Saturday, January 27, 2007 27/1/07
Former United skipper Brendan Ormsby has sounded the rallying call as we enter the final lap of the Championship season.
Dennis Wise's men travel to Hull City on Tuesday night for a crunch showdown before facing a clashes with Norwich, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers.
United are currently six points adrift of Championship safety with 18 games remaining, but Brendan, who made 56 appearances during a four-year spell with the club, firmly believes that gap will close in the coming weeks.
"I think we will get out of where we are," said the former skipper, who is still a regular at Elland Road.
"I didn't believe we would get relegated from the Premiership until it actually happened at Bolton, but I'm more confident we will get out of where we are this time.
"Dennis and Gus will turn things around. The players seem to enjoy working for them and training, and they'll do what it takes.
"I hope I all the supporters get behind them in numbers. I know from experience that a big crowd at Elland Road can be frightening.
"It can send shivers down your spine and opposing players don't like it."There's nothing better than playing in front of a big crowd at Elland Road. You already feel proud to play for the club and you'd die for the shirt."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Yorkshire Today 20/1/07
Leeds's past blunders to cost £20m
But Bates reveals Wise is chasing three more signings
KEN BATES has revealed for the first time the price Leeds United have had to pay during his two-year tenure for mistakes by previous regimes – a staggering £15.8m.
The 75-year-old will tomorrow celebrate his second anniversary of taking charge at Elland Road and admits it has been a "bigger job than I thought".
Bates's major problem has been contending with the legacy of the Peter Ridsdale era when expensive signings were placed on lucrative long-term contracts, which United were subsequently unable to sustain once relegated from the Premiership in 2004.
A fire-sale of star names then took place with many on such good contracts that they had to be offered inducements to leave, the likes of Robbie Fowler, Danny Mills, Seth Johnson and Nick Barmby all eventually being paid to play for other clubs.Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post ahead of his second anniversary in charge, Bates outlined how the price Leeds will have to pay, during his tenure, for previous mistakes will eventually top £20m.
The current sum of £15.8m is made up of £9.3m already paid to former players and managers plus another £1.5m that has gone to agents. An additional £1.77m is still owed to former players, though importantly for United this debt will finally come to an end this summer.
Bates's arrival at Leeds also came at a time when the Inland Revenue were pressurising the club over an unpaid tax bill. The upshot has been that £5m has had to be paid to the taxman in arrears during the last two years with another £2.6m due between now and 2008.
The United chairman said: "The fans may not like the facts, but they are the truth."
Such commitments have, inevitably, impacted on everyday life at Elland Road throughout Bates's reign, and particularly since the ending of the £7m per annum parachute payment from the Premiership last summer.The club's cash income from all sources for 2006-07 is likely to be £22m. In 2005-06, this sum which included the parachute payment, was £30m.
The wage bill has fallen in the same period, but only from £13.4m in 2005-06 to "about £12.2m" in the current financial year. Additional annual costs facing Leeds include the sum of £1.6m to rent Elland Road and their Thorp Arch training ground, plus an additional £500,000 in rates.
It means payments such as the one United received from Chelsea late last year to compensate for signing two of their promising youngsters, which is believed to have been in excess of £4m, have already been swallowed up.
Nevertheless, manager Dennis Wise has been given licence to deal in the transfer window with Alan Thompson, Tore Andre Flo, Robbie Elliott and Armando Sa having joined until the end of the season.Matt Heath's and Tresor Kandol's moves have also been made permanent, and Hayden Foxe recently extended his deal until the summer.
Bates also revealed last night that Wise is looking to make three more signings before the closure of the January transfer window.
The club remain tight-lipped as to the players' identities but, as exclusively revealed in the Yorkshire Post earlier this week, Portsmouth defender Andy O'Brien is on Wise's wish list.
The former Bradford City defender would be a replacement for Matthew Kilgallon, who recently joined Sheffield United for £1.75m – a deal that has led to some supporters calling for Bates to hand over the proceeds to Wise.
He said: "People write to me saying 'you have just sold this and banked that, putting it in your pocket again'. I sometimes wonder which planet these people live on.
"The reality is that even after selling Kilgallon, you will find this club has still spent a lot more on players since January 21, 2005, than it has brought in through sales.
"People keep saying to me 'but you are buying old players'. The situation we are in, we need experience. We need people who have been there, done it and got the T-shirt. You rarely win much with kids.
"What fans also forget is that if we did get relegated, you still have to plan for next season. Offering someone £5,000 a week, you can't afford to pay that in League One. Otherwise, we are going back to Ridsdale again."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/1/07
Forward move or backward step?
by Phil Hay
At some stage on Sunday, Ken Bates might treat himself to a glass of Pouilly Fume, the favourite tipple of Leeds United's chairman if his programme notes are anything to go by.
The toast will hopefully be a valuable win over West Bromwich Albion, but Bates may also make time to raise a goblet to the second anniversary of his stewardship at Elland Road. With the remainder of this season carrying so much significance for the future strength and stature of the club he owns, there is no better time for measured reflection.The 24 months since Bates and his consortium, the Forward Sports Fund, completed their takeover of Leeds in the early hours of January 21, 2005, have sailed by in an eventful flash. Three managers, one off-field battle with Chelsea, a play-off final and now a concerted flirt with relegation. If Bates ever decides to compile a diary of his reign, his publishers will not be short of content.
