Yorkshire Post 30/11/07
Shepherd eyes investment in Leeds United
By Richard Sutcliffe
EXCLUSIVE: Freddy Shepherd wants to buy a one-third share in Leeds United, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.
The former Newcastle United chairman is understood to have been in talks with the Elland Road hierarchy for a couple of months over acquiring a minority shareholding.
It is by no means a done deal, however, with several other would-be investors believed to have been in touch with chairman Ken Bates since the club exited administration during the summer.
Under the proposal by Shepherd, Bates would remain in control with the deal taking the form of an investment as opposed to an outright takeover. This would fit in with the 75-year-old's intention to remain as chairman.
Bates has made no secret of his desire to attract investors to the club and is known to have had lunch with Shepherd in September.
He has been at pains to point out that the club is not for sale and used his programme notes for the recent FA Cup game against Hereford United to reiterate his intention to restore United to former glories.
He wrote: "There are plenty of would-be investors sniffing round Leeds United. It could be tempting to take the money and run.
"Let me assure you, that possibility is not even in the mind of (my wife) Suzannah and myself. We are here to build not just Yorkshire's No 1 club, but one which will compete and take on the so-called greats including Chelsea with (Roman) Abramovich's millions.
"Rumours surfaced earlier this season that Shepherd, who banked £37m by selling his shares in Newcastle to businessman Mike Ashley, could be interested in Leeds.
The speculation originated in the North East where the two men, who became friends when in charge of Chelsea and Newcastle respectively, were spotted having lunch together.
It was claimed by sources in the city that Shepherd wanted to buy the Leeds club outright, but the Yorkshire Post understands this not to be the case.
Shepherd, who has also been linked with Sheffield Wednesday in recent weeks, did reveal earlier this month how he hoped to be back in the game by January and claimed that "half-a-dozen clubs" had tried to interest him in either investing or mounting a full take-over.
He then added: "Football is a drug, and a powerful drug. From January I think something could happen.
"I am a northern guy, so obviously I am more interested in northern clubs.
"When news of the initial meeting between Bates and Shepherd emerged, the Leeds chairman said: "Freddy is a good friend of mine and has been for years.
"I went up to see him, and we finished up having lunch.
"Inevitably the subject of football came out, and he is still a bit sore about what happened at Newcastle.
"He would like to get back in and I would like an investor, so the two fit in."
Should Shepherd invest in Leeds, it will continue a rollercoaster year for the club whose very future was in doubt not so long ago after slipping into administration amid debts of £35m.
A bitter fight for control raged on for much of the summer before Bates emerged triumphant by buying the club back from the administrator.United's troubles were not over, however, with the Football League refusing to return the club's share due to what they considered to be a failure to foll
ow their insolvency policy.
It meant a nervous wait for supporters before the League finally handed back the share in early August after hitting Leeds with a 15-point penalty. Appeals to the League and Football Association to review the deduction were subsequently turned down and a club statement this week confirmed they plan to take the fight to arbitration unless the FA agree to go to the High Court for a judicial review.
The fear was that the penalty would lead to a relegation battle but, instead, it has had a galvanising effect with supporters, management and players having been bound together in a determination to give a metaphorical V-sign to the League.
Results have been so impressive on the field that United now sit fifth in League One after claiming a phenomenal 41 points from 17 games. Without the points penalty, Leeds would be 10 clear at the top of the table.

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