I'm not online 100% of the time (and even if I were, my bosses would take a dim view of me spending time updating the web pages in real time), so for the absolute latest news, check out the "professional" links.
January 31: Eirik Bakke reckons he will be fully fit inside two weeks after making his return to the first team for 2 minutes on Saturday. Speaking on the official website, he said: "My fitness isn't great, but in a couple of weeks I should be back to full fitness. I want to do a good job for the team." We're all looking forward to it - he'll be a huge asset in this league.
January 31: Jermaine Pennant's loan move to Birmingham is back on "subject to personal circumstances". Pennant is due in court tomorrow on drink-drive charges and could well find his liberty curtailed if the courts take a negative view. But if that doesn't happen he will be free to play against Southampton on Wednesday night and right through to the end of the season for the Blues.
January 31: The Rotherham game at the end of the season has been moved - but it's not alone. All Championship games on Sunday 8th May will kick-off simultaneously at 1pm rather than the initially advertised 3pm.
January 31: Kevin Blackwell says that he's not going to continue to let his team throw away home points in the way they have against Brighton, Cardiff and Millwall. He said: "I want the players to realise that I want to win games and am not prepared to sit here and see what I saw against Brighton again. If I could change it I would. It's a pattern that has been there for a long time, we go back to games against Millwall, Forest, Cardiff and so on. There is an element of us getting edgy in games - the players know they should be two or three goals up but realise it is only 1-0 so they take a step back." And he points the finger at home nerves: "There might be an element of Elland Road about it, and the players have got to learn how to win 1-0 at Elland Road. Sometimes you can win in style, sometimes you have to grind out results. We should have finished the game off, didn't do it, so therefore we had to grind out a result but we couldn't do that. It has to stop. It's a combination of things going wrong and it just takes time to rectify."
January 31: Leeds COO Shaun Harvey today confirmed that those ardent Leeds United supporters from Leeds City Council would continue to get 500 tickets free for every home game. Ken Bates has promised to repeat what he did at Chelsea and crack down on the complimentary tickets that get dished out at every game. But Shaun Harvey said that the council's allocation was guaranteed as part of the deal which saw Leeds buy back the stadium. Harvey said: "The issue of complimentary tickets is one area we are looking at and this was raised at the fans' forum at Elland Road. We want to ensure that when complimentaries are issued they are done so on the basis that they are, or could be, of benefit to the company. No firm decisions have been made, but I can confirm that the council's allocation formed part of the agreement when the stadium was bought back from them and this will remain unchanged."
January 30: Leeds have been connected for a second time with West Brom's seemingly unwanted striker Rob Hulse. Last week he turned down the chance to move to Stoke after the clubs agreed a million-plus fee for the player, and the arrival of Ken Bates seems to have people thinking we can afford to buy people again. But once again for clarity's sake: the games I've seen this season haven't necessarily been lost due to poor finishing - it's the failure to get the ball into the strikers in dangerous positions in the first place that has been the problem, and buying another striker is not going to solve it.
January 30: Eirik Bakke says that we need to show a bit of patience and can't expect an instant turn-around now that Ken Bates is in charge. He said: "It was hard seeing all the lads go over the summer, but it's a new era at the club and now we just have to look forward. I think there's a feeling of hope, but I think we will see things happening long term rather than short term. A lot of things have happened over the last couple of years and it will take a while to turn it round again." Indeed - it's a veritable oil-tanker of a football club at the moment. He went on: "A club like this will always come back - hopefully sooner rather than later - and if we don't get into the play-offs this season, we'll have to build strongly for next and try and get up then."
January 30: Leeds assistant coach Sam Ellis reckons that it's a mental problem that is keeping Leeds from killing off the opposition after the side let slip another lead on Saturday. He says: "We felt that we got ourselves in a position to win the game and it's disappointing that we didn't. It has happened on several occasions this season and it's something that we need to address. We should be able to win games... We felt that if we got the second goal, then we have could have gone on to win it, and it's possibly a mental problem that we need to have a look at." Has anybody got any straws? Cos I think our management team appear to have been clutching so many so hard they've run out.
January 29: Ken Bates has made a bridge-building/bluff-calling approach to his erstwhile rivals for the ownership of Leeds United. In today's matchday programme, he says: "For too long Leeds have been under the threat of closure, with various saviours appearing on the horizon. Mr Sainsbury never had any money and the Stubbs consortium, although well meaning, simply couldn't deliver. I will be happy to talk to them when the dust has settled." He went on: "For the last 12 months the staff have done little else except fend off creditors and scrabble for money. Hopefully they can now get down to running the business more efficiently and looking for further savings. They need to, because at the moment Leeds are budgeted to lose £6m next year. This simply cannot happen." And he has yet to rule out ticket price hikes for next season - despite the fact that the club is already the most expensive in the division: "There will be some changes in the way the club is run, of that there is no doubt, and all change affects somebody. If it affects you then I hope you will be understanding and supportive because things cannot continue in the way they have been."
January 29: Neil Sullivan has been called into the Scotland squad for a training camp next month. Walter Smith has watched the experienced keeper on a couple of occasions, and the form we've all seen for Leeds this season has been rewarded by a recall. Peter Lorimer said: "I'm delighted for Neil, and this is thoroughly deserved. He's been a great signing and Kevin Blackwell was saying as much to me a few days ago. I knew Walter had been to watch him at Derby and I'm not at all surprised by his decision. But this is the result of him taking the opportunity of coming to Leeds when he could quite easily have stayed at Chelsea. He showed ambition and he obviously wanted to pick his career up again. It was a challenge coming here but he's a top class player and he knew he'd still be performing in front of big crowds. He might be just what Scotland need."
January 29: Something that horrified many people when it was revealed earlier this season was the fact that all the cutbacks at Leeds had seen Kevin Blackwell left with exactly zero scouts - so if he wanted to recruit a player or have a team watched then he had to do it himself. And in fairness to Blackwell, he's been doing just that and must be one of the best-travelled men in Britain over the last six months. But now Ken Bates is in charge, the club are finally realising just what a false economy it has been and will be appointing a new scout. Kevin Blackwell said: "The backroom staff here are doing all the scouting, that means they come in on a morning at eight o'clock, do the training and the coaching and then go on to games and get home at 12 o'clock at night. That's been happening every day and I think one or two of them are starting to feel the strain, they're not seeing their families, driving long hours and it was something the previous board knew about but the financial situation was we had to just get on with it." And he went on: "Last week I had six nights out of seven out and about. We played Stoke, then I went down to West Ham, did a game on Monday, Tuesday and our game on Wednesday, then it was off to the reserves on Thursday... I spoke to the Chairman about it yesterday and straight away he was great. The particular person he's on about bringing in I do know, and he's been a chief scout for a number of years and is highly regarded." It doesn't look like anyone else will be picked up this season, but Blackwell points out that the crucial thing is to be ready for the summer: "In my opinion, between now and June we have to get our targets identified, vetted to make sure they reach the standard we are looking for in ability, discipline and attitude. We're looking for four or five players and I want to make sure they are the right ones. [The new scout] will be straight on with player acquisitions, he will start as soon as possible because we are looking for another big striker, a wide left player, another midfielder and we have to look at the goalkeeper situation. There are four places to fill that are critical, we will also evaluate who will leave at the end of the season."