To United's supporters, though, the last two years are more than an abstract story of epic adventure. The events of note have been stark and real, points in the club's history that have been imprinted on memories for years to come. History will remember Don Revie's era as the most encapsulating at Elland Road, but the sheer intensity of Bates' tenure will place the present regime alongside the most eventful.
The man himself would describe his involvement with Leeds as an ongoing success. On welcoming United's fans to Elland Road on January 1, he wrote: "We will be marching on together – make sure you don't lose your place in the parade."
Six months ago his assessment would have struck a chord with most supporters, so soon after a day in Cardiff which offered disappointment and promise in equal measure. Today, it is more difficult for United's faithful to be sure. Where exactly are United marching, and how many followers will be with them? Above all, is the club's health more reliable now than it was in 2005?
United's destination this season cannot be covered with gloss. If their 19 fixtures between now and May 6 fail to yield in the region of 26 points, the club will be stripped of their Championship status and handed the dubious distinction of membership to League One. Bates, in effect, would have presided over the least successful team ever seen at Elland Road.
Not even in the closing days of Gerald Krasner's consortium, when we were led to believe the club was 48 hours from liquidation, did such a scenario seem possible. Kevin Blackwell always recalled how Leeds were third favourites for relegation during his first season at the helm, but few seriously believed that United would fall two tiers below the Premiership so soon after vacating their position in the top flight.
United's list of transfers shows the degree of money invested by Bates in the squad at Elland Road, and on certain occasions he has spent as much as any Championship chairman should. But if his operations behind the scenes are based on long-term plans, the on-field strategy this season has increasingly smacked of short-termism.
Since the meeting with Norwich City on August 5, Leeds have plugged gaps in their vessel where serious repair was needed. Eight players were signed on loan between the start of August and the January transfer window, and the starting line-up at West Brom during the third round of the FA Cup earlier this month contained seven players who will be out of contract in the summer.
January, it should be said, is a notoriously difficult time to prise the right players from their present employers, and Dennis Wise may have tricks up his sleeve, ready to produce before the month is out. In a recent radio interview, Bates appeared to promise Wise use of the £1.75million fee recouped from the sale of Matthew Kilgallon, and United's manager certainly needs the funds. Advocating heavy spending is an awkward position to take when the club's financial history is considered, but it can equally be argued that a lack of investment this season has left United where they are today.
Should Leeds make good their escape from relegation, the sceptics will bow down to their superior judgement, but the season as a whole has not followed the path that Bates or United wished for.
The 75-year-old's policy for ticket prices at Elland Road has been the cause of much division among the club's supporters, but it is far harder for Bates to insist on his customers funding the ambition of Premiership football when that target seems so far away. Last season it was possible to believe that England's top division was a positive step away. Painting that dream as a soon-to-be-realised aim is now a thankless task.A moment of interest will come when United's season ticket renewal forms are released in the next month. Few present holders will feel they have had value for money this season, and the decision to reaffirm their commitment for next season would be helped by suitably adjusted prices. The one area were Leeds have unquestionably suffered during Bates' tenure is that of attendances at Elland Road.During the season when he took charge of Leeds – the 2004-05 term – the club averaged crowds of 29,207 per game. After 14 league fixtures at home this season, the average stands at 19,469. However the figures are explained and massaged, the decrease equates to the loss of 10,000 regular fans in the space of 18 months.The irony is that, according to United's published accounts, the gate receipts for the last financial year were up by almost £300,000, despite a downturn in attendances of around 7,000 fans for every game. The level of income was clearly aided by Leeds' involvement in the play-offs, but Bates' strategy of increased prices was always intended as a means to improving revenue. United, after all, need every penny they can get.The same, however, could be said of supporters, and few clubs can afford to estrange themselves from as many fans as United have. It is all too easy to dismiss the absentees as fair-weather supporters or the glory-hunting brigade, but the steady exodus has also included many a veteran of the stands at Elland Road.
The issue is too readily ignored by the club, or explained as evidence of a lack of commitment from the city's population. If the letters received by the YEP this season provide a fair cross-section of opinion among supporters, ticket prices and the quality of football on offer would be two reasons far closer to the mark.In the toughest of situations, it is naive to expect fans to follow blindly on. On the contrary, a club like Leeds should offer to carry those made weary by a half-decade of decline. United are not a charity and will never hand out tickets for free, but they are not the Inland Revenue either. People in Leeds are under no obligation or requirement to attend Elland Road. It is United's responsibility to tempt them through the gates, the old and the young.Other issues are of equal concern, to those who fill the plastic seats and those who no longer do. Who now owns Elland Road after the recent revelation that the stadium changed hands in 2005? Providing the name of a company in the secretive British Virgin Islands is not exactly a transparent answer. A sizeable portion of the club's income is being spent on renting the ground, and it would be reassuring to know who is benefiting from the cash.Buying back Elland Road is one of the club's key ambitions, an achievement for which Bates would be gratefully remembered. Ownership of the stadium is just as important to Leeds as regaining their place in the Premiership, and the sooner that deal is concluded the better for the club's future stability. How realistic the possibility of a buy-back deal will be if United are relegated to League One is a question that only Bates can answer.It is, as he reaches his second anniversary, a situation of considerable uncertainty. When Bates looks back through the weeks and months since January 2005, there are moments for United's chairman to be proud of, the play-off final above all others.But United as a footballing force are no more predictable now than they were when he first arrived. If anything, it is more difficult than ever to know what to expect from the future. Bates' reign to date has been gripping and dramatic, and one that he is clearly proud of. A more accurate gauge of his time at Elland Road, however, will be where United stand in two years' time.

