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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

March 31: Scott Carson, Matthew Kilgallon and James Milner were all in action last night for England's U-21 side - with varying degrees of success. Carson had a good match - starting the game and making some good saves, although he did concede one goal when the defence gave the Swedes an easy header. But when Carson went off in the second half, Matthew Kilgallon came on with the new keeper and was directly to blame for Sweden's second goal. James Milner was rested after a tough Premier League schedule, but he came on for the last 10 minutes, nearly scoring from a free kick. In the end, Newcastle's Michael Chopra spared England's blushes with an equaliser in stoppage time.

March 31: Mark Viduka has buried the hatchet with Soccer Australia and made a strong contribution to their 1-0 win over South Africa in London last night. He played for the first hour, and said: "I'm not one to hold grudges. I genuinely think what they will do for the game is going to be good and the players are all behind them." Also appearing was Harry Kewell - amazing he was able to make the long journey down from Liverpool without picking up another mystery injury!

March 31: The second fans forum meeting - scheduled for Thursday night - is not open to the wider public - it's for members of the official Supporters Club only, so don't go turning up and hoping to get in unless you've got your membership card.

March 31: Stephen McPhail is a doubt for Monday's game after pulling out of the Ireland squad with a calf injury. Eirik Bakke is making good progress as he recovers from his thigh tear, and has an outside chance of being involved. Meanwhile Jason Wilcox missed last night's reserves win over Liverpool after suffering a minor reaction to his first comeback game last week. Lamine Sakho was in for a scan on the knee injury he suffered in the reserves, and although it's not yet known if it is cruciate damage it looks like he'll be out of contention for the rest of the season anyway.

March 31: Paul Robinson spent all of the Gothenburg game on the bench tonight, but Alan Smith got half an hour after the Swedes had taken the lead, and showed a few good touches up front, also doing well as he dropped back into midfield to win the ball and bring others into play. Unfortunately the best chance of the night for England to equalize fell to the lightweight and still out of his depth Joe Cole, with predictably off-target results. Jon Woodgate had a very solid first half, clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the defence in positioning, pace and overall quality. Teddy Lucic was playing for Sweden and seemed a totally different player to the uncertain and one-paced bloke who appeared for us last year. For Ireland, there was also plenty of Leeds involvement, with Ian Harte giving the Republic the lead, Alan Maybury making a goal-line clearance, and Robbie Keane striking an injury-time winner as the Czech Republic lost for the first time in 20 games. For Scotland, Steve Caldwell stayed on the bench although brother Gary did play.

March 30: While I'm on the subject of articles in the Indy, here's another one from the weekend which contains all sorts of enlightening snippets about the deal, plus the Richmonds' past history with Bradford. Well worth a read.

March 30: It's looking a racing certainty that none of the loanees will be with the club next season - but Salomon Olembe is keen to remain in England. His agent Willie McKay said that several clubs had expressed an interest in taking him on, and that Peter Reid rated him. McKay said: "His loan deal expires at the end of the season and he is available for EUR3 million from Marseille. Charlton, Blackburn, Bolton and Celtic have all been watching him. He is very keen to stay in England although it has been difficult for him at Leeds. He is just hoping to get the opportunity to help Leeds try and stay in The Premiership."

March 30: It's not even April, but already the transfer rumours are starting to fly. Unsurprisingly, Mark Viduka is the first one to be linked with another club, and this time it's the revival of the Roma link. Capello's outfit were ready to pay £20 million three years ago if you believe the reports - the most Leeds can expect this time around is barely a fifth of that amount if the deal goes through. Earlier, Viduka had revealed that he was glad that the deal to take him to Boro had fallen through. He said: "In the end I said to myself, 'If I'm going to leave Leeds I don't want to leave on this note.' We looked as if we were going down. I just thought If I go back I'm going to do everything I can to keep the club up. And then we'll look from there, because it's so uncertain."

March 30: Simon Johnson continued his scoring streak and the reserves also continued their unbeaten run as they ran out 3-1 winners over Liverpool at Wakefield tonight. A serious injury to Lamine Sakho on the stroke of half-time overshadowed the result - the Senegalese forward being carried off with suspected cruciate damage after a collision with the Liverpool keeper. Leeds went behind when Stuart Edwards put through his own net just past the half-hour mark, but Aaron Lennon scored a great solo goal to square things up inside 5 minutes. Simon Johnson then extended the lead from the spot after Lennon was brought down inside the box, and Johnson completed the win with a toe-poke on the end of a Barmby cross inside the second half. Michael Duberry completed the full 90 minutes as his comeback gathers pace.

March 30: It's been pretty clear from the off that the Nike kit deal was a bit of a shambles, with poor supplies and initially poor quality control on the shirts blowing a good commercial opportunity, and Nike's prioritisation of Leeds' requests also indicated the lack of esteem in which the club was held. So now it seems that we're on the point of signing a new deal with Diadora - worth up to £15 million for a 5 year deal - with the final contracts due to be signed later this week. Bring back the old Top Man/Umbro kits, that's what I say!

March 29: Leeds City Council voted unanimously in favour of doing something to commemorate John Charles. Needless to say they didn't actually vote on a specific proposal or nominate a preferred way of remembering his life and impact on the city - but they did vote in favour of setting up a committee to work on a report to consider how best to do so. Council leader Keith Wakefield said: "John was a great ambassador for this city and it is only fitting we find a proper way of marking his memory."

March 29: There will be a repeat of last week's fans forum meeting this Thursday. Once again it's first-come-first-served for 500 people at the Banqueting Suite, starting at 7:30pm. David Richmond will be there, along with the youngest member of the board - property developer Simon Morris - to answer your questions.

March 29: Eirik Bakke is ready to recommence full training after being out since the Liverpool game with a thigh injury. Bakke's solid midfield presence has been sorely missed in the last couple of games, and although he has missed all of March with the injury, Eddie Gray is confident that Bakke will be ready to take his place in the side against Leicester next Monday night. Gray said: "We'll see how he goes in training and then hopefully he will be available to us again. It will be a boost to have him back but we won't take any risks."

March 29: Stephen McPhail missed the Ireland squad's training session today and will miss Wednesday's friendly against the Czech Republic. Apparently he has a leg problem. If Saturday's performance was anything to go by, the problem is that they're too lazy to run after the opposition. Ian Harte and Alan Maybury are also in Brian Kerr's squad, but both are more likely to spend most of the game on the bench rather than start.

March 29: There's a piece in today's Independent which touches on a few events surrounding Leeds' immediate and more distant past. But given the identity of the writer - former FA chief Graham Kelly - it's the last two paragraphs that point to a possibly significant change on the way. Kelly says:

It would hardly be original to point the finger again at Peter Ridsdale, except perhaps to place Leeds' dream in the context of the general unwillingness of English football to countenance any significant form of financial self-regulation. While that dream was turning to dust he was walking the corridors of power as a member of the board of the FA alongside then chief executive, Adam Crozier.

And this week the Independent Football Commission are embarking on a consultation exercise. Let's hope the Government sharpen their teeth. Read the whole piece here.

March 29: Stephen Caldwell says that nobody is blaming Mark Viduka for the miss that could have made it 0-2 to Leeds on Saturday. He said: "It's a team game and I don't see the forwards blaming us defenders, so I am not about to start blaming the forwards because it's a team effort." Too bloody right mate - there was enough finger-pointing going on within the Leeds defence at St Andrews to last at least a month, and you'd have to work your way through the midfield blunders before you got to the strikers! Caldwell said: "Unfortunately we lost a really sloppy first goal, we let them back in the game and made it a very even contest after we were well on top. We have to look at it as a back four and then as individuals and think about the errors we made. They were so basic, it's not the kind of thing you are going to learn from, it's just one of those days and it's disappointing it had to come at this stage of the season with the predicament we are in."

March 27: A couple of surprises in today's game, but not with the result. We played more or less as well or as badly as we had done against City on Monday, but a combination of truly appalling defending, an invisible midfield and poor finishing saw to it that we got exactly the number of points we deserved. Some abysmally biased refereeing decisions ensured that the result flattered Birmingham - Mr Halsey has clearly not heard of "persistent foul play" - because otherwise each one of the Brum defenders would have had a yellow card for their continual attempts to stop Smith and Viduka illegally but also unilaterally decided that football was a non-contact support if his call on the penalty is to be believed, one of his assistants failed on at least three occasions to correctly judge whether the ball had crossed the touchline, and the other showed that he had no understanding of the latest tweaks to the offside law. But that's no excuse. Paul Robinson is increasingly looking like a Spurs keeper, Gary Kelly's distribution and positional sense appear to have deserted him, Steve Caldwell has done reasonably well - but communication failure between him and Matteo caused at least two of the goals and we've got to bring Lucas back into the side now. And now we get onto the midfield. Stephen McPhail and Seth Johnson once again contributed almost nothing positive, and their lazy, clueless, switched-off attitudes were directly responsible for the Blues' first two goals. Smith and Viduka worked hard - but they just don't score enough goals, and today Vidooks had the chance to make it 0-2 with the sort of open goal that Bryan Hughes was to take advantage of later in the game. As for Eddie's selections - well I guess he's a bit constrained by what's available, but once again it was clear the midfield was being swamped (thank G*d they didn't have Savage to complete the job) and nothing seemed to come from the bench apart from a single too-late substitution that took off the hard-working goal-threatening Milner and left on the anonymous non-presence of McPhail. 7-9 points from the next three games are essential if we're to have a hope of survival.

March 27: Eddie Gray reckons that the team played well overall, but indivdual defensive slips had decided the game. He said: "We started brightly but we gave them the goals very cheaply. The defensive side of things is always the key in football. If you give stupid things away then you have problems." And he went on: "It was a vital game for us and I'll be honest in saying I expected us to come to Birmingham to win the game - and the way we started I thought that was going to happen. It is disappointing. It is disappointing for the players. But we can't dwell on it. We've got to keep working hard and it makes it very important for us to win our home games. It's up to me to get the players to play. I expect they'll be disappointed for the next day or so but you've got to forget about that and concentrate on the next game against Leicester."

March 27: Time to get your votes in for the March Player of the Month poll.

March 27: Paul Robinson, Alan Smith and Danny Mills are all in the squad for next week's England friendly against Sweden. Scott Carson, James Milner and Matthew Kilgallon all make the U-21 squad.

March 27: Not much to report on the Leeds exiles front today. Warren Feeney bagged the third of Bournemouth's trio of unanswered goals at Rushden. Oh, and a certain J Hasselbaink - playing his 200th Premier League game on his 32nd birthday - came on as a 2nd half sub with Chelsea 1-2 down at home to Wolves and scored his 100th league goal. Then he added two more for a hat-trick as the Blues did us a favour by winning 5-2.