January 29: Kevin Blackwell was far from happy with his players today after the second home match in succession saw Leeds unable to hang on to a lead. Clarke Carlisle had given Leeds the advantage just before the break but failed to take the chances to extend the lead, and it wasn't much of a surprise when Guy Butters headed the scores level. Blackwell said: "We should have been home and dry a long time before they scored. But when it's 1-0 you always give the other team a chance and sure enough a big ball came into the box and they got a header on it. I am bitterly disappointed and angry that we didn't finish the game off." He went on: "We have had good chances but haven't worked them. Our strikers have not worked the goalkeeper hard enough, so I am critical of them tonight and I am asking questions of them because we had lots of balls in the right areas. Anybody that has been given licence to get forward I am critical of, and that includes our two midfield players. Whoever we put in today we should have been good enough to win this game." Ouch! Given what he's said before after some less than impressive results he must REALLY be unhappy with what he saw today.
January 29: The United Nations of Leeds triallists was further expanded today with the news that Leeds are giving Danish midfielder Thomas Lindrup a trial. Seems that his team is even more desperate for cash than we are, and Leeds' new-found stability/wealth from Ken Bates could help them out.
January 29: Dominic Matteo scored a rare goal today, turning in a Robbie Savage free kick on the near post to make it Blackburn 3 - 0 Colchester in the FA Cup. And John Oster hasn't been out of work for long: he's signed on with Burnley to the end of the season, so could have the chance to put one over his former team-mates next weekend.
January 28: Don't know if these updates have seemed a bit terse this week, but if so here comes the explanation. I was expecting to announce the arrival of Jabba Junior sometime in the middle of March - but a couple of checks this week showed up some concerns for the health of Jules and Junior and when I got into work yesterday morning I'd barely swallowed my first mouthful of coffee when I got the call to head back home. So Thursday afternoon saw me take a deep breath and enter the wonderful world of parenthood. Lucas Charles Abbott weighed in at 3lb 12oz: he's currently up in the special care unit and seems to be doing well, but there's a long way to go so keep your fingers crossed for him Jules is recovering well - and me? I've just about come down from the ceiling :-)
January 28: Scott Carson says that he was never looking for a way out of Leeds and blamed the club for his sale to Liverpool. He said: "I wasn't looking to leave Leeds, but I was offered two contracts which just weren't right for me or the club. I didn't like the way it was handled, with the club saying they had done everything they could to keep me. They didn't." He complained: "My contract should have been sorted out last December, but apart from one chat with the manager, I heard nothing at all. They only came back to me when it became apparent that other clubs were interested. They accepted the offer and I thought they wanted to get rid of me." And he added: "A lot [of fans] said I should have stayed, but if my contract had been sorted out when it should have been, I would have still been at Leeds."
January 28: The reserves went down to a 0-4 defeat by Manchester United last night despite fielding some experienced players. Seth Johnson playerd a full 90 minutes, and Eirik Bakke would have done the same but for a personal issue that resulted in his absence from the side. Matthew Spring, Gylfi Einarsson and Leandre Griffit all played their parts for Leeds, and although the home side created several chances, they failed to turn their greater experience into goals. Paul Harrison had to pick the ball out of the net four times - hopefully not the sort of thing he'll be doing tomorrow if he is required to take the place of Neil Sullivan!
January 28: Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke are both ready to return to the first team squad for tomorrow's visit by Brighton. Kevin Blackwell confirmed that the long wait to get the two experienced players fit appeared to be over: "Eirik will be on the bench tomorrow and it was maybe just as well that we did pull him out of the reserve game last night. He's worked hard and it's been a long grind for him and Seth Johnson, and I am reluctant to put him on though because I believe in my own mind that he needs another game even though he feels mentally right to play. We forced him back early last season and we lost him for another nine months again. We want Eirik back for the next 17 games and not just the next three." Danny Pugh has reached five yellows and so is suspended, while Julian Joachim's hamstring strain keeps him out. Michael Ricketts has a swollen knee and Brian Deane continues to battle against injuries of his own. Neil Sullivan will be looking to play with a painkilling injection again - but if that doesn't work then Paul Harrison will get an unexpectedly sudden debut. For the visitors, Dean Hammon, Alexis Nicolas and Adam Virgo could all get back into the side, while Blackburn loanee David Yelldell is also up for selection.
January 27: New chairman Ken Bates today set a record for the fastest ever vote-of-confidence issued in a manager. Speaking at today's press conference he said that Kevin Blackwell was doing a "marvellous" job. Bates said: "I have found out he has done a marvellous job and I've told him he has my unqualified support." Bates also indicated that the club could now afford to turn down the silly bids being made for talented youngsters: "We have had a few approaches for our young players this week and they have been turned down... No players will be sold unless Kevin Blackwell wants to sell them. At the end of the day footballing decisions are his and not mine."
January 27: Former Leeds legend turned Hollywood hard man Vinnie Jones says that he would love to tackle the not-vacant role of managing Leeds United. Speaking to The Sun he said: "I'm enjoying myself. The only thing that would tempt me back into football at this stage is the Leeds job. If Ken came to me and said "Look, Vin - Dennis Wise won't leave Millwall, so why don't you give it a go?" that would be the only thing to bring me out of acting - to do that job. I got Leeds promotion as a player and I'd like to do it as a manager."
January 27: Just as it seemed as if Kevin Blackwell was getting a full and competitive squad together, it seems that the injury jinx has returned to haunt him. Neil Sullivan played last night's game at Derby with an injection to numb the pain from ligament damage in his hand. Brian Deane played with his shoulder strapped, and Julian Joachim picked up a hamstring injury that could keep him out for some time. But Blackwell praised his players and the spirit they had showed: "Sully has ligament damage in his middle finger after taking a ball on the end of it in training and it's the equivalent to a break. He had an injection, had it strapped up and has gone out and performed for us. That's exactly what I'm on about when I talk about the spirit at this football club. Deano's another one who gives everything. He's just got to keep on playing with his shoulder strapped up until we can get someone else in. So we shouldn't ever question the spirit at this football club."
January 27: With a press conference and fans forum today, our new chairman had plenty of words for plenty of people - but there was a lot left unsaid and a lot that he is determined will never be said. For a start, he sees LUFC as a private company and as such he is under no obligation to say anything about many of the commercial deals in which it is involved. He said: "We intend giving no commercial information to our competitors - but an announcement will be made in due course." Which is fair enough I suppose - even if it does equally leave the fans in the dark. He refused to reveal who owned the other 50% of the club, and with Gerald Krasner at his side claimed that the club's financial problems had been overstated. He said: "There is not a great deal of debt," and went on to outline how selfless some former directors had been in not claiming full payment of everything their contracts said they were owed, and ignoring the contingent liabilities on the books should the club get promoted. However the taxman is now off the club's back, with both PAYE and VAT bills settled and other creditors also being thrown a bone. Bates said: "Unlike a couple of weeks ago when Leeds just had their head above water and were gasping for breath, they are now on the surface swimming against the tide. The next job is to swim with the tide." Bates indicated that the repurchase of the stadium and training ground remained a priority - but "in the fullness of time" - and it was his long-term intention to see the pitch and club name sold to the supporters to be leased back to the club at low cost. Sure, it's not a 20-year season ticket (which he had a go at), but it's been unsuccessful at Chelsea and it's hard to see how it will work here. We await details of the scheme with interest.
