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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


May 31: Robbie Fowler has gone through a full training session, as has Kieron Dyer - despite the fact that the Newcastle player continues to suffer some pain while working out. This means that Smiffy can now get off on his holidays and support the tean from afar - he's had a tough season and deserves the break.

May 31: Leeds today denied any suggestion that a deal has been set up to offload Gary Kelly in the summer. Leeds are insisting that no bid has been made or accepted, but sources close to the player are adamant that a summer move is on the cards,

May 31: Thanks UEFA! The boys from Zurich have done me a massive favour by postponing the draw for the UEFA Cup - and the 1st round itself - for a week, so the games will now take place on September 19 and October 1. And September 19 is the good lady wife's birthday....

May 31: Today's Guardian reports Gary Kelly as done and dusted on a move to Sunderland with a fee of £4 million mentioned. The deal will be sealed after the World Cup as Kelly resigns himself to the fact that he is the number 2 number 2 behind Danny Mills. The Mackems are said to be leading the chase for Ray Parlour as well, while neighbours Newcastle are ahead in the chase for Feyenoord's Brett Emerton.

May 30: Update on the Yorkshire Masters tournament: the Leeds squad will once again be managed by Peter Lorimer and is currently scheduled to be: Phil Hughes, Neil Aspin, Glynn Snodin, Brendan Ormsby, Chris Kamara, Scott Sellars, Andy Ritchie, Vince Hilaire, Carl Shutt and Gunnar Halle. Other Leeds old boys involved include Mel Sterland, John Sheridan and Imre Varadi for Wednesday and Tony Currie managing a Sheffield United side that includes Paul Beesley, John Pemberton and Tony Agana. Call Sheffield Arena on 0114 256 5656 if you want tickets (£12 adults, £8 concessions) - it will be played on June 30 and shown on Sky Sports.

May 30: Transfer trash of the day: Leeds are in for Ray Parlour for £7 million from Arsenal - when van Bommel arrives he'll be surplus to Wenger's requirements. Which will clear the way for Bowyer to go to Anfield. Steve McManaman is also once again mentioned as linking up with his old mate Robbie Fowler - a free transfer from Real Madrid being in the offing, but Leeds would have to dig deep to fund his wages if they wanted him - he's rumoured to be on £70K a week! Finally, the rumours about Juve putting in a £15 million bid for Olly are just rumours according to his agent. Bruno Satin stressed that Olly really was happy at Leeds and wasn't agitating for a move, despite the impression he may have given in the past.

May 30: The Rio rumours have provoked a snappy reaction from Leeds AND Manchester United. The clubs issued a joint statement slamming the story in the Daily Express: "The directors of Manchester United and Leeds wish to put the record straight. No deal has been struck between the clubs and contrary to the story in the Daily Express, Manchester United wish to point out that they have not made an illegal approach by forwarding a contract to Rio Ferdinand in Japan or a list of houses in Cheshire for his perusal." It went on to dump on any hint that we needed to sell Rio and a sideswipe that we weren't paying our bills: "Leeds chairman Mr Ridsdale is happy to confirm that Rio Ferdinand is not for sale and is under contract to Leeds United for a further four years. Leeds United are taking legal advice regarding the totally false allegation that £4 million remains outstanding from Rio Ferdinand's transfer from West Ham."

May 30: Former Leeds chairman Bill Fotherby is said to be looking at taking over Bradford City - currently in administration as a result of mounting debts and the vanishing TV money. Fotherby is currently in charge at Harrogate Town but was a significant figure at Elland Road in the 1990s and became well-known to many fans for his upbeat travels around Europe, as Leeds were linked with just about every big name under the sun (but ended up with Tomas Brolin).

May 29: Early Euro-news for next season sees Ipswich handed a bit of a bonus after their relegation from the Premier League. They've come out of the hat to gain entry into the UEFA Cup on the Fair Play ticket along with Sigma Olomouc of the Czech Republic. The Tractor Boys had a decent run last season, finally losing to Internazionale and this might just be enough to let them hang on to some of their star players for a year as they try to regain their position in the top flight.

May 29: Today's transfer rumours surround Jon Woodgate - and despite his much-publicised off-field problems it would seem that there are several teams out there willing to take a chance on signing him, and Blackburn have made a bid of £12 million which Leeds have rejected. Argentina's Ariel Ortega has dropped a hint or two that his move from River Plate to Fenerbahce is not yet a done deal, and that he'd like to play in the Premier League and Leeds and Villa could be in the frame for him. Of course, this is is his agent talking....

May 29: Alan Smith will be on the edge of his seat for the next couple of days as he waits for news of Kieron Dyer's fitness from Japan. Teams must be finalised 24 hours before the first game, so in theory that would mean that Sven doesn't have to make a call until 6:30 local time on Saturday, but it's thought likely that Dyer will take a fitness test on Thursday or Friday at the latest and Smithy could then be in line for a call-up to the full squad, having been put on standby after a great run in the U21 championships. Or he could be off on a more conventional holiday instead...

May 29: More pre-season dates are out - including a visit to Ibrox on August 7. Let's hope whoever we've got in goal for that game remembers to take a cap to shade their eyes from those infamous floodlights! The reserves (well, a "Leeds United XI") will play Farsley Celtic and Halifax Town on August 8 and 13 respectively.

May 29: It seems that everyone is fighting their team-mates in Japan. After Ljungberg and Mellberg and Gronkjaer and Gravesen, we now have Robbie Keane swinging for Niall Quinn. Quinn has been prominent in leading the players to get behind Mick McCarthy following the Roy Keane incident, but it seems that this was just another one of those "training ground incidents" rather than anything more sinister.

May 28: Although quite a few of the players have complained that the new ball used in the World Cup is too light, Ian Harte is the latest in a line of dead ball specialists to sing its praises. He said: "The new ball is faster than anything we have played with before and that is made for guys like me. If David Beckham plays he will enjoy it and hopefully I can get a goal or two in the World Cup. With shots from 20-25 yards out the goalkeepers are definitely going to be worried." He added: "With this one if you just hit it slightly wrong it will go anywhere, so you have to concentrate and try to hit it to the best of your ability." Uh-oh! His conversion rate last season wasn't much to write home about - so if you've got a seat for the Ireland games behind the goal in Row Z, I'd take some protective clothing with me if I were you.

May 28: Transfer rubbish time, and we start with Lee Bowyer. Newcastle are the latest club to be linked with a possible move for the midfielder, but Peter Ridsdale confirmed that Leeds had received no formal offers yet. He also hinted that Bowyer might end up staying after all. He's due to meet Bowyer's agent again shortly, and said: "A fortnight ago we shook hands on a deal and I think his agent was as surprised as I was by the events of last week. I'm not making any predictions, but you can never say never in this game." Further points of interest in that area include the fact that Bowyer would face an immediate dent in any signing-on fee he might receive, since he would be forced to repay the legal fees that Leeds stumped up for him in one big chunk, rather than over the duration of his contract as Jon Woodgate is believed to be doing. Since those fees are understood to total over £750,000, that would be a sizeable hit to take - although Leeds face a greater bite still if Lee goes, since they are obliged to pay Charlton 20% of any profit above the £2.6 million that Bowyer cost in 1996. With a fee in excess of £15 million needed to make the move happen, that could net Charlton as much as the original transfer! Speaking of Charlton - Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool are all interested in the Addicks' England U-21 left-back Paul Konchesky. Must say I wasn't massively impressed by what I saw in the U-21 games earlier this month, but sometimes it seems that the club think any option is better than continuing with Ian Harte.

May 28: The details of this summer's pre-season tour of the Far East were announced today. Leeds will play a local side - Green Town - of Hangzhou in China on July 23, before moving on to Melbourne's Colonial Stadium to play Colo Colo of Chile on July 27. The team stop over in Thailand on the way home to face a Bangkok XI on July 30. As well as providing Leeds with increased visibility in an increasingly important marketplace, this will also be the culmination of the "Search for a Soccer Star" contest which has been pulling in the viewers in Vietnam and Thailand.