Yorkshire Post 16/1/07
Leeds closing in on O'Brien transfer
Ian Appleyard
PORTSMOUTH defender Andy O'Brien could be on the way to Leeds United after the collapse of a proposed move to Charlton Athletic.
The former Bradford City player was set to join Charlton as part of a swap deal involving Senegalese international Souleymane Diawara, but is now back at Fratton Park and surplus to requirements.Leeds have been told they can have the Republic of Ireland international as soon as manager Harry Redknapp has landed a new centre-back.Harrogate-born O'Brien, 27, made over 150 appearance for Bradford City before joining Premiership side Newcastle United in a £2m deal six years ago.He subsequently spent four years on Tyneside before moving to Portsmouth for £2m at the start of last season.Since the arrival of former England international Sol Campbell, however, he has made only three Premiership appearances and become frustrated with life on the south coast.A return to his native Yorkshire is now on the cards with Leeds manager Dennis Wise desperate to bolster his squad for the battle against relegation to Coca-Cola League One.Wise has already made six signings this month but the £2m departure of Matthew Kigallon to Sheffield United and the end of Ugo Ehiogu's loan deal from Middlesbrough has maintained the need for extra defensive cover.Leeds are currently six points adrift of safety in the Championship relegation zone but have a game in hand following the weekend postponement of the away game at Birmingham City, which has now been re-scheduled for Tuesday February 27, 7.45pm.They have the worst defensive record in the division, having conceded 49 goals in 27 games, and have taken only five points from the last 24 available.O'Brien is likely to sign on loan until the end of the season – and could even be on the books before Saturday's home game with West Bromwich Albion.But much rests on Portsmouth's ability to sign a new centre-back with Frenchman Younes Kaboul, 21, currently discussing a move from Auxerre.O'Brien was not even on the bench for last weekend's trip to Sheffield United where new £1m signing Djimi Traore provided centre-back cover after the substitution of Linvoy Primus.So far this month, Leeds have signed Coventry City's Matt Heath, Espanyol's Armando Sa, former Newcastle United defender Robbie Elliott, former Chelsea striker Tore Andre Flo, Barnet's Tresor Kandol, Celtic midfield player Alan Thompson, and extended Hayden Foxe's deal until the end of the season.Leeds, meanwhile, have written to Birmingham City requesting that all supporters who bought tickets for Saturday's game – which was postponed due to a water-logged pitch – are reimbursed not only for the cost of their tickets, but for any travel costs incurred.

The Times 16/1/07
Bates still focused on grand vision from Leeds
Matt Dickinson
To most of us, Elland Road sits in a grubby area of Leeds with rows of terraced houses at one end and a motorway at the other. There is a vast expanse of potholed wasteland that serves as a car park.
Perhaps only Ken Bates could look around and, with Leeds United second from bottom in the Coca-Cola Championship, see the makings not only of a great football club but a whole new satellite town with a heliport, hotels and smart restaurants. As if saving Leeds was not enough, Bates wants to regenerate a suburb. He is 75, but, as you can gather, forever young.
He reveals the breadth of his vision while sitting in his armchair in Monte Carlo, where he lives as a tax exile. He grabs the remote control and flicks through the satellite channels to find Yorkshire Radio. “Everything you want to know about Leeds United,” he says, looking out over the Mediterranean. A television channel beamed across Europe cannot be far behind.
Some Leeds fans have complained that Bates is putting too many resources into these peripheral activities rather than a struggling team and they are hardly likely to be appeased by his vision for hotels and restaurants. The former Chelsea chairman asks one question — how else is he going to raise the money required to turn Leeds around?
He cites the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, where, after a protracted struggle to buy the ground, he went on to replace one of the country’s most notorious terraces with the Chelsea Village facilities. There were teething problems, but the hotels remain and Bates claims to have been ahead of his time.
“I got slaughtered by the press for what we did, but I just led the way,” he says. “Reading, Oxford, Derby, Coventry, Bolton and, in due course, Hull and Newcastle. They are all doing the same things, developing hotels, exploiting the game the other 340 days a year and not just 25.
“Fulham Broadway was the a***hole of West London when I arrived and now there’s a brand new shopping centre, cafés. I started that. Someone bought the hotels recently (Millennium and Copthorne) and Harry Ramsden took over the restaurant, so they can’t be doing badly.”
But were Chelsea not hugely in debt and on the brink of “doing a Leeds” when Roman Abramovich made Bates an offer he could not refuse? “We owed £90 million, but the club was worth £150-200 million and the players £130 million. So what’s the problem? There wasn’t one. Look at Chelsea when I took over and when I left. It speaks for itself.”
