Showing posts from February, 2004
Times Online - Sunday Times Prodigy Milner grows up fast under Elland Road spotlight The 18-year-old feels recent performances have seen a revival in team that which will stand Leeds in good stead against Liverpool today, writes Joe Lovejoy AT LIVERPOOL they have taken to adorning the ground with sick graffiti about the manager. At Leeds United the writing has been on the wall much longer. These famous old clubs used to contest cup finals and championships. Today they meet at Elland Road in circumstances that must have Bill Shankly and Don Revie grimacing in their graves. Liverpool, who monopolised the League title in the 1980s, are reduced to scuffling for fourth place and a backdoor entry to the European Cup they won four times between 1977 and 1984. Hard times at Anfield then, but their rivals across the Pennines would swap them any day. Champions and Champions League contenders only three years ago, Leeds have fallen far and fast, and with talk of bankruptcy and relegati
Times Online - Sunday Times 1 4-day race to rescue Leeds The crisis at Elland Road has deepened with club shares suspended, but that could focus minds on a deal. By David Bond THE group of Yorkshire businessmen behind a rescue package for Leeds United has been given two weeks to complete the £20m deal, or the club will go into administration. After another traumatic 48 hours at Elland Road, the financially stricken club has been left on the brink after its major creditors failed to agree on Friday to a two-week extension to a critical repayment freeze. Leeds are battling debts of more than £100m, with £60m of that a long-term securitisation bond owed to three large finance houses: American firms Met Life and Teachers and the British company M&G. A further £20m is owed to Registered European Football Finance Ltd (Reff) under a leaseback deal in which Leeds borrowed money to buy players. With no formal protection from these creditors, there is now nothing to stop the clu
Sport Crisis at Leeds deepens as creditors step up pressure By Nick Harris 28 February 2004 The crisis at Leeds United deepened yesterday after the club's major creditors refused to extend their "standstill agreement" on £80m of debts and Leeds plc asked the stock exchange to suspend trading in its shares. While the creditors stopped short of forcing Leeds to the wall immediately, the developments increase the chances that Leeds could go into administration in the near future, perhaps next week. As recently as Thursday evening, senior figures at Leeds were still hoping the club would be granted a fortnight's further extension to the standstill agreement, which expired at 2pm yesterday. But it now seems that the hand of Trevor Birch, Leeds's chief executive, has been forced, and he may not be given as much time as he would like to find a buyer. One of two consortiums that had been investigating the possibility of a takeover withdrew its interest on Thurs
Sport Leeds creditors halt standstill agreement By Ian Parkes, PA Sport 27 February 2004 Leeds United's major creditors have not renewed the 'standstill agreement', which ran out today, but have backed the club in its bid to finalise a takeover deal. Leeds first announced the formal standstill arrangement on December 4 last year, now nearly three months ago. A statement to the Stock Exchange read: "The board of Leeds United plc announces that following discussions with its major finance creditors, the existing standstill arrangements that expired at 2pm today have not been formally renewed. "However, the board confirms that it continues to retain the support of these major finance creditors whilst it seeks to finalise its negotiations with interested parties relating to a long term financial restructuring of the group. "In view of the fact that the group no longer has a formal standstill arrangement, the board has concluded that it is inapprop
Sport Relegation fears scare off potential Leeds bid By Nick Harris 27 February 2004 One of the two Yorkshire-based consortiums hoping to save Leeds United yesterday announced it had scrapped its plans for a bid. With Leeds facing the expiry of their latest "standstill agreement" with their major creditors at 2pm this afternoon, that leaves only one consortium in the running. But following doubts about the credibility of that group - and what role, if any, is being played by the former Bradford chairman Geoffrey Richmond - Leeds' future looks shakier by the minute. Despite yesterday's setback, the Leeds chief executive, Trevor Birch, remains hopeful he will find a solution to the club's financial crisis. A senior source at Elland Road said that Birch hopes to secure another fortnight's extension to their standstill agreement, and further extensions as necessary through March and April. Leeds' major creditors - bondholders and a financing firm owe