March 26: New chairman Gerald Krasner has announced that the club will be creating a new charity, and at least some of the proceeds from any money collected would go on a memorial to the late, great John Charles. It may be a little unfair on them, but it does seem that the PR offensive to paint the new owners in a positive light is now in full swing. Krasner said: "The object of this trust is to raise money for charitable purposes, in the footballing and general community of Leeds for underprivileged young people and footballers who may have fallen on hard times." The trustees will be Krasner, Peter Lorimer and LUSC chairman Ray Fell. The directors have put £2,500 in the pot from their own pockets to get the ball rolling.

March 26: Today kicked off with a rumour in that legendary journal of record, the Mirror, that Alan Smith was looking for a move away from Elland Road in the summer in order to improve his future England prospects. But his agent immediately poured cold water on the suggestion. Alex Black said: "Alan hasn't given any interviews to the press in the last few weeks so this cannot have come from him. I haven't seen the stories but it's not the first time this has happened. We'll have a look and decide whether we need to make a statement." Speaking later in the day, Gerald Krasner admitted that some player departures were inevitable given that there were 58 players on the books, whether or not Leeds avoided the drop, adding: "Until our status is known no decision will be made on individual players. I don't know whether Alan Smith will be sold or not." Hardly a vote of confidence! Later still, Eddie Gray said: Eddie Gray dismissed the rumours: "I've spoken to Alan and told him there will be stories about him between now and the end of the season. He doesn't take any notice. Alan and I have a laugh because it happens nearly every day. We can just brush it off." But he also hinted that relegation would have a consequence for Smith's England prospects. He added: "I still believe he has a future here. If we are in the Premiership, then it's up to Alan and everybody else connected at the club to see which way we are going to go."

March 26: Lucas Radebe's contract is up in the summer, and it doesn't look like he'll be offered a renewal. But the board are still being forced to consider organising a testimonial for the popular defender, who will have been at Elland Road for ten years at the end of his deal. Supporters at last night's meeting pressed Krasner on what would be done to honour the promise made by Peter Ridsdale when Lucas signed his last deal. Krasner said: "Radebe's testimonial is on the agenda for our next director's meeting. The wishes of our supporters are not something we ignore, and we all recognise the contribution he has made to this club."

March 26: "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way." Okay, that was Whitney Houston not Eddie Gray, but that's more or less what the caretaker boss had to say last night. He made the point to the fans at the meeting that big new signings would be few and far between, and the only hope for future success at the club was for the Academy to churn out a new batch of Paul Robinsons, Jon Woodgates, Alan Smiths and Harry Kewells. Gray pointed out that things would take some time to turn round - but asked the fans to be patient. He said: "The thing that concerns me is the long term future of the football club and the long term future for me is the club producing the majority of their own players. There are always going to be players coming into clubs, but we have got to start producing more players through the Academy." And he added: "I believe there are one or two players at the club who are nearly ready to come in and show the supporters and the club what they can do."

March 26: Looks like I'll be watching the Pompey match in a bar in Dublin. Despite the attractions of Liverpool/ManU, Arsenal/Spurs and Newcastle/Chelsea that weekend, Sky have picked Leeds/Pompey as their PPV offering and in a move that will no doubt delight all of the Pompey fans who have already made travel arrangements to get to Leeds for the Saturday afternoon kick-off, the game will now take place at 1130 on the Sunday morning. So it's an early Guinness or three for me, cos I've already booked my flights to the Emerald Isle for the first gig on John Martyn's tour. Anyone want a seat (okay, a space to stand in) at the back of the Kop for this relegation six-pointer?

March 26: Chairman Gerald Krasner today confirmed that the main source of the consortium's funding had in fact come from a loan from property developer Jack Petchey, and was secured on the ground. If the club default on the loan, then Petchey - who has a substantial holding in Aston Villa and was also involved in Watford - will own the ground. Krasner said: "There are a number of options open to us, one of which is a sale and lease back. If we did do that it would be on a minimum 25-year lease so that Leeds' football was secure here, but that is not our number one option." Krasner reiterated his previous statement that Petchey was not involved on the control side: he was just providing finance through one of his companies.

March 25: Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell are in Frank Farina's Socceroo squad to face South Africa next week. But don't worry - Vidooks won't have to travel halfway around the world this time: the game takes place on March 30 in London. Two further friendlies are scheduled to be played in Australia in May, and both players are expected to be involved in those games as well - "injuries" permitting. Paul Okon has also won a surprise recall to the squad after his switch from Italy to KV Oostende in Belgium.

March 25: The new owners have wasted no time in bringing in their plans to raise as much money in as short a time as possible, with the offer of a 20-year season ticket. At face value, it's a bargain - offering you twenty years of home games for ten times the price of your current ticket, plus a few extras as well. There's a limit of 2000 tickets to be sold this way, so the most this exercise would realistically raise is around £8-9 million. As a sweetener to former shareholders, they are being offered a further 5% discount on the price. The tickets are resellable and can be passed on as part of an inheritance if watching the club drives you to an early grave. So where's the catch? Well the big catch is that this has been tried elsewhere before, including - strangely enough - Bradford City. When Bradford were put into administration, it emerged that the new owners would be under no obligation to honour such tickets - although they subsequently did. The question anyone preparing to commit £3-4,000 needs to ask themselves is: do I think the club is sufficiently financially stable to be able to offer me 20 years - or even 10 for that matter - of League football? 10 years ago, the bond that built the East Stand was a great bargain for those of us who took it up: I'd say that in this case you should make certain you've read every last bit of small print before you sign up, and if you do, buy it on a credit card and confirm with the card company that they will offer you a refund should the club have difficulty in maintaining its side of the bargain.

March 25: Geoffrey Richmond mounted a fierce defence of his involvement with the club at tonight's meeting with the fans in Leeds. Many people questioned his role within the new management group and pointed to the involvement of his son as the new commercial and marketing director as a cover for Richmond Senior's control. But he stood up and gave as good as he got, saying that although his real footballing passion was Bradford, he was born and bred in Leeds and wanted to see the club survive. He said: "I am not an asset stripper, not remotely. When this consortium approached me I was invited to join, but I have some financial problems and I am not in a position to invest. I would love to have done so, but they understand I cannot, so they instead asked me for advice, which I was willing to give." Richmond is currently involved in a multi-million pound dispute with the tax authorities - the "problems" referred to above. He went on: "I initially thought I would be giving up a few hours of my time, but it became day after day, and without that input this deal wouldn't have happened. It's a fact this club would have gone into administration without that input." Defending his son, he added: "He is very successful in his own right and has done his own thing. He has put his money in and his life on the line and he does not deserve to be slaughtered in this way."

March 24: There are still tickets available for the Leeds end for Saturday's game at Birmingham - contact the Leeds ticket office for more info but assume you'll have to pick them up in Leeds, since last year we were told that there were still some matchday sales available, but the police wouldn't let you through their cordon to get to the ticket office unless you already had a ticket. On the not-available front, Robbie Savage is still suspended (one less pantomime villain for us to jeer), and as well as missing David Dunn, Jamie Clapham, Darren Purse and Olivier Tebily with longer-term injuries, Mikael Forssell, Matthew Upson and Damien Johnson all have knocks after the Blues' bizarre 5-3 defeat at Boro.

March 24: Another set of victims of the Peter Ridsdale-inspired fall of Leeds United has come to light: Leeds council tax payers. When the council sold the ground back to the club a few years back, the council accepted 25% of the £10 million purchase price in Leeds shares - which are now totally worthless. It's understood the council did manage to offload some of its holding, but it still faces a paper loss of around £1.7 million. Peter Ridsdale has also suffered financially: as one of the larger individual shareholders his six-figure investment in the club was also wiped out by the takeover.

March 24: After the initial scepticism, it seems that Leeds fans around the world have decided that the new men in charge deserve a chance to show what they can do. Chairman Gerald Krasner says that he's been swamped with emails and letters from every continent wishing him good luck. He said: "The support we've had has been really encouraging. Ever since we started work on this, I'd say that 99 per cent of the calls and messages we've had have been positive and that's great." And he added: "I have to say I'm looking forward to meeting as many of them as possible at tomorrow night's supporters' meeting when we will try and answer all their questions." Meanwhile, Trevor Birch seems resigned to leaving the club after less than a year, but said he has been touched by the support and praise directed at him for his role in getting Leeds to the altar. He said: "I have been overwhelmed with the support and the thanks I have received... I tried my best to do the best job I could and hopefully I have left Leeds United in better shape than I found them." He went on: "I have to say I am very optimistic for the future of the club and really do believe we will stay up this year... But I will only feel my job at Elland Road has been completed when we stay up. The supporters have been fantastic in the way they have stood by the club through what has been a very difficult time. I have to say they are a credit to the club and themselves - they deserve success and to stay up."

March 24: New Leeds director and playing legend Peter Lorimer says that he wants to see Eddie Gray remain at the club next season - whether it as manager or not. He said: "Any person who lets someone with the talent of Eddie Gray leave the club would be a maniac. There is no question he will be involved, he has too much to offer." Gray has still not got his UEFA coaching qualification, and it is widely rumoured that he will be offered a coaching position in the youth setup, with Gordon Strachan still the consortium's main target as manager.

March 24: The story of Seth Johnson's wage "negotiations" with Peter Ridsdale is widely written about, so it's no surprise that, with the new board talking about further savings being needed on running costs and targetting players' wages, that he is seen as a prime candidate for the axe. But he's not thinking about his chances of securing a remotely similar deal should he be sold. He said: "I'm not thinking about the future and I don't think the other lads are. We're just thinking about this season and keeping Leeds in the Premier League. We've still a lot of games, so it's in our own hands. We win those games then we will stay in the Premier League and that will affect our position at the club." And he added that all the squad were happy that the short-term financial situation appeared to finally be sorted. He said: "It's been a boost with the consortium taking over. There's been a lot of uncertainty, but that was out of our hands. The off-the-pitch stuff merely brought us closer together, made us stronger, and so we knew we just had to stick together as one and we showed that against Manchester City."

March 24: Psychological warfare time. Harry Redknapp says that he thinks Leeds have the quality to escape the drop - but he's not written off Pompey's chances yet either. He said: "I've still got great faith in my boys. They have worked their socks off and on our day we can give anybody in this division a game. But I think Leeds are capable of putting a run together now. They have still got some really good players and you have to think to yourself that they can do it." Don't believe a word of it - he'll be telling his own players that Leeds are pushovers ready for another hammering when they visit Elland Road at the end of April.