January 27: Clarke Carlisle stood up and took both barrels of criticism today after last night's dismal performance at Derby. He said: "We took a beating. Derby played us off the park and deserved the result. We have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and if we are to achieve anything this season we have to play a million times better than that. The boys are in a mindset where we are grinding out results, but it wasn't meant to be last night and the way we lost was poor." And he added: "It does hurt, but if ever there's a point when losing doesn't hurt then it's no good." Kevin Blackwell was equally unimpressed. He said: "I wasn't happy. At a time when we looked the better side they punished us on the breakaway. We didn't retain possession up front which meant we were always on the back foot, but with two defeats in nine games I can't be critical of the players. They've given me everything, there are so many things to be positive about at this club now."
January 27: John Oster's contract has been terminated by Sunderland. After an investigation into his off-field activities - which included two rather unsavoury incidents while he was on loan at Leeds - the Black Cats have decided that enough is enough and Oster has been shown the door.
January 26: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that the Ken Bates takeover will enable his players to go out and take on their opponents with a great deal more confidence. He said: "With the financial situation, the worry for the players of losing their wages and the club being deducted 10 points has been allayed. It now means we can go out with a mindset of winning games to get up the table rather than trying to have to win games to get out of a relegation situation, which for me is the hardest pressure to work under. I prefer looking at the right end of the table - because from that there is a lot more confidence around the place. Players also blossom more." Tempting fate a bit, but the two rescheduled games against Derby and Brighton could give Leeds a huge boost - allowing Kevin Blackwell's side to steal a march on the teams above them and get into a playoff place if they manage two wins. But Derby will be tough opponents: despite the fact that it's 17 years since they managed a win against Leeds they have been playing very well of late and had a good 1-2 win at West Ham at the weekend. Blackwell said: "It is strange how football works because six weeks ago people were saying we were looking at relegation. Now we are looking up and I am having to keep people's feet on the ground. I won't let the players think too far ahead. If we start thinking of what might be by the end of the week then we could end up with egg on our face." Let's hope the egg stays firmly inside the chicken.
January 26: Kevin Blackwell dropped a hint that Michael Ricketts may find himself in the starting line-up tonight, with Brian Deane an injury doubt after Saturday's win at Stoke. Ricketts looked like he'd played his last game for the club and wasn't even getting on the bench a few weeks back - but he's worked his way back into the squad and seems to be making an impression on the boss. Blackwell said: "The motivation has to come from the player himself and it would appear that, at Michael's last few clubs, top quality managers have not quite been able to press the buttons to make him work. There is no doubt he has the talent. Michael has to understand that what is acceptable at other clubs is not acceptable at Leeds United. You have to be better than that. I don't know why the hunger leaves some people. I am not saying Michael has lost his hunger, but he has lost his way. If we could get Michael Ricketts back firing at the level he was two and a half years ago he would be a major asset in this division. Michael is now champing at the bit and I know he feels he is ready to start playing."
January 26: A scrappy game at Pride Park probably went to the right team, but it was a close run thing. The scores were level until past the hour mark when Tommy Smith left the Leeds defence for dead to break the deadlock just after David Healy had failed to put away Leeds' first real chance. Adam Bolder's late deflected goal sealed the points for the home side in injury time. Random stat: Leandre Griffit was the 21st player this season to pull on the shirt and take the field for the first time for Leeds.
January 25: Jermaine Pennant was due to sign on loan to Birmingham for the rest of the season yesterday - and the clubs got as far as issuing a press release to that effect. But Pennant's latest drink-drive problem has given Brum cold feet, and they have said that the loan can't go ahead in the circumstances. Looks like Pennant could end up getting to the end of his Arsenal contract in the summer without getting the chance to put himself in the shop window for a new deal elsewhere.
January 25: Nigel Martyn has signed a one-year extension to his contract at Everton, keeping him at Goodison until next summer. Although he picked up an injury at Charlton nearly a month ago, he's getting back to full fitness and must have a good chance of making it back into the Toffees' squad. He also made it clear what his motivation was, saying: "From our current position we've got a great chance of European football and that's what I want."
January 25: It was announced today that former Leeds right back Jimmy Dunn died of a stroke in the early hours of Monday morning. Jimmy joined Leeds after the war, and went on to play 443 games for the club up to the end of the 1950's, scoring just once in all of that time. He played many games alongside John Charles, and remained a regular visitor to Elland Road until very recently. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to his family and friends.
January 25: Peter Ridsdale today announced that he was going to be meeting with a Championship side to discuss a possible investment. He has ruled out a move for Wrexham, and talk of Blackpool was floated and shot down today, but he said: "Only [Monday], a Championship club rang me and said they'd heard me on the radio at the weekend and didn't realise I'd left Barnsley. They said they wanted urgent talks, I'm seeing them today. At the moment, the options are improving daily." Let's hope it's not us...
January 25: Lucas Radebe will have a brief runout on February 15 in the FIFA Tsunami Charity game to be played in Barcelona. There are around 50 players, split into teams captained by Shevchenko and Ronaldinho, and it will be played at a fairly leisurely oace but it will still be The Chief's first public playing appearance since he damaged his achilles tendon in August. He said: "I will be fit for the game in Barcelona. At least it's a game where I will be able to tell if everything's alright now with my injuries. It will become part of my fitness programme anyway. I have already started doing a lot of running and my rehab is going very, very well. This will be a good test for me because it's really only a practice game and I won't have to worry too much about the injury."
January 25: Kevin Blackwell doesn't have too many new injury worries ahead of tomorrow's game against Derby, but Aaron Lennon is a slight doubt with a toe injury, and Brian Deane might have rushed his comeback by appearing against Stoke and might also be rested. The home side have Mo Konjic and Paul Peschisolido ruled out through injury, with Tom Huddlestone and Michael Johnson also borderline.
January 25: Derek Lilley got on the scoresheet for SPL bottom side Livingston tonight, bagging the opener on 74 minutes in their game against Hearts. But something of a hint as to why they are in that position was revealed when they conceded twice in a minute to end up 1-2 losers.
January 24: Kevin Blackwell says that he finally believes that the worst is behind the club and that we can now start looking forward with some confidence. Speaking to the official website he said: "This is a brand new era and we know that we're going to be scrutinised in everything we say and do. But for the first time it's the right image, that this is a new era and the club is moving forward. This could be the point where people look back and say this was the day it all changed."
January 24: New owner Ken Bates will be present at a fans forum session on Thursday night. He will hold his first press conference that afternoon, where he will unveil the people he has chosen to sit on the new board and flesh out his vision on how to take the club forward. The fans forum will be in the Banqueting Suite at Elland Road with a start time of 7pm - first 500 to get there get in, and if any of you out there make it, do drop me a line with your impressions since I'll be at the other end of the country at the time.