His latest challenge is surely his toughest yet, but Leeds is a sizeable one-club city and Bates is convinced that Elland Road can be turned into a “home from home” not only for supporters but the wider public, with its location just off the motorway, which runs into the heart of town.
One snag is that in November 2004 the previous administration sold Elland Road and the training ground for £8 million to Jacob Adler, a Manchester businessman (it was sold again, to British Virgin Islands-based Teak Trading Corporation, last month). It sums up the series of disasters that dragged Leeds close to ruin that it will cost £18.5 million to buy them back.
Bates must try to raise the money while also paying for the mistakes of his predecessors. Leeds are weighed down by contracts for more than ten footballers who have departed. Bates lists Eirik Bakke, Seth Johnson, Michael Ricketts, Michael Duberry and even Robbie Fowler among those on the payroll. Gary Kelly remains as the last survivor of the David O’Leary days, earning £46,000 a week, which is a Champions League wage at a club fighting relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time.
“Twelve million pounds over five years,” Bates says. “I worked out that all the money that Leeds earned getting to the semi-finals of the Champions League was handed to Kelly with his new contract. That is the burden I inherited, but fans forget that very quickly. They just want to know what’s going to happen on Saturday.”
Bates has attracted criticism for making Leeds home to some of the most expensive seats outside London, but he argues that he has to raise money somehow to help Dennis Wise, the new manager, to rebuild the team. To the argument that Bates would be better off dropping prices and trying to widen his audience, his response is typically blunt. “I’m happy to give that a go if you are willing to underwrite any losses if no more fans come.”
He is adamant that he has “not taken a penny out of the game in 40 years” and that the £17 million he received from Abramovich for his shares was “new money” and therefore not from the pockets of Chelsea supporters. It is a point you can argue, and we do, but he insists that he has taken on Leeds because he loves the game and the challenge. The supporters may be frustrated by the lack of obvious progress, but as Bates prepares to celebrate the second anniversary of his takeover, he might remind them of one thing. On January 21, 2005, their club had creditors at the door and only two days to survive.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Healy linked with Sheff Utd move
Northern Ireland striker David Healy has emerged as a possible transfer target for Sheffield United.
The Premiership side could turn their sights to Healy after an unsuccessful attempt to sign Preston's David Nugent.
Sheffield boss Neil Warnock has signed three players from Leeds since the Blades won promotion last year.
It is believed Warnock could approach the Elland Road club again with a bid for 27-year-old Healy, who joined Leeds from Preston in October 2004.

Sky 9/1/07
Simpson denies Dichio links
By Simon Fudge
Preston North End boss Paul Simpson has dismissed reports linking striker Danny Dichio with moves to either Leeds United or Stoke City.
The 32-year-old has been a regular part of Simpson's plans this season, as The Lilywhites go in search of promotion to the Premiership.
Despite suggestions that Leeds and Stoke have come in for the much-travelled goalscorer this month, former Rochdale and Carlisle United player-manager Simpson denied receiving any fresh contact from their Championship rivals.
"I don't want him to leave and no-one has made an offer for him," Simpson said.
"There was an enquiry from Dennis Wise earlier in the season, asking whether he could take him on loan.
"At the time I said 'no' and he asked if it was okay if he got back to me in January about it, but I haven't heard anything regarding Danny Dichio.
"He's been involved all the time apart from suspension and he's been a miss for us in the last couple of weeks.
"It will be good to have him back this weekend." Dichio's career has seen him enjoy spells in England with Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Millwall, as well as a stint in Italy with Sampdoria.

Oldham complete deal for Gregan
Promotion-chasing Oldham have completed the permanent signing of Sean Gregan.
The 32-year-old defender has agreed a two-and-a-half year deal at Boundary Park following a successful loan spell from Leeds United.
The former Preston and West Bromwich Albion player reached the end of his loan at the start of January and was then released by Leeds. Gregan has started 11 games for Oldham with nine of those ending in wins for John Sheridan's side. 9/1/07
Chief executive Shaun Harvey has moved quickly to clear up claims that Sheffield United had a bid turned down for Matthew Kilgallon last summer.
On completing the signing of Killa on Monday afternoon, Blades boss Neil Warnock reportedly said that the South Yorkshire club "offered a lot more money for Matthew in the summer than what we have paid now so it is good a piece of business."
But Shaun said: "Neil Warnock has made many enquiries about Matthew Kilgallon, but at no time during the summer did he make a firm offer.
"Any other comments suggesting there was an offer from Sheffield United at that time are at best misleading.
"During the summer there was much interest in Matthew, but after the disappointment of losing the Play-Off final at Cardiff we believed he was a player who could take the club forward and wanted to keep him at the club.
"However, we now believe this is a deal which suits all parties."The Blades have paid £1.75m for the defender, rising to £2m and the deal includes a 20 per cent sell-on clause

Monday, January 08, 2007

BBC 8/1/07
Blades sign Kilgallon from Leeds
Sheffield United have bought 23-year-old defender Matthew Kilgallon from Leeds United for £1.75m.
The England Under-21 international has signed a three-and-half year contract in a deal which could increase to £2m.
"Playing in the Premiership is what I've always wanted to do." Kilgallon told BBC Radio Sheffield.