March 23: Eddie Gray says that his side hope to build on last night's crucial win over Manchester City. He said: "This was an important win for the club, especially with the new owners taking over. It's good for the supporters and the players and hopefully we can get on at the club and look to the future." And he repeated his belief that the players need to treat the rest of the season like a series of cup ties: "I warned the players before the game they face 10 cup finals between now and the end of the season. Before the game there was a lot of tension and one or two of the players were a little bit nervous. And, although they know they did not play as well as they are capable of playing, they kept working away." Kevin Keegan was unhappy about the penalty award and the dismissal of van Buyten, but his memory is obviously fading quickly these days, and he didn't see fit to mention the late tackle on James Milner in Manchester that at the very least should have been rewarded with a red card, if not a penalty and which went completely unpunished: what goes around comes around, but seldom in such a mirrored manner as this. Alan Smith defended the ref's decision, insisting that he was fouled by the City defender. He said: "If it was inside the box it's a penalty. But we'll take it. I thought it was inside - I didn't think there was any doubt about it to be honest. It's about time we got one - us and Blackburn are the only teams who haven't had a penalty all season."

March 23: Leeds Ladies slumped to a 4-0 defeat at Arsenal over the weekend. They've now got two more games to play - a winnable visit to Charlton on April 4, followed by the visit of the title-contenders Charlton a fortnight later, and need to take something from those games if they are to sneak past Doncaster Belles into fourth spot.

March 23: Ref Alan Wiley defended his decision to dish out a red card to van Buyten last night. With Kevin Keegan appealing for him to look again at the tape and rescind the dismissal, Wiley appeared to rule that out, saying: "Although there was contact on Alan Smith just outside the area, the actual foul, a trip, was on the line and therefore in accordance with the rules it is judged inside the area." And he went on: "The assistant sounded his buzzer to confirm the decision to me. I sent the player off because I felt that had Alan been able to get past the defender he would have been clean through on goal." I've not seen the replays, but from the back of the Kop it looked like a harsh decision, and I'm sure I'd be up in arms if it had gone against us. But for once we've had the benefit of a dubious decision - I guess I should be grateful for it!

March 23: Leeds reserves produced a good performance tonight to defeat Villa's second string, who were on the point of clinching the reserve league title if they had won. Scott Carson had an excellent game, and Simon Johnson continued his hot streak with another goal. Paul Keegan had put Leeds in front just after the break, and Johnson added another after the hour, Although Villa pulled a goal back with five minutes to go, Leeds held on to take the win.

March 23: Geoffrey Richmond's involvement with the club remains confusing, despite the latest attempt at clarification. It seems he's got an office at the club, is the main man when it comes to figuring out how to run the club and how best to make savings and improvements, but he's just a "consultant" - not a director and not formally a member of the controlling group. But at least he's held up his hands over the Bradford debacle and he's not trying to walk away from his responsibility for the mess he left behind there. He said: "I made the mistakes, and I didn't try and hide them, deny them or blame somebody else which many people do. You can call me whatever you want, but never call me dishonest. I made a mistake, held my hand up and admitted it." And he went on: "But the many good things I did, the good things I have learned and the knowledge I have, are also there to assist this club going forward. Although the end at Bradford left me broken-hearted, my heart is being mended again with my involvement in Leeds." As to the future, he's saying nowt: he has agreed to work with the club up to the end of the season, but won't discuss anything beyond that - although it is widely believed he'll take up the chief exec role to be vacated by Trevor Birch. Meanwhile Gerald Krasner appealed for a bit of understanding from the fans. He said: "Five years from now there won't be 92 league clubs and we have made sure Leeds won't be disappearing. We hope the fans give us respect, if not gratitude. Existence is everything and I think most fans appreciate that." If anyone can make it to the meeting on Thursday and tell me what gets said, I'll be happy to distribute their views. I'm a bit tied up (and work at the wrong end of the country) so can't make it...

March 23: Nick Barmby has returned to Leeds after his month-long loan spell at Forest came to an end. Joe Kinnear decided not to keep him on after the one-time England man scored once in six games at the City Ground. Kinnear said: "I would like to thank Nicky for all his efforts during his time with us a wish him well for the future."

March 22: No consideration these consortium chaps. Wait until I'm away on a well-deserved break before sealing the deal to buy Leeds. Well you've probably heard all about it already, but here are the salient details. Gerald Krasner takes over as chairman, with Geoffrey Richmond's son David - a lifelong Leeds fan despite his father's interest in other clubs - on the board. Peter Lorimer is also on the board, along with Melvyn Helme, Melvyn Levy and Simon Morris - all prominent local businessmen. Meanwhile, Trevor Birch and Neil Robson - who have done a brilliant job in keeping the club afloat these last few months - will stay onjust long enough to complete the formalities of the takeover. The shareholders of the old group get nothing as a couple of the companies within the group were put into administration and their assets - the ground and Thorp Arch - sold. The administrators will prepare a report on the activities of former directors, including Peter Ridsdale, Allan Leighton and the Prof, to send to the DTI to determine whether any evidence exists which suggests their actions were irresponsible or illegal and might lead to court proceedings or other action to disbar them as directors. The creditors have taken a pretty big hit, but will at least get some of their money back - about 20p in the pound - and the club's other debts are being rescheduled on a more sensible basis. It's believed that Jack Petchey provided a sizeable chunk of the group's funds as a short-term loan - and that could impact the board's actions in the summer once it becomes clear what division we'll be playing in. More later...

March 22: Peter Lorimer and Gerald Krasner were the star turns at this afternoon's press conference as they finally started to clear up a few issues around the takeover. Peter Lorimer had harsh words for former board members, accusing them of overpaying the players and ignoring the press and the fans. He apologised to the shareholders, fans and all those who had built the club up from Don Revie and Manny Cussins to the present day. Krasner apologised for the lack of openness surrounding the takeover, but went on to thank Geoffrey Richmond and restated the fact that Richmond Senior was only involved as a consultant and that his advice had been useful. The players will be paid in full everything they are owed - including the wages they agreed to defer. Krasner also revealed that there would be an open Q&A session at Elland Road on Thursday, with space for up to 500 fans to question the new board. He went on to say that they would maintain regular contact with the fans. In what hopefully will not prove to be an embarrassing hostage to fortune, he added that the club would never leave Elland Road as long as he was in charge. When it comes to the transfers, he said that the club would not be an enforced seller - but also made it clear that some player departures were likely as they continued to get the finances sorted. Right - now back to the serious business of football: time to go to the City game!

March 22: Dodgy refereeing decisions, woodwork doing us a favour, opponents fluffing their chances. Who cares - we've got three more points in the bag! Decent team performance even if we did have a few flutters against the ten men - more tomorrow...

March 19: Friday could be the biggest day in the club's recent history as the consortium are at last set to unveil the deal that will set Leeds back on the road to recovery. The consortium is expected to provide £22 million to takeover the club and clear most of the debts - the bondholders and other creditors are understood to have accepted a relatively small percentage of their debts but the consortium will still have to finance an outstanding debt of £30 million and keep the running costs down. Most interesting will be the position of Trevor Birch: nobody can deny he has done an outstanding job in running the club over the last few months but will the new owners want him to remain at the helm or will they install their own man? Tune in soon to find out.

March 19: Simon Johnson says that he's happy he made the right decision to stay at Elland Road rather than go out on loan - and the chances he has been given in the first team vindicate his call. He's also scored a dozen goals for the reserves and is on a hot streak at the moment. He said: "I just want to keep playing as well as I can and keep the pressure on the manager to keep me involved. It's going to be difficult with the strikers here at the moment, I am just really playing for myself and to progress at the club." Speaking to the official website, he added: "Obviously I am not expecting to start any of the games here because Viduka and Smith are top class strikers and have been good all season, so if I have to settle for being on the bench I am more than happy to do that."

March 19: News updates are likely to be a bit sporadic until Monday - I'm off on a bit of a jolly for the weekend. Staying in Nice, nipping over to watch the end of the Milan-San Remo classic and hopefully catching AS Monaco against Sochaux on Saturday night. News updates will depend on my proximity to an internet cafe and distance from the bar - have a good weekend!

March 19: It seems that one of the main reasons for Leeds not calling on Nick Barmby's services despite the dearth of bodies in midfield is financial. If he makes two more appearances for Leeds, we'll have to pay Liverpool a couple of hundred grand extra as part of the terms of the deal that brought him to Leeds 18 months ago, so don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

March 19: Nou Camp goal hero Carl Shutt has taken over as manager at Bradford Park Avenue of the UniBond Premier Division. Shutty took Kettering up to the Conference, but then saw them fail to make the grade in that division, and parted company with the club when relegation was inevitable last year. Meanwhile last-winner-at-OT-scorer Brian Flynn has parted company with Swansea after a late-season slump saw them drop out of contention for the play-offs. Alan Curtis steps up as caretaker boss at the Vetch. A club statement said: "The club wish to announce that both Brian Flynn and Kevin Reeves have left by mutual consent. The club would like to thank them both for their hard work in stabilising the club and securing league status at the end of last season."

March 19: Lee Matthews has signed on a one-month loan with Yeovil. He's out of contract at Bristol City at the end of the season and is looking to secure a permanent move. A previous loan at Bristol Rovers saw him fail to score, but Yeovil boss Gary Johnson reckons he could do well at Huish Park. Johnson said: "Lee's got a lot of ability and if he hadn't had the injuries he would be a first division player. He would certainly still be at Bristol City helping them push for promotion at the top of the second division. He hasn't played as many games as he should have at the age of 24, but he still has plenty of League experience." And he added: "He's been injury-free for a while and he's got to stay clear of injury. We'll push him when we have to and then wrap him in cotton wool when we have to."

March 19: Jermaine Pennant wants to be Leeds' new owners first permanent signing. He's already inked in for another month on loan, but if Leeds avoid the drop he's keen to get away from Arsenal and sign up at Elland Road. He said: "Leeds is a great city and I'd like to stay. I've not heard anything from Arsenal about the future - I just keep signing extensions to my loan spell every month. But if we stay up and Leeds want to keep me I'd be more than happy to stay. I feel I'm getting better with every game. I'm growing in confidence and experience and I'm grateful to Leeds for giving me the chance. I'd like my career to take off here."

March 18: Carl Johanneson - Albert's nephew - will be in action at Wembley Arena on Saturday night. Carl is a boxer with a pretty decent record (15-1, 8KOs) and will be taking on Carl Greaves in a title fight. Carl's father followed Albert out of South Africa in the 1960s, and his son spent some time in the Falklands with the Army before deciding on a career in the ring. Good luck to him - nice to see the great man's name continuing in sport.

March 18: Jermaine Pennant's loan spell has been extended for yet another month. He's now signed up to April 19, but is intent on staying for the rest of the season. He said: "It's just been extended from month to month and the plan is to go right to the end of the season."

March 18: Eddie Gray was at Anfield last night keeping an eye on key relegation rivals Portsmouth as Michael Owen finally found his goalscoring touch again. Pompey were beaten 3-0 but Eddie knows they will be no pushovers when they come to Elland Road at the end of the month. He said: "We cannot rely on other results going our way for the rest of the season. We must just concentrate on picking up as many points as we can from our last 10 games and hope that's enough to keep us in the Premiership." There's a good chance this season could see a new record set when it comes to points needed to stay up - 35 could be enough and Leeds still have the talent and ability to get them.