May 27: Hopefully this will reach you all okay - currently upgrading the system and reached Sunday night with things still in a half-finished sort of state. Normal service will resume....errr... soon I hope :-)

May 27: With Lee Bowyer's departure imminent (or no closer depending on who you believe), Leeds are starting to be linked with various other players from around Europe. We start close to home with Matt Holland - skipper of relegated Ipswich Town and available for something of the order of £5 million if we can beat off Spurs and West Ham. Lille's Pascal Cygan fancies a move to Celtic - but Leeds could also be in with a shout if the club decide to cash in on a player doing a Bowyer - refusing to sign an extension with just one year to go. Finally, Man U's offer for Rio seems to be going up every day: we're now talking about a bid of £30 million.

May 27: All 4 Leeds players played in this morning's 2-2 draw with Cameroon. Nigel Martyn and Rio Ferdinand were on in the first half, with Danny Mills playing on the right side of midfield in the second half. Robbie Fowler came on for the last few minutes - and it proved a worthwhile move as he looped a header back over the keeper in the 92nd minute to salvage a draw for England.

May 26: Reports in today's tabloids that Leeds have received a bid of just under £15 million from Liverpool for Lee Bowyer were denied by Peter Ridsdale. Ridsdale - on tour with the England party in the Far East - said: "At this point we have received no bids for Lee Bowyer," and pointed out that the club must be approached before anyone else can speak to the player, since he remains under contract.

May 25: Harry Kewell is finally a married man. He tied the knot with Emmerdale star Sheree Murphy in Las Vegas yesterday - just as reports were surfacing that he'd postponed the ceremony for a second time.

May 25: Robbie Keane scored twice for Ireland as they came from behind to win their warm-up game against Sanfreece Hiroshima in Japan. They went behind 10 minutes before half time, but Keane's header brought it back to level terms, and a second half tap-in sealed the win. Gary Kelly and Ian Harte also played. but the Irish are catching the English up on the injury worries front: both Jason McAteer and Kevin Kilbane limped out of the game and McAteer is now doubtful for their opener against Cameroon.

May 25: Finally a new rumour about Leeds signing a player rather than losing one: Pablo Aimar - Valencia's Argentinian midfielder is the man in question, with Robbie Keane and some cash set to move in the opposite direction. Keane was being linked with Man City, but Nicolas Anelka's arrival should end that speculation - although other Premiership clubs will also be interested in the striker's availability. Sunderland are rumoured to be losing Kevin Phillips to Spurs - and even if he stays, a long-term partner for Phillips to replace Niall Quinn must be high on Peter Reid's wants list.

May 24: Olivier Dacourt has ruled out a move to Lazio - but there are plenty of other clubs in the race. There's a massive merry-go-round ready to kick off in Italy, with the likes of Stam, Davids, Nesta and Montella ready to switch clubs for huge sums of money - and room for the likes of Olly to jump on board and pick up a tidy wad themselves. Things may be held up until after the World Cup, when the big clubs make a decision to really up the ante for someone who sets the tournament on fire, but when it starts up, the calliope will quickly be up to full speed as the teams jostle for pole position for next season.

May 24: Transfer gubbins today focuses on Lee Bowyer. Despute the presence of Steven Gerrard in the centre of the Scousers midfield, Anfield is emerging as the most likely destination for Leeds' unsettled midfielder - IF he can convince Gerard Houllier that he will be focused on the football and steer clear of the beer and other off-field problems. Rio Ferdinand has said that he's "flattered" by the apparent interest of Man U - although Leeds are denying all knowledge of a bid for the centreback. Rio is ignoring the rumours for now (and would be well-advised to continue to do so until the sum involved doubles). He said: "I am 100 per cent focused on doing my job with England. We have come away, the season has finished domestically, and this is the time to prepare for England duty." In other news, Robbie Fowler has resumed normal training after getting over the worst of his hip injury, and although it's Trevor Sinclair getting the nod to replace the injured Danny Murphy in the Far East, Alan Smith and David Dunn remain on standby for a last-minute call-up into the full squad after good performances in the U-21 tournament.

May 24: Leeds have disappointed former chairman Bill Fotherby by announcing that they won't be playing a pre-season game against Harrogate this year - for the first time in 5 years. Leeds have usually fielded a reserve side rather than a first team against Harrogate but this year decided to go somewhere else for a change. Fotherby said: "They say they feel they have to share themselves about, but they have been coming to Harrogate since I was at Leeds. It has been an annual thing, people look forward to it and we always get a big crowd. But in their wisdom they have decided enough is enough." Leeds will send a team to Farsley Celtic instead.

May 23: With Leeds ready to embark on a Far East pre-season tour this summer, DOL should print out and keep the following excuse from Alex Ferguson. Man U had their own Oriental jolly last summer, and Fergie is blaming it for their failure to bring home the bacon this season. He said: "We got to the Charity Shield and you could see the difference in fitness as they were ahead of us in terms of games. The players were playing catch-up in terms of fitness at the start of the season." Man U had a dreadful start to the season - although they did have a great string of form as they hit their stride just as other teams started to get a bit jaded in winter, but Fergie blamed the marketing-driven trip for his players' condition:"The players can't move. They're stuck in the hotel all the time. They go out of the door and there are thousands of fans there," he said. So if we get to January and find ourselves down the league table and out of the cup, it's clear already that none of the blame will attach itself to the manager and coaching staff, but it will be solely due to the commercial management of the club inflicting this gruelling trip on them instead of the usual taxing games against lower division opposition from deepest Scandinavia. Hmmmm... pessimism attack before the season gets underway - I really do need that holiday...

May 23: Who's next out of the door? Peter Ridsdale has been in talks with his counterpart at Old Trafford to discuss the sale of Rio Ferdinand for £25 million or so according to one tabloid today (and the other 10 million mate!). And DOL is a candidate (well, he's a target anyway) for the vacant PSV job in competition with the likes of Gus Hiddinck (current South Korea coach) and Frank Rijkaard. Even with the big pile of Philips cash behind them, it's hard to see them tempting him away from Elland Road for the chance to manage a team in Holland, even if they'll have Champions League football next season.

May 23: Well, at least one thing about the Lee Bowyer transfer has brought a smile to my face. Manchester City boss Kevin Keegan has said that he wouldn't be bidding because he had a balanced midfield and that the only player he was interested in picking up was Marc Vivien Foe. Errr...right Kev. Tomorrow, the chairmen of Walsall, Torquay and Crewe will be making statements to the press formally pulling out of the race to sign the 25-year-old Bowyer as well. Peter Ridsdale hit out at the midfielder today, saying that he had wasted everybody's time with the phony contract negotiations and that the club would speed up the search for other players this summer. He said: "Nobody is irreplaceable and we will now set about looking for a replacement. How difficult that may be we dont know until we try, but we are dedicated to finding someone who can now replace Lee Bowyer."

May 23: Robert Molenaar and David Wetherall are two of the nineteen (count 'em) players that the administrators have made redundant at Bradford. There are some experienced and well-known names in that bunch, including Mister 40 Grand a Week Carbone. The move leaves Bradford with no recognised first team players on their books - and some of them might not even know they're on the dole yet, since quite a few have headed off for a summer holiday.

May 23: Mark Viduka said that he's enjoyed his time at Leeds - but he'd have stayed at Celtic if he'd known what a difference Martin O'Neill was going to make at the club. Complaining that the management had previously broken promises to him, he couldn't trust them in the future, but he said: "I would have liked to have stayed, and if I'd known things were going to be this different, I probably would have."

May 23: Lucas Radebe's comeback continues - he played for the full 90 minutes as South Africa beat Turkey 2-0 today thanks to two goals from FC Porto's Benni McCarthy.

