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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


June 30: The Prof today hit out at the suggestion that Harry Kewell's agent might be in a position to broker a deal for a move to Liverpool - or anywhere else for that matter. McKenzie pointed out that only Arsenal had been given permission to talk to the player, and that for any other club to be in discussions with the player or his agent was a flagrant breach of the transfer regulations. But Bernie Mandic hit back this afternoon - although he pointedly avoided heaping any personal blame on the chairman. Mandic said: "I have had no problems in dealing with Professor John McKenzie and as far as I am concerned that will remain the case. But another director has taken it upon himself to flog Harry around to various clubs." He went on: "The same Leeds board member has been working in partnership with an agent friend to move Harry out of Leeds to a club he believes will offer the best financial deal at the expense of Harry's personal terms. He has even taken it upon himself to pass on all of Harry's financial details to the buying club." Mandic said that two clubs (Man U and Arsenal?) had already been ruled out by himself and his client as a result of this behaviour. He also accused the same director of briefing against Harry in the press. So who is he talking about? It's hard to see Neil Holloway - the chap from Microsoft Europe - being the director in question: as a non-exec it would be unusual for him to get so involved in such an operational and ongoing matter. Communications Director David Walker? Regular readers of this website will be aware of my opinions on the abysmal PR and press management at the club and my incredulity that he of all people didn't depart in the last cull. Although he was involved in the abortive attempt to pick up Kleberson in January, and although the continual leaks and sniping in the media have all the hallmarks of another superbly managed communications campaign, this still seems unlikely. So that leaves Allan Leighton as the only possible candidate. Given his background of selling things as cheap as possible (Asda, lastminute.com) then the fact that it looks like we'll end up with less cash than we'd all expected for Kewell, he would seem to be the logical choice. It's a shame he can't apply his BHS knowledge (slightly old and not totally in-fashion items shifted to the staid Division 1/2 consumer) to offload a few others in the squad. Back with Mandic, he finishes: "Harry has no problems sitting on the bench if that is the wish of the Leeds hierarchy. He is not fazed by the prospect of starting pre-season with Leeds on 8 July." Rough translation to board: "Your bluff is being called. Either let me set up a move now or watch that value vanish down the drain in the next 12 months."

June 30: One quick point was made in the press today: if Andrea D'Amico manages to lock a manager in a room long enough and remembers not to work on the hands too much so he can still sign a contract for Mark Viduka, then Leeds will not be getting the headline figure. Leaving aside any cut that will go to D'Amico (or Rune Hauge if he happens to be passing on the day the cheques are being signed), Celtic will get 15% of any transfer fee agreed between Leeds and another club as part of the deal that brought Vidooks to Leeds three years ago. So allowing for the fact that he's still got a couple of years to run on his deal, and that he cost £6,500,000 three years ago, how much would Leeds need to see on the table - and how much of that would flow into the coffers now if a deal were to be struck? Anything less than £7 million would be a bargain for the big striker - but you can easily see Leeds taking an offer barely more than half that, and banking little more than £3 million for a 20-goals-a-season player.

June 30: With Carl Shutt and Tony Dorigo - stars of previous years' competitions - absent this time round, the Masters side was always going to struggle in the tournament at Sheffield last night. And sure enough they did - losing all three games against both Sheffield sides and Man U as well.

June 30: Leeds have made one signing this summer - Neil Robson. Who? He's the chap we took on board seconded from Ernst and Young as an interim measure to get the finances sorted out back in April, but he's now taken the job of Financial Director on a permanent basis. We wish him the very best of luck in his new job - he's going to need it!

June 29: Today's News of the World reports that Harry Kewell's agent Bernie Mandic has brokered a deal which will see Kewell unveiled as a Liverpool player on July 7. The fee will be in the region of £7 million after Leeds rejected Arsenal's offer of Francis Jeffers plus cash for Kewell.

June 29: Peter Reid spent bits of last week keeping an eye on the Confederations Cup tournament in the hope of picking up a new player - and part back at school in his quest to secure a UEFA Pro Licence. He said that he'd initially not expected to get much out of studying to be a coach, but his opinion has now changed: "When you are a young manager you think you know everything. But you never stop learning and these courses just re-inforce that."

June 29: In today's Sunday Mercury in the Midlands, Villa officials are quoted as saying they feel that Leeds used them in the Robbo transfer saga to try to provoke a bigger bid from another club. Sources at the club indicate that they think Leeds deliberately released the details of his fee, knowing that he would not agree personal terms with Villa and setting a clear level of expectation with ManU and Arsenal for the sort of fee that would be required to prise him away from Elland Road.

June 29: No sooner have the Icelandic consortium who were interested in buying Oldham but ended up buying Barnsley settled in, than their gazumped opponent in the race to own Oakwell is being linked with a move to take over at Boundary Park. Peter Ridsdale is just one name being mentioned as the current owner of Oldham looks to walk away from the club, writing off a £4 million loan in the process. But things are looking bleaker than Saddleworth Moor for the Latics - they're resigned to losing at least one player through a forced sale, and the longer there is uncertainty about the club's future, the more likely it is they'll see more players walk away.

June 28: Tony Dorigo - who played for both Leeds and Villa reckons that Robbo was right not to make a move to Villa Park. Speaking before it was announced that the move was off, Dorigo pointed out that it was hardly a step forward for the young keeper. "I thought Robbo would have gone to join one of the real big boys, but Villa aren't in that sort of league. I did expect one of the bigger clubs to come in for him and I don't know why he has jumped at this rather than waited around." Dorigo has been impressed with Robbo's performances, but knows that Nige is a more than adequate replacement should Robbo leave. In fact, it's possible that Robbo's attitude this summer may have a similar effect to Nige's decision not to go on the Far East/Oz tour last time round, resulting in Nige being restored to the number 1 shirt anyway.

June 28: Peter Ridsdale's bid to return to the world of football with Barnsley finally looks to have hit the buffers. Barnsley owner Peter Doyle has agreed terms with the Icelandic consortium, changing his tune rapidly such that their less-favoured status has since been transformed into a deal that will ensure the survival - and improvement - of the club. The Icelandic group are expected to replace existing manager Glyn Hodges with former Stoke boss Gudjon Thordarsson once the ink dries on the deal.

June 28: Peter Reid has complained that he has been unable to get in touch with Harry Kewell - and that the Aussie star has failed to return his calls despite being left a number of messages over the last few days. "It would help me no end if Harry would turn his mobile on so I can get in touch with him," said Reid. "I have been trying to contact him for days now, but I can't track him down or get through to him. I really need to know what he is doing. Otherwise I can't get on with what I want to do." Bernie Mandic insisted there was no communication breakdown with his client, and that a decision would be forthcoming from Kewell by "the end of the month" (which I make to be Monday). And Mandic pointedly said: "In fact we have never ruled out extending Harry's contract at Leeds by two or three years." Which we all believe of course, don't we children?

June 28: Sunday sees the Yorkshire/Lancashire round of the Masters tournament, due to be played at the Sheffield Arena and televised live on Sky. Leeds have a squad consisting of: Phil Hughes, Neil Aspin, Steve Hodge, Chris Kamara, Brendan Ormsby, John Mclelland, Andy Ritchie, Glyn Snodin and Ian Baird, and face ManU, and teams from both Sheffield sides. Other old boys in action include Mel Sterland, Imre Varadi and John Sheridan for the Owls, Paul Beesley, John Pemberton and Tony Agana for the Blades and Mickey Thomas for ManU.

June 27: The chairman has reacted strongly to hints that Paul Robinson has been forced out of the club against his will. He said: "I would not have done a deal if Paul Robinson had not indicated to Aston Villa that he was happy to go. As far as I am aware, they informally agreed personal terms a week ago. I am disappointed that he is going, obviously you do not want to lose any player of his talent, but he was unsettled." And he gave a clear warning to players whose agents seem to think the commercial realities of the business world do not apply to football clubs: "There is a new discipline at Leeds United. If you have done a deal a year ago and you are currently earning between £1m and £1.5m a year you do not get a new deal."