March 18: Manchester City keeper David James is a doubt for Monday night's big game at Elland Road after suffering a gash to his knee in their incredible win over Manchester United at the weekend. He's missed a training session but Kevin Keegan is hopeful he'll be ready for Monday night. Keegan said: "He should be okay providing he does not get an infection in it. But it is a pretty nasty cut. I didn't realise at the time. I made the physio sit down during the match and told him that David would let him know if he was injured. But of course when he came in I could see why the physio had been worried as I saw the big gash." Claudio Reyna and Steve McManaman are also injury doubts for the visitors, while Eirik Bakke is the biggest concern for Eddie Gray.

March 17: On the day when it was revealed that Geoffrey Richmond still owes a couple of million or so to the taxman, he has hit out at the constant sniping at the consortium in the press. This morning's Yorkshire Post revealed that a tax avoidance scheme employed by Mr Richmond had been ruled as illegal by the courts, and that the judge had stated that Richmond had been "in breach of duties as directors" and had not acted "honestly or reasonably". Needless to say, that has prompted more reaction on both sides of the divide, with Richmond pointing out that tax avoidance schemes are both common and legal, and that the quotes above were selected from a long judgement and were a little selective. The ever-proliferating spokesfans have come back to use this as evidence that Richmond - or anyone connected with him - should be kept well clear of the club. Dr Bill Gerrard said: "From the fans' point of view, you can understand the huge concern if our great club falls into those hands." Meanwhile, Gerald Krasner has indicated that the deal could finally be completed - maybe even before the Manchester City game on Monday with lawyers poring over every last detail and vowing not to rest until they had wrung every last penny in fees from the club and consortium. Okay, I made that last bit up, please don't sue...

March 17: Mark Viduka insists that the battle to stay up is not yet over and the players could still dig themselves out of trouble. He said: "We are far from broken - and we're certainly not going to let our heads go down. We'll keep battling as hard as we know how." And like his manager before him, he's pointing to the games at Elland Road as being crucial to survival. He says: "Saying our home games will be the key is obvious - but we really do need to win those. And, if we can pick up some points away from home, then who knows?... It's important we stay positive ahead of Monday night's game with Manchester City - and the lads will do that, no danger."

March 17: Eirik Bakke isn't responding to treatment fast enough to guarantee his place against Manchester City on Monday. Eddie Gray said: "It's not looking too hopeful, but we will wait and see how he progresses over the next few days." Michael Duberry did come through the ninety minutes of the reserve game unscathed last night and will be available for selection on Monday, but Steve Caldwell has done enough to keep his place, and Eddie Gray isn't convinced of the merits of pushing captain Dom Matteo into a midfield role, not least because he's our best centreback. Maybe Gray will finally try Salomon Olembe - and use the attacking skills and pace of Lamine Sakho on Monday night: if nothing else they might keep Shaun Wright-Phillips occupied defensively rather than giving him freedom to use his pace in attack.

March 17: Danny Mills admitted he had no idea where he would be playing next season. Eddie Gray would like him to return to Elland Road given the drop in Gary Kelly's form, and with Peter Reid now out of the way, the main obstacle to Mills' future at the club has gone. But he's been happy at the Riverside and Steve McClaren wants him to stay. The clubs couldn't agree terms during the transfer window, but it's understood that the consortium would be quick to unload such a high-earning player, even if it meant getting a relatively small fee for him. Mills said: "Who knows where I will be next season? The manager wants me here while Eddie Gray said he would love me back at Leeds. The two clubs could not agree a fee during the transfer window so we'll have to wait and see what happens."

March 16: When - sorry, IF - the consortium ever get around to taking over, then it seems that Gordon Strachan is the man they want in charge. The money men believe that they can tempt Strachan to return to football with the club he led to the Championship - even if the team succumb to relegation this season. Strachan was widely touted as a Leeds target when Peter Reid was given the boot, and it's understood that he will return to the game after his hip operation. Obviously that means the end for Eddie Gray's term as manager, and if Peter Lorimer is on the board acting as a spokesman and liaison with the fans, then it looks like the obvious option for the club would be to ask him to take over the youth and reserve team coaching, since the new owners will not want the fans' first impression of their tenure to be the sacking of an old favorite.

March 16: Former Leeds midfielder Olivier Dacourt says that he hopes - and believes - that Leeds can still avoid the drop, despite the club's desperate position. Dacourt is currently earning rave reviews for his contribution to AS Roma's challenge for a Champions League spot, but still manages to keep an eye on what is going on back in England. He said: "In Italy you can watch English and Spanish games so I try to keep in touch and watch when I can. I used to love Leeds. The people were good and they treated me well. The club also looked after me. I'd like to thank the Leeds fans. I had a great time while I was there." And he echoed what must have been going through Peter Ridsdale's mind at the time: "We were in the Champions League and I thought we could go on and do well for the next few years. We had the best period. It was a great, great stage... I had the best result with the win over Lazio and to go to Milan like we did was unbelievable."

March 16: Good news and bad news for a couple of former players tonight. Nathan Lowndes was back on the scoresheet for Plymouth, coming off the bench to grab the first of their two unanswered goals against Peterborough. Not so good news for Kevin Sharp: he picked up a red card for violent conduct as Scunthorpe slumped to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Kidderminster.

March 16: Two fairly strong reserve sides met at Southport tonight when Leeds took on Everton. Only Stewart Edwards and Paul Keegan on the Leeds side were without a first team appearance, and Michael Duberry was making a start on the comeback trail after an injury lay-off. Leeds went a goal down in the first half, but yet another strike from Simon Johnson in the second period meant that it finished all square.

March 15: The Sunday papers reported that the Krasner/Petchey/Richmond consortium was on the brink of sealing the deal to take over at Leeds. Also named in the group were Leeds businessmen Simon Morris and Melvyn Levy. After this weekend's defeat at Fulham it seems that the creditors have more or less accepted that relegation - and with it administration and the likelihood of writing off a large proportion of the debt - is inevitable. Given the track record of the people involved, it's no surprise that the deal revolves around the consortium buying the freehold of Elland Road from the plc - effectively injecting £20 million - and leasing the ground back to the football club. Of course that means that there will be much less money available for general operating expenses - transfer fees and wages - going forward, and nobody would be surprised to see Leeds follow Petchey's former club Watford in careering even further down the table as a result. Sources close to the club indicate that the real driving forces behind the deal are REFF and Gerling - basically the parties most involved with the club's short-term debt on player purchases - rather than the bondholders who seem to have a longer-term view and feel that the club could continue to service its debts to them due to the size and loyalty of the home support. Mr Krasner has continued to advertise his consortium as the only people prepared to mount a rescue attempt for the club, and that may be the case but they've done very little to get the fans or the wider Leeds public onside, and it is understood that they could come in for more criticism this week when the details of the deal are finally revealed. Watch this space...

March 15: Eddie Gray said today that he had no idea what the drop would mean to the club - although he accepts it's now a very strong possibility. He said: "We'll have to look at it if it happens but I can't afford to think about it now. You know at the start of the season that three teams will be relegated and you could be one of them if you don't perform. Given all the problems the club has had it would be terrific for us to stay up." He points out that there are still 30 points to play for, but it would take a massive turn-around in order to get enough from those games to save the club's Premiership life. "We've got to keep playing while it's still possible to get out of trouble and I believe we have the players to do that... We've got five home games and we've got to win them."

March 15: Former Leeds striker Derek Lilley continued his excellent run of form for Livingston in Scotland today, scoring the opener in the CIS Cup Final, and helping his side to a 2-0 win over Hibs.

March 15: Well I suppose we should be grateful for the money, but with the game just a month away and with train tickets already booked, a few thousand Leeds fans will be cursing Sky for shifting the Arsenal game from the Saturday afternoon to the Friday night. The game now kicks off at 8:00 at Highbury on Friday 16 April - just three days after Leeds face Everton at Elland Road - in a game that could clinch the title for the Gunners and unless we have a bit of a major turnaround in the next few games, the drop for Leeds. It's been a long time since - Christmas and Easter aside - we've had any sort of game on a Friday. We rather famously played Stuttgart in the Nou Camp on a Friday night in 1992, with the one prior to that the last game of the 1987-88 season - a goalless draw at St Andrews.

March 15: Eddie Gray reckons that time is running out for his side to save themselves from the drop. He said: "I still believe we can reach safety but we are running out of matches. We have a few games at home against teams near us in the league but we can't afford to go anywhere and lose." He conceded that Fulham were the better team in the second half, but again had to point to the problem we've had all season in that van der Sar barely had a real save to make. Mark Viduka insisted that he and the rest of the team wouldn't shirk the effort needed. He said: "I'm always up for the fight. We will have to work together as a team and all of us are up for it." Steve Caldwell added: "We thought we had contained them well [at half time] and were the team in the ascendancy - we thought we would win the game. But that never happened, instead we let in two disappointing goals. We were hemmed in a lot and it was backs against the walls." And more worryingly he went on: "The guys heads are down. We felt the possibility of three points was there but we let ourselves down in the second half."

March 15: Jason Wilcox starts back on the road to fitness this week as he resumes training after being out with injury for most of the season. Even with the problems the squad are facing, it's hard to see him getting a first-team place ahead of James Milner, but Gray clearly doesn't rate many of the alternatives so maybe he will have a chance if someone gets injured. Wo;cox might be in a position to get a reserve game under his belt by Easter. Meanwhile Eirik Bakke remains hopeful he'll be fit for next Monday's vital clash with Manchester City, fresh from their huge derby win over Fergie's mob. Bakke has been having treatment on a thigh injury for a fortnight, and is rated 50/50 for the game.

March 15: The U-17 side managed a 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, which means they'll be in the Academy play-offs at the end of the season. Leeds conceded an early goal - andlost two more players before the break, but Sam Hird equalised on the hour. The youngsters will face Villa, West Ham or Spurs in the first play-off match. The U-19's continued their good run with a 1-3 win at Huddersfield.

March 15: You've heard it before, you might hear it again. The Krasner/Richmond/Petchey consortium leaked the fact that they are expecting to complete the takeover this week. Krasner indicated that further work was required on the legal side of things - no doubt making sure that there is no possible comeback when the consortium members pocket huge "consultancy" fees, give the ground away for a pittance and force the club to rent it back for an astronomical amount and then look on in shock and horror as relegation to Division 1 turns into a slide into Division 2 and further on down. Cynical, moi?

March 14: The necessarily brief Euro round-up, cos it's after midnight and I'm tired.

In Belgium it's back to business as usual for Anderlecht, grabbing a 3-2 win over third-bottom Charleroi. But it wasn't as easy as it might have been: they were 0-2 down after half an hour and needed a last-minute penalty to secure the points. Club Brugge managed a win by the same scoreline at Westerlo today - but they might as well be in another division to Anderlecht.