May 22: For the second time in six months, Lee Bowyer has been transfer-listed, but this time it looks permanent. Bowyer has decided that he needs to move on as "a career move", and so declined to sign an extension to his contract, despite the offer of nearly £40,000 a week. With just one year left on his contract, Peter Ridsdale had little option but to list the midfielder - or watch £15 million evaporate in a puff of Bosman smoke over the next 12 months. Ridsdale said: "This initiative has been taken with great reluctance. Given the contract offered by the club, which would have elevated Lee to the elite of the highest paid players at Leeds United and given the support the club has shown Lee during the past turbulent thirty months, we are disappointed to have this reached this juncture." Just a few months ago, Bowyer had seemed to commit his future to the club, saying: "The support here is great. Where can I get support like I've had here? It's impossible." It will be interesting to see where he can go to further his career though: will Fergie, Wenger or Houllier want to take the chance on his off-field attitude? Who will be next to go? With Harry Kewell's wedding postponed - according to some reports because he wants to sort out his footballing future first - is he in line? Or will it be Viduka, Dacourt or Keane? Certainly there has been plenty of interest in Olly, and if Edgar Davids moves to Lazio, that would leave an obvious vacancy with Juve, but both Kewell and Viduka haven't had the best of seasons and their opportunity to really coin it has dropped back since last season, so maybe another season with Leeds might just be the ticket for them to boost their reputations and pay packets ahead of a big money move. As for Keane - it's hard to see where he fits into a side with Fowler, Bridges, Smith and Viduka, and DOL's reluctance to use him last season paints its own picture.

May 22: Just over a week to go - and Rio's looking forward to taking a more active part in this year's World Cup than he did last time around. He said: "I got the opportunity to go and watch Brazil play Morocco. I enjoy watching games and it was good to take in as much as I could." He's happy just to be in the squad and a pretty much automatic choice for the starting line-up - but he knows how easily things could go wrong - looking at some of the players who missed out he said: "It's very disappointing for the players who have been injured and it's a blow to lose players of that calibre but the people who have been brought in are quality players." And it's good to have his team-mates with him too: "We have four Leeds lads in the squad and that is brilliant for the club. Now we have to do a job for our country and make everyone at home proud."

May 22: Alan Smith and Paul Robinson again featured in the U-21 side in action in Switzerland tonight, but that's the last game of the season for both of them as England went down to a 1-3 defeat against Portugal. Portugal went 2-0 ahead in the first half before Smith - once again voted Man of the Match - pulled a goal back just before the break. A third goal for Portugal in the second half sealed the game - although they too were eliminated after Switzerland managed a draw with Italy in the other group game.

May 22: Alan Smith is learning a bit about managers and how they react to his attitude. Talking about his rash of red cards of the last couple of years, he noted: "If you're out there giving 100 per cent and you make two late tackles and that means two yellow cards then the manager won't have a go at you. But if you are out there just being stupid, then that's when they just go mad." His current manager David Platt has been full of praise for the young striker. He said: "He's an inspiration. He's inspired me in the two games. It's people like him that you need in these situations....I think the effort and the endeavour that he's put into the two games and his performances as well it's not just work rate have been exceptional."

May 21: Bruce Grobelaar had some advice for South Africa's coach Jomo Sono - don't pick Lucas! He reckons that the experienced players like Radebe and Eric Tinkler should be kept out of the squad in favour of others who are playing more regularly. He said: "The players that are playing abroad and playing regularly are not getting a look in and ones that are playing at home are going." Wonder if he'd agree that England should leave Beckham out?

May 21: Nigel Martyn, Danny Mills and Rio Ferdinand all featured in today's England friendly with South Korea. As planned, Nige and Rio played for the first half - with Nige pulling off an excellent save (not that he had much to do) - and Danny Mills played for over an hour and gave a pretty good account of himself at right back. Wes Brown replaced Mills, and after the game Sven had words of praise for both players - so we're not much clearer as to who will be his first choice in that position (although Brown did make a couple of characteristic screw-ups late on). The game finished 1-1 with a Michael Owen goal in the first half cancelled out by a 52nd minute equaliser from the hosts.

May 20: Alan Smith picked up a booking and a second man of the match award in the U-21s second group game in Switzerland. It was all to no avail though - after having a goal disallowed just before half-time, England conceded two goals to Massimo Maccarone either side of an equaliser by Gareth Barry and are now need at least a draw against Portugal in the final match to go through. Robbo made a couple of good saves but couldn't do much about either goal - the second one looks on course to be the goal of the tournament from the Empoli striker: a superb takedown, great flick that left the centrebacks for dead and well-struck finish.

May 20: Lucas Radebe came through his first "real" competitive game this morning as South Africa defeated what amounted to a Scotland second XI 2-0 in Hong Kong. Coach Sono says that he's put himself into contention for the captain's armband in the Finals. "I've put my head on the block for him but I knew that if he played a few games he would come through them. He is such a good player and very inspirational." He added: "If he is fully fit for all the games then Lucas will be my World Cup captain."

May 20: Although the Welsh FA have announced their punishment for Cardiff after the violence at the FA Cup tie in January, the English FA have not yet made a decision. An FA spokesman said: "As disciplinary hearings like these take place so infrequently it is difficult to comment on what further action could involve. Each case is looked at separately." In the light of last night's BBC footage of how Cardiff have conducted themselves it will be interesting to see if that's all the FA want to talk to them about.

May 20: Leeds will be playing in the Masters Football tournament again this year, with the Yorkshire heat being played at the Sheffield Arena on June 30. Leeds have named a team comprising several of those who did well in last season's tournament - Phil Hughes, Neil Aspin, Glynn Snodin, Brendan Ormsby, Gunnar Halle, Chris Kamara, Scott Sellars, Andy Ritchie and Carl Shutt, and will face Bradford, and both Sheffield teams.

May 19: Transfer rubbish for the weekend has it that we're falling over ourselves to buy Celtic players this weekend - Neil Lennon or John Hartson depending on which fibsheet you believe. Lennon is allegedly still owed money from his transfer from Leicester and has told Celtic they've got to come up with the cash by July. As for Hartson - sure he scored a good goal in the Kelly testimonial, but do we really need another striker right now?

May 19: DOL has said that he'll be putting his foot down with the players next season: "If that means getting people on the transfer list and on their way so be it because I won't tolerate misbehaviour. That's how severe I will have to be for the sake of the club." He mentions Smiffy and Danny Mills by name though points to the strides Smith has made in controlling his temperament in the last couple of months - but says that they both still need to do more.

May 19: The England camp seems to resemble a field hospital, with David Beckham's foot and Kieron Dyer's knee now joined by increasing concern for Robbie Fowler's fitness and he's in doubt for this week's friendly with South Korea. Martin Keown, Sol Campbell and Nicky Butt are also receiving treatment - looks like we could have only half a team fit by the time the tournament opens.

May 18: Quick WC round-up: France lost a 3 year unbeaten record after a late goal from Marc Wilmots gave Belgium a 2-1 win. Belgium have lost some key players for the World Cup, including Emile Mpenza and Walter Baseggio, so this result is a bit of a morale-booster, despite the absence of Zidane and Henry from the home side. Germany may have had a convincing win over Austria - 6-2 - in their warm-up game but they're facing a serious loss to their midfield with Sebastian Deisler carried off in tonight's friendly. The England squad have left their families behind in Dubai and moved on to South Korea, where they will face their hosts in a friendly on Tuesday.

May 18: Is Lee Bowyer being transfer-listed? That's the rumour doing the rounds today. Today's tabloids suggest that the chairman is getting exasperated with Bowyer's failure to commit himself to the club and that his attempts to hold out for a couple of thousand pounds more are at least partly aimed at securing a move and a big payday - which would help him pay the massive legal fees he was landed with after the trial. Meanwhile the other key rumours of today have Robbie Fowler and Robbie Keane going to Maine Road. Maybe the latter - but unless DOL declares Vidooks and Bridges to be his main strike pairing, not the former.