While Blades boss Neil Warnock said: "We offered more in the summer, so it's a good piece of business. Sometimes you are rewarded for patience."
Kilgallon was a product of the Leeds United Academy and played 95 times for the Elland Road outfit and also had a loan spell at West Ham.
And the defender added: "This is a big opportunity for me in the Premiership. I'm here now and I'm really excited about it.
"I've played well in the Championship, but now this is a step up, so I have got to prove myself.
"I played a few games in the Premiership when I was younger and I did OK, but now I have to show what I can do all over again.
"I'm 23 today, and now I want to establish myself as a good, young defender in the Premiership. I want to do as well as I can."
And Warnock said that his new signing - the first of the January transfer window for the Blades - would relish the challenge of making a first-team place his own.
"He is the type of boy that fits into the squad. He is a nice lad, but not too nice on the pitch, which is what we want," added the Blades boss.
"I think we'll bring the best out of him. He'll enjoy playing with us, and the squad will enjoy having him around.
"He gives us a bit more quality, and that's what we are trying to do. We're trying to improve the squad. "He still knows he has a job on his hands to establish himself at this level, but that's a great challenge for somebody like him."

BBC 7/1/07
West Brom 3-1 Leeds
West Brom produced a clinical display to ease into round four of the FA Cup and leave Leeds to concentrate solely on their Championship survival battle.
The visitors were the masters of their own downfall early on, failing to deal with Neil Clement's corner and allowing Paul McShane to fire in the opener.
And John Hartson made it 2-0 inside 15 minutes from Russell Hoult's long punt.
Kevin Phillips rolled in late on to make it three, before Paul Robinson sliced into his own net in injury time.
· West Brom boss Tony Mowbray:"We can create and score goals, but we can also be pretty open and we probably conceded too many opportunities in the second half.
"But the target before the kick-off was to get into the hat for the next round and we've achieved that, so I'm happy.
"We're doing our best (to bring players in). But it's difficult in January - teams who are trying to bring players in are finding it's a seller's market."
· Leeds manager Dennis Wise:"We had opportunities to score but we didn't defend as well as they did; they finished off chances, and unfortunately we didn't.
"I think we're gradually improving and I can't argue with the way they performed in the second half, but the first-half display let us down. "Overall, I'm disappointed with the way we defended. We had chances to make it 3-3 or 4-3 but we never got close enough to them with our defending. You can't defend the way we did - and they know it." 8/1/07
United's FA Cup exit has left manager Dennis Wise to concentrate solely on the vital task of moving
the club out of the relegation zone and up the Championship table.
West Bromwich Albion eased into the fourth round of the competition with a 3-1 victory over United at the Hawthorns, a success built largely on a first half display when they took advantage of some slack defensive work and scored twice inside the first 15 minutes.
"Overall I was disappointed at the way we performed in the defensive department," said the United boss.
"We didn't start right I talked to a couple of the players and they know they didn't perform on the day. They lost their battles and that can't happen. They have to win their battles and if they do we will push on.
"I said to our centre halves that John Hartson bullied them a bit and I think they know that. But we have had to shuffle the pack at the back quite a bit because of injuries and suspension and we have not had a settled back four. We need to get that sorted out and have a settled back four.
United, however, still managed to created a number of scoring chances in the game and played much better after the break when new signings, Tore Andre Flo and Armando Sa were brought on as substitutes along with Shaun Derry.
"From an attacking point of view we created enough chances to have made it 3-3 or 4-3 so that is definitely a positive to take from the game," said Wisey. "We were better in the second half and I cannot argue with our performance in that second period. It was our first half display that let us down."We have gradually improved over the last four or five weeks and we have been very unfortunate in a few games but the lads have stuck at it," he added.

Friday, January 05, 2007 5/1/07
United announced today that the contract of defender Sean Gregan has been cancelled by mutual consent.
The 32-year-old defender, who recently completed a loan spell with Oldham Athletic, had been told by manager Dennis Wise that he did not figure in his future plans for the Elland Road club.
Gregan, who joined United from West Bromwich Albion two years ago, made only two first team appearances for United this season before going out on loan but was a regular in Kevin Blackwell's United side last season.
A club spokesman said: "We would like to express our thanks to him for the contribution he has made since joining us from West Bromwich Albion when he helped to stabilise the position after our relegation from the Premier League.
"We wish him every success in the future," he added.

Guardian 5/1/07
Leeds poised to buy back Elland Road for £12m in the summer
Matt Scott
Friday January 5, 2007
The Guardian
Leeds United are to take up the option of purchasing Elland Road from the stadium's landlords once the current burden on their wage bill eases after this season. The Championship strugglers are understood still to be paying onerous fees for players who left the club during and after their Premiership collapse three seasons ago. That has put immense strain on club finances but the board is optimistic that the situation will improve, freeing funds for a buy back.
"This is the last year of Peter Ridsdale's excesses," said the Leeds director Mark Taylor. "We are still paying wages for players like Robbie Fowler, Seth Johnson and Michael Duberry. Our financial position changes dramatically when the payments stop; half our wage bill is being spent on players who do not play for the club."
The stadium's ownership changed hands in March 2006 but documents have only lately been lodged with the land registry. These indicate that the new landlord is a company called Teak Trading Corporation, registered in the British Virgin Islands.