Sport The Gentle Giant, legend in two lands John Charles: Born: 27 December 1931. Died: 21 February 2004 By Ronald Atkin 22 February 2004 Of all the trophies and mementoes he won or owned, the one John Charles prized most of all was a mounted set of model footballers on his dining-room sideboard, the 11 most talented men ever to play in the English League. The sadness was that, after a lifetime in which his triumphs and modesty brought the inevitable nickname "The Gentle Giant", Charles could not remember the names of some of the other 10 who stood beside him on that plinth. By then, 16 months ago, when we talked at his modest semi-detached home in the Leeds suburb of Birkenshaw, Charles was battling the onset of Alzheimer's with the same quiet cheerfulness he had dealt with the earlier news of cancer of the bladder. Yesterday, The Gentle Giant died in Yorkshire aged 72 as a result of complications following a heart attack suffered in an Italian TV studio on 7 J
Times Online - Sunday Times Juve give Il Gigante Buono pride of place He lived like a lord in Turin, but although he spent his twilight years in far less opulent surroundings, John Charles never became bitter. Frank Malley reports THEIR pictures adorn the walls of the Stadio delle Alpi and their deeds live for generations. Players such as Sivori, Boniperti, Zoff, Causio, Gentile, Tardelli, Platini, Bettega and Zidane have all worn the black-and-white stripes of Juventus with distinction. And yet 41 years after he last pulled on the revered No 9 shirt of Juventus, pride of place among such an esteemed group of soccer’s elite goes to John Charles. Charles once lived in a sprawling 17th-century villa, perched on a hillside above the River Po. He kept a vintage wine cellar, part-owned a restaurant, drove sleek sports cars and socialised with film stars. But he lived out his last years in a semi-detached house on the outskirts of Leeds, with his second wife Glenda, leading a li
Times Online - Sunday Times A footballing god with the common touch STEPHEN JONES I had the autograph of every Welsh footballer of note, yet none presumed to share a page with John Charles MY UNCLE was a friend of the family of Mal Charles, brother of the great John, and when I was around eight or nine years old, he gave me a Christmas present of a red autograph book. It already contained the signatures of the Wales rugby and football teams of that period, together with those of the Cardiff rugby and football teams. I still treasure the book to this day. Best of all, it had obviously been passed around the changing room itself to be signed and so it smelled of embrocation — perhaps it is a trick of the nose but I swear that I can still smell the embrocation to this day, around 40 years on. Each of the first 10 pages was packed with autographs, yet that of John Charles was the only one on its own particular page. It was as if all the great players in two types of football
Times Online - Sunday Times Welsh mourn football legend Brian Glanville FOOTBALL is in mourning today following the death of John Charles, the trailblazing Welshman who carved his place in Leeds United folklore before going on to take Italy by storm. Charles had been in hospital since last month after falling ill while preparing for an appearance on Italian television. He underwent surgery in Italy before being flown home, and passed away yesterday at a hospital in Wakefield, aged 72. His death was marked by a minute’s silence before yesterday’s Premiership match between Manchester United and Leeds — he was one of the most popular, and successful, players ever to grace the field at Elland Road. But it was in Italy that he really made his mark, scoring 93 goals in 155 matches for Juventus. Charles, known as the Gentle Giant, was never sent off or booked during his glittering career, which also took in Cardiff and Roma. A much-loved man, he was probably even more popular i
Times Online - Sunday Times Man Utd 1 Leeds 1: Smith punishes slack United Jonathan Northcroft at Old Trafford “ONE Peter Ridsdale!” sang the Manchester United fans. “Face like a donkey!” replied the Leeds support as Ruud van Nistelrooy chased a ball. There was cross-Pennine rivalry at Old Trafford yesterday but for once it seemed more vaudeville than visceral — less War of the Roses, in character, than flower show. In these muted surroundings, not with a bang but a whimper, the title was all but surrendered to Arsenal. Comebacks can never be entirely ruled out with Manchester United, but as well as the seven-point gap between the reigning champions and their Highbury challengers, there appears increasingly to be a gulf in resolve. United overhauled Arsenal when facing a six-point deficit last year, but then they were gathering momentum as Arsenal were losing nerve. Now, the situation is reversed. United’s uncertainties have coincided with the loss of Rio Ferdinand. Just fou