June 27: A week after being given an ultimatum by Barnsley owner Peter Doyle, former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale issued a deadline of his own, stating that he would walk away from the deal unless Doyle agreed to the £5 million bid to take over the club by today. There's an issue over just what Ridsdale is prepared to buy - although he's ready to take on the club itself and the stadium, he doesn't want to pay over the odds for the land around the ground which is currently used as a car park, and feels that his available funds would be better spent clearing the club's debts and providing money for rebuilding the team. The Icelandic consortium that include some of the people formerly involved with Stoke - and who have been trying to buy other struggling teams during the summer - remain a fallback option for Doyle, but given their track record it's probably a better bet for the long term future of the club if Ridsdale's deal goes through.

June 27: Talks between Paul Robinson and Aston Villa have broken down at a very early stage - so it looks like the player will be reporting for pre-season training with Leeds on Monday week after all. In the latest round of public tit-for-tat between the club and the player, Robbo came back and accused the Prof of "trying to make himself look popular at my expense." Robbo insists that his request for a new contract was merely following up on a offer made by "Santa" Ridsdale before his departure and that he was happy to stay at Leeds. Robinson said: "I feel disgusted by the way he is treating me and trying to turn supporters against me. I feel used." But McKenzie immediately countered, issuing an open letter to all supporters in which he states that Doug Ellis requested permission to speak to the player, and later indicated that Robinson was keen to leave - which forced the club to issue a statement to keep the Stock Exchange happy. McKenzie maintains that the club want to keep Robinson on the books - although after the latest round of public exchanges it's hard to see how that can happen. In the same open letter, McKenzie also referred to the Harry Kewell situation. Again, McKenzie stresses that the club would like to keep him, and that an improved contract was on offer. But he points out that Kewell has not yet agreed to sign an extended deal - but neither has he had any formal contact wit other clubs, and Leeds are adamant that the player cannot be allowed to leave on a Bosman in 12 months for the financial health of the club. And really you can't argue with this: Kewell cost us nowt, and he owes us nothing for the benefit we've seen from his skills over the last 7 years. But he's earned a lot of money from us - and the reputation he's built up thanks to his own efforts - with the help of many other players at Leeds, backed by support from thousands in the stands and he will undoubtedly go on to earn a lot more money in the future. If he cares at all about the fans and players who have helped to put him in the enviable position he finds himself in, he will either agree to move now, or sign a deal that allows him to leave at a set price in a year's time so that the club that nurtured his talent has a chance to climb out of the financial mire in which wage demands from Kewell - and far less talented players - combined with gross executive incompetence have placed us.

June 27: In a move that will disappoint the shirt transfer sellers at the club, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff has decided to try his luck elsewhere after failing to make the break into the first team in 4 years at Leeds. The young Aussie defender will move to Danish side AGF Aarhus who have been tracking him closely. Cansdell-Sherriff said: "I'm very excited about AGF and I look forward to it. Hopefully I can gather some experience in the first team. Manager Poul Hansen has told me about the team, and he has huge expectations for the coming season." Aarhus in turn are looking forward to his arrival Director Frank Heskjaer says: "We have watched him in 10-12 games, and I'm convinced Shane will strengthen the team immediately."

June 27: You may remember our friend Andrea D'Amico from previous newsletters. This is the guy that Mark Viduka unwisely chooses to employ as an agent, and after a month or so of calm, he's now pronouncing again on his client's likely place of employment next season and it seems that it could be the Nou Camp. "I have spoken with the new coach Frank Rijkaard about him and he likes him a lot. We are now in talks with Joan Laporta and his people. I am confident this deal will be done, they are a huge club and it would be fantastic for Mark." Of course this is the same person who was telling us at the end of May how the European Champions AC Milan were desperate for Viduka's services, so we must apply an appropriate "total liar correction factor" to any of d'Amico's statements. The computer translation programme I've set up to do this, re-quotes the slimeball thus: "I went on a tour of the Nou Camp while on holiday in Lloret just up the coast. I managed to sneak away while everyone else was admiring the trophies and got into the administration offices where I banged on a door and shouted about how a team with Kluivert and Saviola would be fools not to consider Viduka as a replacement. Shortly before the security guards threw me out, I caught sight of a sign that pointed towards the chairman's offices, and as they chucked me into the car park, I'm sure I landed in the gravel that had been driven over by Laporta's car." Dunno about you, but I know which of those two versions I think is closer to the truth.

June 27: With Fergie's chosen successor Carlos Queiroz now undertaking a slightly larger job at Real Madrid, questions have been raised about who might fill the vacant assistant manager slot at OT. Ferguson is said to be happy with the people he's currentl got in various supporting roles and is in no rush to appoint anyone else, but arch Leeds-hater and permanent ManU-apologist Paddy Crerand says that sacked Leeds coach Brian Kidd would be the perfect man for the job. He's rather overlooking the content of Ferguson's autobiography, in which he said that Kidd might be a decent coach but he was a very poor judge of players - and it would take some pride-swallowing of gluttonous proportions for Kidd to return to Old Trafford. For the moment, Kidd is doing a lot of work for the national side and will be hoping for a second chance at management somewhere prominent, despite his abject failure at Blackburn.

June 27: I mentioned the untimely death of Marc-Vivien Foe in yesterday's news - a sad event and one which has brought many tributes to the players from fans and fellow professionals alike. Man City have said they will retire his number 23 shirt as a tribute, and Harry Redknapp - who signed him for West Ham and was trying to bring him to Pompey for next season was almost in tears as he spoke to reporters about the player. But when I walked into the newsagents this morning, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the front page of the Mirror (and another tabloid - didn't clock which) entirely taken up with a picture of the player being carried off unconscious on a stretcher. It's one thing to show the death and carnage caused by terrorism and war - or even famine and disease - to provoke a response from your readers about a story of global relevance and the highest international concern. But this unwarranted intrusion into the already public death throes of one man frankly made me sick. There was absolutely no justification for them to publish that picture - at all, never mind with such prominence - and its publication speaks volumes about the pathetically low standards of journalistic and editorial integrity prevalent in the British press today. They are still carrying a picture on their website - if you agree with me, why not write to them at feedback@mirror.co.uk and tell them what you think.

June 26: Leeds have agreed a ridiculously low fee of around £3 million - £2.75 million up front and the balance in performance money - with Aston Villa for Paul Robinson. Robinson has three years left to run on his contract, and his agent insists he hasn't been agitating for a move, although informed gossip suggests that he has been unsettled by talk of interest from ManU and Arsenal. And he has still to agree personal terms, so there's a chance he might still stay at Elland Road. Or maybe he now finds himself being forced to move on to a club where he will have a similar or worse chance of making a name for himself compared to Leeds, having burnt a bridge or two, or there is yet another possibility that the club are just trying to flush out a larger bid from one of the big two in order to force the price up. Either way, the fee for the heir-apparent to the England number one shirt sends out a message to all the other clubs: we're desperate and we're prepared to sacrifice ambition and potential for a pittance. What next - Kewell to leave for a fiver plus a gross of ITV Digital Monkey puppets?

June 26: Eddie Gray will resume his long relationship with the club when he takes up the post of special ambassador working with the chairman as a public face of Leeds United. Peter Reid naturally wanted a free hand on the coaching side of things, which - along with the need to cut costs - explains the departure of pretty much all the backroom staff over the last few months. But for the second time, the fans perceived Eddie as an innocent victim of management screw-ups. Not quite the instant car park demo we had back in 1985, but a few folks had told me that protests were likely if the team failed under Reid to regain the spark they had in the pre-Kidd days when Gray was more involved in the day-to-day coaching.

June 26: The chairman is heading out to the Far East at the end of the week in a trip in which it is hoped he will find some additional sponsorship for the club, and look to generally strengthen our commercial position out there in what is a massively underdeveloped market. It's also rumoured that Peter Reid is interested in Japan's midfield playmaker Hidetoshi Nakata - he wouldn't come cheap in wages or transfer fee, but like the recent Beckham deal, the merchandising benefits could easily outweigh the costs if he improves our profile and brings in a whole new bunch of fans.

June 26: Not strictly Leeds-related, but if you ever needed a reminder to make the most of the time you are given, you saw it today when Marc-Vivien Foe - who played for West Ham and Man City over here - collapsed and died of a heart attack on the pitch as Cameroun beat Colombia in the semi-finals of the incredibly pointless Confederations Cup tournament. He remained a popular figure with fans of City and the Hammers, and our thoughts are with his young family.

