Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sky 27/6/08
Leeds target Byfield
Striker on course for Elland Road switch
By Peter O'Rourke understands Leeds are lining up a move for Darren Byfield.
Byfield is available on a free transfer following his release from Bristol City at the end of last season.
The former Aston Villa youngster was surprisingly allowed to leave Ashton Gate despite finishing as the club's top scorer last season.
Byfield's availability have made him an attractive proposition to a number of clubs looking to bolster their attacks.
Doncaster and Swansea are thought have enquired about Byfield and now Leeds have joined the chase for the 31-year-old. Leeds boss Gary McAllister is an admirer of the former Sunderland and Gillingham ace and sees Byfield as the man who help boost their bid to win promotion to the Championship.
Yorkshire Evening Post 27/6/08
Freedman keeps United door ajar
By Phil Hay
Dougie Freedman's reluctance to leave Crystal Palace last season was such that he would rather have incurred a heavy fine than complete an unhappy period on loan elsewhere.
Freedman was willing to suffer the financial consequences of cutting short his temporary transfer to Leeds United if the move failed to meet his expectations, but the pleasure he took from 11 weeks at Elland Road has left him "completely open-minded" about the possibility of extending his association with the club.
The 34-year-old's future was left unclarified after United's loss to Doncaster Rovers in the League One play-off final – the last match of his short-term loan with Leeds – but Freedman confirmed today that the offer of a permanent contract at Elland Road could tempt him back to Yorkshire this summer.
The striker's intention is to fulfil the one remaining year on his contract at Crystal Palace and he will not leave Selhurst Park if Neil Warnock promises to involve him in the club's first team next season, but the pair are not expected to discuss his position until Palace begin pre-season training on Wednesday.
A shortage of opportunities at Palace led Freedman to take up the opportunity of a loan at Elland Road in March, and though the former Scotland international admitted he would not consider a second temporary transfer to Leeds, he is unwilling to rule out "any available option" while he waits for Warnock to show his hand.
Freedman said: "I'm very open-minded about Leeds. I can honestly say that I don't have a clue what my future holds but I really enjoyed my time there and I know better than to rule anything out.
"One thing I have closed the door on is another loan at Leeds. I've made a decision that if I do go out on loan again, I'll look for a move in the London area which allows me to live at home with my family.
"If I was to move to Leeds or another club that's further away, I'd have to do it right and do it properly – it would have to be permanent. It's not easy being detached from your family for three months, and I don't think it's very fair on them.
"The situation is that I've got a year left at Crystal Palace and hope people understand when I say that my first choice would be to stay there. The club means a lot to me and I've got my testimonial coming up next month.
"At the moment I'm focusing my attention on that and my position will take care of itself. But I'd be stupid to rule anything out at this stage."
Leeds have made no comment on the likelihood of Freedman's return to Elland Road, and any interest in re-signing the forward would be entirely dependant on Warnock's plans for next season.
Freedman reached his 34th birthday on the afternoon of United's 1-0 defeat to Doncaster at Wembley, but the veteran forward brought dynamic influence to Gary McAllister's squad and looked far removed from the onset of retirement.
His full debut was marked by two goals in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Port Vale on March 15, and his 14 appearances brought six goals in total. None were more telling than his strike against Carlisle in the first leg of an encapsulating play-off semi-final, but as important to McAllister was Freedman's attitude and demeanour off the pitch which helped United's youthful squad negotiate their way through a pressurised stage of the League One season.
Freedman's motivation for joining Leeds was the challenge of winning promotion to the Championship, but James Hayter's goal at Wembley stole that prize away on a birthday which the striker is unlikely to remember fondly. The alternative conclusion had seemed virtually fated on several occasions during his stint at Elland Road.
"The atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards was very low," he said. "Everyone was desperate to escape as quickly as possible. That's the thing about play-off finals – if you win, people have to literally drag you out of Wembley. If you lose, you can't get away soon enough.