Sky Sports - The Best Sport Coverage From Around The World Wales legend Charles dies by Alex Livie Wales and Leeds United legend John Charles has died at the age of 72. The former Juventus centre forward passed away following a long battle against illness. Charles was admitted to hospital in January after feeling unwell prior to a scheduled appearance on Italian television. He was taken to Milan's San Carlo hospital where he needed an emergency two-hour operation on his heart, after suffering a burst blood vessel in his leg. A private jet owned by Juventus brought Charles back to England, where he was transferred to Wakefield's Pinderfields hospital. Charles, who also played for Swansea, Roma and Cardiff, scored 93 goals in 155 matches for Juventus and achieved the notable feat of never being booked or sent off throughout his career. He was equally at home operating in the centre of defence, but found fame with his prowess in front of goal. Awarded the CBE
BBC SPORT | Football | Premiership | Man Utd 1-1 Leeds Manchester United lost ground in the title race after drawing with Leeds. Ryan Giggs hit the post, Paul Scholes, Kleberson and Nicky Butt all went close with long distance strikes and Ruud van Nistelrooy missed from close range. Leeds' 18-year-old keeper Scott Carson made several saves but could not hold Gary Neville's second-half shot and Paul Scholes converted the rebound. Alan Smith immediately equalised when he superbly headed Didier Domi's cross past keeper Tim Howard. With Arsenal winning at Chelsea, Sir Alex Ferguson's team are now seven points adrift of the leaders. But his side have more immediate priorities with their Champions League tie against Porto on Wednesday. And Ferguson could be without Mikael Silvestre, who limped out of the match in the first half to be replaced by Wes Brown. Leeds remain in the bottom three but will take encouragement from a draw at the home of their greates
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Gray happy with point Leeds boss Eddie Gray praised his players after the 1-1 draw at Manchester United. Alan Smith was on target to cancel out Paul Scholes' opener. "The players showed great character to respond after going a goal down because they could easily have caved in at that point," said Gray. "They stood up to the challenge and came back into the game. Hopefully it has provided us with a platform to move forward," said Gray. Gray believes goalscorer Smith could yet make England's Euro 2004 side. "Alan has definitely got a chance," said Gray. "I believe he is capable of scoring more often than he does and now he has got goals in his last two games. It was a typical forward's goal and I was delighted with his overall contribution." Gray also paid tribute to former Leeds legend John Charles, who died on Saturday. "Of all the stars Leeds have had, John Charles&
Guardian Unlimited Football | News | Manchester United 1 - 1 Leeds united Alan Smith gave the Leeds United faithful a rare reason to smile at Old Trafford, scoring the goal that secured an unexpected 1-1 draw. With Leeds missing Paul Robinson and Mark Viduka, Smith emerged a hero, nodding home the second half equaliser that gives Leeds realistic hope of avoiding the drop and delivered a potentially fatal blow to thei local rivals' Premiership aspirations. The draw means United have fallen seven points behind league leaders Arsenal and, in a further blow, Mikael Silvestre was injured in a 50-50 challenge with Smith and could be sidelined for a lengthy period. United have come back from similar positions before but, with Rio Ferdinand likely to miss the rest of the season and Gary Neville now out for the next four domestic games after picking up another booking, it is difficult to see them doing it again. With Wednesday's return to Champions League action in mind, Roy
Times Online - Newspaper Edition Leeds suffer Viduka backlash By Rick Broadbent IT MIGHT sound like a scene from a cheap soap opera, with the protagonist being accused of wooden acting and allegations of a Mickey Mouse storyline, but Leeds United were taking legal advice last night after blaming the Australian Soccer Association (ASA) for making a crisis out of a melodrama. A club-versus-country dispute may be nothing new, but the twist in the curious tale of Mark Viduka resulted in Trevor Birch, the Leeds chief executive, using emotive words such as “outrage”, “disgrace” and “justice”. He also questioned whether the ASA was in breach of employment law by invoking a rule that means Leeds will take on Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow without their top striker. The ASA stoked the fire when it announced that Viduka and Scott Chipperfield, the FC Basle midfield player, would be banned from playing for their clubs for five days after their failure to report for Wednesda