January 24: Jonathan Woodgate's career is under threat! As if the off-pitch problems he's had were not enough, it seems that the injury that has left him unable to play a single game for Real Madrid (and not many for Newcastle in his time there either) could end his career. He's suffering from a ruptured tendon in his left thigh in addition to the muscle tear that was already known about - and this new injury could be serious enough to end his professional career. Pressure from the president and possibly incomplete diagnoses by the medical staff meant that Woody was rushed back way ahead of any sensible schedule, and when he broke down in a reserve match in October, the full extent of the injury gradually became clear. Realistically he has no chance of playing this season and will need a complex op and long rehabilitation if he is to have any chance of making it back to the top level.
January 24: Jermaine Pennant is under threat of a prison sentence after crashing Ashley Cole's Merc into a lamp-post while over the drink-drive limit. The offence took place near Aylesbury on Sunday morning, and Pennant is due to face the magistrates on February 1. The only surprise is that the tabloids didn't report it as "Ex-Leeds Drink Drive Shame".
January 24: Leeds Ladies suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened Fulham at the weekend. They were 2-0 down on the hour mark when the home side were reduced to 10 players - but despite emulating the men by grabbing an OG with 10 minutes to go, they were unable to close the gap and lost 2-1. The Academy side hopefully set the seniors a target to exceed when they beat Derby 0-3 with a pair of goals from Gavin Rothery and one from Kevin Smith.
January 24: Leeds striker David Healy today said that the team would all be doing their best to convince the new chairman that Kevin Blackwell was the right man for the job. Healy said: "I said when I arrived at the club that I came to Leeds United to play at the highest level and with the best players. It would have been all bad if we had lost the ten points through administration but thankfully that's no longer hanging over us now." And he went on: "We have just all got to stick in together as a team, players and staff and see where that takes us. As players we are all under close examination now. When [the new owners] come in and watch the games they are going to want to see the money they are spending on wages spent wisely. They want to see the staff perform on the pitch, and they'll speak to the gaffer if they don't see what they want. The gaffer has brought me in and probably 16 or 17 other players in, and I've said this before, that we have to get behind the gaffer and all the other staff members. We have to dig in for the gaffer and stick together as a team."
January 24: The latest in a long line of figures to talk up Ken Bates' takeover of Leeds appeared to day - and also to praise the efforts of Gerald Krasner and co - but given the source of the praise, it's not exactly worth much. Yep, our good friends at Leeds City Council who have done so much to help us in recent years are getting in on the act and trying to associate themselves with a winning story with an election four months away. The LibDem group leader Mark Harris said: "The news that the financial future of Leeds United has been secured by the investment from Ken Bates and his company is very welcome indeed. Mr Bates has a real track record in successfully running and building a soccer club. A man of his experience and calibre would only make this investment knowing the great potential there is for Leeds United. Over the last few months the council has been in regular contact with Leeds United and has had numerous discussions with the directors. The future of Leeds United has an undeniable impact on the way Leeds is perceived and, one also has to say, on the morale of many of our residents. A successful club is vital for this city." These regular contacts obviously didn't result in the council offering the club any real assistance or I'm sure we'd have heard about it before. And of course he thinks that GK and co did a simply fantastic job: They saved the club from "almost certain extinction at significant personal risk to themselves." Yes, well I guess you wouldn't expect a councillor to be able to distinguish the subtle difference between people putting their own cash in and taking money out and selling off longstanding assets on the cheap to the long-term detriment of all stakeholders.
January 23: New chairman Ken Bates says he has come back to football because there is void in his life that only soccer can fill. Speaking on Radio 5 Live today, he said he was back "Because there's nothing else in life except soccer and a good woman. I've got a good woman so I need the soccer." He spoke of the support he had received from within the game: "What has been fantastic is the number of calls I've had from my former colleagues. Phil Gartside of Bolton rang me from Perth and Doug Ellis called me from Tasmania, all wishing me luck. The nicest thing of all was Chelsea fans shaking my hands and saying: 'good luck in your next venture, get them back up and bring them here as soon as possible'." Let's hope he can do just that.
January 23: More support for Ken came from an unlikely source today: former Leeds chairman and all-round mathematical genius Peter Ridsdale. Ridsdale said: "I am very confident that if Ken has got into this he has done so because he is going to make a success of it. I am assuming that someone like Gerard Krasner with his background hasn't sold something to somebody who does not have ability either personally or through his contacts to take Leeds forward. What Leeds have got is a good football man, he has made the odd mistake like me, but I believe Leeds will be better for it and he is better for it." Ridsdale also more or less ruled himself out of a move to take over at Wrexham.
January 23: Rumours in today's papers suggest that Simon Walton will be the next player to leave the club, with Liverpool putting a cheeky bid of £250,000 on the table. Probably tabloid talk - and since he's just signed a new contract it would need quite a bit more than that to persuade Ken to sell: we're not in the distressed sales market anymore guys.
January 22: Plenty of people have been asking what I think of Ken Bates and the takeover. Well the bloke is a loud-mouthed, plain-speaking, clever-dealing businessman who will pull every trick in the book to make sure that he ends up on the winning side and doesn't seem to care too much about whether or not people's feelings get hurt in the process. In short I think he's just about ideal for the job in hand. Would I trust him with my life or try to marry his daughter? Probably not. But given the alternatives available to the club, this looks like just about the best we can hope for. Administration may have been an alternative, but it had a whole bunch of dangers of its own and wasn't - as many people saw it - just a simple way to clear our debts. So, at the risk of being told I'm just rationalising it all to save my sanity, here are the five reasons why I'm not unhappy that Ken Bates is the new man in charge at Elland Road. 1: Unlike the current lot, he has his own money, good connections to people with lots of money, a track record of attracting investment and - despite several cases of sailing close to the wind - he's shown a keen grasp of just how far rules can be bent to maximise his own profit. 2: He's a football man with friends across the game. Admittedly with some enemies too, but his understanding of the politics of the FA and leagues is a massive improvement on Krasner's group. 3: You won't get weasel words on promised transparency from him: he will tell us exactly what he wants, when he wants and the message will not be delivered flowered up to win friends among the fans. 4: He's 73. Not wishing any illness or bad things on him, but getting Leeds back into a vaguely challenging position - and improving the club as a saleable asset - will take 4-5 years at least. By which time, if he's still with us, the prospect of a final sale to realise a profit should ensure that the club is in a much improve position to the sorry state in which it finds itself now. And finally 5: he's not letting the current mob off the hook. Everyone knew that admininstration was a real prospect and with it the likelihood that the directors would lose every last penny of the £4 million they had loaned to the club. That is believed to have been the key stumbling block in several other bids: investors didn't want to see 40% of their hard-earned cash going straight into the pockets of the board and to no benefit of the club. Bates has agreed to repay that money - but in four years time when - hopefully - we'll be back in the top flight and it will be eminently affordable. And if things go a bit pear-shaped in the meantime, well tough luck guys: maybe you should have realised that you were playing poker with a grand champion at the time. We'll still keep a very close eye on what Chairman Ken does to the club, and will do our best to resist changes which we think will be detrimental to the long-term interests of the club and its fans. But in the meantime I think he deserves a chance to prove what he can do at Leeds, and maybe just the tiniest vote of thanks for bringing to an end 10 months of ostrich management.