June 25: Sky have announced their non-PPV schedule going up to Christmas - and Leeds only appear on the list twice. Our first trip to the Walker Stadium will now be on Monday 15 September at 8 p.m., and the Fulham home game moves back to the Sunday afternoon, December 14. Unsurprisingly enough, it's also been announced that the home game against ManU will be a midday kick-off, and the Everton home game moves back from Easter Monday to the Tuesday night. The PPV fixtures will be announced soon and Leeds will be hoping to get a bit of exposure there, since the lack of European games plus the reduction in Sky exposure will hit the club where it hurts. Of course, a good start to the season will mean that Sky are more likely to screen some of the fixtures after Christmas - but on the positive side, the disinterest shown by TV does benefit those of us who prefer their footy to kick off at three in the afternoon on a Saturday.

June 25: Rumours today suggest that Robbo has had talks with Villa chairman Doug Ellis and that a move to rejoin David O'Leary could be back on for the young keeper. Quite why he'd want to leave Elland Road for Villa Park is anybody's guess - but maybe he's burnt too many bridges and he's suddenly found out that Arsenal, ManU and Real Madrid aren't interested after all.

June 24: Leeds are trailing out-of-contract ex-Blackburn/Newcastle/ManU winger Keith Gillespie as the Harry Kewell saga enters its final (hopefully) week. Gillespie was highly-rated early on in his career, but injuries and a perceived lack of application have seen him drop out of regular first-team Premier League contention. Would he be an improvement on what we've already got - or will he be along for the ride and produce two decent games a season? Big questions which need resolving before we get the contracts out - but we may need to hurry since both Brum and Leicester are also said to be in the chase.

June 24: Bernie Mandic restated his belief that his client's next move would be announced before the end of the month. Kewell and Mandic have held talks with the Prof, but no more progress seems to have been forthcoming on that front, so it's all down to what Arsenal can offer the player - and Leeds - to acquire his services for next season. The Prof said: "He's either going to sign up to a new contract or we will let him go if a good deal can be done."

June 24: Peter Reid must be glad he's not in charge at Barcelona. Having taken over at the Nou Camp with the side looking definite possibilities for relegation, Raddy Antic turned things around inside four months to grab a UEFA Cup spot on the last day of the season. But that wasn't good enough for the new bosses of Barca - they've turned to Frank Rijkaard instead. Rijkaard may have won many things as a player, but as a manager his major achievements seem to be making a pigs ear of Euro 2000 for Holland, and more recently getting Sparta Rotterdam relegated. If the Leeds board are taking notes, I'd be buying a bulletproof vest and a rear view mirror if I was Peter Reid. But I suppose this sort of behaviour is par for the course in Spain: Real Madrid may have won the Champions League twice in three years and regained the league title at the weekend, but that wasn't enough to keep Vicente del Bosque in a job. Maybe we should invite him to Elland Road for a short vacation away from all the pressure of La Liga - I'm sure he could offer Peter Reid some very useful advice on handling high-profile, highly-paid players. Oh - hold on a minute - we won't have any of those by the end of next week....

June 23: Well that was a close one! I was on the point of hitting "Buy" on EasyJet today when I heard that the pre-season tournament at Servette Geneva involving Leeds, Bayer Leverkusen and Boavista (who replaced Parma) had been cancelled by the organisers. As yet, no explanation has been given as to why (maybe it was the prospect of hundreds of Leeds fans descending on a city noted as being the most expensive in the West and getting a bit miffed in the search for cheap beer). Peter Reid said: "We have been fine-tuning our pre-season campaign for weeks now, so to be let down in this way is very disappointing. We are also very mindful of the many Leeds fans who have made independent travel plans hoping to see us in action in Switzerland. This is a big let-down for them too."

June 23: Villa have had their bid for Paul Robinson firmly rejected by Leeds. Which is to say that they've been told to come back bearing a larger pot of cash if they want to be allowed to talk to the young keeper. The Prof confirmed DOL's interest in the player, but said: "We want to keep Paul but that depends on him and it may be that Aston Villa will put in a higher offer or someone else will. Arsenal have also expressed an interest but we are happy for him to stay because he is a very good goalkeeper."

June 23: Barnsley boss Peter Doyle has put even more pressure on Peter Ridsdale to complete the deal to take over at Oakwell. "As far as I'm concerned the deal with Ridsdale is done - but there are other people interested and I can't hang around forever." Doyle said that he thought the deal would be tied up in the next day - but an Icelandic consortium had expressed a strong interest in taking over when shown round at the weekend and were pressing to be allowed to put in a formal offer, even though Doyle thought that Ridsdale's bid would be better for the club's future. Either way, the pressure is firmly on Ridsdale to pony up soon or see the chance of a rapid return to football go up in smoke.

June 22: The chairman says that star keeper Paul Robinson is unsettled at Leeds and believes he is looking elsewhere. In today's Sunday Mirror he says: "I sat in on the last meeting between Ridsdale and Paul's agent. The reality is he's one year into a new contract. We think he's well paid and it's very unlikely that we'd want to improve his contract. I can only assume he's unsettled and he wants to go." DOL is apparently trying to persuade Robbo to join him down at Villa Park, but Arsenal remain front-runners to sign him. And on the Kewell front, Prof McKenzie says that it's all down to how fast Arsenal - or whoever - can agree terms with the player, and this is what's holding up any attempt at restructuring at Leeds.

June 22: Peter Reid is being linked with a move for his former player Lee Clark, currently with Fulham. Reid had to sell Clark after he wore a t-shirt winding up the Black Cats fans, and Leeds are set to make a sub-£1 million bid for the Fulham midfielder. Leeds are also said to be joining Chelsea in the chase for new France international Ousmane Dabo of Atalanta, who has come out and said he'd be interested in a move to the Premiership.

June 22: In a tense final day of La Liga in Spain, Real Madrid held off an impressive challenge from Athletic Bilbao to win 3-1 in the Bernabeu and clinch their 29th challenge. A goal from Roberto Carlos and two from Ronaldo gave them a win that looked in doubt for some time, and with Sociedad having a fairly comfortable 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Anoeta, the pressure was on del Bosque's side. The scoreline in Madrid also meant that Bilbao were edged out of the final UEFA Cup place - Barca's 2-0 win over Champions League qualifiers Celta Vigo meant that they crept up into the final UEFA Cup place and maintained their unbroken run of European competition, despite losing Patrick Kluivert to a red card in the first half along with Celta's Angel after a case of handbags. Next week, relegated Recreativo Huelva face Real Mallorca in the cup final.

In other European news, it's good news for Monaco and bad news for Sochaux after the Grimaldis managed to convince enough backers to rally round the Monte Carlo club and persuade the French FA to allow them to stay up and play on in the Champions League next season. So poor old Sochaux miss out on the UEFA Cup place they had been allocated when Monaco were "relegated" - looks like they might have to try the InterToto.

June 22: Danny Hay made a comeback to the Kiwi squad for tonight's game against Confederations Cup hosts France - but it was a bit of a nightmare for Walsall's ex-Leeds centreback as he saw the defence leak three goals while he was on the pitch and then a further two in injury time as he watched the last 10 minutes from the bench. This was the first of France's games in which Olivier Dacourt hasn't played - maybe he was off signing his Roma contract?

June 21: Bernie Mandic says that his client will make a call on his destiny by the end of the month. Arsenal remain in pole position to sign the Aussie star, and there has yet to be a formal bid from Old Trafford (though realistically that's because they know they have little chance of persuading him to move). The Prof's offer of £48,000 a week will not be enough to convince him to sign a new deal, and although Barca are interested, Ronaldinho is more of a priority for them. So we're still waiting for a decision - maybe it will depend on whether or not Sheree (who recently gave birth to their second child) can hook up a transfer from Emmerdale to EastEnders.

June 21: Vinnie Jones this week launches his own range of clothing. Although he's trading more on his film star side than his footy days now, he's working with a fashion house to produce a range of menswear that picks up on his country-gent-about-town style. So if you see Paul Smith and Stella McCartney sporting black eyes, you'll know where they came from.