"I have to hold my hands up and say that, on the day, Doncaster handled the occasion better than we did and their players performed better than ours. That includes me. It wasn't the way I wanted my loan to end and, as I'd said from the start, the whole point of me going to Leeds was to win promotion.
"But as a whole, my time up there was brilliant. It gave me the motivation and the challenge I needed at a time when I was lounging about on the bench at Crystal Palace, and it says a lot about Leeds as a club that I enjoyed myself so much.
"I don't want to bang on about my family, but they're a major issue for me. I can honestly say that if I'd gone to Leeds and felt unhappy, I'd have gone home and back to Palace straight away.
"If that had cost me a fine then so be it. But at no point of my three months there did I ever feel like I wanted to be somewhere else.
"I've come away with some great memories, and none better than the semi-final games against Carlisle. You don't forget things like that. And although we lost at Wembley, it's only right that people also talk about the second leg at Carlisle and remember how well we held our nerve there. We were under a lot of pressure.
"For me, I saw it as my job to go to Leeds and help the younger lads through a difficult part of the season – to give them advice, to give them support and to have a word if anyone got too big for their boots.
"I can't say whether I made a difference or not but I gave as much as I could to Leeds, which is what their supporters deserved. Leeds United are everything you look for in a football club."
The end of last season was also the conclusion of Freedman's 10th on the books of Crystal Palace, and the London club have rewarded him with a testimonial against Fulham at Selhurst Park on Tuesday, July 29.
The 34-year-old is gradually approaching the end of his career, but his prominent involvement with Leeds last season stifled the idea that retirement might be around the corner.
Warnock appointed him as Palace's reserve team coach last season, and Freedman is already mapping out a career in management. Within days of the play-off final, he was enrolled in a coaching course, the prelude to his summer holiday in Dubai.
But the striker said: "I'm not ready to call it a day.
"I don't always agree with people who tell you to play for as long as you can because there comes a point where you have to be honest with yourself. If a club like Palace or Leeds tried to sign me and I didn't think I could still score goals, I'd be taking money for nothing. The buck has to stop with me.
"But I got the buzz again last season and the goals are still coming. Retirement's not on my mind." 26/6/08
Gary McAllister admits he is firmly siding with the fans who have voiced their frustrations after a number of early season kick-off changes.
Four of our five opening away matches have been the subject of kick-off changes, and by the time we travel to Millwall in mid-October we will have played just one away game at the traditional 3pm kick-off time.
The opening day trip to Scunthorpe is a 12 noon kick-off, the trip to Yeovil has a 1pm kick-off, our away game at Carlisle kicks-off at 12.15, and our first ever league trip to Peterborough on October 4 is another midday start. Only Swindon Town on September 13 remains a 3pm kick-off.
"When you see the changes you instantly think how awkward it is for our fans to travel across the country," said the boss.
"As players you can deal with it. All our organisation is done and travel arrangements are sorted. "But people have to work and there's no consideration to the travelling Leeds fans with these kicks offs.
"I've never sensed anything from the Leeds crowd other than a group of fans who go to support their team. And if anything they boosted the whole division last season.
"There's not many chairmen don't want Leeds fans because they fill their ground every time."

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Custodian courageous ... Leeds City's best last line of defence. There is every reason to believe that the keeper was the first genuine Elland Road folk hero

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 8/6/08
United are offering Riordan Ell of a move
By Phil Hay
Leeds United are hoping the draw of Elland Road will allow them to pull off the signing of Celtic striker Derek Riordan.
The 25-year-old is on United's list of summer targets and manager Gary McAllister will use the prospect of promotion to the Championship next season to persuade Riordan to step into League One.
Riordan is on the books of Scottish Premier League champions Celtic and has another year to run on his contract, but he is keen to leave the club after a frustrating spell in Glasgow.
The former Hibernian trainee has not played in a competitive fixture since March and made his most recent league start in December.
His appearances have totalled 32 since his transfer from Easter Road in 2006, and the opportunity of a switch to Leeds would be welcomed by Riordan if United decided to make a firm approach.
Celtic held out for a £1m fee as a number of clubs circled over Riordan in January and they are likely to look for a similar sum from interested managers this summer.