Times Online - Newspaper Edition The big interview: Mark Viduka Leeds won’t be relegated — not if their top striker has anything to do with it, he tells Jonathan Northcroft February 2, 2004. The transfer window is slamming shut. It is deadline day, and, in the northeast, a day of deals and wheels. On the A1, Mark Viduka is speeding towards the turnoff for Teesside in a desperate attempt to reach the Riverside and complete a medical for Middlesbrough before close of business at 5pm. If ever haste is indecent, it is now. Leeds United are out of hope, yet the Australian’ s only worry is that he will be out of time. There he goes. Tara, teammates, g’day signing-on fee. A rat racing away from a sinking ship in a silver Mercedes-Benz. Nice story, except for one detail. None of it happened. Although Viduka’s dash was reported in newspapers and radio bulletins, the truth was different. The only travelling he did was on an aircraft returning to the UK from Melbourne, where he had just

I'D ONLY BEEN HERE A FEW WEEKS WHEN MCKENZIE ASKED ME IF REIDY WAS THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB KEVIN BLACKWELL - The People - FOOTBALL: INTERVIEW ALAN BIGGS - I'D ONLY BEEN HERE A FEW WEEKS WHEN MCKENZIE ASKED ME IF REIDY WAS THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB FOOTBALL: INTERVIEW ALAN BIGGS - on the chaos and charisma of life at Leeds THE 40-mile trip from Bramall Lane to Elland Road isn't the most taxing of journeys, but for Kevin Blackwell it has proved something of a white knuckle ride into the unknown. Having spent most of his career working for one man - his mentor at Sheffield United, Neil Warnock - Blackwell was plunged headlong out of his comfort zone when he accepted a role in the soap opera that is Leeds United. But strangely enough, the former Blades coach is loving every minute of it. In fact, he claims he would even make the same choice again. "Yes, with hindsight, I would,'' he admits. "I have no regrets because when Leeds came calling, they were too big a club with too much charisma to turn down. I believed in them then and I still do. "I honestly think that
Leeds United Football Club - Batty Wishes United Well Leeds midfielder David Batty has revealed he bears no grudge against Eddie Gray or Leeds United despite being told he would not have a part to play for the rest of this season. Gray acknowledged that Batty, 35, has been a magnificent servant in his two spells with the club, but was not able to offer him further games after changing the formation and style of United's play. Although disappointed, David went on fans websites to explain that he accepted Eddie Gray's decision graciously and wished the club all the best. He wrote:"As you're probably aware, I've been told I no longer have a role to play at Leeds, which I accept totally because football is all about opinions. Contrary to a lot of reports, myself and Eddie Gray get on well and have no problem with each other. Eddie thought, rather than have me hanging around the training ground with no prospect of ever playing again, he has given and shown m
Sport Leeds buy time as mystery backers continue guessing game By Nick Harris 14 February 2004 Miracle Man or Walter Mitty? Leeds United still do not know which label best suits Michael Ezra, 30, the Ugandan businessman who has claimed to have £90m to save the club. As Leeds were yesterday granted a fifth extension to their standstill agreement with their major creditors, and a Yorkshire-based consortium claimed to be "going in the right direction" towards their own £20m buyout, new details emerged about Ezra. None of them throws any light into how the self-styled "property tycoon" made his "fortune", the size of which is unknown. He is not listed as the owner of any major assets in Uganda, nor has the £600,000 Lamborghini he reportedly imported ever been seen in public. Harvard University, where he says he studied, has no record of any graduation. Two facts have been confirmed. As a teenager in 1987, he was indeed a winner at the "All Afric
BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Leeds extend deadline Leeds United have agreed a new deadline for staying out of administration. The crisis-hit club have now prolonged their 'standstill agreement' with creditors for five successive weeks. This time the deadline has been put back two weeks, rather than seven days as in previous extensions, with 27 February the new D-Day. Leeds' latest extension means chief executive Trevor Birch has not reached agreement with the Yorkshire-based consortium hoping to buy the club. The consortium - still thought to be in pole position despite claims from Ugandan tycoon Michael Ezra that he is interested - is discussing a £20m takeover. Leeds owe creditors debts totalling as much as £100m, with their financial plight not helped by several transfer window deals falling through in January. Goalkeeper Paul Robinson was due to join Tottenham for £2m and Danny Mills, out on loan at Middlesbrough, looked likely to comp