May 18: A total of 66 Leeds fans have been banned from travelling abroad for the duration of the World Cup. Over 1000 fans across the country have been ordered to surrender their passports in a bid to prevent hooligan problems in Japan, and anyone subject to banning orders in the UK is being targetted. Cardiff (surprise surprise) and Stoke with 112 and 98 respectively are the only two clubs with more banned fans - and although this is partially reflective of the troubles that these clubs have experienced, it also reflects the zeal with which the clubs and local police have pursued people identified as troublemakers. The club declined to comment on the list.

May 17: Good news everyone! Laurent Blanc is set to sign an extension to his contract at Old Trafford, ensuring that - with Wes "whoops wrong goal" Brown - the opposition will continue to have a pretty decent chance of bagging a few goals when they play the Trafford team.

May 17: The England U-21s got off to a good start in the European U-21 Championships in Switzerland tonight. Robbo had a pretty good game (although he looked a bit chunky) but got booked for wasting time. Smithy played mainly on the left side of midfield and had an excellent game. Goals from Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe gave England a 2-1 win - the Swiss goal coming from a well-taken 30-yard free kick that Robbo might have got to if he'd been on top form. The U-20s lost their 3rd place play-off to Japan on penalties after the game had finished all square.

May 17: Leeds have taken nearly 2000 pre-orders for the new home kit after advertising it in the Boro programme and in a bunch of fliers distributed around Leeds. The kit - mainly white with blue trim - goes on sale on June 7 with all the usual hoo-ha and player appearances at various Leeds shops and the ground. Can't see much wrong with the latest one - other than the choice of a fizzy pop company as sponsor. Now if it was Chucklehead Cider - 7% straight from the farm stuff that I've been fortunate enough to have twice in the last month - that would be something else entirely, but Strongbow is just not the right name to be associated with LUFC. Let's have Tetley's at worst - or better still the delights of Black Sheep - advertising their wares on the white shirts rather than the purveyors of fizzy blandness to the masses.

May 17: Lee Bowyer *is* stalling over a new contract according to sources close to the club. Bowyer has been offered a new contract that will make hime one of the top earners at the club - and the country - but despite the support of the club and the fans through both trials, he still seems intent on holding out for every last penny he can ring out of the deal. He'd do well to consider what has been happening in the lower divisions of late, and what impact that will have on the money available to Premier League clubs in a couple of years time: accepting a sensible deal now might be a lot better for him in the long run than taking a massive offer from someone else when they'll be going bankrupt in a year or so's time.

May 17: Remember the Premier 1 motor-racing league, announced to much hoo-ha some time ago? Leeds found themselves number one in a field of one (copyright Mad magazine) when it came to sponsoring a car but now Chelsea have also joined up and the league looks like it will finally get underway in March next year.

May 17: Gary Kelly, Ian Harte and Robbie Keane all made an appearance in the Republic's last friendly before they depart for the Far East last night. Nigeria turned over a long unbeaten home streak for Ireland, running out 2-1 winners in a game that - although it was just a friendly - will have rung a few alarm bells for the England side that will face Nigeria in a few weeks time.

May 16: Cardiff City have been found guilty of misconduct by the Welsh FA after the trouble at Ninian Park back in January when Leeds played there in the FA Cup 3rd round. They were fined £20,000, but have not been forced to close their ground for any future games. It's not yet clear whether the trouble between Cardiff and Stoke in the play-offs - or Cardiff and Swansea in the Welsh Cup this week - will result in further investigations and punishment. The FAW secretary-general recognised that Cardiff had done a lot to get rid of the hooligan element in recent years (and bearing in mind the troubles Leeds have had in the past it's hard not to have some sympathy), but he said: "The panel in considering the evidence have found Cardiff City guilty of misconduct with regard to encroachment and violence by a number of fans." They were cleared of missile throwing offences (despite the clear evidence from TV, players and officials), as were Leeds fans who were investigated by the English FA. Cardiff's press statement points at "media pressure" and more or less says "We don't think we did anything wrong" - which may be done for PR purposes, but seems more like the ostrich attitude to problems that we've seen by so many clubs times and time again.

May 16: The England U-21s kick off their championship campaign against Switzerland in Zurich tomorrow night - with Paul Robinson and Alan Smith both almost certain to start. Smithy may end up playing in midfield/behind the main strikers just as he has in the league this season, but surely merits a run up front. The games are live on Channel 5 in the UK, and after tomorrow England face Italy in Basel on Sunday, Portugal in Zurich on Tuesday and - if they qualify - the semis are on May 25 and the final on May 28. The U-20s will face Japan in the 3rd place play-off at the Toulon tournament.

May 16: Harry Kewell will be expected to start negotiations for a new contract by the turn of the year or face transfer-listing - and that's direct from Peter Ridsdale. "Harry will not be allowed to leave on a Bosman transfer. I would think that the club will sit down with Harry some time before Christmas to discuss the possibility of him signing a new contract." In other contract and transfer news, Eirik Bakke is the latest player set to receive an offer of an extension, and Sunderland are interested in buying Robbie Keane to boost their strike force for next season.

May 16: Random World Cup quotes time. Rio says he wouldn't shy away from a penalty shoot-out if it came down to it: "I would take a penalty," he said. "It would be a pressurised situation but one which I would most certainly warm to." Robbie Fowler can't quite believe that a player who is good enough to play in 2 of the last 3 Champions League finals isn't in the England squad. His old mate Steve McManaman missed the cut for whatever reason (maybe his hairdo reminded Sven of Ulrika), and Fowler said: "I really do feel for Macca because he was desperate to get into the squad. I speak with him almost every day, he is a very good friend of mine from our Liverpool days, and he told me that he is very disappointed about not being given the chance of playing on the World Cup stage." Danny Mills has said that he won't change his aggressive style for the World Cup - although he will continue to try to curb the moments of madness like the one we witnessed at Newcastle. He said: "Whatever problems I've had haven't been down to the way I play, they've been down to silly things that have happened." He went on: "I'm a committed, aggressive and determined player. That's the way I've always played and that's what brought me here." Mills has received the number 2 shirt in the squad - but some are suggesting that Wes Brown (own-goal specialist and centreback) might get the nod, despite his long injury lay-off. One final platitude from Nigel Martyn - hoping to be in action rather than just benchwarming in June: "It's a tough group which has been referred to as the Group of Death, but then you look at the other groups and they are all full of great teams. It's probably slightly harder than most, but whichever group you are in isn't going to be easy." That's on page 72 of the "Footballers' Big Book of Press Quotes" for those of you who are keeping count.

May 15: World Cup news: Lucas Radebe could find that his top-level comeback will be crowned with the captaincy of South Africa. With Shaun Bartlett out of the picture it's down to Radebe or one of the two keepers in the squad to pick up the armband - although Hans Vonk remains favourite. Radebe hopes that the side will do better than in France in 1998: "We have to play Spain, Slovenia and Paraguay which could be a bit tricky. Spain are the best side in the group but after that it could be anybody for that runner up spot. We will be giving it our best to make sure that it is us." And he pointed to the incentive for the younger, less well-known players in the squad: "It is a big stage for them but it is the perfect place to learn and a perfect stage for them to step up to the next level....I think for our players who want to play overseas this is the ideal opportunity to catch the eye of some scouts." For England, Robbie Fowler missed training in order to rest the injury that kept him out of Leeds' final game of the season.

May 15: Danny Hay has been released by Leeds after two injury-ridden seasons. He's only made 6 appearances since signing from Perth Glory in 1999, and he said: "It's been difficult for the club as I've been injured virtually all the time I've been here, so they can't really offer me a new contract which I understand." He added: "Leeds have been great to me and they are letting me stay around to work with Dave Hancock and will help me find another club." He's hopeful of continuing his career over in England, and has also been offered a chance to play for New Zealand again in the Oceania Cup.