This has led to speculation that the chairman, Ken Bates, who has a history of conducting business in the tax-haven islands, is behind the deal. However, Taylor rebutted the rumours, describing them as "ludicrous", stating that neither Bates nor any of his associated companies has an equity interest in the firm. Indeed, Taylor said that Leeds have not been informed of the identity of their new landlord.
"Teak Trading has got nothing to do with us at all," said Taylor. "We didn't know about the sale because it doesn't bother us. They don't have to inform us who the landlord is. The rent is collected by the same people, so that would suggest that it remains with the same owners."
The club have been paying rent demanded by the Barnaway company run by Jacob Adler, the Salford-based property businessman who bought the Elland Road site in 2004. Leeds continue to benefit from a 25-year purchase option written into the £12m sale-and-lease-back agreement signed by the previous board, whose chairman was Gerald Krasner. It is by exercising this option that the club would seek to reacquire the freehold to their home of the past 100 years.
"We still have the option of repurchase for 25 years," said Taylor. "Nothing has changed from Leeds's point of view. We still have an address to serve the option notice on. We will take up that option when we have the funds to do it."
Leeds City Council has a plan to invest in a multi-purpose arena with conference and exhibition facilities and it is exploring the possibility of siting the £38m development at Elland Road. According to a council feasibility study, this would lead to up to £300m in economic benefits helping to regenerate the area and Leeds do not wish to miss out on the associated benefits.
"There is development land near the stadium site," added Taylor, "and Leeds want to be involved in that. But Ken [Bates] was very strong on Chelsea having to play their football at Stamford Bridge and he is equally so about Leeds and Elland Road." 4/1/07
Manager Dennis Wise expressed his delight at having signed Norwegian striker Tore Andre Flo and international defender Armando Sa.
"Tore is a goalscorer with a lot of ability. Some of the lads here were gobsmacked when they saw some of his touches in training and his finishing. I think they were a little bit aback by him.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on him but I am sure he will do very well for us. He is a player, who if he gets a chance or two, they usually end up in the back of the net."
Dennis knows that brining Flo to Leeds has given the player an opportunity to put himself in the window again. "Yes it does, but it also gives us a quality player," he added.
The arrival on the same day, of the 32-year-old Sa, from Espanyol, brings another quality player with experience into the United squad.
Sa, who was born in Mozambique, developed his career in Portugal before moving to Spain to play for Espanyol. "He's a very good right back and has a lot of ability," explained the United boss.
"He a very good ball player and he will get forward. He is also very quick and that is something this is needed to add to the squad.
"He can also play on the right side of midfield which is also usual. He reminds me a bit of Dan Petrescu in the way plays. Dan was very clever and so is Armando and he will cause teams problems," added the United boss.

Telegraph 4/1/07
Chelsea old boy joins Leeds
By Tom Cary
At this rate Leeds United will have to modify the words of their famous terrace song from "we are Leeds, we are Leeds" to "we are ex-Chelsea."
First Ken Bates succeeded Gerald Krasner as chairman, then he handed his former Stamford Bridge stalwarts Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet the management reins at Elland Road. Now they have called on their former team-mate – the decidedly veteran Tore Andre Flo – to help them stave off the threat of relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in the club's 88-year history.
Time was when any sort of link to Chelsea was a dangerous thing to declare in parts of West Yorkshire, but Leeds' beleaguered fans are almost beyond caring. They just want the good times back.
Flo, 33, was one of three signings made by Wise yesterday. Striker Tresor Kandol – who was on loan from Barnet – and Espanyol defender Armando Miguel Correia De Sa, have also arrived to bolster the squad. But it will take more than a few free transfers to improve the club's fortunes.
After so many false dawns, it is hard not to be cynical.
When former manager Kevin Blackwell predicted a golden future for the club last September with the announcement that, within a year, Leeds would "not be in any debt whatsoever," fans took the news with a pinch of salt. Just 10 days later Blackwell's contract was terminated and he is now suing the club for unlawful dismissal. Leeds fans don't know what to believe any more. The debt may have gone, but no one knows quite how or where.
The arrival of Wise in Blackwell's stead was similarly bewildering. Bates is godfather to one of Wise's children, but nepotism was not the only accusation made against the appointment. Nor the most pertinent.
Wise had moderate success at Millwall and, briefly, at Swindon, but he has never experienced anything like this. After the shortest honeymoon period imaginable, the defeats have kept on coming. Attendances have fallen by an average of 10,000 this season on last and message boards are awash with angry fans. You wonder whether he might not have been sacked already were he not such great mates with his chairman.Maybe that is a blessing in disguise. After all, if there is one thing that this club desperately needs, it is some continuity.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sky 3/1/07
Wise pounces for Sa
By James Pearson
Leeds United's rebuilding plans are set to continue with the impending arrival of Portuguese international defender Armando Sa.
Dennis Wise has been a busy manager since the opening of the transfer window after bringing in Robbie Elliott and securing Matt Heath for the remainder of the season.
As revealed by last month, Sa will now join Leeds from Liga outfit Espanyol subject to international clearance.
The 32-year-old stopper, who has been capped 16 times by his country, has a wealth of experience to his name after playing for the likes of Benfica and Villarreal.
