. That is why I have backed them, and I have not backed any of the other consortia as being serious.
"He [Stubbs] is a Leeds United supporter and he believes that we were once a great team and hopefully we can get back there again. They have been talking to us for a couple of months and I believe that if anybody is going to come in with new investment, these will be the people to do it."
The Stubbs consortium is the 13th to come forward, although Krasner was scathing about the Sainsbury bid. "We asked them to put up £50,000 towards our costs by 5pm on Thursday and at 4.45pm, they pulled out," he said. "They could not find the £50,000 even. They were running a media campaign despite confidentiality agreements with us. It was impossible to seriously negotiate with them and they were spoiling the other consortium who we are still talking to."

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Aaron'Julian' Lennon under pressure from Cardiff's Inamoto (Well ... it is my BLOG!) Posted by Hello
Times Online - Sunday Times

Leeds 1 Cardiff 1: Thorne cuts into Leeds
Richard Lewis at Elland Road
ANOTHER week of trauma off the pitch for Leeds, a controversial one on it for referee Neale Barry, who was escorted off the pitch by four security men at the finish.
Barry’s decision to award a second-half penalty allowed Cardiff to score the equaliser which they deserved, stretching Leeds’s run to 19 matches without a clean sheet. That is probably the least of their problems, because few teams are in their predicament.


The latest saviour, Sebastien Sainsbury, having announced he was not bidding for the club, was yesterday rumoured to be preparing a smaller package to solve their financial crisis. He had better be quick. Chairman Gerald Krasner has said that administration will happen eventually, and it could be within three months. Never mind needing every penny they can find, such a scenario would mean a 10-point Championship penalty which could leave them in the bottom three when the season nears its finale.
Leeds are only eight points away from that position now, after failing to build on a tremendous start. Simon Walton scored an excellent goal after 14 minutes, slotting the ball under Tony Warner after a one-two with David Healy, and the constant way they were allowed room on the right to attack should have brought more.
But seven minutes into the second half Barry adjudged that Neil Sullivan had fouled Richard Langley in the box, and Peter Thorne sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Having been accused of favouring Manchester United at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea on Wednesday, Barry was surrounded by six Leeds players protesting about the decision. He had been on the edge of the area when Langley went down, but took a long time to decide even though his assistant was waving.
Leeds carry on, not knowing what their future is and with manager Kevin Blackwell doing his best to prevent the team being affected. “We made a conscious decision not to talk about the situation,” said Blackwell. “But it is on television and in the papers and everyone is trying to turn this club around.
“I am trying to keep us in a position of stabilisation; what goes on behind the scenes is the result of three or four years of indulgence.” And of the penalty? “I don’t want to get fined because with the financial situation I might need all the money I can get for the mortgage,” said Blackwell. “I didn’t think it was one.”
Lennie Lawrence, the Cardiff manager, thought it was a correct decision but said: “After 20 minutes, I would have gone down on my hands and knees and taken a draw.” That was unnecessary.
STAR MAN: James Collins (Cardiff)
Player ratings. Leeds: Sullivan 6, Kelly 7, Butler 6, Kilgallon 6, Richardson 6, Walton 7 (Spring 84min, 5), Wright 5, Pugh 5, Lennon 6 (Carlisle 56min, 6), Healy 5, Joachim 6
Cardiff: Warner 6, Weston 6, Collins 8, Gabbidon 7, Barker 7, Langley 7, Kavanagh 7, Inamoto 7 (Ledley 88min, 5), McAnuff 6, Jerome 7 (Lee 30min, 6), Thorne 6
Scorers: Leeds: Walton 14
Cardiff: Thorne 52 pen
Referee: N Barry
Attendance: 29,548

Another home game ... another dodgy penalty ... another lost two points Posted by Hello
Leeds United Football Club - Matchreport Leeds United vs Cardiff City