May 15: Blackburn and Everton are now in the hunt for Michael Duberry - as well as Bolton and Celtic as previously reported. Doobs will probably favour Blackburn - for the chance to play in Europe if nothing else, and Leeds now seem to be looking for a little over £3 million for the defender. In other transfer news, Ian Harte is said (by his agent, so get a large pinch of salt ready) to be attracting interest from several foreign clubs as rumours of his departure from Leeds continue to circulate. He's still got 4 years left on his contract, but the agent said: "In an ideal world, Ian would like to stay at Leeds, but they would more than likely sell him if the right offer were to come in for him."

May 15: Harry Kewell has said that he intends to see out his contract at Leeds - but since that contract has just two years to run and Peter Ridsdale has publicly stated that any player who didn't extend when they got down to that point would be assumed to be seeking a Bosman and sold while we can still turn a profit, that could just give him an excuse to say "Sorry lads - I've been sold even though I said I'd stay". He said: "I came here when I was young and have always said I would like to try Italy or Spain but at the moment I am happy at Leeds and feel we could do something here."

May 15: The England U-20 side drew 0-0 with Brazil in their final group game last night, and so finish in second place to the South Americans. Frazer Richardson had another excellent game in defence, and he'll be hoping to continue that form into the third place play-off game against the runners-up from the other group soon.

May 14: Lucas Radebe is a definite for the World Cup! The Chief looked a little rusty in the weekend's practice match, but sufficiently impressed coach Jomo Sono that he was today named in South Africa's 23-man squad for the World Cup finals. They're now heading out to complete their preparations with games in Hong Kong against Scotland next Monday and Turkey three days later, before heading off for Japan. They are drawn with Slovenia, Paraguay and Spain in the finals, and although it's not an easy group, they should be able to hold their own and maybe even qualify for the next phase if the team plays to the best of its ability.

May 14: The rumours around Michael Duberry's impending departure are growing stronger. Sam Allardyce is first in the queue to pick up the centreback for around £2 million - not a bad buy for Bolton, considering Leeds paid twice that amount to Chelsea for his services and that he recently signed a new contract. Doobs has been a great cheerleader at loads of Euro away games over the last three years, but hasn't been at the head of the queue to start every match and it's understandable that he should move somewhere that gives him the chance to play week in, week out. He's spent most of this season on the bench, and said: "When I did get a chance I don't think I let anybody down in any way. I think I did well when I played in the first team, and I was disappointed to lose my place again. Reserve team football at the age of 26 is not what I want - I want to play on a Saturday afternoon in front of a capacity 30,000 crowd showing them what I am made of."

May 14: Peter Ridsdale had a long meeting with Lee Bowyer's advisers yesterday, and a new deal - which would make him the highest paid player at the club is on the table (wonder what Rio thinks about that?). Ridsdale discussed the deal, which is said to be for 5 years and offers the midfielder £30-35 grand a week, with David Geiss in London yesterday, and it looks like that could be enough to clinch the deal.

May 13: Brett Emerton has denied that a move to Newcastle is signed and sealed. Holidaying back home in Australia, he said: "I've read all the talk and I've got my personal preference if Feyenoord do decide to sell me to an English club. And if I do go I can only hope to live up to those expectations, but only if and when I leave Feyenoord." Also Down Under, speculation is growing again that Leeds could move to take a controlling interest in one of the National League clubs. A stopover in Oz on the summer tour of the Far East could be the time to seal the deal - and maybe publicise a new Aussie signing at the same time?

May 13: They do things differently elsewhere department. JFH went under the knife today to resolve a longstanding calf injury that nearly kept him out of the FA Cup final. Note to Leeds medical staff: operating on a player when there's three months to go before the new season starts gives him a slightly better chance of being fit and not missing months at the start of the new campaign if you don't leave it until the first week of August.

May 13: The England squad flew out to Dubai this afternoon for their warm-up games, with Danny Mills looking forward to what is to come. "You've got to savour it - enjoy it and never forget the experience," he said. Rio Ferdinand was equally upbeat. With the season now behind him, the captain said: "I'm really looking forward to testing myself against the best and there is no bigger stage than the World Cup."

May 13: Lucas Radebe played the second half of South Africa's friendly with Madagascar yesterday, coming through it unscathed and confident of making the final 23 for the World Cup. He said: "It feels good to be back. It's very good for my confidence to be part of the set-up again."

May 12: Lee Bowyer has denied that he's stalling over signing a new contract. With his management due to meet with Leeds again next week, rumours are circulating that Liverpool are hovering over the midfielder, looking to snatch him away from Leeds with the lure of Champions League football. Bowyer said: "I'm waiting for the chairman to get back to my agent, so it's nothing to do with me stalling. I want to stay here and if they want me to stay they will give me the contract I want, but if the club want to sell me then they will sell me." Which - with my pessimistic hat on - might be taken to sound like someone preparing the way for their exit, particularly when he later stressed that he was just "a piece of meat" to be bought and sold at the whim of the chairman. While we're on the subject of transfers, it seems that Michael Duberry's list of admirers now has Newcastle on there as well as Celtic and Bolton.

May 12: Frazer Richardson and Jamie McMaster were in action again today in the Toulon tournament. McMaster played for most of the game and Richardson came on as a second half sub in an open game which stayed at 0-0 almost to the end thanks to some terrible finishing. A late goal for England broke the deadlock, giving them an undefeated record so far.

May 12: The final batch of Euro-news for the season takes us first to Italy, where Reggina and Empoli have been joined by Modena and Como in winning promotion to Serie A.

In Germany Bayer Leverkusen's string of domestic disappointments was extended as they squandered an early one goal lead against Schalke in the German Cup Final. After allowing Schalke to equalise, they conceded three goals in fifteen minutes in the second half and only a last minute consolation to make it 4-2 gave them any degree of respectability. Their season now rests totally on their performance against Real Madrid at Hampden on Wednesday night.

Speaking of Real Madrid, they'll need to win on Wednesday to avoid the qualifying round of the Champions League. Deportivo beat them 3-0 at the Riazor on Friday, with goals from Roy Makaay, Fran and Walter Pandiani to clinch second place. Valencia's 2-0 win at the Mestalla over Real Betis left them with a seemingly convincing 7 point margin in the end. Real Zaragoza may have finished bottom, but they went down battling, with a 1-1 draw at home to Barcelona. That point secured 4th place - and the last Champions League spot - for Barca (although it would have taken a goal avalanche and victories for Zaragoza and Celta Vigo for them to have slipped up).

The French league finished last week, and Lorient were relegated - but they'll be in the UEFA Cup next season after securing a 1-0 win over Bastia in the cup final in the Stade de France.

Finally, a weekend of stumbles in the Gambrinus Liga saw Viktoria Zizkov blow their chance to take the title. With leaders Slovan Liberec 2-1 down at Bohemians Prague, Viktoria needed a win at Slavia Prague to secure the title, but a late goal for the home side condemned the visitors to 3rd place after Sparta Prague scrambled to a 0-1 win at Synot to move up into second.

May 12: There was disappointment for Leeds old boy Nigel Worthington today as Norwich were beaten 4-2 on penalties by Birmingham in the Division 1 play-off final at the Millenium Stadium. Looks like the West Midlands Constabulary will have a fun year next year, keeping apart Villa, the Baggies and the Blues plus the opposing fans every week!

May 11: Post-match reaction from DOL was fairly positive despite the lacklustre display. "They sat back and were well organised. We dominated and should have scored more than one goal. Nigel Martyn made a good save when he was not in the game." And he went on to point out: "The pleasing thing is that we have qualified for Europe on merit."

May 11: Robbie Fowler's injury continues to trouble him, but it shouldn't be enough to knock him out of the World Cup squad. He said: "It's not a major injury. It was a very stupid one though because I was going for a ball that was obviously out."