June 21: Sad to announce the death on June 13 of Ken Gadsby, a left back who played 173 games for Leeds either side of World War 2. Ken was born in Chesterfield in 1916 and came to Leeds in 1934, but it wasn't until 1938-39 that he became a regular in the side, when he did enough in a struggling Leeds team to merit a place on the FA tour of South Africa at the end of that season. He continued playing for Leeds during the war years, but by the time peace - and normal football - returned, he didn't get back into the first team and moved down to Norfolk. He played for Kings Lynn and taught PE in Kings Lynn and Hunstanton for many years before finally retiring.

June 20: Ali Umit Demir will walk free and get a retrial after being found guilty (on his own admission and the rather damning evidence of a bloodstained knife) of the murders of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight in Istanbul three years ago. His lawyers continue to state that he was provoked by the way Leeds fans were "insulting" the Turkish flag - a view which seems to be supported by the judiciary as they seek to overturn his 15-year sentence for double murder. Now I don't know which century these people are living in, but if someone's attitude to a bit of cloth is sufficient excuse to warrant murder, then clearly they have no place in a civilised society. Write to your MP and MEP and tell them that - notwithstanding the horrendous human rights abuses suffered by the Kurds - here is plain and simple evidence showing why Turkey should be treated as a pariah state and not welcomed into the EU as they would like. Economic, political and social sanctions need to be applied to the backward, medieval attitudes clearly prevalent over there until they declare either that they are happy to live by their own rules in isolation from the rest of the world, or until they agree to adopt the same standards of justice and protection for the individual afforded across the rest of Europe.

June 20: Leeds are again in pursuit of Atletico Paranaense's Brazilian star Kleberson according to reports today. Can't say I was hugely impressed by what I saw in tonight's match, which saw Cameroun turn over the world champions 1-0 in the Confederations Cup, but Kleberson has been watched by the club long enough for the people who matter to know whether he's the real deal. As for Harry, a move to Arsenal looks almost certain - this time it's Sylvain Wiltord who is supposed to be coming our way. That would be the same Wiltord who was booed for a large part of France's lacklustre display against Colombia the other night, and who has flattered to deceive in his time at Arsenal - the odd decent performance doing just enough to convince Arsene Wenger and the fans that he is worth persisting with. I'd sooner see Pennant and Parlour coming our way, but I guess beggars can't be choosers.

June 19: Alf-Inge Haaland has been told by Manchester City that he needs to report back to the club ready to start pre-season training - otherwise his contract will be cancelled. Haaland has barely played since ManU's barely house-trained thug Roy Keane set out to assault him during a Manchester derby, and despite several operations, he has suffered several setbacks and never quite made it back to full match fitness. City have supported him throughout all of this, but there attitude is understandable: a player who would struggle in the Premiership anyway is better off their books and collecting on the insurance rather than continuing to draw a salary. Wonder if that's given the Prof any ideas about David Batty?

June 19: Leeds have received an official expression of interest in Harry Kewell from Barcelona. Fresh from missing out on David Beckhamm, the Catalan side seem to be linked with every vaguely big-name player in Europe as the new president tries to show there's more substance than hot air to his promises of world class players and better days at the Nou Camp. However, the best that Barca can hope for next season is UEFA Cup football, and given Kewell's misgivings over working with Peter Reid and his preference for working with certain types of coaches, it doesn't seem likely that Rady Antic will be a draw for the Aussie. But at least an interest from abroad might allow us to drum the price up a bit!

June 19: Leeds face Newcastle - so that's debut day for Bowyer and the return to Leeds of Woody - at home on day one of the new Premier League season in August. Other highlights (?) of the calendar include successives games against ManU, Liverpool and Arsenal at the back end of October, and a final day visit to Chelsea. We get to visit two new grounds - the Walker Stadium and Man City's Commonwealth Stadium - in September and December respectively. Hope they've finished putting a roof on in Manchester - an open stand in Lancashire in December doesn't sound enticing (though my memory digs me in the ribs, tells me I've gone soft in my old age, and rambles on about midweek wintery nights at Boundary Park). Sky will announce their initial batch of TV games shortly - but don't expect too many of our games to be selected after last year's performances. See the full official list of fixtures here.

June 19: Peter Ridsdale has been told to put up or shut up by Barnsley owner Peter Doyle. Ridsdale and his consortium have been given until 5 p.m. on Friday to buy the club, otherwise Doyle will look for another buyer. Doyle said: "It's coming to the point now when all the hand-shaking has got to stop. We must have shaken hands about seven times on it and now we need a straight yes or no." Hmmmm....saying one thing but the opposite happening. Sound familiar to anyone???

June 19: Peter Reid has had his first vote of confidence from the board before the season has even started! In today's YEP, he said that recent underachievement had been down to a number of things including lack of continuity and team spirit. But he went on: "The talent is there, of that I have no doubt. Other talents will be brought in and I am equally sure that team spirit will be fostered by Peter Reid, whom I believe to be a great manager." And he's taking a very bullish view of the future: "I'm not saying we'll win the league, but getting back into Europe has been identified as a priority. It would be nice, too, to win a trophy."

June 18: To the surprise of nobody in particular, Roy Aitken has parted company with Leeds in order to rejoin David O'Leary as assistant manager at Villa. Aitken turned down the chance to take over at Brann Bergen earlier this year because it was understood he was interested in taking up a managerial post in Britain, but if DOL manages to turn things round at Villa that could reflect well on Aitken and give him a good chance of advancement later. Steve McGregor was also confirmed as a new face at Villa despite the denials a couple of days ago.

June 18: Olivier Dacourt (still nominally a Leeds player) was in action for France tonight as they sneaked a rather fortuitous 1-0 win over Colombia in the first game in FIFA's pointless Confederations Cup tournament in Lyon. Dacourt gave a workmanlike performance in a real game of two halves: although France dominated the first half, Thierry Henry's penalty for handball gave them a deserved lead but came courtesy of an appalling decision from the linesman (think Eirik Bakke against Newcastle 18 months ago). In the second half, the French midfield were swamped and Desailly, Thuram and Lizarizu made to look very ordinary by some energetic attacking play that never quite managed to find the target. Danny Hay is in New Zealand's squad for the tournament, and will face a very stern examination of his fitness and ability when he faces these two teams.

June 18: The fixture list for the new season comes out tomorrow at 1000 BST. Of course, I won't be able to tell you precisely who we're playing when thanks to the ridiculous situation we have that declares a list of dates "intellectual property" and forbids anyone who doesn't pay the FAPL £300 from reproducing them, but I'll be bringing you the odd highlight and pointing you to an "official" list.

June 18: Our UEFA Cup opponents Metalurg Zaporizhya have ended a miserable season with relegation from the top flight in the Ukraine. Dinamo Kyiv won the title for the tenth time with a 4-2 win against Metalist Kharkiv in the last game of the season.

June 17: Professor Bill Gerrard - whose analysis of Leeds' finances earlier in the year shed a lot of light on the realities of the situation - reckons we're a long way from being out of the woods. He said that the departure of some of the highly-paid coaching staff was a step in the right direction, but overall outgoings still needed to be reduced to come down to a level more closely related to our current performance. He said: "The level of expenditure on player wages, which they were struggling to sustain when they were in Europe, is certainly not sustainable now. We are talking about a turnover of £60m which can only support a total salary bill of £35m - Leeds have been spending £20m more than that." He believes that at least two of the high earners need to leave Leeds before the start of the season in order to ensure that we don't go into the next term leaking even more cash. He adds: "Although the next set of financial results aren't due out until September, they are still going to be pretty awful."

June 17: Harry Kewell was due to be in London on Wednesday with his agent Bernie Mandic for a chat with David Dein of Arsenal, as a move to Highbury looks more and more certain. Despite the Beckham windfall at Old Trafford, Fergie's overtures have been turned down thus far and he's more interested in signing Ronaldinho, which gives Arsenal a bit of a window to tie up a deal for Kewell. Mandic said that the talks with Prof McKenzie had been open and honest, and that Leeds hadn't tried to pin his client down. He dropped a very heavy hint that a move to Old Trafford had already been shifted to the back burner, even though it was believed to have been signed and sealed before the end of the season. Mandic said: "It will not be money-driven otherwise he would have left for Old Trafford by now." Mandic also spoke about Kewell making a move that would improve him as a player - and by no stretch of the imagination can that be interpreted as staying at Leeds for another season. Mandic said that he expected things to be resolved in the next "few weeks". Or maybe a bit sooner...