Burnley saw a bid of £400,000 rejected in January, but the Championship side are believed to be pursuing Riordan again and will compete with United for the forward's signature. It is likely, however, that Riordan would opt for a move to Leeds over a transfer to Turf Moor.
Leeds' interest in Riordan may prove more realistic than their bold attempt to sign Kevin Phillips, who is out of contract at West Brom and considering his next move.
United have been offered Barry Nicholson, who is close to the end of his contract at SPL club Aberdeen, but McAllister is not believed to be interested in taking on the 29-year-old midfielder.
Nicholson has been capped three times by Scotland and would be available on a free transfer, but United have numerous central midfielders in their squad and are unlikely to bring the former Rangers trainee on board.
One player who appears to be on his way out of Elland Road, meanwhile, is striker Anthony Elding.
Leeds have agreed a fee with Crewe for the 26-year-old, who joined United from Stockport County in January but has made only four league starts for the club.
Elding has also attracted interest from Darlington and Hartlepool United, but Crewe are favourites to sign the forward having submitted a successful offer to Elland Road earlier this week, and talks between the player and the Cheshire club began on Friday.

Yorkshire Evening Post 6/6/08
Leeds deny ground bid
By Phil Hay
Ken Bates today moved to deny suggestions that Leeds United are in the process of regaining ownership of Elland Road.
Bates described as "absolute rubbish" the claim that a rental agreement set up in relation to United's training ground at Thorp Arch – but not affecting Elland Road – might represent a move by Leeds to reclaim control of their stadium.
Elland Road has been in the hands of outside owners since it was sold to Jacob Adler, a property developer based in Manchester, by the United board fronted by ex-chairman Gerald Krasner in November 2004. Adler also acquired Thorp Arch as part of the same deal.
Leeds agreed a 25-year lease and negotiated the right to buy back both properties, an option which was retained in 2005 when Adler transferred ownership of Elland Road to Teak Commercial Limited, a company based in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.
As a result of the transfer, the stadium and the training ground fell into the possession of different firms – Barnaway, a company connected to Adler, is still believed to be in control of Thorp Arch – and the two properties are subject to individual rental agreements.
Leeds United 2007 Ltd, the vehicle through which Bates took Leeds out of administration last summer, negotiated the continuation of both leases shortly after their takeover in July, and the club were required to pay a bond equivalent to six months' rent to insure their landlords against the possibility that United might default on their payments.
United confirmed today that Elland Road is still in the hands of Teak Commercial Limited.
Bates told the YEP: "The allegation that we've bought back the ground is absolute rubbish. The long and short of this is that we haven't bought the ground back and we don't own it. The ownership hasn't changed at all."
Elland Road and Thorp Arch were sold in 2004 to help combat serious debts in the wake of United's relegation from the Premiership, but the rent now drains an annual £2m from the club's accounts.
Leeds still have the freedom to buy back both the stadium and their training ground, but Bates recently set the cost of re-purchasing both pieces of land at £19,142,806.
Shaun Harvey, United's chief executive, said: "We do have an option to buy Elland Road and Thorp Arch back, but we have not as yet exercised that option. We still intend to do so at the earliest opportunity but the situation is as it was."
Meanwhile, Darlington and Hartlepool United have joined Crewe Alexandra the race to sign Leeds striker Anthony Elding, who looks set to leave Elland Road this summer.
Crewe are lining up a bid for the 26-year-old, who moved to Leeds during the January transfer window, but Elding could yet be the subject of two offers from the north east.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

BBC 4/6/08
Revie still keen on Leeds United
Duncan Revie has said he is still interested in buying Leeds United, reports BBC Radio Leeds.
The son of former Leeds manager Don Revie almost put a bid in for the club in 2007 but felt the timing was wrong.
"Leeds will always be on my agenda and close to my heart, that's all I can say at the moment."
"However I must congratulate Ken Bates and Gary McAllister. I think they've done an amazing job, having been 15 points down."