May 11: At last our pain is over. The season came grinding to a halt with a routine home win over Boro - Smithy's goal was a highlight in an otherwise dreary game. Leeds nearly got another in a goalmouth scramble, but it took a good save from Nige to keep out a Boro effort from Nemeth. 14 weeks to go before it starts all over again! Chelsea's final-day defeat meant that we finished in 5th - our worst position in 4 years, but still enough to get us into Europe for a 5th successive year.

May 10: Today's transfer rubbish: Liverpool have made another attempt to sign Lee Bowyer - although Gerard Houllier has talked down such speculation in the past. On the way in could be Inter's midfielder Christian Zanetti - with Ian Harte and Olivier Dacourt both of interest to Hector Cuper possibly moving in the other direction.

May 10: Smithy will be hoping for a run-out up front at long last tomorrow - and he also wants to return to the scoresheet. His lack of time on the pitch - and playing as a striker - must have had some impact on his failure to make Sven's final 23 - but he didn't think he'd make the final cut anyway. "In football you have to be in the right place at the right time and my suspension came when there were two international friendlies so I missed out." And he wants to end the season on a high note: "We want to win the match to give us all a boost as we enter the summer months and, while there may not be much to play for at this stage of the season, we want to give the fans something to cheer about on the last day they deserve it."

May 10: Robbie Fowler is well chuffed with his England call-up and he thinks that the move to Leeds has helped his cause. He admitted to being nervous: "I never took my inclusion in the squad for granted. While I was confident of my own ability I knew all along that I had been in a position of being left out before and did not want that feeling ever again." He added: "This summer is going to be brilliant. It was a very long summer when I was left out of the Euro 2000 squad, but this year is going to be something special because we will be testing ourselves against the best players on the world stage."

May 10: Frazer Richardson had an excellent game for the England U-20 side today as they managed a 1-0 win over Poland in the second game in the tournament. Jamie McMaster came on for a spell towards the end of the game as well - but Richardson impressed while playing at left-back - a position we apparently need cover in...

May 10: Veteran centreback Richard Jobson (who was 39 yesterday) could play on for one more season. Rochdale boss John Hollins is keen to retain his services, both to help shore up their defence and to give the right sort of guidance to the youngsters at Spotland (which, now I think about it, is exactly what I'd expect a ground where young lads played to be called).

May 10: Robbie Fowler and Mark Viduka remain doubtful for tomorrow's game at home to Boro, and Olivier Dacourt's injury-ridden season could be at an end too, since he picked up a knock in Gary Kelly's testimonial on Tuesday. Boro still had some tickets available for their end yesterday - but the Leeds tickets all went a long time ago.

May 09: Lucas Radebe has been invited to join the South African team on Sunday for a World Cup warm-up game against Madagascar. It's over a year since he won his last cap, and coach Jomo Sono wants to take a look at him before finalising his squad next week.

May 09: Paul Robinson and Alan Smith were named in David Platt's U-21 side to play in the European Championships later this month. Liverpool's Chris Kirkland will be spending the summer trying to shake off a back injury, so Robinson will be the clear number one in the squad: let's hope he's not quite as rusty for that as he was against Celtic the other night. The U-21s face Switzerland, Italy and Portugal on May 17, 20 and 22 in a touch group. However, the England squad also includes the likes of Michael Carrick, Gareth Barry, Ledley King, Jermaine Defoe and Malcolm Christie - talented players with a lot to prove - so England hold out a decent hope of progressing to the latter stages.

May 09: Sven announced his squad for the World Cup today, and there are places for Nigel Martyn, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler and Danny Mills. Mills is the only specialist right-back in the 23 selected players and must be breathing a deep sigh of relief that his on-field indiscretions have been overlooked - or at least considered to be not sufficiently negative for the best English right-back in the country to be left at home.

May 08: Arsenal won the league at Old Trafford tonight with a typically efficient and well-organised 0-1 victory - which means they've now scored in every league game this season with just Everton at home to go, and they've not lost a single game away from home. It's a fantastic record, and Wenger's team thoroughly deserve their double (apart from Ashley Cole, whose diving, elbows and general cheating I've not quite forgiven yet). Nice to see Paul Durkin take a long hard look at two dives by van Nistelrooy and wave play on rather than awarding a penalty as some more gullible officials have taken to doing recently (I guess that asking for a yellow card for diving at Old Trafford is pushing the boat out a bit too far).

May 08: Transfer garbage ("Oh no - not again"). Barry Ferguson is going absolutely nowhere, according to reports from Scotland. Phew! That's a relief - like we needed a midfielder who wouldn't even make the bench among the current side. Newcastle and Liverpool remain in competition with Leeds for the signature of Brett Emerton, and the financial pressure on Feyenoord to sell him is strong. As his agent pointed out: "His club have said they would like to sell him now as Brett only has two years left on his contract." And the unspoken bit in all this transfer talk is the fact that the TV rights for football are facing a case of terminal shrinkage across Europe, so any club that can secure an inflated price for one of their current squad from a team with more money than sense would be well-advised to take advantage before the financial honeymoon ends and the balance sheet chickens come home to roost.

May 08: Gary Kelly wasn't the only player who was overjoyed with last night's charity match. Michael Bridges was amazed to get 15 minutes in the game, since he's not even made it to the reserves as he comes back from serious knee and ankle injuries. He paid tribute to the Leeds medical staff, in particular physio Dave Hancock who has been instrumental in his recovery. "A couple of times it was touch and go whether I'd ever get back to the top," he said. And now he can look forward to the new season with some degree of confidence: "I've had 18 months of waiting. I feel like bursting, but I've got another two or three months in the summer now and then it's all go again." Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke - and I've got to say that - from what we saw two seasons ago - Bridges would be my first choice striker out of the five available to DOL: he takes a mean free kick, puts in some great crosses and has hopefully retained some of the pace that made him so deadly. We may end up losing one or more of the front men in the summer - but if Michael Bridges is back for the new season we'll barely notice they're gone.

May 08: Gary Kelly was over the moon with last night's testimonial - and with a crowd of £26,400 the total raised for the two cancer charities should be in excess of half a million quid. He said: "I enjoyed every minute of it even the Celtic goals and all the songs, I didn't want the night to end and it was fitting tribute." He was obviously touched by the reception he got from the Celtic fans - the entire East Stand chanting "One Gary Kelly" at the Parkhead season ticket holder - and the high media profile of the tie will have done a lot to increase the visibility of the beneficiaries, which can only add to their ability to raise money for an excellent cause.

May 08: "Players need to stand up and be counted. I'm not sure that happens a lot at this club, but it's the least we should be doing. We shouldn't have to demand it from the players - they should be proud to play for [our club] and give 100%. We're not asking the players to perform miracles, we're asking them to do what they should be doing. When they don't do that it's bloody frustrating. We're going to find it hard to win the league now and if we end up with no trophies there's something wrong. ... We should be winning European Cups but good players don't necessarily make good teams." Straight talk, no punches pulled, totally in tune with what the fans are thinking, painfully honest, rightly ambitious. Unfortunately, these are not the words of anyone associated with Leeds United - they're what Roy Keane had to say on MUTV last night. I've had plenty of negative things to say about Keane's play in the past, and no doubt I'll have a few derogatory remarks for him in the future. But in the meantime I've got nothing but admiration for the bloke for articulating what many people a lot further away from his club have been slated for saying. I just hope that someone at Elland Road is saying the same - whether in public or private - and that the players and management spend at least some time during the summer reflecting on what they could have done differently to improve things. Keane's team reached the semis in Europe and will be in the Champions League next season - and he's not satisfied with that: for DOL and Leeds United, that would seem to represent the peak of our ambitions, and as long as that is the case I can't see us over-achieving and coming back with medals imprinted with the word "Winners".

May 07: While we're on the subject of cancer and good causes, Harry Kewell and wife-to-be Sheree Murphy are supporting the Male Cancer Awareness campaign. There will be a charity auction of celebrity shoes - signed or customised by the celeb in question - to raise funds and awareness of prostate and testicular cancer in particular, both of which are treatable if caught early enough and which are on the increase in recent years. Check out the website of the people running the auction - Base London for more details.