June 16: Leeds have given permission for Harry Kewell to talk to Arsenal to see if he could agree personal terms on a move - although the Gunners have yet to make a formal offer for the Aussie. After last week's obviously unproductive talks with Kewell's team, the Prof said: "The main thing now is what Harry wants to do. If he wants Champions' League football then he's aware of this official interest from Arsenal and he'll no doubt pursue that...We've done all we can for Harry and we've made what we all consider to be a very good offer. If Harry decides that offer's not good enough and he doesn't want to play for Leeds then that's his choice." That's the ball firmly back in Kewell's court then - with the subtle-for-Yorkshire message that any attempt to play the "I don't want to leave Leeds really" card by the player will be met with the simple retort - "So sign an extension then". If he wants to go, we shouldn't stand in his way, and surely most Leeds fans would sooner see him pull on the red shirt of Arsenal rather than a slightly more despised uniform commonly seen on the wrong side of the Pennines and all over Surrey.

June 16: Despite the fact that Arsene Wenger has been reportedly chasing every vaguely experienced keeper on the continent, he could be forced to come back to reinstate his interest in Paul Robinson. AC Milan reported that they had turned down a "mega-offer" for their backup keeper Christian Abbiati, and with failed efforts to tempt Rustu and Canizares behind them, Wenger is rapidly running out of options for next season. Maybe he should have held on to David Seaman after all...

June 16: Adrian Heath was today set to be named as Leeds' new chief scout in succession to the departed Ian Broomfield who has joined DOL at Villa. There were some reports earlier today that O'Leary would also be acquiring the services of Leeds' former fitness and motivational coach Steve McGregor who parted company with Leeds in the grand end-of-season clearout. These reports were later denied by Villa, and there's still no official confirmation that Roy Aitken will be appointed as O'Leary's number 2 at Villa Park. Still, they can tell us all about it when we see them all again in Dublin on August 9.

June 15: In this morning's papers, the chairman dropped a heavy hint that we can expect to see a couple of departures from Elland Road in the near future. He said: "In an ideal world Kewell and Robinson would not go. But they appear to be unsettled. I would expect that if they did go we could then go into the transfer market." But tellingly, he went on: "With Harry we can't afford another Lee Bowyer situation. If he doesn't sign a new contract we'll get nothing in a year's time, so it would be better to have Jermaine Pennant and some money in rather than finish up with nothing." In other papers, it's Jeffers + Parlour + cash rather than Pennant + cash on the table from Arsenal - either way, it looks like D-Day is approaching fast.

June 15: Another transfer story today has Crewe interested in picking up Leeds' third choice keeper Danny Milosevic. He had a brief loan spell with the club earlier this year, but that came to a premature end when he broke a bone in his first game. If Robbo were to leave, it would be a bit of a gamble - or an immense vote of confidence - on the abilities of Scott Carson as Nigel Martyn's back-up, but after three and a half years at Elland Road without a look-in, maybe Danny would be better off elsewhere.

June 15: Nearly Midsummer Day and still no ink drying on the Dacourt contract. What's going on? Well, there is some indication that AS Roma are finally going to pony up the dosh this week, but is the impending settlement of that deal linked to the fact that they're now aware that Leeds won't be quite so desperate to take the lowest possible price because we'll have money in the bank from Robbo and Harry? With three weeks to go before the players return for pre-season training, I'm sure it would be helpful to Olly if he knew which country he was supposed to be doing it in.

June 15: Peter Reid has been told by the FA that he must dispose of the Sunderland shares he acquired while he was manager of the Black Cats. Apparently it's against their regs to allow the employee of one club to hold shares in another - but only for clubs entering the FA Cup. It is perfectly acceptable for a business - Sky say - to hold shares in multiple clubs, because there's obviously no conflict of interest in that situation, is there?

June 15: All change at the top in La Liga - in more ways than one. First up, Joan Laporta won the Barca presidential poll, opening the way for David Beckham's move to the Nou Camp (assuming he can agree personal terms with the Catalan club) and setting off a major transfer merry-go-round across Europe. On the field, Raul and Ronaldo bagged a brace apiece as Real Madrid strolled out of the Vicente Calderon 0-4 winners against crosstown rivals Atletico, while Celta Vigo were securing a Champions League place for themselves - and doing Madrid a massive favour into the bargain - with a 3-2 home win over erstwhile leaders Real Sociedad. All Madrid now need to win the title is to avoid defeat at home to Athletic Bilbao next week: although a draw would theoretically allow Sociedad the chance to draw level on points if they beat Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid have a massive goal advantage. There were two dismissals and three penalties at the Mestalla: Valencia had both red cards but only one of the goals as they slumped to a 1-3 defeat by Barca that leaves them in the UEFA Cup next term, and gives Barca a fighting chance of joining them. Our former UEFA Cup opponents Malaga came out on top in a bad-tempered clash with Sevilla at the Rosaleda: Malaga were a goal up when they were reduced to 10 men just past the hour, and allowed Sevilla back into the game and a 1-2 lead. But the home side came back - despite having 6 more players booked - and levelled with just over 10 minutes to go before claiming victory with a penalty from Dario Silva with three minutes left.

June 14: Stories in today's papers suggest that DOL has managed to persuade Doug Ellis to open up his wallet after all and produce around £5 million for a bid for Paul Robinson. I suppose the accident-prone Peter Enckelman and the unproven Stefan Postma leave him feeling a little exposed at the back, and he probably knows how desperate we are for money, so a cheeky bid is well in order.

June 14: Barnsley owner Peter Doyle is ready to sign the club over - lock, stock and debts - to Peter Ridsdale as early as Monday. The club is on the point of administration after Doyle failed to raise the money to pay the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise - but he would still turn a £1 million profit on his short ownership of the club if Ridsdale stumps up the £6 million price being mentioned. However, if PR has learnt only one thing from his time at Leeds it should be not to pay over the odds for under-performing assets. Let's see if he can apply the lesson in the very first step at his new club.

June 13: Jamie Matthew Harper was sentenced today on counts of harassment and threatening to kill after he sent Leeds keeper Paul Robinson a letter demanding £20,000. In the letter, Harper threatened to kill the woman, who is known to Robinson, unless the money was made. In court, Harper was said to be a recluse, and was friendless. In view of psychiatric reports, he was sentenced to complete a community rehabilitation course, but was also forbidden from going within a mile of Robinson, wherever he may be, and banned from trying to contact him again.

June 13: With the players due to return for pre-season training in 3 weeks time, Dom Matteo and Michael Bridges will be getting down to some basic work in the next week or so. Matteo has recovered well from his op at the end of the season and will be hoping to be ready to link up with the rest of his team for the main pre-season training sessions, and we're all hoping that Michael Bridges' honeymoon hasn't taken too much out of his legs since he'll be getting a head start on the pre-season work too. Both players have been plagued by niggling problems - obviously more serious for Bridges than Matteo - and it would be a huge boost to the team's fortunes if both were fit to start the season.

June 13: The Prof sat down with Bernie Mandic yesterday to discuss Harry Kewell's future, and although both sides described the discussions as "constructive" the chairman indicated there was a long way to go: "It may be some weeks before we can finalise anything but we have made it clear we would like to hang onto Harry," he said. Although a move across the Pennines - or to Highbury - looked a racing cert before the summer, the frontrunning candidate for Kewell's future now seems to be a season kicking his heels at Leeds before walking on a big-money Bosman to another club. Does he owe Leeds anything? Well, probably not since he cost us nothing and has helped us through several lucrative Premiership seasons and European campaigns. But seeing the club lose £7 million just so he can pocket a bigger contract and signing on fee still seems a bit ungrateful on his part, even if it is perfectly within his rights and correct under the terms of his contract. Expect a bit of fevered negotiation in which Kewell is offered a sizeable percentage of any fee if he leaves in the next two months.

June 13: The Prof has been busy today! As well as discussing Harry Kewell's future, he's made it clear that he intends to keep Paul Robinson at the club, and that he has not given permission for Robinson or his advisers to speak to any other club. But he added: "We have...indicated that we are willing to look at improving his contract in the future... and we will look at anything his agents say. But we are not looking for major changes."