January 22: Articles in this weekend's papers shed a bit more light on the financial mess at the club, and indicate the word-bending that has been employed by the previous board as they talked up their fantastic achievement in getting the debt down. In the Independent, they point out that there is a very good reason for Ken Bates only acquiring 50% of the club rather than the 51% originally announced: that extra 1% would trigger a huge payment to the bondholders under the agreement they reached with Krasner and co. Fortunately, that particular beartrap has an expiry date on it, so Bates will be able to formally complete a takeover in a couple of years without pouring more money down the drain. Other more immediate debts include "football" liabilities - money owed to former players and managers - of nearly £7 million. Robbie Fowler, Danny Mills and Nick Barmby top the list here, with each owed well over a million in compensation for their cancelled contracts at Leeds, but they've even contrived to leave Danny Milosevic - who never turned out for the first team - owed a six-figure sum. But two other numbers stand out: the board had got Elland Road on the books at £29 million - but sold it to a company for a third of that amount and with a huge annual rental cost: no wonder Ken Bates will make the repurchase of the ground a priority. But the real biggy is the fact that the debt to the bondholders has NOT vanished into thin air - despite Krasner's claims of knocking nigh on £80 million off the big number. It's turned into a "liability" instead: half a million a year paid for the next 17 years, with big additional payments due should we make it back into the top flight. Thanks for all the "transparency" Gerald and co - and also for your wonderful work in "saving" the club by flogging assets at a fraction of book value to service debts you incurred in the takeover, lining up lucrative "consultancy" agreements (for doing nothing obvious) and taking the club to the brink of disaster through your financial ineptitude/Ridsdale-scale gamble. Rest assured that your names will be long-remembered by the fans of Leeds United. Indeed I can see the day when the name Krasner will be mentioned in the same breath as such significant figures in Leeds history as Clough, Tinkler, Michas and Beckenbauer.
January 22: Ken Bates says he wants to get Leeds United back into Europe - but fans can't expect an instant turnaround. He said: "We will stabilise everything. The previous board have done a fantastic job in keeping the club afloat when all the laws of finance say they should have gone. But now we will stabilise the team and the finances for Leeds to be comfortable in the Championship, with the play-offs a bonus. I'm not quite sure if it's realistic or not. I certainly wouldn't like to get promoted this year. If you go up too soon you more than likely come down again." He said that he had more realistic aims: "I would think we get promotion in the next couple of seasons, beyond this season, and then establish ourselves in the Premiership and aim for a top-six place and get back into Europe. They have demonstrated the potential is there. Leeds are very well-known. They had a good run in Europe but they perhaps did it too quickly. We will now look to do it slower, be more realistic and lay more solid foundations." He's aiming to restore the club's prime assets as well: "Elland Road and the training ground were sold on sale-and-lease-back deals. But there are options to buy them back, and we will do so in due course." So why is this former Burnley fan who professes a continuing love for Chelsea doing it? He said: "I've done it with Chelsea and I want one more challenge and I think this is it. We will find out if it's successful or not."
January 22: Former Leeds chief exec Trevor Birch says that his old boss from Chelsea should be welcomed by the Leeds fans. Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Birch said: "Ken's involvement is good news for Leeds. The club has suffered a lot in recent years and one thing about Ken is he is a very determined man. He will not have bought Leeds to preside over its demise. He will have very definite plans, you only have to look at the success he has achieved in the past to realise he will not want the club to stand still, which can only be good news for the fans." And he added to the words of praise suddenly being poured on the old board: "The board have done their best and I think fans should realise that without them coming in last March there would be no Leeds United. There is no question the club would have gone under."
January 22: It took a dodgy deflected own goal but Kevin Blackwell's tenure under one of the toughest bosses in football started with a win this afternoon. On a bitterly cold day, Stoke edged the first half but still only required one real save from Neil Sullivan. Leeds came into it more in the second half, and Thomas deflected a David Healy cross into his own net with 20 minutes to go. Bates wasn't there to see the win though, and Kevin Blackwell is still waiting for a meeting with the new chairman to confirm his position. Blackwell said: "I spoke to Mr Bates on the phone this morning but it was only a short chat. It was literally - 'hello, how are you?' - but I'm expecting us to sit down and have dinner on Wednesday or Thursday next week. He's come in as a man of substance, a football man, and at the moment all I can do is take every game as it comes. To be honest, I don't know where my future lies in the long term but hopefully it will be at Leeds during the short term." And he justified his confidence: "When I took this job in the summer most people thought it was an impossible task but I've proved it's a job which can be done. I don't think I have to prove myself to anyone after what's already been achieved under trying circumstances."
January 22: JFH scored the opener for Boro at Norwich today, bringing them back level just past the half hour. He then made it 1-4 with 12 minutes to go, but in an extraordinary comeback Norwich pulled one back in normal time, added another on the stroke of 90 minutes and equalised deep into added time to make it 4-4. Andy Keogh scored his second in as many games, sealing the points for Bury in their 2-0 win over Northampton. Craig Hignett scored twice for Darlo in the second half as they strolled to a 3-0 win over Shrewsbury. Danny Granville struck Palace's second goal on 70 minutes as they went on to a surprise 3-0 win over Spurs, and finally Warren Feeney scored with a twice retaken penalty in the last minute to give Stockport a share of the points at home to Barnsley.
January 21: A late night meeting at Leeds' solicitors Walker Morris appears to have concluded with a formal agreement to sell a controlling interest in the club to Ken Bates. It's understood that the board was not unanimous on the move at first, with other - potentially more lucrative - bids being turned down in favour of Bates' offer. Wonder what he's put on the table that has made the current board jump into bed with him? I'm sure that at least part of it will be a confidentiality agreement, so we'll never know just what happened to the club during the 10 months of Adulant Force's ownership.
January 21: Scott Carson's move to Liverpool will be concluded today, with a nominal tag of a cool million, but with 25% of that dependent on appearances and success. He's expected to sign a 4.5 year contract and is expected to be on the bench for the Reds' visit to Southampton tomorrow.
January 21: It's happened. The club has announced that Ken Bates is the new owner of the club as of 0227 today. Gerald Krasner said: "The consortium led by Mr Bates completed the deal this morning. This deal ensure the medium to long term survival of the club and I believe Mr Bates' proposals are totally for the benefit of the club. We are content that under Mr Bates, Leeds United will continue to consolidate and move forward." Krasner confirmed that the current board would stay with the club in the short term to assist the handover. Krasner defended the record of the current board, saying: "The club has always been in safe hands since we took over. It was actually a year ago on Wednesday when I first met Trevor Birch to begin all this, and it has been worthwhile because Leeds United still exists and the football team still plays at Elland Road. Some people told us it could not be done and that we would have to take the club into administration, I think this proves it could be done." In today's Daily Mail, Ken Bates said he hoped that Peter Lorimer would continue as a board member under the new regime, saying: "I want Peter to stay because he is an important link between the boardroom, the dressing room and the supporters. He is important to Leeds."