Sport Leeds play down £90m bid as Ugandan issues ultimatum By Nick Harris 11 February 2004 Michael Ezra, the Ugandan property tycoon who claims he has £90m of funding ready to save Leeds United, said yesterday that a takeover is being hampered over his proposals for an all-foreign board. But as he issued an apparent ultimatum to Leeds to accept or reject his offer within 48 hours, a senior source at Elland Road played down reports of Ezra's approach, saying negotiations were "in the very earliest stages at best". Ezra, 30, was reportedly given a guided tour of Leeds's Thorp Arch training ground on Monday. He then told the New Vision newspaper in Uganda that he had made a firm offer for the financially stricken club but that Leeds's chief executive, Trevor Birch, found some aspects of his takeover problematic. "The six-man board that I had presented [in my plan] doesn't have any Britons and Leeds don't find that acceptable," Ezra said. &
Times Online - Newspaper Edition More trouble for Leeds as Batty refuses to go quietly By Jeremy Cross LEEDS UNITED’S decision to terminate the services of David Batty is in danger of backfiring after it sparked a furore that threatens to undermine the club’s battle to avoid relegation from the Barclaycard Premiership. Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, has joined the debate over Eddie Gray’s decision to omit Batty from his Leeds squad for the rest of the season by branding the club’s treatment of the player as “disgraceful”. To make matters worse for Leeds it emerged last night that Batty is not willing to depart quietly after rejecting an offer to negotiate a settlement for the remaining five months of his contract. Trevor Birch, the Leeds chief executive, has told Batty not to report for training and wants to discuss a payoff. Batty, who is contracted until June and will earn a staggering £500,000 from the stricken club for si
Times Online - Newspaper Edition Viduka's flourish crowns night for resurgent Leeds By Matt Dickinson, Chief Football Correspondent Leeds United 4 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 IF LEEDS UNITED are to escape relegation from the Barclaycard Premiership, Alan Smith and Mark Viduka will have to lead them to safety as they did by overwhelming weak Wolverhampton Wanderers last night. The Yorkshire club had not won since 11 days before Christmas but this almost became a rout. The fourth goal, a wonderful turn and shot from Viduka in added time, was enough to lift Eddie Gray’s team above Wolves on goal difference at the bottom of the table. Morale will have taken an even greater leap although, with Manchester United and Liverpool to follow, it may soon be back in the dirt. At least Leeds have ten days before the trip to Old Trafford to savour an emphatic and uplifting end to a run of six league defeats. Steven Caldwell, on loan from Newcastle United, is an improvement on recent cen
Leeds United Football Club - Gray Drops Batty Bombshell Eddie Gray today revealed that David Batty will not feature in his first team plans for the remainder of the season. Batty, whose United contract lapses this summer, has made 12 starts this season for the first team after being frozen out during Terry Venables' tenure at the helm, and given a chance again by Peter Reid when he took over as manager. Eddie told, "I've made the decision that I won't play David for the rest of this season, purely from a footballing point of view. "I had a chat to David, he knows how I feel, and I think it's been a little frustrating for him as well, especially in the last three or four weeks, so I just told David what I feel, and we'll leave it at that. "He's been a great player at this club, and for his other clubs, but I had to make a decision I felt was the right one." Batty started his career with Leeds after joining from lo
Times Online - Newspaper Edition Aston Villa 2 Leeds 0: Angel makes most of Villa’s luck Brian Doogan at Villa Park FOR all the fight that remains in Leeds, and there certainly is some, the team now lacks conviction. Six successive Premiership defeats tell their own truth and the truth of this one was that Aston Villa won comfortably. Juan Pablo Angel was the most influential player on the pitch. The Colombian international’s power and pace, his heading ability and innovative flicks, soon had the Premiership’s most porous defence on the back foot. He combined well with his strike partner, Darius Vassell, while Gareth Barry and Nolberto Solano hurt Leeds consistently from the flanks. Leeds could rightly question the penalty won by Vassell for the challenge by Didier Domi that put them behind, but any notion that the outcome was determined by Uriah Rennie’s dubious decision lacks validity. “If we keep playing like we did then I still believe we can scrape out of trouble,” sa