June 12: Eirik Bakke had a pretty good game for Norway in their 1-1 draw at home to Romania last night. Bakke played the full 90 minutes of the qualifier, in which Man U's Solskjaer equalised from the spot with 10 minutes to go after Ioan Ganea had put Romania in front just past the hour mark. Teddy Lucic played all bar the last couple of minutes of Swedden's impressive 3-0 win over Poland, Anders Svensson of Southampton scoring twice and Villa's Marcus Allback getting the other. Raul Bravo was dropped to the bench for Spain after their surprise defeat to Greece at the weekend - and although the Spanish defence held firm, the fact that they failed to score against Northern Ireland has left them trailing Greece by a point in Group 6.

June 12: Kevin Blackwell was cleared to start work for Leeds on Monday when Sheffield United agreed terms with Leeds for the coach's departure. Leeds will play a friendly at Bramall Lane with the Blades keeping the gate receipts, and Leeds will loan an - as yet unnamed - player to them for the duration of the season.

June 12: After offers involving Parlour, van Bronckhorst and Jeffers all came to nothing, Arsenal are now said to be offering their talented young striker Jermaine Pennant plus £4 million in a bid to lure Harry Kewell to Highbury. With Kewell due to finally sit down with the Prof tomorrow to start talking about his future, it looks like some sort of decision might finally be coming.

June 11: Leeds captain Dominic Matteo has urged supporters to back the club by buying season tickets for the new campaign. And he's not slacking himself - he bought a pair just a couple of days ago (hopefully they're not for him to sit in!). He said: "Living in Leeds I speak to the fans a lot and I know they were frustrated with how things went. All I would ask is that the supporters just get behind us again. I know they will and they'll support us again next season. It'd be great to give them something to shout about."

June 11: Paul Okon's agent says that his client has been the subject of some interest from other clubs, with the obvious hint that he'd move if his prospects of a first team place under Peter Reid remained low. His agent said: "But let's not forget he still has two years left at Leeds, so he could still be playing there." At the risk of reigniting an old flame war, that sounds like a threat rather than a promise. On the incoming side, today's Daily Star reports that Blades star Michael Brown would like a move to the Premiership after Sheffield United missed out on promotion via the play-offs. But Brown would cost at least £3 million, and even if we sell a high profile player or two this summer, Peter Reid will be faced with a tough call if he wants to blow his entire wad on one player. Paul Robinson continues to be the topic of much transfer speculation, and today Arsenal's Giovanni van Bronckhorst poured cold water on the prospect of him coming to Elland Road in part-exchange. He said: "There may be some newspaper reports linking me with a possible move to Leeds in some sort of deal, but that is something I know nothing about, and also something I simply don't want." From the almost sensible to the ridiculous: the Evening Mail reports that DOL has ruled out a move for Paul Robinson on the grounds of cost. Doug Ellis had to send out for two new crossing-out pencils yesterday as he went through O'Leary's list of possibles, so it now seems highly unlikely that Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Crespo, Nesta, Shevchenko and Kluivert will be gracing Villa Park next season. Gavin McCann of Sunderland is also apparently off his list due to his wage demands, so although that leaves Leeds at the head of Sunderland's list of suitors for the player, questions will surely be asked about whether he'll fit into the new austerity-era wage structure.

June 11: Both of the pre-season two-day tournaments previously announced - in Geneva on July 22-23 and Dublin on August 9-10 - are now officially confirmed, and Leeds will be taking the full first-team squad to both. The Dublin games will be at Tolka Park, with Shelbourne and St Patricks providing the local opposition, plus our formerly-naive-young-manager and his Villa side.

June 11: Former Leeds and M*n U winger Lee Sharpe - last heard of in Iceland after an unsuccessful spell with Exeter - has been linked with a move to Third Division Bury following rumours of an impending takeover. Bury have been living hand-to-mouth for some time at Gigg Lane, but the board have denied that any formal approach to takeover the club has been made, and Sharpe's name was not discussed at any meetings involving the club. Meanwhile Lord Eddie has been linked with the vacant job at Hartlepool. Although Pool were promoted last year, but parted company with Mike Newell at the end of the season after he nearly botched the excellent start the club had achieved under Chris Turner. Gray has had previous experience in charge with Whitby, Hull and Rochdale as well as the time he brought on so many good youngsters while at Elland Road in the 1980s.

June 11: Kevin Blackwell remains contracted to Sheffield United, despite declaring his wish to join Peter Reid as head coach at Elland Road. He expressed surprise that the clubs were having difficulty agreeing compensation for his early departure from Bramall Lane, and said: "Sheffield United have been good to me but I hoped common sense would prevail and it wouldn't come to this. But the club have threatened to slap an injunction on me so I'll have to think carefully about my position and make a decision in the next 24 hours."

June 11: Danny Mills was Sven's sacrificial goat tonight as England stumbled to a 2-1 win over Slovakia at the Riverside. After Calamity James had watched his defence let a free kick curl gently inside his far post, the England defence was left looking increasingly inept as Cole and Mills pushed forward, the midfield failed to cover and only Slovakia's inept finishing stopped them from going into the break 3-0 up. So it wasn't too surprising to see Sven make a defensive switch, and it was Mills who was chosen to take the fall just before the break. In the end, England could - and probably should - have won by a greater margin, but the performances of some of the individuals involved would suggest that a bit of a rethink on tactics and personnel will be required before the visit to Turkey next season.

June 11: Robbie Keane scored his second goal in a week for the Republic of Ireland with a second-half strike that made the game safe for the hosts at Lansdowne Road tonight. His goal just on the hour against Georgia made the game safe after Gary Doherty and put Brian Kerr's side in front just before half-time. Ian Harte was on the bench without taking part for the second game in a row, and Stephen McPhail also made a bench-warming non-appearance. Ireland now sit in second place in Group 10 having dragged some hope back into their chances of qualification for Euro 2004.

June 10: The pre-season programme could feature a second foreign trip, this time to Switzerland. There had been rumours of a tournament in Basle, but Leeds have been invited to join Parma and Bayer Leverkusen in a midweek tournament in Geneva - Servette being the hosts. There's still no confirmation that this will take place, and neither has there been official confirmation that the Dublin games will take place on the weekend before the league gets underway. Since there's already a Robbie Williams concert on in Dublin that weekend, hotel accommodation of any sort is at a premium and there were very few cheap flights available from the usual sources.

June 10: Harry Kewell had a few generalities to say when he appeared on Australian TV earlier today, and although he didn't come out and say he wanted to leave, I'm told he didn't actually mention Leeds by name once. There are apparently "ten great teams" that he'd like to play for, and his contract situation is up to "management negotiations". Rough translation for the fans: "I really want to stay but the money-grabbing management will force me out." Rough translation for the management: "I'm off in a year for nowt unless you can make it worth my while to leave sooner." Rough translation for other teams: "Gentlemen - start your engines!" Maybe the apparent desire of ManU to get rid of David Beckham and Liverpool's failure to secure Cisse's signature may start up a bit of a bidding war for young Harry - but I'm sure that's the last thing on his mind!

June 10: As Sky struggle to fill their 974 sports channels during the summer, that must mean it's time for another Masters tournament. The Yorkshire competition will be held in the Hallam Arena again on June 29 - tickets available from there or through the club. No confirmation as yet as to who will be appearing for the Leeds side this year.

June 10: Leeds have agreed to face a Cambridge United XI in a match at the Abbey Stadium as part of John Taylor's testimonial season. No date has been confirmed yet, but it won't be before the season starts: a midweek date is likely, in the same week as an international qualifier (let's face it we won't have many players involved unfortunately). Taylor said: "I am absolutely delighted at the news and would like to thank Peter [Reid] for supporting me by bringing Leeds United to the Abbey. It will be an honour to play against a team steeped with so much history and tradition in football."

June 10: Peter Ridsdale is exploring lots of options in his quest to reinvolve himself with the game. He has been in contact with QPR to see what the situation is down at Loftus Road - but a club spokesman indicated that there was no deal in the offing and that Ridsdale seemed to be focusing on Barnsley. Our former chairman has also been linked (in numerous rumours, some of which I didn't invent) with Preston and Stoke but seems not to have taken any concrete decision on his next steps yet.