May 07: Gary Kelly's testimonial match finished 1-4 in the visitors' favour. Celtic brought down a very strong team, and the first half was well-contested for a charity match. A long range shot from Alan Thompson and a near-post header from Henrik Larsson gave Paul Robinson no chance, and Celtic were 0-2 up after 25 minutes, but Lee Bowyer pulled one back 5 minutes later, arriving late in the box to hammer the ball home. Leeds made wholesale changes at half-time, taking off Robbie Keane and Alan Smith - which meant, with Robbie Fowler and Mark Viduka both rested to allow their injuries to recover - Leeds' strike force for most of the second half was just Harry Kewell. John Hartson made it 1-3 with a great chip from outside the box that left Robbo stranded, and a goalmouth scramble made it 1-4 a couple of minutes later. Despite the result, the Leeds fans went home a lot happier - seeing the return of Lucas Radebe for the last 30 minutes, and after 18 months of pain and setback Michael Bridges came on for 15 minutes in which he showed some great touches despite his lack of match fitness. A large pile of cash has been raised for two very worthy charities as a result of the game, the Celtic fans had a great night out ("Can we play you every week?" they asked) and this was one of the most entertaining testimonials I've seen. It's been a pretty disappointing season all round - and it's good to see something positive as it comes to a close.

May 07: With the evaporation of the TV money from ITV Sport, up to a quarter of all the professional footballers could find themselves released from their contracts this summer as clubs struggle to make ends meet and get their books balanced (or at least not tilted too far to the negative). Gunnar Halle and Lee Sharpe from Bradford, Andy Gray and Damian Lynch at Forest, Alan Cawley at Wednesday and Kevin Sharp at Wrexham are the ex-Leeds casualties that we know about at the moment - but there could be more to come as the summer progresses.

May 07: Strange transfer rumour of the day: Leeds have offered Nigel Martyn to West Ham in exchange for David James. Either that means that Leeds are resigned to losing Paul Robinson, or this is just one more sign that the football season is coming to and end and the silly season is starting in earnest.

May 07: Gary Kelly, Ian Harte and Robbie Keane were all named in Mick McCarthy's World Cup squad which was announced this afternoon.

May 06: A young Leeds side - not totally dissimilar from the one beaten at Barrow on Friday night - won 1-2 at Altrincham's Moss Lane ground this afternoon as the Reserves' campaign ended with a triumph over Manchester United. Chris Armstrong and Harpal Singh both scored for Leeds to spoil Man U's title-winning party.

May 06: Shaun Bartlett has had to pull out of the South African squad for the World Cup finals after failing to get back to full fitness. He's an experienced international, and will be much missed by Jomo Sono and could open the door for the full recall of Lucas Radebe. The Chief is currently on standby, but after playing three reserve games with no obvious ill-effects, and after satisfying Leeds physio Dave Hancock of his fitness, Radebe could come back for one final fling at the top level in Japan and Korea this summer.

May 06: So what's going on with the new stadium then? After all that toing and froing earlier in the season, everything has gone quiet on that front - but that's mainly because the club have been trying to negotiate a title sponsor for the new ground, as well as finalising the sale of Elland Road, before they take things much further. Sony has been mentioned in recent days as a possible sponsor, and they've not been hit as badly as some of the mobile phone and airline companies who have also been linked - although Qantas could be a great organisation to get in as a sponsor, bearing in mind the developing links between Leeds and Australia. Whoever it turns out to be, there will need to be an announcement before the start of next season if works are to get underway to deliver a new ground for the start of 2004-05.

May 05: The reserves will be in action at Altrincham tomorrow night, playing the last game of the season against FA Premier Reserve League Champions Manchester United (wonder if Fergie will put that honour on his CV?). And a reserve regular - Frazer Richardson - will also hope to be playing, but this time in France. England's U-20 side kick off the Toulon tournament against China tomorrow.

May 05: Leeds were once again linked with a move for Rangers captain Barry Ferguson (yawn) but a new name is in the frame as a summer target - Bordeaux's Portuguese striker Pauleta. He's valued at around £10 million and must be one of the less likely candidates: even if we lose one of our current batch, we're not exactly short of strikers at the moment.

May 05: Pretty much the last Euro-round-up for the season. Let's start in Germany, where Borussia Dortmund are this year's Bundesliga champions. They went a goal down to Werder Bremen in the first half, but Jan Koller equalised and when they took the lead with 15 minutes to go, the title was theirs. Bayer Leverkusen won their first league game in 3 weeks, beating Hertha Berlin 2-1 thanks to two Michael Ballack goals, but for the second season in succession they've thrown the title away. Coach Klaus Toppmoller will be hoping for some consolation in the Champions League and German Cup finals. Bayern Munich finished in third place - their 3-2 win over Hansa Rostock leaving them a point behind Leverkusen.

In France, the title decider between Lyon and RC Lens went the way of the home side: Lyon were two goals up after quarter of an hour, and although the visitors pulled one back in the first half, a deflected shot at the start of the second half gave Lyon a two goal cushion, and they held on to overtake Lens on the final day of the season and win the title by two points. Auxerre and PSG - in third and fourth place - both lost their games, and our friends from Troyes also lost on the final day of the season and finish their campaign in seventh place.

No real surprises in Holland: Ajax had a straightforward 0-2 win at NEC Nijmegen to clinch the title - although they didn't even need a point, since PSV could only manage a 2-2 draw at De Graafschap, scoring twice in the second half to pull back from a 2-0 deficit. Feyenoord finished in third spot after a 0-0 draw at Willem II, and Heerenveen's 0-0 home draw with Twente Enschede was enough to take them into 4th place, just ahead of Vitesse on goal difference after the Arnhem side lost 3-2 at Clyde Wijnhard's old club, RKC Waalwijk. Ajax - like Juve and Arsenal - are on for a domestic double if they can overcome Utrecht in the cup final.

The Scudetto went to Juve in the end after Internazionale choked on the final day of the season. Inter had gone in to the final round on top of the table, and were ahead twice at Lazio, but goals from Vieiri and Di Biagio were equalised by Karel Poborsky. In the second half, goals from Diego Simeone and Simone Inzaghi made it 4-2 and blew away Inter's hopes of victory. David Trezeguet put Juve in front in the second minute at Udinese, and Alessandro del Piero made it 0-2 less than 10 minutes later - that's how it stayed and Juve win their 26th title and have the chance to make it a league and cup double if they can beat Parma. Inter didn't even have the consolation of qualifying directly for the Champions League: Antonio Cassano scored the only goal of the game for Roma at Torino to enable them to snatch second place and leave Inter having to go into the qualifying rounds to get into the top flight of European competition next season. Long-time leaders Chievo finished off their first season in Serie A with a 2-1 win at home to Atalanta to finish 5th, which means we could be seeing them at some stage in the UEFA Cup next season.

Valencia clinched the title in Spain with a week still to go. First half goals from Roberto Ayala (Man U-bound according to last week's rumours) and Fabio Aurelio set them up at Malaga, and with no further scoring in the match that was enough to guarantee them their fifth championship - but their first for over thirty years. Real Madrid's goalless draw at Real Mallorca gave their hosts a precious point as they struggle to avoid relegation, and really opens up the chase for the second automatic Champions League spot. Real must now go to the Riazor next Sunday and come away with at least a draw after Depor's 0-3 win at Real Betis takes them to within a point of the Champions League finalists. Barcelona have the chance to finish above one of Depor or Madrid: their 2-0 win over Espanyol means that a win at relegated Real Zaragoza next weekend will leave them in third place if there is anything other than a draw at the Riazor.