January 21: After Ken Bates successfully completed his takeover of the club, Gerald Krasner had this to say: "It was exactly a year ago on Wednesday, 19th January 2004, that my consortium began negotiations to takeover Leeds United. When we took over Leeds United in March 2004, the club had a debt of £103 million. At the first fans forum held be the new Board, we warned that difficult times were ahead. Since that date, my Board has succeeded in reducing the debt to under £25 million. The fans are aware of recent media speculation relating to the financial situation at the club, some of which had elements of truth and some had not. As I have repeatedly said, this Board has worked tirelessly to solve all of the problems at Leeds United. 80% of the problems have already been overcome and in order to move forward I am pleased to inform you that a final agreement has been reached with The Forward Sport Fund, represented by Mr Ken Bates, to secure its ongoing success. Before I finally bow out, I would like to pay tribute to the following: Kevin Blackwell and the players for the excellent efforts they have put in this season. I think we truly have the makings of a winning team. Also, I would like to thank the staff at Elland Road for the tremendous way they have rallied around as a team to help, despite the painful cutbacks we have had to make. To those media contacts I have worked with over this year, who have gone the extra mile to ensure the true story about the club reached the fans, thank you for your support. I would like to pay a tribute to all the members of my consortium and the many hours, day and night, that they have tirelessly worked to take the club back on to a more financially viable basis. And finally, I wish to thank the wonderful fans of all levels, without whose support we would not have started this venture. This club has true supporters who have come to every game and have made the last twelve months worthwhile. I wish Ken and his team the very best of luck for the future and I have agreed to stay and assist in order to ensure a smooth changeover is achieved." 50% of the club has been sold to a Geneva-based operation - Forward Sport Fund - which is controlled by Bates. The club announced that Peter Lorimer would continue as Director and as a contact point for supporters, Interestingly, it was also announced that the current board had agreed that they would not seek repayment of their loans to the club for four years. Ken Bates said: "I am delighted to be stepping up to the mantel at such a fantastic club. I recognise that Leeds United is a great club that has fallen on hard times. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to get the club back to where it belongs in the Premiership and with the helps the fans, who have stuck by the club through thick and thin, we are going to do everything in our power to ensure that happens. Our first task will be to put short, medium and long term plans in place to secure the financial future of the club and these will include buying back, in due course, Elland Road and Thorp Arch. We will also be looking at ways in which the fans can control the football pitch itself. Fans could then ensure that no would be property developer will be able to end the playing of football at Elland Road. I wish to pay tribute to the outgoing board. They have done a magnificent job at a time with nobody else would touch Leeds United. It gives me great confidence to know that the outgoing board will remain in close contact and provide all the help needed to ensure a smooth transition in the months ahead. I also wish to pay tribute to Trevor Birch for his contributions."
January 21: As expected, Liverpool's third-choice keeper Paul Harrison has signed on a one-month loan at Elland Road and goes into the squad for the Stoke game. The young keeper has just turned 20 but has yet to make a first team appearance for the Reds.
January 21: Matthew Kilgallon gets a break to rest the ankle injury that has been troubling him for a couple of weeks, with Clarke Carlisle coming back into the side for the Stoke game tomorrow. Sean Gregan and Aaron Lennon are both over the virus that wiped out Gregan and forced Lennon off at half-time for the Cardiff game. Brian Deane is back in training a little earlier than expected and could be in the squad as well. For the home side, Clint Hill returns from suspension, but there are varying degrees of doubt over John Eustace, Gareth Owen and John Halls.
January 21: Former Leeds player Micky Adams has been installed as the new manager of Coventry City following the departure of Peter Reid. Adams has previously managed Fulham, Brentford, Swansea, Brighton and most recently Leicester, and is a former Coventry player himself. He said: "This was a fantastic club to play for and I'm sure it will be a fantastic club to manage. I've had two or three months off and now I'm looking forward to this and excited by the challenge." He has a tough task ahead of him as he tries to drag the Sky Blues away from the relegation zone. He said: "We've got to move the club up the table and I'm confident we can do that because there is talent here. As I've said to the players this morning I haven't come in with any pre-conceived ideas about them because I don't know them, I've only seen them from afar. But what I would say is that we have enough quality to move up the table."
January 21: Ken Bates has given a positive message to the club's fans after taking over this morning. He paid tribute to the debt reduction and salvage job carried out by Gerald Krasner's group and said that he was going to finish off the rescue job they started. He said: "It is no exaggeration to say Leeds are very hard up. It's going to be a tough job and the first task is to stabilise the cash flow and sort out the remaining creditors. But there is light at the end of a very long tunnel. For the past year it has been a matter of fire-fighting - now we can start running the club again." There will be a press conference next week when Bates fleshes out some more details of his plans, and announces his new board.
January 21: Former Leeds youth wing-back Tom Newey is on the move again: he's been loaned out from Leyton Orient to relegation-threatened Cambridge United to help them in their struggle against the drop into the Conference.
January 21: Despite rumours that suggest he will move to bring in a "dream" team of Dennis Wise and Ray Wilkins (one man's dream is another's nightmare I would suggest), Ken Bates has given current boss Kevin Blackwell his backing. Bates said: "I've not spoken to Kevin Blackwell yet, but I'll tell him just to get on with things. Kevin has had a difficult job. He's got a contract until the end of next season and I'll tell him to go out and prove himself. I'm not looking to bring anyone in, and I'll help him however I can." He's not setting Blackwell any tough targets this season either, but he has a history of expecting a lot from his managers. Bates said: "We can still make the play-offs and, hopefully, we start by winning at Stoke tomorrow. The Championship is a hard league though and there's no point in going up to go straight back down."
January 21: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that he is expecting the players to push even harder from now on as competition for places hots up. With Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke getting close to comebacks, and with the possibility of further investment by Ken Bates, Blackwell is hoping that the first team squad will deliver better results as they raise their games to safeguard their places. He said: "At the start of the season we were filling holes, but we've got some real competition for places now. I want to see that driving the players because they know there'll be others pushing for a place. We've benefitted from having strong competition at the back and now that's moving to other areas. We've got Sean coming back tomorrow, Eirik and Seth over the next couple of weeks, and all of a sudden we have the competition we've been looking for."
January 20: Leeds are giving yet another player the chance to prove himself at the club. Guatemala skipper Guillermo Ramirez is coming to Leeds for a week after failing to do enough to impress Glenn Hoddle to offer him a deal at Wolves.
January 20: Scott Carson was at Anfield for a medical this morning after Leeds and Liverpool agreed an undisclosed fee for his services. It was at first thought that Chelsea would come up with more money for the U-21 international, but maybe the player's own choice might have forced Leeds' hand in accepting a bid which should see a little over half a million quid come into the club's empty coffers. Speaking to the official website, board spokesman Bryan Morris said: "We wish Scott the very best at his new club. He has proven himself to be a top class keeper during his time at Leeds United and we are sure he will continue to impress at Anfield. His steady nerve in pressure situations and his professionalism on and off the pitch will ensure that he has a bright future ahead of him." This doesn't really do anything to stave off administration - short-term debt is many times that amount - and leaves Kevin Blackwell with a big headache over cover for Neil Sullivan: expect to see a free/loan move for an experienced (i.e. aging) understudy for Neil Sullivan. Kevin Pressman anyone?