Lyon closed the gap on AS Monaco at the top of Ligue 1 in France as the leaders could only manage a goalless draw at Auxerre. Goals from Elber and Edmilson gave second-placed Lyon a 1-2 win at Sochaux, while PSG also kept themselves in the hunt but again struggled against lowly opposition, scraping a 0-1 win at Le Mans. Entertainment-value game of the weekend was a relegation zone struggle between Guingamp at Montpellier that saw five bookings a dismissal and the home side win 4-3 after being 1-2 down at the break.

Werder Bremen had a tougher game than they were expecting when bottom side Cologne came to visit. The leaders appeared to be cruising to victory with a brace from Ailton and another from Micoud giving them a 3-0 half-time lead, but Cologne came back into it in the second half and scored twice but just failed to find the equaliser. Big club win late penalty to grab point - not that this could possibly happen in England but Johnny Foreigner does it all the time. This weekend it was Bayern Munich, who had blown the two-goal lead that Jens Jeremies and Roy Makaay had given them inside 10 minutes to be2-3 down at home to Hansa Rostock. But they won themselves a penalty and Roy Makaay despatched the equaliser from the spot with 15 minutes left. But that was all they could manage and it's looking increasingly likely that it will take a major disaster for Bremen to blow the title now.

Ajax's grip on the title looks secure after this weekend's 4-2 win over Roda JC saw them stretch their lead to 9 points with PSV going down 0-1 at home to Feyenoord.

A huge game in Italy tonight saw Juve demolished in the Stade Delle Alpi, where Clarence Seedorf capped a masterful game for Milan with a pair of goals to add to Andriy Shevchenko's opener. A late strike by Ferrara gave juve little consolation and left them in third spot, nine points off Milan's hot pace. Second-placed Roma could only draw 0-0 at Reggina, but the top three remain well clear of the chasing bunch. Inter's goalless draw at home to Chievo sees them languishing in seventh spot - behind Lazio, cash-strapped Parma and unfancied Udinese.

There's still a vague contest going on in Spain - although it's really for third place. Real Madrid dropped two points with a 1-1 home draw with Zaragoza, allowing Valencia a faint hope of catching them, with the gap down to four points after two Rufete goals gave them a win at Celta Vigo. But it's the rejuvenated Barcelona who are the form side at the moment: a 0-2 win at Murcia thanks to Saviola and Ronaldinho isn't much to write home about, but coupled with Real Mallorca's 4-2 win over Depor, the weekend sees Barca rise to third spot - a point clear of Depor.

Finally in the Czech Republic, Banik Ostrava failed to take full advantage of their game against struggling Viktoria Zizkov last Monday and could only manage a point there, but the chasing pack continue to trip each other up. This weekend Slavia slumped to a 0-2 home defeat by Sparta, despite playing for half the game against ten men and exchange positions with their visitors as a result. Ostrava face a trip to second-bottom Plzen tomorrow and could open an 8-point gap if they are successful.

March 13: Eddie Gray says that keeping the current Leeds side in the Premier League would rank alongside all of his trophy-winning achievements as a player. With two league titles, both domestic cups and European honours to his name, that's saying something! Gray said: "It's a great club in a big city with a big support and a great tradition - so it's vital that we keep this club up. That would be as satisfying as anything I ever achieved here as a player."

March 13: Jody Morris has been snapped up by Rotherham United as Ronnie Moore tries to get his side clear of the drop zone. Morris has been signed up to the end of the season and will make his debut at Gillingham next week. Ronnie Moore said: "He's got quality and I would like to think that our strikers will get more of the ball. We need a spark and hopefully with him in the side we can pass the ball to a red shirt." Let's hope nobody lets off too many sparks when Morris is exhaling, otherwise someone might get a bit singed!

March 13: While there's life there's hope, but after today's performance the corpse is barely twitching. Okay, we had a couple of bits of bad luck and saw a home side ridiculously over-indulged by ref Steve Dunn (who's clearly susceptible to a bit of over-indulgence himself). But despite a couple of reasonable individual performances, the team failed to work as a unit and Eddie Gray failed to make some pretty obvious changes that might have given us a chance or two. From the back: Robbo made a couple of decent reaction saves but continues to look uncertain and dithers whenever he is asked to come off his line, but the worst thing about his game today was the way he persistently kicked the ball into touch or gave it straight back to the opposition: when we have precious little possession anyway then giving it away so cheaply is criminal. The back four were lucky that Fulham no longer have Saha up front - but both goals were down to poor defensive work. Dom Matteo followed up his poor clearance with a total failure to get anything resembling a tackle in on Davis as he waltzed into the box to score their opener, and although the space we allowed Zat Knight to make his cross from their right was far too generous, any criticism of our left-back needs to be tempered with the fact that the right side of the defence/midfield had evaporated so completely that Luis Boa Morte's main problem in scoring their second was getting himself to the ball ahead of his two colleagues who were in equally good positions. The midfield as a whole didn't play too badly for the first half, but in the second half Stephen McPhail vanished from the game, and Salomon Olembe must be kicking himself in frustration at not being allowed to get on the pitch when we have such a blatant passenger. Jermaine Pennant had the beating of their left-back - who was booked after his third late challenge - but produced about one decent cross all game and failed to apply any real pressure to a player on the brink of a second yellow. James Milner had a similar game on the right - again getting their right-back booked but never quite linking up with the front two in the way that he has managed in the past, and not communicating particularly well with Domi. Seth Johnson ran himself into the ground and it would be tough to offer too much criticism of his lack of creativity when circumstances dictated that he was just about the only one of the middle four who actually won a tackle this afternoon. Up front Smithy once again had lumps kicked out of him but showed great maturity in not reacting, even when Ian Pearce grabbed him by the arm and shirt and threw him to the floor (not a bookable offence in the eyes of Mr Dunn), and there was no doubting Viduka's desire to grab a goal, but when you realise that we only had three shots on target all game - and one of those was Domi's slightly mishit volley - then you can't absolve the front two from criticism either. Away support was once again magnificent, the home crowd jumped up and down for 30 seconds after each goal but otherwise looked like they were refugees from Highbury. And meanwhile Leicester go to Brum and find Steve Bruce's side playing their worst game of the season so we've now got a slightly bigger mountain to climb if we want to survive. 35 points might still be enough to stave off the drop - but with just 10 games to go our time is running out.

March 13: Eddie Gray was pulling no punches after today's defeat, and he admitted that Leeds faced a mammoth task if they wanted to avoid the drop. He said: "We need more than a mini-revival now - we need to go and win matches. My players are very disappointed with how they performed. It's disappointing to lose, especially given how we've been performing in the last few weeks. But I told my players we can't afford to let the result get to us. We've got to keep going." He was happy enough with the effort the team had put into the game, but accepted that the results had to start coming if relegation was to be avoided. He said: "We're running out of matches but I still believe I have the players in the dressing room to get us out of trouble. We've got a few home games against teams around us and we can't afford to go anywhere and lose - we have to pick points up. I haven't thought about how many games we need to win. We just need to get as many points as possible and we have enough quality to win matches."

March 13: Tony Hackworth scored on his debut for Scarborough today, heading home the opener just short of the hour mark as Scarborough went on to a 4-1 win over Leigh RMI. At the City Ground Nick Barmby set up Forest's second goal, and ended up on the winning side as they did their own fight against the drop a power of good with a 3-2 win over Palace. For the visitors, Danny Granville set up Neil Shipperley's goal and scored himself with a header 15 minutes from the end. Meanwhile down at Vicarage Road, Andy Gray continued his good form for his new club with a last-minute strike to make it a 0-2 win for Sheffield United.

March 12: Former Leeds youngster Tony Hackworth has signed for Scarborough on a one-month loan. A combination of long-term injuries and patchy form have dogged his career after a glittering and high-scoring start in Leeds' youth team and it looks like he's turned out to be another Lee Matthews/Jamie Forrester. Hackworth is still at Notts County but hasn't made a first-team appearance for a couple of months.

March 12: Caretaker boss Eddie Gray is worried that the return of Chris Coleman to the Fulham dugout will give his team a much-need boost after a run of sub-par performances. Coleman was hospitalised for a couple of weeks with septicaemia and with the added blow of losing Louis Saha to ManU, they have slipped off the pace in the race for a European slot. Gray said: "I'm sure his return will give them a lift. I'm sure the players will be pleased to see the manage back and in good health. That will be important to the people at Fulham. I think he has done tremendously well for a young manager. I've chatted to him a few times, and he is very positive in his beliefs on the game. I think he is very confident in his own ability and so he should be." Eirik Bakke will miss out for Leeds, but Stephen McPhail comes in for him, and Michael Duberry returns to the squad after a lay-off to allow a rib injury to heal.

March 12: Various folks blabbing about the long and short-term future for the club. Eddie Gray was praising a couple of his more senior players - Dom Matteo and Mark Viduka. He pointed to the rediscovered confidence and solidity at the back since Matteo was put in harness with loan signing Steve Caldwell, saying: "I feel they've performed tremendously well so far and I'm sure it will continue. They are two solid professionals who work hard at their game, and Steven's a great talker on the pitch who drives people on which is important." And Gray echoed what many have been saying when he suggested that the partnership could do equally well for Scotland. He added: "If they're a good partnership in the Premiership then they'd be a good partnership for their country as well. It would be nice to see Dom playing for Scotland again. But it's his decision not to. I'm just happy he is playing well for Leeds United and I'm keeping my fingers crossed the two of them keep performing." Meanwhile, Viduka's performances in leading the line have won much praise. "I've always been an admirer of Mark's anyway, but he feels if he performs then it gives us a chance. He is working very hard. He knows the task that's ahead of him at this club, and for him personally, and he's definitely in the right frame of mind. He is talking a lot in training, but then he's the kind of player that spurs others on. His ability is undoubted, but he has a desire to win." And Gray also pointed to the way that Viduka had linked up with Alan Smith: "Alan's back up front and playing with Mark. With those two fit, available and raring to go, it gives everybody else a huge lift." Matt Kilgallon says that the performance of the young players is giving the club some hope for the future. "We've got some good young players coming through. Aaron Lennon's going to be a great player, Frazer Richardson did really well on his debut against Arsenal. We've just got to hold in there and keep on working for the future."

March 11: Despite last week's statement that Jody Morris had left the club "by mutual consent", it was widely reported today that the real reason for his departure was that he had failed a breath test. After receiving a final warning as to his future behaviour after his arrest on rape allegations, Morris was tested at the club's training ground last week and found to be above the legal driving limit and more or less had his contract torn up on the spot. Neither the club nor Morris had issued a statement refuting the stories, so the obvious implication is that they are true. Leeds player in does-something-too-stupid-for-words shock - hard to believe, isn't it?