The Gambrinus Liga will go down to the last game of the season: Viktoria Zizkov went a goal down to visitors Jablonec after just 10 minutes, but scored twice in the last quarter of the match to take all three points and keep up the pressure on leaders Slovan Liberec. And that pressure seems to be getting to them: needing a home win against mid-table Boby Brno to go three points clear and secure the title barring a goal avalanche next week, they were 0-2 and 1-3 down before scoring twice in 3 minutes to snatch a point and stay a point clear of Zizkov. Next Saturday's games have Liberec at 4th-placed Bohemians Prague, while Zizkov go to 5th-placed Slavia Prague - there's a lot still to play for and it's impossible to call the winners.

May 04: Interesting odds mentioned in today's Guardian. In some places, DOL is no better than evens to be at Leeds at the start of next season, and pretty short prices are also available for him to start the season at Elland Road but to leave before the end.

May 04: Reports from Down Under say that Leeds might play a pre-season friendly with Melbourne to capitalise on their high-profile in Australia. Pre-season games in the Far East are already on the cards, with a hook-up to a televised "Search for a Soccer Star" competition in which the winners will get the chance to come over and train at Thorp Arch and maybe make it onto Leeds' books as a professional. A further clash with Barnsley has been lined up for August 3 - 2 weeks before the start of the season - at Oakwell.

May 04: Transfer rumours of the day: Doobs to Bolton instead of Celtic - Bolton will need to strengthen their back line if they are to stay in the top flight next season (being realistic if a little harsh, there will only be one relegation spot to fight over since West Brom and Norwich/Brum look like prime candidates to go straight back down). And Leeds, Celtic and West Ham are all looking to take advantage of Motherwell's dire financial situation by picking up 19-year-old Scotland B international James McFadden.

May 03: A Leeds XI lost 2-1 at Barrow tonight in a friendly to mark Barrow's centenary. A crowd of about 2000 saw Barrow (who were fielding a number of guest players from Scottish and English league teams) take the lead after just 6 minutes. They doubled that lead 12 minutes later, and Leeds were forced to replace keeper Danny Milosevic after he landed awkwardly as he dived to make a stop. Jacob Burns pulled a goal back in the second half, but despite including first-teamers like Duberry, McPhail and Wilcox, and youngsters like Singh and Cansdell-Sheriff who want to press their claims for a first team place, Leeds couldn't equalise, giving the hosts something to celebrate at the end of their season.

May 03: Too many transfer rumours to detail today, so to summarise the papers would have us believe the following. Doobs, Kelly and Harte to Celtic, Keane to Man City, Dacourt to Juve, Kewell to Lazio or Juve, Martyn to somewhere or other - maybe even Arsenal. And we're not really interested in Lurleen Lumpkin from Holland, honest.

May 03: Update on the Boardman story from someone who was there. Basically, the evening was going fine until Boardman got up to do his spot, and he was the first to stir the pot with joke along the lines of "Bowyer and Woody leaving a club, saying 'I could murder an Indian'". When the heckling started as a result, he went on with what sounds like his normal act, putting down the Irish (the reaction of Kelly, Keane, Harte and O'Leary is unreported), northern women and all the expected targets. Far from getting a standing ovation as he had claimed, he was faced with mainly silence or booing (needless to say a few people found it all funny), and resulted in officials from LUFC apologising to people sat at several tables. In normal circumstances this would be seen as a storm in a teacup, but seen in the context of the series of PR disasters that the club has faced this season must spur the directors to take a long and hard look at the way certain aspects of the club are run and do something about reforming them quickly.

May 02: Smithy is a young lad with great attitude who is coveted by all the other managers in the league, according to DOL. "He is only a kid and he has a long, long way to go before he fully matures, but his work-rate is unbelievable and there is a desire and a hunger to do his best for Leeds. After the games I have a drink with opposition managers and they all want to talk about Alan Smith so I know most Premiership managers would love to have him." Smithy is buckling down and getting on with his career, despite the disappointment of being passed over for the England squad this time round - though he will be playing for the U21s this summer. O'Leary added: "I personally think the lad is good enough to play for England without any doubt. He can play and if he does not do it for England now then he will do it for many years to come." O'Leary clearly has a lot of time for Smith and has kept faith in the player even when his temper has caused so much frustration for fans and management over the last couple of years. Let's hope Smithy repays that faith next season.

May 02: Sue Speight is disappointed by the relatively lenient sentences handed down to the men convicted of her husband's murder. Her solicitor said that she thought that the sentence of 7.5 years did not reflect the seriousness of the crime. The Loftus family solicitor said that the family were simply glad that a conviction had been made, and that the law had found the man responsible for Chris's death.

May 02: DOL was apparently watching Heerenveen's 25-year-old Dutch left-winger Anthony Lurling - not Brett Emerton - when he was in Holland at the weekend. Lurling has bagged quite a few goals over the last couple of years - including a cracker against Feyenoord that the manager will have noted - and might be available relatively cheaply.

May 02: They never learn department. Cardiff's notorious fans dragged their club's name even deeper into the mud last night as they tried to attack the 800-odd Stoke fans who had turned up for the play-off semi-final second leg at Ninian Park. A last minute goal from Stoke had brought the sides level on aggregate, and the visitors won through to the play-off final with a second goal 5 minutes from the end of extra time. When they club have to visit the Welsh FA in two weeks time to discuss the incidents at the Leeds game, they may find a few extra items on the agenda.

May 02: Remember - tomorrow night's game with Barrow is still a goer, and Leeds have said that they'll send a strong side to Holker Street for the Cumbrian club's centenary celebrations. With no game at the weekend, it will provide a useful run out for some of the first team squad and for Lucas Radebe to continue to improve his fitness ahead of the World Cup.

May 02: Sometimes I wonder if the management at Leeds ever pause to think before acting. Today's Daily Mirror - and numerous other news sources - covers remarks made by Stan Boardman at the Leeds awards dinner the other night. Apparently he suggested to an Asian man that he go back to his curry house in Bradford to see his elephant - remarks that offended several listeners. That would normally be classified as out and out racist abuse/stereotyping - but the fact that it was in response to the man's heckling, suggesting that Boardman (a Scouser) had nicked everyone's hubcaps rather muddies the waters: if you're on the end of someone's jocular abuse about your origin, you shouldn't face censure for offering the same in return. The club have written to Boardman, suggesting that his performance was "racist and unacceptable" and that he would be banned from Elland Road in the future. In this case, and based on the reported facts, this is a bit of an over-reaction by the club - but I'd like to know who at the club was responsible for booking him in the first place. With the Najeibs intent on suing anybody who's ever shouted "come on you Whites" at Elland Road, and the furore over alleged racist chanting at Leicester, to book someone with Boardman's repertoire for an official event is an act of culpable negligence. At least they didn't go the whole hog and get a triple act of Boardman, Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson, backed up by the Black and White Minstrels, but someone at Leeds needs more than a stern talking-to. Still, later reports showed that Leeds don't have a monopoly on this sort of thing: that noted bastion of anti-racist political correctness Leicester City had also booked Mr Boardman for a club event - a booking which they have now cancelled.

May 01: The trial of the men accused of killing Kevin Speoght and Christopher Loftus has finally reached the verdicts and sentences. Ali Umit Demir has been sentenced to seven and a half years for each of the killings - although one of the verdicts was on a 2-1 majority of the judges. Four other men were sentenced to just over three months for involvement in the fighting that led to the murders. An appeal against the length of the sentences is likely, and account will be taken of the two years that Demir has spent in jail.

May 01: Rio Ferdinand was voted Player of the Year by both fellow players and fans at last night's awards dinner in Leeds. Alan Smith picked up the award for Young Player of the Year, and was also honoured for his community work. Peter Ridsdale said how pleased he was with the development of the club, pointing out that we had now qualified for Europe for 5 years in a row for only the second time in the club's history. Pointing to the depth and quality of the squad, the chairman also indicated that the club would attempt to build on that quality in the summer: "We have a team of quality players and you can be certain we will be back next year stronger than ever."

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