Leeds 1 Cardiff 1
Pre-Match
United boss Kevin Blackwell made three changes for the visit of Cardiff, two of them enforced after losing striker Nathan Blake to a hamstring injury and midfielder Sean Gregan with illness.
Blake's absence saw a positional move for David Healy who played as the central striker and Julian Joachim came in on the left hand side with Aaron Lennon down the right.
Danny Pugh was dropped for the game against Birmingham City in the FA Cup but he returns to a midfield that included Jermaine Wright and Simon Walton.
At the back skipper Paul Butler returned from suspension to take his place alongside Matthew Kilgallon, which meant Clarke Carlisle missed out after returning from his own ban. Frazer Richardson remained at left-back.
The Match
With less than two minutes on the clock David Healy took tried to catch Cardiff out with a snap shot at goal. Simon Walton had trapped a long ball forward and it came back to the Healy 20-yards out and he stung the fingers of Bluebirds keeper Tony Warner with his drive.
Two minutes later and Healy was to have an even better effort on goal - and Warner an even better save. Running along the edge of the area Healy curled a shot a goal and only a good dive and touch from the keeper prevented Leeds from taking an early lead.
It was just the start United fans had hoped to see and as a result the atmosphere inside Elland Road was buzzing from the start.
Leeds were enjoying the start so much even Gary Kelly was able to come forward and get a rare shot off, he just put the ball the wrong side of the left hand post.
With so much possession something had to give in the Cardiff defence, and thankfully it did after 13 minutes of play when Leeds grabbed the opener.
It came from a series of neat passes on the left hand side of the penalty area that had Cardiff chasing shadows, first Wright and Lennon played the ball around between themselves, then Simon Walton joined in and took the ball on, played it to Healy and received a perfect return pass which left him with a clear sight of goal just six yards out, and Walton made no mistake as he drilled his shot home.
It was the teenager's third goal of his Elland Road career.
Cardiff had a chance to come straight back at Leeds when they won a corner after the restart but the ball was volleyed behind for a goal kick and a minute later a shot from Huddersfield-born striker Cameron Jerome was turned behind by Sullivan.
Lennie Lawrence's side made a change as early as the half hour mark when Jerome went off and was replaced by striker Alan Lee as the visitors looked to add more attacking impetus.
After their blistering start, Leeds appeared to run out of steam a little and Cardiff were coming into the game more. What it needed was another goal from the Whites to set themselves up for a comfortable victory but the chances for Kevin Blackwell's side dried up before half time.
In injury time Cardiff produced a scare when Junichi Inamoto hammered a shot against the bar from 25-yards, Sullivan appeared to be confident that it would go over and fortunately United escaped with their slender lead intact at half time.
Having scored in the first half Simon Walton tried again right at the start of the second, this time though his aim was off and he didn't trouble the keeper.
Cardiff had also come out with the intention of being more positive and when Peter Thorne hooked a shot at goal Leeds had Sullivan to thank for taking a clean catch.
Five minutes into the half Cardiff got back on level terms after being awarded a controversial penalty.
Richard Langley was chasing a ball into the box after Cardiff had broken forward and it appeared to all the world that Neil Sullivan had come out in time and got to the ball before Langley went tumbling over his arms. After a few seconds deliberation, and to the bewilderment of all the United players, the referee pointed to the spot.
It was Thorne who stepped up and the veteran striker rolled it past Sullivan after sending him the wrong way.
Leeds now needed to forget about the incident and concentrate on regaining the lead.
Kevin Blackwell made his first change of the match, bringing Clarke Carlisle on and taking Aaron Lennon off, with Frazer Richardson moving up to the right wing. It appeared to be very much a tactical decision with Carlisle a useful ally when attacking at set-pieces.
On 65 minutes the visitors had an opportunity to take the lead themselves when Graham Kavanagh swung in a free-kick into the box. Had James Collins header been on target they might have taken the lead, as it was Leeds escaped.
Cardiff were being allowed to play more by Leeds and Alan Lee came claose with a curling shot that just went wide. The worry amongst the crowd was that sooner or later they would find a perfect finish to one of their chances and Blackwell's men were living dangerously.
Leeds were struggling to break Cardiff down no matter how hard they worked and it was clear they were getting more desperate as time went on. The Bluebirds appeared content with their point but were always a danger on the break and Jobi McAnuff was afforded too much time and space for a shot that thankfully he couldn't put on target.
Leeds second change of the game came with six minutes remaining, Matthew Spring coming on for Simon Walton.
Peter Thorne headed wide from a corner for Cardiff late on and as the time counted down to the final whisle it looked certain that this game, one which after 20 minutes you would have looked foolish to bet on anything other than a Leeds win, was destined to end in a draw.
When the final whisltle went, everyone inside Elland Road knew they United had missed another golden opportunity to take all three points.