The Leeds businessman's comments came after his father's England shirt was stolen from Elland Road on Saturday night.
"With a bit of luck we will get it back, I'm in shock really.
"It is priceless and a great part of Dad's memorabilia, it's irreplaceable.
"I hope and pray we get the shirt back for the benefit of all Leeds United fans that attend Elland Road," added Revie. 4/6/08
Former England international Kevin Phillips is the latest big name striker to be linked with a move to Elland Road.
Celtic marksman Derek Riordan was the subject of Tuesday's media speculation, and the club's interest in Phillips was revealed in on Wednesday morning.
The player's agent Phil Smith confirmed that he has spoken with Gary McAllister about the out-of-contract striker, and the Leeds boss is making no secret about his desire to bolster his firepower.
The 34-year-old Phillips scorer 24 goals to help spearhead West Brom's Premiership return last term.
Macca is keeping silent about his targets, but he confirmed: "We are in the market, and we are looking at front men who can strengthen."
After the impact made by Dougie Freedman at the end of last season, Gary admits he is looking for an experienced man. Jermaine Beckford was last season's leading goalscorer with 20 goals and is very much of the part Gary's plans for next season.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

BBC 3/6/08
Leeds stung by Riordan price tag
Leeds United are unwilling to pay Celtic's £1m asking price for once-capped Scotland striker Derek Riordan, BBC Radio Leeds understands.
United previously tried to bring the 25-year-old former Hibernian star to Elland Road on loan in January.
Riordan scored over 60 goals in three seasons at Easter Road but has made only 13 starts since switching to Glasgow giants Celtic two years ago.
Championship outfit Burnley are also believed to be after the forward.

Yorkshire Evening Post 3/6/08
Leeds United chase £1m man
By Phil Hay
Leeds United will face an asking price of £1m if Gary McAllister moves for Celtic striker Derek Riordan.
The 25-year-old forward is being strongly linked with a transfer to Elland Road, but Celtic are expected to hold out for a seven-figure sum from interested clubs this summer.
Leeds, who expressed an interest in Riordan during the January transfer window, have an eye on the Scotland international again and he has repeatedly stated his desire to end an unproductive spell at Celtic Park.
Riordan was signed from Hibernian by Gordon Strachan in June 2006 but has made a total of eight league starts in two seasons, his most recent coming in December of last year.
Speaking in April, Riordan said: "I've virtually chucked it at Celtic. What's the point when I'm not getting a chance?
"I've been here two years and it's not happened yet so I don't see it happening now. I like it here and would love to prove myself but the nasty thing is not playing."
As many as five clubs attempted to sign Riordan on loan in January, Burnley failed in their attempt to strike a permanent deal with a bid of around £400,000, and potential buyers will be asked to offer in the region of £1million to secure his release before the start of next term.
It is understood that Riordan would be willing to seriously consider a move to Elland Road, regardless of the club's failure to regain their place in the Championship. The forward has 12 months remaining on the three-year contract he agreed with Celtic in 2006.
His eight league starts in Glasgow have yielded five goals, but Riordan's prowess was more vividly display in Edinburgh, where he turned professional with Hibs and scored 54 goals in 123 SPL appearances.
He produced 23 goals during the 2004-05 season and 20 over the course of the following campaign, earning himself a transfer to one half of the Old Firm.
McAllister has already revealed an ambitious approach to the transfer market by persuading Andy Robinson to leave promoted Swansea City and take up a three-year contract at Elland Road.
Robinson's arrival will be finalised on July 1 when his existing deal at the Liberty Stadium ends.
McAllister, meanwhile, has stressed the importance of a convincing start to the new League One season on the back of the club's defeat in the play-off final last month.
United won their first seven leagues matches during the 2007-08 term and were unbeaten in 13 before their defeat at Carlisle United on November 3, and McAllister hopes to see his club set the pace next term.
The Leeds boss, who will discover United's fixture list for next season on June 16, said: "We've got to have a good start. We're all keen to make the same sort of start.