June 10: Harrogate Railway - who made themselves a bit of a name with an FA Cup 2nd round appearance last season - have got a new pair of faces at the helm: Leeds Academy coaches Dave Harrison and John Francis. Sounds like they're looking to work their connections to help out their new team: "We are looking at bringing a few people from Leeds to work with the lads, like a goalkeeping coach to help with the training...We have a few numbers of lads who are without contracts after leaving Leeds and other clubs that we will try to bring in to bring through."

June 10: The final selection of sides for next season's UEFA and InterToto cups is now nearly complete. With the final Fair Play draw last weekend giving RC Lens and a Danish side a place in the UEFA Cup, that lifted Nice up to an InterToto spot in France. The other big names in the InterToto will be two teams from Spain, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04 and Wolfsburg from the Bundesliga, Slovan Liberec from the Czech Republic and Perugia and Brescia from Serie A. The first games - in which the lesser lights are involved - start on Saturday week when the likes of Bangor City and Omagh Town join a whole bunch of more-consonants-than-really-necessary teams from Eastern Europe to have the chance of scrambling through to the UEFA Cup itself in September. Leeds won't be in it of course, but we'll be following the fortunes of some lucky team or other and keeping you informed on their progress.

June 10: Leeds chief scout Ian Broomfield has been confirmed as joining DOL at Villa Park. Broomfield did an excellent job turning up some good prospects for Leeds and O'Leary hopes he will continue to do the same for his new club. There's no word yet on what is supposed to be happening with Roy Aitken.

June 06: Peter Reid has named the man he wants to head up the coaching staff at Elland Road: Kevin Blackwell of Sheffield United. Blackwell has been with Blades boss Neil Warnock at 6 different clubs, and last season's performances at Bramall Lane would suggest that he has a pretty good idea of how to beat a Leeds United side, so that's as good a starting point as any. Speaking on Friday he said: "I woke up this morning as assistant to Neil Warnock and now I've agreed to become head coach at Leeds. It's unbelievable!" He went on: "My role will be as [Peter Reid's] second in command. I have agreed everything with them and now it's up to the clubs to sort out compensation. Leeds is a huge club with big ambition and would represent a big challenge for me." Ah yes, compensation. Leeds are suggesting that a pre-season friendly at Bramall Lane might be a good alternative to paying the Blades to buy out the remainder of Blackwell's contract for £200,000, but quite how that would go down with the South Yorkshire Police or the Blades fans is another matter entirely.

June 06: With an urgently-needed refit for the midfield still on hold pending a departure or two, we're already missing out on bargains like Matt Holland for less than a million quid. And now it seems we can't even pick up a free transfer: Patrik Berger decided that Pompey was a better alternative to further his career than Leeds after being released by Liverpool. If we were genuinely interested in Berger, and if we can't put together a financial package (or make a persuasive enough football case) to talk that sort of player into coming to Elland Road rather than Fratton Park then it looks like it will be a long and painful summer and does not fill us with joy and hope at next season's prospects.

June 06: Danny Mills reckons that Paul Robinson would be the best player for the club to lose if we were forced into a summer sale. "Although he has done a great job for us this season and is undoubtedly an England keeper of the future, we already have the ideal replacement in Nigel Martyn. But if Harry Kewell or Mark Viduka was allowed to go, they would be extremely difficult to replace." Mills also accepted that the players should bear some of the blame for the cutbacks of the last few months. "People behind the scenes have lost their jobs and it's down to us to see the good times return to Leeds," he said. But rather astonishingly he added: "Footballers are always detached from the financial situation and I'm not sure all of the players were fully aware of the consequences of relegation." If I was a footballer's agent, I'd make very very sure that my charges were aware of what a drop to a lower league would mean to their lifestyle, particularly in the light of the recent slump in football finances where even if the player managed to get a transfer back to another top-flight club, his chances of picking up a pay packet similar to a contract agreed 2 years ago is very very slight. Still, Mills does have a very valid point about the availability of quality backup: the loss of Viduka and Kewell would be devastating - but it's looking increasingly likely that we'll have to face up to the departure of at least one if not two or three of the top earners.

June 05: We can rebuild him.....or at least that's what Eirik Bakke is hoping to do to himself after his recent bout of foot-shooting in court and in the press. And he wants to start on the pitch: "People can judge me after a big game like [the upcoming Denmark game]. If I cannot perform well against Denmark, I have to stand the criticism." He clearly realises - or has been told - that he's got a bit of work to do. "I will do anything I can to build myself up again. Of course I have to work with my image, but that is going to take time. It is too soon to say what I will do to achieve that." Suggestions on a postcard please to E. Bakke, c/o Elland Road, Leeds LS11 0ES.

June 05: Young striker Simon Johnson has been called up for the England U-20 squad to take part in the Toulon tournament later this month. After a successful spell with the reserves and on loan at Hull, Johnson made a handful of substitute appearances before making his first start in the last game of the season against Villa.

June 05: Peter Reid made it clear where the real decisions are being made on Harry Kewell's future - and it's not in the Elland Road boardroom. "We're trying to get Harry to sign a new deal... if he wants to stay, I'll be absolutely delighted." He went on to add: "It's fair to say the ball is in Harry's court." But he's upbeat about keeping our other star Aussie: "Mark Viduka is staying... I want him to stay so it's over broken glass that he goes... I want to keep my best players, and Viduka is one I want to work with." Reid also confirmed that he was interested in picking up Patrik Berger from Liverpool - but that he was one of many possible targets currently under scrutiny. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

June 04: David Seaman has agreed to leave Arsenal to follow in Peter Schmeichel's footsteps and link up with Kevin Keegan at Man City. Seaman was the classic one-that-got-away from a Leeds point of view - released in the early 1980s and told there was no realistic prospect of him getting a first team game. Of course that now raises a very immediate question about his successor at Arsenal: Arsene Wenger was said to be interested in Turkey's Rustu Recber, but now Valencia's talented and experienced keeper Canizares is said to be his prime target. Of course there's another talented young keeper who might just be available and interested in Champions League football - but let's hope he's still at Elland Road next season.

June 04: In a statement that will have the fans happy in the short-term but which will send a shiver down the spine of the club's accountants (and any fan with half an eye on the balance sheet), Harry Kewell has said that he's happy at Leeds and might see out his contract at Elland Road. He'll be appearing live on a chat show Down Under next week - don't know if any of you lot in Australia can wangle your way into the audience or Green Room and buttonhole him about his real intentions. Kewell stressed his desire for European football, and his exact words on his future were: "I still have another year left on my contract. Who knows? I might sign another contract with Leeds." If you're a positive sort of person, then you can take this as a sign that he'd like to stay and will if Leeds are well-placed for Europe next season, but as I've said before - can the club afford to take the chance of him leaving for nothing next summer? With the finances still in a precarious position then there's only one answer.

June 03: Robert Molenaar has landed himself a final gig back in his home country after being released by Bradford. He's joined Dutch Eredivisie side RBC Roosendaal (bottom left hand corner of the country - just above Antwerp), and at the age of 34 will be hoping for one or two more seasons before hanging up his boots. Molenaar joined Leeds from Volendam in 1997 and was a popular figure at the club before moving on to Bradford in 2000.

June 03: A record 586 players have been released from their contracts or failed to gain a renewal at the end of the season. Leeds old boys on the list are: Bob Taylor, who played 30 minutes in the last game of the season for West Brom to get an emotional send-off from the Baggies fans; Robert Molenaar, on his way to Holland from Bradford. In the lower divisions, Mark Ford has been released by Darlo, Kevin Sharp leaves Huddersfield and Scott Sellars and Mansfield part company. Some fairly well-known names will be looking for other clubs or retirement - Peter Beagrie, David Burrows, Dean Holdsworth and Fabrizio Ravinelli - and two sons of famous players also get shown the door: Gavin Strachan from Southend and Paul Dalglish from Blackpool. Presumably a few of these players will find a club willing to take them on, but looking at the top flight there's not many who could tempt Peter Reid into thinking they'd improve his squad: Oleg Luzhny, Henning Berg, Keith Gillespie, Jody Morris and Patrik Berger are probably the nearest. But let's face it: if any of this lot were any good then - with the exception of a couple of seriously cash-strapped clubs - they wouldn't be being released.