In addition, Wise has moved to inform Portuguese defender Rui Marques that he still has a future at the club.
The Angola international has spent over a year in the wilderness but made a surprise comeback against Coventry on New Year's Day and impressed Wise.
He told the club's official website: "I was pleased with Rui because we had a long chat about himself and he couldn't work out why he had been brought to this club.
"He was down in the dumps - I didn't sign him but I said you've got a chance. Some players find it difficult and full credit to him. He's not played for a year-and-a-half.
"I hope Rui is buzzing. He did very well and he went to right-back because we had a problem and he did well there."

Yorkshire Post 3/1/07
We will back Wise all we can – Harvey
Leeds reveal buying back Elland Road remains priority as they prepare to fund transfer window recruitment
Richard Sutcliffe
DENNIS WISE will be given every possible backing in this month's transfer window as Leeds United look to stave off the threat of relegation.Chief executive Shaun Harvey has made the pledge to supporters and also confirmed to the Yorkshire Post that buying back Elland Road is very much on the club's agenda.United are in a perilous position, second bottom in the Championship with 19 games remaining, and it seems certain January will be pivotal in deciding their fate.It is, of course, the only month in which manager Wise will be able to make permanent transfers, his recruitment getting under way yesterday when Matt Heath and Robbie Elliott agreed to join until the end of the season.As revealed in yesterday's Yorkshire Post, Tore Andre Flo has also been in talks with Leeds, while Sheffield United duo Paul Ifill and Steven Kabba have been watched.Oldham winger Chris Taylor is another who, according to sources at Boundary Park, is interesting Leeds and they are tracking Luton midfielder Dean Morgan, the 23-year-old who has netted four goals in 23 appearances this term.Harvey will not reveal how much Wise has to spend for fear of alerting rival clubs, but has stressed: "The key message to supporters is we are going to give Dennis every bit of support that we can."We appreciate it is performances on the pitch that make the difference. We can run as successful a business off the pitch as we want, but we are all judged by what happens with the team."Wise angrily dismissed a national newspaper report last week that claimed he had a transfer budget of around £4m, the compensation Chelsea are believed to have paid United for youngsters Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods.The Yorkshire Post can reveal, however, that much of this cash has already been swallowed up by servicing old debts and current running costs, United having this season lost the £6m parachute payment for clubs relegated from the Premiership.On Wise's transfer budget, Harvey said: "Every manager wants to buy every single player that is available. But Dennis is very realistic, he knows the current situation at Leeds United."He has great trust in the chairman and, ultimately, he knows we will give him every support we humanly can. Whether that is a lot or a little bit, we can only give him what we have got."Former captain Paul Butler, who has been on loan at MK Dons, has already left after having his contract terminated by mutual consent.Loanees Geoff Horsfield and Tony Warner have returned to Sheffield United and Fulham respectively, while speculation continues to surround the future of Premiership targets David Healy and Matthew Kilgallon.Along with Championship survival, Harvey has revealed that buying back Elland Road is also at the top of the club's wish list.The stadium was sold to Manchester businessman Jacob Adler in November, 2004, for around £8.5m as the reality of life outside the Premiership started to bite.Former chairman Gerald Krasner secured a 25-year lease, with an option of being able to rent the stadium for an additional quarter of a century, and also negotiated a buy-back provision for Leeds.Elland Road was sold on to Teak Trading Corporation, a company based in the British Virgin Islands, in 2005, but United's lease and buy-back clause was unaffected.Harvey said: "The one thing we would like to achieve off the field is getting the stadium back into the ownership of the club."Apart from strengthening the club's balance sheet, what it will do is remove any scepticism and pessimism that there is about any ulterior motive."There is not a timescale; the option runs as long as the lease does. It is only the sum of money it will cost to re-buy it that changes."It is a fixed price that is a multiple of the rent. So, we can work out what it will cost on any one day. "The reality is that the price to buy back Elland Road will not increase again until October."But it is much like owning a house. I would much rather be paying a mortgage or some similar form of finance that would see the club own the stadium at the end, rather than paying rent."

BBC 2/1/07
Leeds release Horsfield & Butler
Leeds have terminated the loan deal of striker Geoff Horsfield.
The 33-year-old, who has scored twice in 15 appearances, was scheduled to stay until the end of January but will return to Sheffield United early.
Horsfield does not figure in manager Dennis Wise's plans and neither does former skipper Paul Butler who has been released after a loan spell at MK Dons.
Middlesbrough defender Ugo Ehiogu and Fulham keeper Tony Warner have returned to their parent clubs after loan deals.
Ehiogu made six appearances for Leeds, while Warner, who returns to London as cover for the injured Antti Niemi, turned out 14 times for United.
Butler calls time on his career at Leeds having signed for the club in the summer of 2004. The 34-year-old, who was one of former manager Kevin Blackwell's first signings and made 106 appearances for the club, is free to join another club on a permanent basis.

Sky 2/1/07
Leeds to sign defensive duo
By Carla Hilton
Leeds United are set to make a double signing with defenders Matt Heath and Robbie Elliott both set to sign short-term contracts until the end of the season.