January 20: The latest twist in the takeover saga saw Ken Bates pop up despite his denials of interest when Sebastien Sainsbury was looking for friends earlier this month. The club this afternoon issued a statement saying that they were in talks with the former Chelsea boss. Bryan Morris said: "We are still talking to all consortiums and Mr Bates is one of those. No deal has been finalised but as soon as negotiations have been concluded we will issue a press statement."
January 20: Lamine Sakho has made the switch from Marseille to St Etienne - but curiously reckons that his time at Leeds was the most enjoyable in his career. He said: "Frankly, I have a very fond memories of my time in England. Along with my time at Lens, my spell at Leeds is my best in football." He added: "Everything was going so well for me at Leeds until I went to the African Cup of Nations. The coach didn't like my decision and I was put on the bench. The trouble started and then I got injured." From the terraces, Sakho's spell at Elland Road was a disappointment after the amazing pace and attacking flair we saw in those pre-season games in Dublin - but neither Reid nor Gray gave him a consistent run or position in the side, and he always looked like a confidence player, and a barren scoring spell in the dismal days of last season was enough to seal his fate.
January 20: Jamie McMaster has joined Peterborough ona one-month loan. He goes straight into the squad for the Oldham game at the weekend and will be hoping for a decent run in the side as he tries to showcase himself for a new contract somewhere next season. Young defender Robert Constable has also gone out on loan as Leeds try to trim the wage bill. Constable goes to the KitKat Crescent - as York City's Bootham Crescent ground is now known on a one-month loan (hey - who are we to laugh when we gave the world the Lurpak Stand). In the opposite direction and not yet confirmed, we have the possibility that Liverpool's third-choice keeper - Paul Harrison - will come to Elland Road from Anfield after Scott Carson's move pushes him further down the pecking order for the Reds. Another possible arrival is former Owls striker Gulain Ndumbu-Nsungu who was released by Paul Sturrock earlier this week, despite scoring 11 in 44 appearances. Cynics may suggest his arrival is just designed to boost shirt-lettering sales.
January 20: Stoke boss Tony Pulis had a swipe at Leeds ahead of this weekend's game, complaining that the profligacy and financial mismanagement of the club would be rewarded if administration provided a route to safety. He said: "We all know what a traumatic period it has been for them but we mustn't ignore the fact they've brought in around 16 players for this season." Errr...yes - otherwise we wouldn't have had a squad. He went on: "I was also interested to see they had spent around £1.4m on agents' fees in the past six months, compared to the £20,000 we have paid, and yet they tell me they are millions and millions in debt and heading for administration." Errr...yes...we had to do that as part of the getting-rid-of-overpaid-players process. He went on: "I've got nothing against anyone at Leeds, but I find it appalling that a club owing so much to so many can run itself into further debt." Let's hope his footballing brain is as switched on as his understanding of the financial side of things - we could be on for a big win if that's any guide.
January 20: It seems that the club's office staff are in danger of missing out on their January wage packets. Gerald Krasner has assured staff that they will be paid - although the coffers are bare and there are some significant creditors out there who have first call on the cash. Let's hope the Carson cheque clears quickly.
January 20: Ken Bates was spotted boarding a train back to London tonight after deep negotiations with the Leeds board that could lead to a change at the top within the next couple of days. Bates appears to have an advantage in the eyes of the board in that - unlike the Stubbs bid - he is prepared to offer the current board repayment of their "investment" - directors loans - and also a possible equity stake in the club going forward. But Bates would be the top dog, with an unassailable 51% ownership and would be chairman of the board, getting his feet back under the FA's table which many see as his real aim. It's believed that the Morris family will retain a board seat but that the other directors would leave - but recent reality has seemed to show Bryan and Simon Morris taking the lead on most decisions, so that wouldn't change much. Bates isn't acting alone: it's believed that some of the Sainsbury consortium have hitched their wagons to his bid - but the identity of these backers is not yet known. Kevin Blackwell is backing Bates' bid. Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, he said: "It'd be good news for the players and the club to get out of the uncertainty. With Mr Bates hopefully we can start moving forward. I'm pleased... We knew that [administration] was always hanging over us. With Mr Bates coming in that now allays that fear and the club can start to look forward and move forward. And with investment in the right areas I don't see why we can't give it a good push." And he had a dig back at Tony Pulis as well: "Everyone knows that there was no players left here in June last year. We've built from that, we're half-way up the table and we're looking up instead of down. I've been very proud to be manager of this football club. We're proud people up in Yorkshire and things haven't gone well for us in the two or three years. There's hopefully some good news and I think the fans here deserve some good news."
January 19: To nobody's great surprise, our visit to Millwall has been moved according to the Lions' website. With ManU playing at Palace on the same day it was always going to be a bit of a risky fixture - the only surprise is that, having shifted the game back a day to Sunday 6 March, the kick-off is at 2.00 pm rather than pre-opening time.
January 19: Eirik Bakke and Seth Johnson continued their comeback from injury yesterday, each playing an hour in a friendly against Darlington. Reserves boss Steve Agnew said: "Eirik and Seth played a good 60 minutes. They came through it well, there were no problems, no after effects and they both said they felt a lot stronger." He added: "They do look fitter and now we just have to continue to keep working with them and build them up for when the manager feels he can call on them again." The next reserve game is on Wednesday week at home to Man U and both players are likely to get another run in that game. Agnew said: "If they can get through that and have no after effects, the manager will be thinking hard about involving two good players again very soon." Gylfi Einarsson - whose absence from both squad and website had given rise to some rumours that he'd already been kicked out - was also back after suffering a dead leg and will also use the Man U game as a boost to his match fitness.
January 19: Peter Ridsdale - a man who knows a lot about how to get a football club into trouble - is apparently interested in helping out one that's already got there. According to the Western Mail, Ridsdale is in discussions to takeover at Wrexham - who recently went into administration and received the 10-point penalty that's currently hanging over our heads. Speaking to the newspaper, Ridsdale said: "Wrexham is an outstanding football club with a great tradition going back to the 1870s and it would be very sad to see them fall by the wayside. I think it's a club that needs management who are committed to driving the football forward rather than looking at the property interests." I can think of another club that statement could be applied to now you mention it... However there were many rumours about PR's return to the game before he turned up at Oakwell, and as we are told daily by Mr Krasner and co, takeovers take time so watch this space.
January 19: Neil Sullivan made what appears to be an officially-sanctioned sales pitch for Scott Carson today, saying that he could be a legend at Stamford Bridge. He said: "Without any doubt I know he can be successful at Chelsea or for that fact anywhere in the Premiership. He's an outstanding goalkeeper and it doesn't matter who you speak to, everyone is of the same opinion so they can't all be wrong. It say's something about him that clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool are interested. He's a good kid and the time I've been here we've had a good laugh together. He works hard and he wants to learn everything there is to learn, and that's all you can ask really. He's got so much ability it's a joke." All on the official website, so maybe the bids aren't flowing in as quickly as they'd hoped...