June 03: Lucas Radebe said he would be very tempted to stay beyond the end of his playing contract if Leeds offered him a coaching job. He said: "I am going to do the coaching badge and hopefully with the relationship I have here with some great people at the club, who have made me settled, I will be able to do well... It's my second home and it would be nice to settle here and get a job." It was originally thought that - despite the fact that he is well-settled in Yorkshire - that he would return to live in South Africa once he retired from the game, but it could be a big boost to Leeds' chances of picking up new talent from the continent if he stayed and helped to bring the youngsters on and worked at improving the ability and positional sense of the first team centrebacks. "I would love to be involved here - absolutely, completely, I would love it," he said.

June 03: Leeds have had an expression of interest from Arsenal ("but we're not talking to them" they say) over the possible sale of Harry Kewell. They have already turned down the offer of Sylvain Wiltord or Francis Jeffers as makeweights in a cash plus player deal according to press reports today. Ray Parlour is the Arsenal player of most interest to Peter Reid, who needs to strengthen the midfield more than anything else - and even tried to tempt Parlour to the Stadium of Light when Reid was in charge at Sunderland. But the talks won't go very far until Kewell, his agent Bernie Mandic and the Prof are all in the same country - so maybe things will start ticking again sometime next week. But Kewell will have to be careful about his demands - it's reported that Liverpool have pulled out of the race to sign him when faced with wage demands of £70,000 a week.

June 03: Danny Mills played for the first hour of tonight's 2-1 friendly win over Serbia-Montenegro at Leicester, but there was only a bench-warming spot for Paul Robinson. For some reason - presumably because he's seen to have had so much more practice than Robbo after a season with Tomas Repka in front of him - David James remains Sven's favorite between the sticks.

June 02: It looks like it's going to be a Bosman summer for Peter Reid, according to chairman John McKenzie. There's - some - money available to pay salaries, but the expected sales of Olivier Dacourt, Harry Kewell and maybe Paul Robinson will pay off a few debts but should make some funds available for the manager. McKenzie said that he expected several clubs to be in a similar position - very reminiscent of the state of Serie A last summer: "I don't think you will see too many big-money deals. It will be a case of clubs waiting to see what happens, it will need someone to come in and kick things off by spending on a player and that would then start a chain-reaction."

June 02: Rio Ferdinand and Vinnie Jones were in the headlines for all the wrong reasons at the weekend. Rio was alleged to have picked a fight with hotel staff while the England squad stayed at La Manga for a short break. It sounds like the usual tabloid blown-up coverage of a non-incident, and today Rio insisted that all that had happened was a little misunderstanding when he and another player invited a couple of hotel staff to play them at pool (presumably this was misinterpreted as a threat to throw the poor sods IN the pool!). As for Vinnie, he was reported to have been in a ruck with fellow passengers in Upper Class on a Virgin flight out to Japan. He is said to have threatened to have a passenger and a crew member killed after a quiet chat at the bar ended with him abusing a female traveller and then getting into such a scuffle with her male friend that they were moved back into economy class. Vinnie's agent said that he'd spoken to him since he got to Japan but his client hadn't said anything about the incident.

June 02: A Leeds XI (i.e. reserves and youth) will play Chesterfield at Saltergate in a pre-season friendly on Saturday August 2. There's still no official confirmation of the Dublin trip the following weekend, but sources in Ireland indicate that it's just a matter of sorting the contractual details before the official announcement is made and we can all rush off to Ryanair to book tickets.

June 02: So what's happening at Oakwell then? Read one set of papers and Peter Ridsdale is poised outside the chairman's office with a wad of cash and is looking to persuade Lord Eddie to come and join him in dragging the Tykes back up the league ladder. But other news sources say our erstwhile chairman has no intentions of getting involved at Oakwell but he might be interested in X. Make of it what you will - I'd have thought Ridsdale would be so heavily identified with Leeds - and with the financial fiasco - that no board in the professional game would want to be associated with him, and that he'd be equally unacceptable to the fans who wouldn't want their club to be used as his opportunity to show what he had and hadn't learnt from the Leeds experience.

June 02: The window's open so here we go with number one in a two-month series of lies, rumour, spin, innuendo and the occasional fact. Nigel Martyn wants out of Leeds if there's no chance of a regular first team start for him next season. "I don't believe I need to be put out to grass yet - I've still got two or three more seasons in me." He went on: "I'd prefer it to be here because I'm settled and I love the club. But if it isn't I can't just let my career fade away." Don't worry Nige - I'm sure we'll manage to sell Robbo and return to you in our hour of need, and I've every confidence you won't let us down. Hard to know what's the funniest bit of a story on a Bolton fans website in which it is suggested that Raul "Fiat" Bravo is eyeing up the Reebok as his home for next season, bearing in mind Sam Allardyce's excellent mix of foreign talent and good old-fashioned workrate that kept them up last season. Admittedly his form at Leeds was more Bolton than Bernabeu after a promising start, but the suggestion that Bolton will be competing with Blackburn and ManU for his signature is a real "Get-the-floor-padded-cos-I'm-falling-off-my-chair" rib-tickler. The Prof reiterated his desire not sell Vidooks, despite what the Aussie's weasel of an agent is trying, and Arsenal and ManU both managed to get through an entire day without sending us a written bid for Harry Kewell's services. Arsenal remains the most likely destination for Kewell, and to add insult to injury Arsene Wenger is said to be after one-time Leeds target Brett Emerton as he tries to establish a little Aussie colony of his own in North London. If only we could persuade him to sign Jacob Burns instead...

June 01: Roy Aitken has yet to make up his mind whether or not to join DOL at Villa. O'Leary brought Aitken to Elland Road and is keen for the well-travelled Scot to become his assistant manager. Aitken said: "Peter Reid gave me permission to see what was on offer at the Villa, but he also made it clear he wanted me to stay on at Leeds where I have been very happy." But it sounds like he's coming down in favour of a move: "The Villa job is a good opportunity. Now I need to talk with them about the contract situation."

June 01: Former Leeds reserve keeper Paul Pettinger has joined Kettering after being released by Lincoln City. Pettinger had two previous spells on loan with the club when Carl Shutt was in charge and new boss Dominic Genovese says: "We needed a class act to replace Ian Bowling and I believe we have got ourselves just that."

June 01: Sunday's ever-shortening Euro round-up starts in Spain where both of the top two stumbled this week. Yesterday Real Madrid found themselves a goal down at home to Celta Vigo, but a Raul strike halfway through the second half gave them a point. Real Sociedad had the chance to press home their advantage today when they faced Valencia at home. A goal from Xabi Alonso just past the half hour looked to have put them in the driving seat, but they conceded an own goal barely two minutes later. Despite playing against 10 men for the last half hour after the dismissal of Roberto Ayala, Sociedad failed to press home their advantage and so maintain a one point lead at the top. There was a rousing performance from third-placed Deportivo in the Riazor as they came from behind twice to beat Atletico Madrid 3-2. After Naybet was dismissed and a penalty conceded in the 5th minute, Depor were quickly back on level terms through Romero. And when Atletico scored again with 10 minutes to go, Roy Makaay squared things up inside a minute. With just one minute of normal time remaining Juan Valeron scored a winner that leaves Depor with an outside chance of the title. Local rivalries and favours could play a big part in deciding who wins the crown: next week Real Madrid entertain Atletico Madrid while Sociedad face Celta Vigo, and in the final weekend's matches Sociedad are at home to Atletico Madrid while Real have to travel to Bilbao. Will Atletico fight like lions against Madrid and roll over like pussies against Sociedad? And will Bilbao do their northern neighbours a favour - or indeed themselves since they currently sit in the final UEFA Cup spot? Tune in next week and find out!

The Dutch championship was decided in the final round of games on Thursday with PSV winning it by a single point. Ajax grabbed a 3-0 win against Heerenveen, but it was an edge-of-the-seater for PSV fans as they endured a goalless draw at Groningen: a goal for Groningen and one more for Ajax would have left PSV on top by a single goal, but they held out and deserved the title over the length of the season. Mateja Kezman ended as top scorer in the league. That point for Groningen sends FC Zwolle down on goal difference despite their 2-1 win over De Graafschap this weekend.

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