March 11: The club and players finally signed the papers today that made the players' acceptance of the cost-saving wage deferral formal. The squad had agreed to defer a quarter of their dues at the end of January, but the paperwork has obviously taken a lot of preparation (must have been all those zeroes that needed writing down when they came to list the players' salaries). A meeting was held today between the players and former Leeds player and PFA exec Richard Jobson in which the papers were finally inked.

March 11: The U-17 side came back from a 3-0 deficit at Derby yesterday to grab a point with a great comeback. Facing a team which included Wilko's son Ben, Leeds were 3-0 down on 40 minutes, and the scoreline remained unchanged for the following half hour. With less than 20 minutes to go, Gavin Rothery pulled one back and shortly after that Ian Morris narrowed the gap to just one goal. With injury time running out, Leeds won a penalty that Steven McKeown provided the necessary cool head to snatch the draw.

March 11: Caretaker boss Eddie Gray asked the team to keep on doing what they've done in the previous three matches when they take the field at Fulham on Saturday. A win - and a couple of other results going our way for once - would see Leeds clear of the drop zone, and with the chance to really consolidate that position if they could follow it up with a win over Manchester City the following weekend. Speaking on the official website, Gray said: "I was delighted with everybody in the game against Liverpool and We just have got to keep it going. I keep saying it, but that's the way it has to be. Every game now until the end of the season must be the same because we are still in real trouble." And he added: "If we play to our potential then I believe we can match anybody at the moment."

March 11: Okay, still no deal today. A couple of developments plus some random hearsay for you in the meantime. First up, the FansSaveLeeds outfit have announced that they will not need to activate their requests for financial pledges after Trevor Birch's cost-cutting measures (and of course the formal acceptance of the deferral by the players) now mean that the club can keep its head above water to the end of the season. If you happen to be a season ticket holder, they'd like you to fill in the survey on their website. Meanwhile the fans group, in conjunction with the Supporters Trust, have been investigating ways in which tax changes trailed for the upcoming budget might help supporters' organisations take a more active role in running, financing and indeed owning their clubs - more on this as and when we get some concrete details. Meanwhile I happened to run in to a Watford-supporting friend of mine, and he visibly flinched when I mentioned the name Jack Petchey. According to Vicarage Road legend, Petchey took a pile of cash out of the club, engineered a sale-and-leaseback deal which meant that they lost control of their ground (a situation about to be remedied shortly apparently) and ended up paying an exorbitant rent and getting them into serious financial difficulties. "I hope he doesn't do the same to you," was more or less the message I got. Great - Richmond, Petchey, an insolvency specialist - why not go the whole hog and invite Peter Ridsdale back, get in David Platt to manage the side into oblivion a la Forest and sell the ground and become nomads like the ultra-successful MK Dons. The future is bright...

March 10: Jamie McMaster has returned from his loan spell at Chesterfield carrying an ankle injury that curtailed his time at Saltergate. He's had some treatment to reduce the swelling but could still need an op to clear up the problem, although Spireites boss Roy McFarland remained hopeful that the player's condition may improve sufficiently to allow him to rejoin the club and complete the season.

March 10: The latest proposal to honour the memory of John Charles has been a suggestion that he be made a freeman of the City of Leeds. He was accorded the same honour by Swansea two years ago, but never received any formal recognition from the city that made his reputation and that he made his home. Peter Lorimer said: "There's no question in my mind that it would be exactly the right sort of gesture, and one that would be applauded right around the world." Council leader Keith Wakefield put on his best Sir-Humphrey voice and said: "In principle I would support the idea of making him a freeman, although of course the processes involved need to be looked at in detail before any decision can be made." That's right, there must be committees, discussions, meetings, soundings must be taken.... Just get on and do it for crying out loud.

March 09: Like Alice, every rumour I hear three times I assume to be true, so I'll give a bit of credence today's story that the real reason the takeover is being held up is that the consortium are understandably reticent to be paying Champions League wages when the players' performance might have resulted in relegation. Despite all of the recent departures, there are still a lot of players on exceptionally good money and in some cases with a further 3 years left on their contracts, and there's no way that the would-be owners are prepared to honour those deals if the club is down in Division 1 (or indeed even if we manage to stay up). So what has been happening is that the consortium's people have been trying to persuade the players to agree to renegotiate their contracts, but knowing that Gordon Taylor is busy polishing his halo in the wings and - fresh from telling the world how his poor misunderstood members did nothing wrong in La Manga - will be just itching to start spouting off about the sanctity of a player's contract and how that could never be violated no matter how poor their performances. So in a nutshell, we've still not been taken over.

March 09: Alan Smith remains a slight doubt for Saturday's trip to Loftus Road - although Eddie Gray is now reasonably hopeful that the striker will be available after a week of intense therapy on his injured leg. Gray said: "The week off has done us good from the point of view that it's allowed time for the players carrying knocks to try and recover. We'll see how Alan goes this week... The week off has given him a bit more time and we're hopeful." Eirik Bakke is also a doubt with a thigh strain, but there will still be no recall for David Batty even if Bakke is absent and with Jody Morris now gone from the club.

March 09: Seth Johnson says that Leeds can keep the unbeaten run going if they put the effort in on Saturday - and that's the sort of result that could help to keep us up. He said: "I think it's very much in our own hands still, we just need results at home and a few bonuses away, hopefully at Fulham, and then we should be safe. Everyone is battling out on the pitch and working hard off it too, I think we are showing people that we want to stay in this division and that's what we have to do at the end of the day."

March 09: Peter Reid could find himself repeating his efforts of last season - although in slightly less stressful circumstances. Reid was called in by Leeds to keep the club up at the tail end of last term, and he's now being connected with a temporary move into the vacancy at Plymouth, after Paul Sturrock flew the coop to take over from Gordon Strachan at Saints. Plymouth are understood to have a couple of managers in mind as permanent replacements for Sturrock but all of the candidates are currently in jobs and would be unlikely to become free until the close season, so Reid is being suggested as the man to help keep them firmly on course for promotion over the next three months.

March 08: There's still no sign of a formal offer leading to a takeover from the Krasner/Petchey/Richmond consortium. Gerald Krasner said that there were still several legal matters that needed sorting and he had no firm date for their resolution. Solicitors and accountants tendto charge by the hour, so once they've covered their takeover costs at this rate any money they're intending to put into the club will be waltzing straight out of the door and into the pinstriped pocket of some ManU-supporting suit from Guildford who's suddenly interested in "soccer" again now that the England rugby team have been beaten.

March 08: So just where is Howard Wilkinson going to turn up next? Reports at the weekend had him flying into Shanghai in order to take over the coaching duties at the Chinese champion side Shenhua. But if you listen to other sources, he's being actively considered - along with Hoddle and Vialli - for the coaching job in South Africa as their FA begin discussions to figure out who can restore their fortunes on the field and hopefully engender a bit of harmony off it after several years of underachievement and infighting.

March 08: Leeds United Ladies came within five minutes of snatching a draw against Arsenal yesterday. Leeds went ahead just before the half-hour mark with a penalty from Alex Culvin after Sue Smith was fouled in the box. But Arsenal came back and equalised just before the hour, and then taking the lead with just five minutes to go courtesy of Scottish international Julie Fleeting. Leeds now sit fifth in the table - and although they could still end up ahead of Doncaster, they will probably need at least a point when they face Arsenal away from home in a fortnight's time.

March 08: There's a big interview with John Toshack in today's Times which is well worth a read. After his illustrious playing days at Anfield, Toshack has managed sides all over Europe - including two spells at Real Madrid - but has never forgotten his Welsh roots, and most particularly the man who inspired him as a youngster and whose technique he tried to emulate: John Charles. Toshack spoke and read a poem at last week's funeral and said: "You can call him my idol, my mentor, my role model, whatever you like. I just thought the sun shone out of his backside."

March 08: Eddie Gray today said that he was confident that Jody Morris would be able to kick-start his career away from Leeds, despite his decision to release the player after a dozen appearances and with well over a year left on his Elland Road contract. Gray said: "I'm disappointed for Jody because things haven't worked out for him here. He's a keen lad who wants to do well and hopefully he will pick his career up somewhere else."

March 08: Radio 4 had an interesting programme on last night: Monkey Glands and Purple Hearts (listen again here looked at doping in football from the very early days up to the 1960s (so not exactly disturbing any of today's overpaid and no doubt over-litigious drug cheats). The title also points to someone of particular interest to Leeds fans - Major Frank Buckley, the post-war Leeds boss whose skills as a coach and talent-spotter were evident as he dragged Wolves to prominence pre-war, but whose controversial belief in the efficacy of an injection of pureed monkey gonads as a performance-enhancer overshadowed his other achievements.

March 07: There's an excellent article in today's Observer which admittedly doesn't reveal any new information but does provide a pretty clear and accurate guide to how the club came to be in the financial mess it is - well worth reading in full (even though it appears to end mid-sentence when I looked).

March 07: Former Leeds MD Bill Fotherby is saying he might walk away from his latest venture into football with Harrogate Town. From the big words saying he was on the point of bringing David Batty to the club (remember when his European tours allegedly to sign up the likes of Skuhravy had a similar lack of success at Leeds) he now says he's ready to quit the club after Harrogate Council refused to help the club relocate to a ground that would allow them to get into the Conference if they managed to win promotion. He said: "If there is no future here, there is no point me staying here. There has to be a future at this club... I have got to really think about it. I wanted us to be a Nationwide League club and now it is a different story. It is obvious the council don't want a professional club in Harrogate." Well, he could always come back to lend his undoubted talents to Leeds if he's at a loose end!

March 07: In the wake of the Leicester City arrests in Spain last week, the good folks at the Football Fans Census would like your opinion on how you feel your team's players conduct themselves and how it is reported in the media. Make your voice heard and let them know what you think now!

March 07: With the exception of Italy, there's precious little excitement to be found in any of the title races around Europe this season. with almost every league showing the same pattern of one club racing out at the front, another almost keeping pace but never quite catching up, with the rest of the league trailing in the wake of those two.

Belgium is a prime example: Anderlecht could afford to lose 1-0 at second-placed Club Brugge this weekend - their first away defeat of the season - and still sit on a 13-point lead with a game in hand. Standard Liege are level with Brugge in second spot after two Emile Mpenza goals helped them to a 3-0 victory over Antwerp.

Werder Bremen continued their run towards the Bundesliga title with a 0-2 win at 1860 Munich, and Bayern kept up their pursuit with two Roy Makaay goals and another strike from Michael Ballack giving them a 1-3 win at Bayer Leverkusen.

One good thing to report from Holland this weekend is a goal from Robert Molenaar. The former Leeds defender equalised for RBC when they were a goal down at NEC, turning it around to win 1-2. Ajax and PSV continue to lead the league by a country mile and both won this weekend - Ajax's 0-1 win at RKC Waalwijk maintaining their 6 point gap over PSV, and their 0-4 win at Utrecht also consolidated their position, seven points clear of third spot.