"Our own PERSONAL JESUS"? Mr Allan Leighton, Gawd bless you, Guv Posted by Hello
Yorkshire Post Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

Leighton linked to move to help United stave off administration
Exclusive
Richard Sutcliffe

THE consortium looking to invest in Leeds United will decide on Monday whether to go ahead with their plans to plough around £15m into the troubled club.
Local businessman Norman Stubbs has returned early from holiday in Barbados to meet his fellow consortium members, while the Yorkshire Post also understands he has held talks with former United deputy chairman Allan Leighton.
Leighton, one of the most coveted business executives in the country, was a key member of the plc board between 1998 and late 2003 when he left to launch his own rescue plan as United's finances spiralled out of control, with debts topping £100m.
It is not clear how strong 51-year-old Leighton's involvement will be, but privately he has always maintained a willingness to return to help revive the ailing club.
The involvement of the current Royal Mail chairman would also add credibility to the Stubbs group's bid. Indeed, his business CV has been sufficient for many of the previous interested consortiums to seek advice or financial assistance before submitting a bid.
Leighton was not available for comment last night as United approach a pivotal moment in their history.
Sebastien Sainsbury's decision to abandon his £25m investment may have been privately welcomed by many at Elland Road who believed he never had the money in place to complete a deal.
But his withdrawal means only the Stubbs group remains and if they decide not to invest then administration seems inevitable.
A source said: "At the moment it is probably 50-50 as to whether they decide to go ahead. The problem is there is little room to manoeuvre due to time constraints.
"Even if a decision is taken on Monday to go ahead then it will take another three or four days to sort matters out. Norman's consortium is in a difficult position. The fans have to understand that if he can't do the deal then it is not his fault.
"The shenanigans involving Sainsbury have not helped and have actually wasted a lot of people's time. Norman should have been in the current position a couple of months ago. Sainsbury has caused huge problems for the people at Leeds United, but throughout it all Norman has remained interested."
Stubbs, who met Sainsbury in December to discuss a possible link-up only for talks to quickly stall, had initially been looking at investing around £9m into United. However, an inspection of the United finances revealed more money was needed if the club is to be turned round and the consortium have spent recent weeks raising the necessary cash.
Due diligence has been completed with the group having spent tens of thousands of pounds in solicitors fees and a decision is expected on Monday.
If agreement cannot be reached then United chairman Gerald Krasner, an insolvency practitioner by trade, may be left with no other alternative but to place the club in administration.
That would incur a 10-point deduction which, if imposed ahead of today's home game with Cardiff City, would plunge United to fourth bottom in the Championship and in real danger of being relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time.
However, manager Kevin Blackwell said: "I can't dwell on it because I don't know what is going to happen. We deal with the football. At this stage it (administration) is speculation, and you can't live your life based on that."
On Sainsbury, who revealed this week he would have sacked Blackwell and appointed Iain Dowie had he taken control, the Leeds manager added: "That upset me to a degree but you treat anything like that lightly. He wasn't the owner of this football club so I took it with a pinch of salt.
"Anyway, I have since swapped from Sainsbury's to Tesco even though it is costing me a few extra pounds with the extra mileage to get there."