Heath, who has been on loan with the Yorkshire club since November, is joining on a free transfer from Championship rivals Coventry City, whilst Elliott is joining from Sunderland.
Elliott, who was previously on a short-term deal with Sunderland, was registered as a loan player in order to make his appearance against Coventry on New Year's Day but is set to sign a new deal to keep him at the club until May.
Heath, who had to sit out the game against Coventry under the terms of his loan, joined The Sky Blues from Leicester in the summer of 2005 and made eight of his 35 appearances for the club this season prior to his loan spell at Leeds. The pair are expected to strengthen The Whites' defence in their bid for Championship survival.
Times 2/1/07
Leeds still in trouble despite welcome win
Our columnist on Ken Bates’s battle to stop Yorkshire club sinking to a new low
“Big win, that,” one man said to his friend as they hurried away from Elland Road yesterday, and a big win it was. They all are when you are in Leeds United’s dire straits.
All you need to know about their predicament was summed up as Dennis Wise and Gustavo Poyet, manager and assistant, threatened to squeeze the life out of each other, so tight was their embrace at the final whistle.
The cause of this delight was a 2-1 win over Coventry City, one achieved with no little anxiety and that still left Leeds second from bottom in the Coca-Cola Championship. It was a first victory in eight league matches. The outpouring of joy must be set against a grim context.
Sensibly, Wise resisted any temptation to hail this win as a turning point in Leeds’s fortunes. Ken Bates, his boss, has been peddling hope to the Yorkshire public ever since he took over almost two years ago but he has found it a hard sell.
They have heard too many false promises in the five years since Leeds stood, on New Year’s Day in 2002, at the summit of the Premiership table. The decline has been exhaustively chronicled but it still comes as a shock to drop in at Elland Road and to see the empty swaths of seats and the hoofing clearances of mediocre players.
Relegation to the third tier of the English game for the first time in Leeds’s 88-year history remains a real threat and, even if it is avoided, it is clear that the road back to respectability is a very long one, even for a man with Bates’s reputation for getting things done. He used to hang a sign in the lobby at Chelsea declaring that “the Romans did not build an empire by organising meetings. They did it by killing anyone who got in their way”.
Age — he is 75 — has not mellowed him. He still bans critical newspapers, which was a favoured weapon in his time at Stamford Bridge. The Yorkshire Evening Post has been banished from the press box for attacking the dismissal of Kevin Blackwell this season. The YEP’s reporter has to buy a ticket, which is one way of trying to arrest the marked slump in attendances.
Bates is also facing a court battle with Blackwell, who is suing his former employer for compensation. Bates has refused to negotiate, despite handing Blackwell an extended contract. Yesterday, he took the opportunity to denigrate further his former manager’s stewardship.
“Wisey was particularly scathing of the former fitness regime and some overweight players,” Bates wrote in his programme notes, “causing Gus Poyet to say that the Leeds United club song should have been ‘Who ate all the pies?’ ” As a reminder, Blackwell led Leeds to the play-offs final last season, a considerable feat in difficult circumstances, as well as a huge boost to revenues.
Bates has also been at odds with Leeds supporters for hiking the ticket prices. Manchester United fans pay the same as Leeds fans forked out yesterday to watch Jonathan Douglas grab the second-half winner with a miskick.
No surprise, then, to report a half-empty ground with an attendance of 18,158, more than 10,000 down on the average when Bates took over. “It’s the unofficial capital of Yorkshire and a huge market,” Bates once said, but he might get more takers if he did not charge £26 for the cheapest seats and £36 in the main stand.
Bates was welcomed by many as a football man with far more to offer than Gerald Krasner, his hapless predecessor, yet some distrust remains. He would help his case if he cleared up the mystery of who owns the stadium.
It was recently revealed that Elland Road is in the hands of the Teak Trading Corporation, based in the British Virgin Islands and therefore under no obligation to reveal its directors. Is it owned by Bates? Friends of his? Leeds say only that they still have a long lease, which hardly reassures supporters. Ownership of Chelsea during Bates’s time was similarly opaque.
Bates has talked about building a couple of hotels, which suggests that he has the co-operation of whoever does own the bricks and mortar, although those plans revive memories of his spectacular overreaching with Chelsea Village.
Roman Abramovich spared Bates from financial ruin, enabling him to write up his Chelsea reign as entirely successful. Yesterday he painted a similar transformation in West Yorkshire.
“Twenty-five years ago it was exactly the same situation at my former club; bankrupt, some poor players, low spirits and no organisation,” he wrote yesterday. “Leeds was just like that in 2005.
“Today all the parasites have gone, the dressing-rooms have been cleansed of the attitude problems, the players are fitter and more determined, the new management are dedicated to success and are not obsessed with being heard or seen on the media.”
Bates talked of improved facilities, increased revenue and an overhaul of the squad this month that will create “a very different Leeds, a stronger squad, fitter and more ambitious”. Some of that hope was immediately dampened when Wise gave warning yesterday that “there is not too much money”. Plus ça change, as they don’t say in Pudsey or Harrogate.
“We will be marching on together — make sure you don’t lose your place in the parade,” Bates added, although citizens of Yorkshire need not panic. A revival might be under way at Leeds but it will be a while coming. As for places in the parade, plenty of spaces remain.