Both of the top two won in France, although Monaco did survive an early scare when Guingamp went 0-1 up. But it was soon business as usual with two Morientes strikes helping them to a 3-1 win and a four-point gap at the top of the pile. Lyon's 4-0 win over AC Ajaccio was helped considerably by two own-goals, but the three points they picked up there helps them put a bit more daylight between themselves and PSG, who shared the spoils with fourth-place Sochaux.

There were 11 bookings as Real Madrid stuttered to a 1-1 draw at Racing Santander, so Valencia and Deportivo were faced with a real chance of closing the gap on the leaders when they met in the Mestalla last night. Valencia took an early lead through Vicente from the spot - Silva receiving his marching orders for the visitors - but Depor clung on to some hope until the very last minute when they conceded two quick goals to Vicente and Sanchez to make the final score 3-0. Barca were 3-0 up inside the hour at home to Real Mallorca, but they nearly blew it when they allowed their visitors to strike twice in the last couple of minutes, setting up a nailbiting finish but holding on for a 3-2 win to put them clear of Athletic Bilbao and within touching distance of third-placed Depor.

Milan continued their winning ways in Serie A with Andrea Pirlo cracking in a stunning 35-yarder to open the scoring against Sampdoria. Samp pulled level but were soon behind again, and a Kaka strike sealed the points for the European champions. Brescia were deservedly 2-0 up against Juve at half-time, but a highly theatrical dive from Nedved "won" Juve a penalty early in the second half. Miccoli struck from the spot. Marco di Vaio squared it shortly afterwards, and Nedved completed the turnaround with a well-placed shot. Roma are in second spot after tonight's 4-1 hammering of Inter. Cassano gave Roma the lead on half-time, and a good move saw Mancini double the lead in the second half. Christian Vieri pulled one back for Inter, but Cassano tempted Cordoba into a rash challenge inside the box, leading to a second yellow for Cordoba and a penalty for Totti to hammer home, and Mancini then completed the rout in the 93rd minute with a tap-in after Cassano had a slightly lucky ricochet to get in behind the Inter back line. That result could see Zaccheroni become the second managerial casualty at Internazionale this season after similarly poor results saw Hector Cuper marched out of the building back in October.

Finally in the Czech Republic, leaders Banik Ostrava face Viktoria Zizkov - who have just escaped the drop zone - tomorrow, but if Ostrava continue the form that saw them hammer FC Synot 6-2 last Monday then it could be a bit of a cricket score. Slavia and Sparta both drew, so Ostrava could find themselves with an 8-point lead by tomorrow night.

March 06: Dominic Matteo has said no to an international return - despite the urgings of his club partner Steve Caldwell. Caldwell has come into the Scotland squad at a time of crisis, and he has tried to convince Matteo to go back on his international retirement in order to bolster the squad's chances of qualifying for the next World Cup - but Matteo is adamant that his retirement stands. Caldwell had said: "I don't know if it's helped that we're both Scotland internationals because we've never played together, but I wish he would consider coming back and playing for us." But he said that the club captain's desire to make a full contribution at club level - in the light of a couple of long-term niggly injuries - meant that Matteo felt he couldn't continue to make himself available for the international side. Caldwell said: "He has his reasons for not playing for Scotland. He says he wants to concentrate on his club football and he's doing that pretty well. It's great for Leeds that he no longer plays for Scotland."

March 06: John McKenzie today insisted that he wasn't abandoning Leeds United, despite stepping down from the board. He said: "My heart will always be with Leeds United... I still have the season tickets which I purchased before I joined the board and will continue to support the team when business allows. My heart is with Leeds and I hope that I will be able to generate some revenue for the club if the takeover bid is successful." McKenzie pointed out that his international commitments - he's been out to the Far East twice this year already - meant that he could not offer the club the necessary commitment as a board member. But he said that his commitment as a fan remained the same: "I'm still fully committed to the football club. I wish everyone all the best for the future and I'm looking forward to watching the team and helping in any way I can when business commitments allow."

March 06: Jody Morris has had his contract with the club terminated. Morris arrived in the summer as a free agent after being released by Chelsea, but after being a regular in the side in August and September, he was relegated to the sidelines after being accused of a serious sexual assault, and since he was formally cleared he has only made thre briefest of appearances for Leeds, coming on as a sub against Boro at the end of January. Morris made a total of 12 appearances for the club, scored no goals and picked up a couple of yellow cards in the process. In a statement, the club said: "Jody's career has not progressed as he would have wished in recent months and he has not featured regularly in the Leeds team. Jody wishes the players and staff all the best and good luck in their fight to avoid relegation. The terms and conditions of his departure are confidential. Neither party intends to make any further comment on this matter." So we're paying him off cos he's clearly not good enough in other words? Maybe he'll pitch upback at Cardiff after all.

March 06: Not much to report about ex-players today - just one in fact. Nick Barmby scored his first goal for Forest at Gillingham this afternoon - but it was to no avail as the home side came back and then took the lead late on, holding on for a 2-1 win.

March 05: A friend of mine made it to the funeral on Monday - he's got some pictures and thoughts up on his website here.

March 05: Caretaker boss Eddie Gray has said that he wants up-and-coming young keeper Scott Carson to challenge Paul Robinson in exactly the same way that Robbo did with Nigel Martyn. After a pretty solid game at Old Trafford, it's back to the reserves for Carson, but Eddie held out the possibility of future advancement rather than an Allaway-style life with the stiffs. Gray said: "When Nigel Martyn was in the team, Robbo was pushing him very hard for his place and I want Scott to challenge Paul just as hard. I've tried to make sure we have strong competition for every position - and that includes the goalkeeper." And he added: "I think he has a great chance. If he keeps making the progress he has in the last few years, we think he will go on to be an outstanding keeper."

March 05: A last-minute strike from Andrew Keogh gave the reserves a long-awaited home win over Bolton last night. Bolton turned up with one-time Leeds triallist Georgi Kinkladze, but he had not gained much fitness since his departure from Elland Road. It was quite a strong Leeds side, with Ian Harte, Matt Kilgallon, Zoumana Camara, Aaron Lennon, Simon Johnson and Lamine Sakho all given a run, whil keeper Scott Carson barely had a save to make all night.

March 05: After just a year in the position, Professor John McKenzie today cut all of his formal ties with the club by standing down from the board. He insisted that he wasn't walking away from the club - he continues to be the largest individual shareholder and has seats at Elland Road - but said that he could no longer fulfil his duties as a board member. And there's no sign of his much-touted Far East consortium either...

March 05: Peter Ridsdale says that he has brought Paul Hart to Oakwell to bring on the young players and build for the future. The former Leeds chairman said: "He's very good at bringing young players through the academy and giving them their chance. That's something we wish to reinforce at Barnsley - Paul's ambition matches ours because he wants to see us as soon as possible in a higher league." But ousted boss Gudjon Thordarson said that he hadn't been given the chance to do a decent job there. He said: "The club has been in a downward spiral since spring 2000 when they lost to Ipswich in the play-off final. At least I was professional in my approach and tried to take things forward. I was fully committed." So what do we reckon - October next season before Ridsdale has Hart marching out of the door?

March 05: Elmet MP Colin Burgon is continuing with his efforts to get FIFA to name a Fair Play award after John Charles. On Monday he will be calling on Sports Minister Richard Caborn to back the proposal, and Burgon is also pressing the FA for formal support. He said: "We're really keen to persist with getting an award to mark John's memory. We've got the support of a numbers of MPs and I've already written to David Davies asking if he will actively consider putting it on the agenda at the FA. I don't think there would be a more fitting way to mark John's memory than a Fair Play Award."

March 05: Takeover update (part 85). It still hasn't happened.

March 04: So just what is going on? The offer from the Krasner/Petchey consortium has apparently been out there for a month, the shares were suspended last week when the creditors refused to formally extend the standstill agreement, but still there's no formal decision on the club's future. Now that the Premier League has said that the points penalty for administration won't apply until the summer, the temptation for Trevor Birch to say sod it and apply for an administration order must be growing every week - and there could be the added benefit (from a pure vengeance angle) of dragging the former directors into court to explain their actions. There are a lot of "i"s to dot and "t"s to cross - but surely this consortium has got to make some real progress this week rather than just leak a little more info to the press if they are to have any credibility. In today's YEP, Gerald Krasner - an insolvency expert - made the point that administration wasn't an easy option - and the whole financial situation at the club remained serious. He said: "It's something that could take a decade to recover from. I don't think the average fan understands this." Krasner praised the efforts of Trevor Birch and Neil Robson in keeping the club going over the last few months, but he hit out at what he described as "sniping" from various quarters. "It's a standing joke that Leeds is a big village with gossip spreading like wild fire, and the consortium is coming under fire from snipers. Some people are merely doing it for their own agendas. The telephone number for Bartfields is in the book. If these self-publicists wish to ask any sensible question all they have to do is pickup the phone and I'll deal with it. My main message to the fans is to judge us on what we do rather than on the current speculation." At the risk of joining the snipers, surely he can't reveal anything to people who phone him up that is not publicly available - unless he wants the full fury of the FSA to come screaming down on his head. And if there is information out there in public but obscure filings that he feels is not getting a fair hearing, why not set out the information for the public? From the off, this consortium has been shrouded in mystery and uncertainty as to its long-term intentions, source of finance and identity of the members. Maybe Krasner expects the same blind devotion from press and supporters that previous board members managed to cultivate in the good old days - but even our lot aren't as naive and trusting as that! Once bitten, twice shy - and we've been chewed on by a shark.

March 04: Mark Viduka reckons that the spirit is back in the side at Leeds, and that's what will make the difference when it comes to winning the relegation battle. He said: "Everybody's up for it and that is what we need at this club. Everybody is pulling together. Training sessions are looking good, everybody's sharp and that's the only way we are going to get out of this mess."

March 04: Peter Lorimer today revealed that he has agreed to back the Krasner consortium and is likely to join the board if their bid is successful. He said: "It would be my job to keep people informed of what's going on at the club. I think the consortium wants to be more open about things. It feels that the fans have been hard done by over the past few years and deserve to know more about what is happening at their football club." Hmmmm... that sounds like the job Eddie was doing under the Prof. Then we had all of that wonderful interaction with the powers-that-be with the Fans Forum, and the regular contact with the LUSC exec and the meet-the-fans sessions under Ridsdale - and look where all of that got us! But Lorimer remains convinced of the bona fides of the consortium. He said: "The main thing is it wants to get the club back to where it was. The people in it were all brought up watching Leeds, they all live in the city and their intentions are for the good of the football club." Uh-oh... fans on the board and controlling the purse strings... haven't we been here before? These people may have learned from Ridsdale's financial blunders, but it's pretty clear that they're adopting the same media relations strategy that served us so well through the assault trial, DOL's book, sacking/appointing/sacking/appointing/sacking/appointing managers, getting drunk in town, ill-judged Christmas parties, drink-drive and speeding charges...