What the hell happened? Posted by Hello
Times Online - Sport

Leeds owe big debt to Blackwell
By Rick Broadbent
ALAN SMITH’S mobile phone bleeped and he clicked a button to view the text message.
“Happy new year,” it read. “Will you come back on loan?” The Manchester United forward grinned and thumbed his response. “You never know,” he typed. And then he returned to concentrate on the title and the Champions League, while Leeds United busied themselves with fighting fires and administration.
Kevin Blackwell’s cheeky text evinced the gallows humour that has helped him to perform an unheralded triumph at Elland Road. The subtext to his message was Smith’s love of Leeds. Where legions of supporters have turned on their former demigod for leaving football’s Titanic, Blackwell cut to the truth. “If Smithy hadn’t gone, there’d have been no club to support,” the Leeds manager said. “That six million kept us alive through the summer.
“He [Smith] becomes a Judas because he sacrificed himself for the club, but Manchester United paid the biggest money and it was cash. I know Smithy is only really bothered about Leeds.”
This is what Leeds have become — a cadaverous relic living a hand-to-mouth existence. Today they play Cardiff City in the Coca-Cola Championship, in a poignant reminder of the grand folly. Three years ago this month they lost to the same opponents in the FA Cup while leading the Premiership and entered the maelstrom. It has been a cautionary tale of money-squandering, fish-renting and blood-letting, and Blackwell is the poor soul who has had to fashion a team from the detritus.
“Twenty-seven players have gone since the end of last season,” Blackwell said. “In June I sat in this office and looked at that board. I had two players, Gary Kelly and Michael Duberry. Doncaster Rovers have the record for having 30 debutants the year they went bust and the fireman and the cat played. We’ve already had 23. The amount of players who’ve turned up to training with suitcases because they were living out of hotels — it was like a bloody coach station.”
Simon Walton’s last day at school was on a Friday. Two days later, the 16-year-old centre half made his debut in the Leeds midfield in a friendly against Valencia. Eight others made their debuts in the first league match of the season, two having signed the previous day to ensure that Blackwell had a full complement on the substitutes’ bench, and onlookers spoke ominously of another Sheffield Wednesday.
However, Blackwell believes that even if Leeds go into administration and are docked ten points, the club will survive. It has been a thankless task, with two aborted takeover bids spearheaded by men intent on replacing him with Iain Dowie, the Crystal Palace manager. “This is not about me, it’s about Leeds, but anyone coming in won’t face the mess I inherited,” Blackwell said.
Nevertheless, he said that there can be no long-term plan: “We are surviving and the full extent of the financial mess is only now coming home to roost. Everyone said the debt was £100 million, but I think it was more like £120 million. Black holes have appeared left, right and centre. One Monday, James Milner was the new face of Leeds, on the Thursday a bill came out of nowhere and on Friday he went to Newcastle [United].” The lack of resources means that Blackwell has been to a match every night this week and will watch another tomorrow. “There are no scouts left,” he said.
Yet, he said, he is enjoying life more now than when the staff would spend every second Friday awaiting news from the City. “They either gave us a thumbs-up or denied us another extension [to pay their creditors],” he said. “It went on for three months until the City said no and Trevor Birch [the club’s former chief executive] had to pull a rabbit from the hat [by finding a buyer] or face devastation.”
Leeds had become a melting pot of bitterness, regret and pride. Last month, Sean Gregan and his pregnant wife were abused by fans after a defeat by Leicester City. Most fans have remained loyal, though, and recognise the job Blackwell has done.
“When I came here we were a rudderless ship with no sails, meandering from crisis to crisis,” he said. “I can’t ever see anyone imploding like we’ve done, but we’re coping. We’re two points off the top half.”
It may not sound much and the finances mean that meltdown is only ever a bill away, but three years after Leeds topped the Premiership, coping represents a significant achievement.

OOOERRRR ... it's 500 quid on Red Rum in the 3.30 then Posted by Hello