"We'll be looking to play attacking football and score goals, but at the same time we have to be disciplined and play at a tempo our opponents will find difficult.
"Most of all, though, we have to hit the ground running."

Yorkshire Evening Post 1/6/08
LEEDS UNITED: I'll help to bring back the good times, says Bates
By Phil Hay
Ken Bates is hoping for a title-winning campaign from Leeds United next season after claiming a defeat in the League One play-off final will not hold the club back in the long term.
United's chairman is planning for a second season in England's third division following last Sunday's 1-0 loss to Doncaster Rovers at Wembley, but the 76-year-old expects to be preparing for the Championship in 12 months' time on the back of the club's most productive season during his reign as chairman.
Leeds collected 91 points over the course of the 2007-08 campaign, the division's second-highest total, and their strategy for the new term will be drawn up without the complication of the 15-point handicap imposed on United by the Football League last summer.
Bates saw Chelsea suffer relegation from the Division One in 1988 and predicted then that the Stamford Bridge club would win promotion immediately.
Chelsea duly claimed the second division title in 1989, winning the league by a margin of 17 points, and Bates is confident that United will recover from their loss at Wembley with enough speed to impose themselves quickly on League One next term.
"The important reaction to any defeat is to look forward, and this is now the start of a new season," said Bates.
"I felt sorry for the players at Wembley but they've done this club proud in very difficult circumstances, and if we can't have promotion this year then we'll have it next year instead.
"I made similar comments to a group of players at a club down south in 1988, and the following year we won the league by a huge margin. I think the players here have shown that they're capable of doing the same, and other people will be added to the squad over the summer. The future is bright.
"We're on course to make a small profit this year which is always satisfying for a chairman and his board, but we're in a better position in every area of the club than we were 12 months ago. The one thing we need to do is to get back into the Championship.
"We've got a great manager in charge (Gary McAllister) and we've got players who want to be here.
"The fact that we're in League One means we have to operate on a different budget than we might have done, but we prepared for both possibilities before the play-off final. We'll help Gary to get the players he wants."
Leeds have already lined up the signing of Andy Robinson on a free transfer from Swansea City, and the close-season will give McAllister the chance to remould a squad which was largely constructed by his predecessor, Dennis Wise.
The departures began this week with club captain Alan Thompson announcing his retirement from professional football and Darren Kenton moving on at the end of his contract, but Leeds are preparing to offer a new deal to young midfielder Jonathan Howson after his exploits during the 2007-08 term.
Bates said: "We're planning to give Jonny Howson a new contract, and if it hadn't been for the play-offs it's something we would have looked at already.
"Every year we try to do things that will benefit the club in the future, and we'll spend about £750,000 on ground improvements at Elland Road this summer. I know the fans don't care about that, but it's an important process and it adds to the enjoyment of the supporters who go to games.
"Thorp Arch could also do with a bit of maintenance, and we want to keep the academy up to the standard that people expect. These things matter.
"As far as signing players goes, the play-offs have obviously put us back by three weeks and there's a lot of hard work to be done between now and the start of next season.
"But I think that a lot of players will want to come here if they get the chance."
Bates took a final opportunity to swipe at the points deduction handed to Leeds by the Football League last summer, claiming a top-two finish next season would see Leeds become "the first club ever to win promotion twice but to go up only once."
Last weekend's defeat to Doncaster brought a sad end to a campaign which saw United win 27 League One matches and lose on only nine occasions throughout the regular term.
Leeds secured McAllister's services by handing him to a 12-month rolling deal last month, and both his assistant Steve Staunton and first-team coach Neil McDonald will also stay on for the start of the 2008-09 season.
Bates, who dismissed talk this week of a takeover bid from Canadian sports firm Maple Leafs Sport and Entertainment, said: "Everything is in place, and once pre-season starts I'm sure the players will feel as hungry as they did before Sunday's game.
"You get what you deserve in football, and on the performance at Wembley we didn't deserve to win.
"But over the whole season we were good enough to get promoted, and without the 15-point penalty we would have been.
"That won't affect us next season and we'll see what happens then."