March 04: Well, after a year's abstinence, Peter Ridsdale got back into his manager-sacking habit today, dismissing Barnsley's Gudjon Thordarson after a run of poor form. And in a real frying pan/fire situation, Paul Hart has stepped in to take over. If he can engineer the same turn-around here as he did in his first 18 months at Forest, A playoff place isn't out of the question - but the Tykes have slipped badly in the New Year and it will take a fairly massive improvement if they are to get back into Division 1 this year.

March 04: Former Leeds player Micky Adams might do well to get on the blower to Eddie Gray, David O'Leary and Peter Ridsdale tonight. Nine of his first team squad - on a holiday/bonding/coaching session in La Manga - were detained by police in connection with an alleged assault on some German women after their hotel rooms were broken into. Matt Elliott, Keith Gillespie, Lilian Nalis, Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and James Scowcroft were all being kept in police custody overnight and face a court appearance on Friday, while three others have been released. Could rather scupper their hopes of staying up if they lose half a dozen players to the Spanish legal system - and will be very interesting to see how the FA react in this case. Time for the old manual of FA double standards to be hauled out I think...

March 03: Things can't be that bad after all: according to the sports business group at accountants Deloitte, Leeds United sits at number 16 in the list of the world's richest football clubs. Admittedly that is down from number 11 in previous years, but such an exalted ranking seems hard to relate to our dire financial position. But Dan Jones of Deloitte explained: "We look at turnover, all the money coming in from day-to-day football business operations - the best publicly available measure of financial muscle. We don't consider outgoings or what someone might pay to buy the club. We use turnover because if a club has large revenues, and manages them well, the club will become rich." that explains it. And he went on: "The well-publicised financial difficulties of some of these clubs are not caused by lack of revenue." That's so true, and if you listen to the people who have been involved with the club you'll also be told that it's not the fault of the managers, the players or the board.

March 03: Eirik Bakke's agent has suggested that his client could miss the Fulham game on Saturday week. Speaking on Norwegian TV, Jim Solbakken said: "It's the same thigh injury that kept him out of the Northern Ireland game. He receives treatment for the injury every day, but so far we've not been informed when Eirik will return to fitness." There's an outside chance he might be fit enough for the trip to Loftus Road - helped by the break in the schedule this weekend - but Eddie Gray might need to think about rejigging the midfield line-up to cope without the Norwegian. Stephen McPhail would appear to be the natural choice given Eddie's selections so far, but it's hard to see what Salomon Olembe has done so badly wrong that he can't even make it to the bench under Eddie Gray. Olembe made some decent showings at left-back and was good enough to play in the African Nations Cup, but he's apparently well down in the pecking order under Eddie Gray - backing Zoumana Camara's view yesterday that the Francophones are getting a bit of a raw deal at the moment.

March 03: Think I forgot to mention it after the Liverpool game, but it's time to get your votes in now for February Player of the Month poll. Vote online or drop me an email if you don't have web access.

March 03: Everyone's favorite pantomime villain Robbie Savage has come out in support of David Batty after Eddie Gray made it clear that the veteran midfielder was no longer part of his plans. Speaking to FourFourTwo magazine, Savage said: "It seems to me that Eddie has cut off his nose to spite his face because what will he do if he gets a few injuries? There may be more behind this decision than he's let on. I don't know but, next to Stuart Pearce, Batts is the toughest opponent I have faced. Batts was, and is, as tough as old boots and the 50-50 challenges we have shared over the years will be an abiding memory." And he went on: "I really hope this isn't the last we see of him because he is a fantastic competitor and a bloke many admire."

March 03: Seth Johnson speaks on LUTV today and reveals that his stellar salary has clearly transported his brain to a different dimension. He says that being booed by the home fans when he came off against Boro was not a nice feeling. Well duh! Seeing someone on thirty-odd grand a week play like a park footballer is not a nice feeling so what did he expect? To be showered in rose petals and champagne? In fairness, Johnson has improved a lot since that particular debacle, but for many fans - now that Robbie Fowler has gone anyway - he remains the prime example of the lunacy of the Ridsdale/O'Leary days, and although most of us recognise that he's not going to force Steven Gerrard out of the England squad, the all-action performance Johnson gave us against Liverpool made it only too clear what he hadn't been doing in previous games and that's what gets folks' backs up. Johnson said: "Hopefully I can keep going, we can keep playing well as a team, and then hopefully win a few people over."

March 03: Former Wales and Leeds star Harold Williams is now back home recovering after a quick - scheduled - spell in hospital to sort out a long-term health problem. Williams was John Charles' best friend at Elland Road and was quoted extensively on the ITV special last week, but he couldn't make it to the funeral due to his own hospital stay. Here's hoping he makes a full and speedy recovery.

March 02: Zoumana Camara said that he'd never have come to Elland Road if he had understood just how bad the situation was at the club. Speaking to L'Equipe today, the big defender said: "Financially and sport-wise the club is at the bottom of the abyss. This is the first time I've witnessed such a situation. If I'd known I would not have come, it's very depressing." Camara said that the players had been kept out of the loop until it came down to Trevor Birch's request for a pay cut - but that communication had improved since then. But Camara feels that he - and the rest of the French contingent - have been frozen out. He said: "Since the arrival of the new coach the French players don't play anymore. As far as I am concerned I feel I am not in his favour either. At least we get paid regularly and I am in good health."

March 02: The worst-kept secret about the current takeover talks was finally revealed in public today when former Bradford chairman Geoffrey Richmond admitted to the Yorkshire Post that he was involved with the Krasner/Petchey consortium that it trying to take over at Elland Road. But the man whose leadership put Bradford on course for two bouts of administration said that he was only involved in the Leeds deal as an adviser. He said: "I have been advising the Yorkshire consortium who requested my input from a football perspective. I was delighted to offer my advice and my only objective was to ensure the survival of Leeds United as a club." He agreed that it was possible that another member of his family might join the board - again confirming a longstanding rumour - but also felt the need to point out a fairly major issue being pushed by the conspiracy theorists out there. He said: "To suggest someone could make a quick killing from the club is ludicrous considering the amount of debt it is currently in." Today's YEP suggested that Peter Lorimer was being lined up for a place on the board, and that a high-profile local sporting figure would be appointed as chairman. Hmmm...Geoff Boycott's a ManU fan, Colin Montgomerie is a Leeds fan but hardly local... it all points to Mick Hill, javelin-thrower supreme. Seriously though, other than Paul Madeley who can Leeds offer as an example of a successful businessman with a good reputation on the sporting side of things? Maybe Gary Hetherington can be persuaded to help Leeds United climb back to being perennial nearly-men just like the Rhinos :-)

March 02: On-loan defender Steve Caldwell says that he would consider staying on at Elland Road, despite the fact that a summer move to Sunderland was said to be done and dusted. Caldwell has put in some solid performances since his arrival at Leeds, and he's hopeful that Leeds will avoid the drop if the team continues to perform as it has done over the last three games. He said: "Commitment and passion are the minimum qualities we can give. If we show that every week, as we have in the last three games, we will stay up." As for the future, much depends on what league we end up in next season - and not just for Caldwell. He added: "If the chance arises to stay it is something I will think long and hard about. There are so many variables that are going to determine whether I can stay or not."

March 02: Mark Tinkler and Andy Gray were on target for the second game in a row in tonight's matches. Tinkler tucked away Hartlepool's second goal in the 71st minute as they beat Chesterfield 2-0, while Andy Gray followed up his debut strike for the Blades at the weekend with a goal on the hour mark at Bramall Lane tonight, with the home side just holding out for a 2-1 win over Millwall.

March 01: Alan Smith spoke about his battle to be fit for yesterday's game against Liverpool and said that Leeds' renewed threat up front could still help to keep us up. He said: "The physio staff were unbelievable last week, working around the clock to make sure I was fit for the game and it paid off. It was vital I was fit. You never want to miss games of this magnitude and I really enjoyed it, although after not really training I was breathing a bit at the end. I didn't feel any difficulty with my ankle or shin, but I got stamped on and the pain was a bit too much so they put on a pair of fresh legs." And he added: "Me and Vidukes caused them problems. Eddie told us to make sure we don't give anybody an easy ride, and they will know they've been in a battle. I think we'll always score goals and if we can stay fit and suspension free for the rest of the season then I'm sure it will have a big part in keeping us in the Premiership."

March 01: Leeds Parish Church was packed and the streets outside full of people today as John Charles' funeral took place. The current squad were all there along with some of his surviving Leeds team-mates from the 1950s, Giampiero Boniperti and Omar Sivori who starred alongside him at Juve, Peter Lorimer, Norman Hunter and Allan Clarke from the Revie years, and Gordon Strachan and John Lukic from the 1992 Championship side. Wales' representatives included current manager Mark Hughes and former boss John Toshack who read a poem at the service. The wider footballing world was represented by Alex Ferguson, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law - who was helped by Charles when he moved to Torino. Speaking without notes, current boss Eddie Gray said: "John's reputation as a footballer goes without saying, but to the people who knew him he was a kind man, a nice fella, easy to talk to and you never heard him complaining of anything. I think it's a great reflection on the city of Leeds, the club and the supporters that given the places John had been, he chose to come back here to live. What a lovely man he was to football and what a great loss he is to society in general." After the church service, the hearse moved on to Elland Road, where the big screen had been showing some of the few surviving clips of the great man in action to the thousands gathered in the East Stand. In a statement, John's widow Glenda said: "I am going to take his ashes to Wales because that's where he belongs, in Wales. I know they will find a really special place for him. That's where he will rest." The hearse left the stadium to travel to a private cremation service with the strains of "Marching on Together" ringing out.

March 01: Reports today said that some of Leeds' creditors were starting to get a bit restive over the continued failure to conclude a deal to resolve Leeds' financial problems. Although the bondholders are happy to continue the standstill agreement, other creditors are said to be frustrated at the apparent lack of progress. So Leeds stand ever closer to administration, with Trevor Cherry for one suggesting that it might be the best bet. Cherry was advising one of the consortia who were interested in buying the club but subsequently pulled out, and he said: "The big problem at the moment is that Leeds don't know which division they will be in next season... Our consortium was very tempted to stay involved, but the figures are such an unknown quantity and I am sure that will be the case for any interested parties. A lot of people may not like it, but Leeds may be better going into administration. Everyone would have a much clearer picture then. Administration would push the Premiership into making some decisions, good or bad, and people would know where they stood. Trevor Birch remains upbeat about the club's prospects, and is said to be confident that the Krasner/Petchey consortium will be able to seal a deal in the near future, and there's hope that most of the remaining major issues will be ironed out this week.

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