January 18: Despite his comments a week or so ago that Liverpool were not currently interested in signing Scott Carson, it seems that Dudek's howler against Man U on Saturday has prompted Rafa Benitez to reconsider his goalkeeping options. Chris Kirkland is out for another couple or three months (and for all his talent is now looking like someone who is so injury-prone you'd always need a topclass backup) and Benitez is left with some very inexperienced choices for bench and reserve duty. Not that Carson has a world of experience of course - but his talent is obvious and as the man in possession at England U-21 level, he must have something going for him. Benitez said: "We've been talking about Carson for some time. A week ago, I was confident of signing him. Now I don't know. I feel coming here would be a good opportunity for him because here he can play more games. It depends on the player, but if I had to make that decision, I would go to Liverpool." He went on: "He doesn't have experience, but he would have the quality. He is a young keeper for the future and without Kirkland we need another goalkeeper. He knows we really want him and he is a Liverpool fan. We have been talking to him and Leeds for three months and hopefully we will sign him as soon as possible." I'm sure that Mr Krasner and the bank manager would concur.
January 18: Seems I might have been a little harsh on some of the folks caught up in the post-match hassle on Saturday. A couple of people have emailed me to say that the police decided very early on - 5-10 minutes after the game ended - to charge any Leeds fans out of the way, whether they were just making their way back to their transport or hanging around intent on having a go at the Cardiff fans. Admittedly some folks don't need much provoking - but it was this that kicked off the main anti-police aggro. Proportionate response anyone? But I suppose given their total failure to maintain order after the Millwall game the police thought they had to be seen to Do Something, even if that meant law-abiding Leeds fans - or even passing members of the public - getting charged, pushed and shoved by the constabulary.
January 18: The man accused of the killings of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight was today released by a Turkish court. An appeal court verdict said that the fact that only Kevin's blood was found on Ali Umit Demir's knife meant that the double murder conviction had to be overturned. Unlike many of the other locals involved in the violence, Demir has spent five years in jail so far, and is due to return to court next month.
January 18: Paul Butler's incisive mind has identified the lack of clean sheets as a key problem that needs sorting. Well after 19 games, I'm not so sure myself. Butler said: "And we haven't managed to keep a clean sheet which is something that has been hanging over our heads now for the past 19 games now. It getting on the defence's and Sully's nerves. It's penalties, free-kicks and corners that we're conceding from. I think it's becoming frustrating for the forwards as well." How about those of us in the stands skipper?
January 17: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell told the fans that he appreciated the patience that had been shown towards his young team - but warned that more may be needed as things get tougher as the season rushes to a climax. Blackwell said: "This is a massive learning curve for the likes of Simon Walton, Frazer Richardson, Aaron Lennon and Danny Pugh. They've not been playing professional football at this time of the year in their careers and I thought Cardiff physically had more power and more knowledge where it mattered than us." They also had an extra man (or two if you discount Jermaine Wright's non-contribution) in midfield in case you didn't notice. Maybe that's why our front men had so little service in the second half. Blackwell defends his young players from criticism - but in attempting to highlight the lack of experienced players at the club he also turns the spotlight on his own bizarre tactics and formations. He said: "We have always said five youngsters in this team is too many and today it showed because two or three of them were below par." Blackwell also revealed that the seemingly inexplicable withdrawal of Aaron Lennon did have some rationale to it though: "Aaron had complained of a stomach upset and we knew it was a gamble to play him but we just felt the way he has been, and he's been electric, we'd still give him a start. At half-time he wasn't well and we said we'd give it another five minutes and see how he went, but he wasn't right." Still doesn't explain why you brought on a defender instead of a midfielder and totally rejigged the formation though, does it?
January 17: Phil Masinga has become the latest player associated with the club to have an unwelcome run-in with the law. This time he was back home in South Africa in Klerksdorp's Jouberton township at the weekend when he was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after an accident early on Saturday. He's due back in court today. The role of shame has another member...
January 17: Neil Sullivan has admitted that he did in fact make some contact on Richard Langley for the controversial penalty on Saturday. He said: "I have certainly seen them given before. I can't really complain about the penalty. He got there just before me and the way players do, he went over me. There was a bit of contact. It was more a case of he ran into me more than I went into him but the referee gave it and that's the way it goes sometimes." And indeed it always does when it's Neale Barry and Leeds - we'd be better off with Rennie: at least that way there's a 50:50 chance of a ludicrous decision going in your favour!
January 17: The U18 side were in action at the weekend, and they were back on winning form with a 2-0 win over Barnsley. Sam Hird and Gavin Rothery were on target for Leeds, with a goal in each half.
January 17: A saying-nowt statement was issued by the club and the Stubbs consortium tiday, which read: "The Stubbs Consortium have had constructive discussions with the Football Club today. A successful conclusion to the transaction is dependant on negotiations with a number of third parties. We expect that these negotiations will take approximately 7-10 days. Everyone's aim is to deliver a positive outcome for the benefit of the club." Rough translation: we need to persuade some of the outstanding debtors to take a hit/further rescheduling (basically the footballing creditors who must be paid in full, and the taxman who might accept this rather than an X pence in the pound offer from the administrators), some more to go away for good maybe with a little bit of cash (the bondholders who it's believed are still owed a large chunk of cash and would be owed more if we ever get promoted), and others to take a hike (the board - whose "loans" to the club would be last in the queue to be repaid in the event of administration but who are believed to have picked up at least the same amount of cash in "consultancy fees" and other related profits since the takeover). Will it happen? I'd like to think so, even if the one and only Allan Leighton's name keeps on getting linked with this bid. But if it doesn't - and that could be caused by just one party failing to take their medicine - then administration is waiting around the corner. Incidentally, rumours reach Jabba Towers that the fantastic price cuts in the clothing department of the club shops are down to the fact that Diadora will be walking away from the deal at the end of the season, and the club don't want to end up with another warehouse full of unsaleable gear (to go with last season's genius marketing ploy of sticking "Smith 17" on everything).
January 16: Contrasting views on the penalty from both managers after the game. Kevin Blackwell reckoned it was a harsh decision and had a dig at the ref with the usual "But I'm not saying anything about the officials" caveat: "We just don't seem to get the rub of the green in terms of decisions, that's for sure. I didn't think it was a penalty but I'm not going to condemn the referee because he has made his decision and we have to get on with it. I've not bothered speaking to him. If you say anything you only get criticised or fined and right now I need all the money I can get for the mortgage." But Lennie Lawrence thought the ref had got it right: "Richard got his toe to the ball and Neil Sullivan has committed himself. It was clear cut as far as I am concerned."
January 16: Cardiff winger Richard Langley has insisted that he didn't dive to win a penalty yesterday. He said: "No disrespect to the keeper, but he was a bit slow coming off his line. I think he mis-read the pass, and the ball held up. I saw him coming out and I just knocked the ball round him. He didn't stop and he took me right out. It wasn't a dive, and I don't think Sullivan can have any complaints about it. He has got no cause to. If you ask him, he took me out cleanly. I'm not the type to play for a free kick or a penalty." Skates over the fact that the ball was nearly out of play by the time contact was made, so poor was his control but he does have a point.
January 16: There's a suggestion from Ireland that a Leeds United XI could fly in to Gary Kelly's home town of Drogheda for some match practice and as a pre-season friendly for the home side, whose eircom League programme kicks off in March. Could be a good trip for both players and fans - though whether or not Kevin Blackwell will want to risk any injuries to his first team players just ahead of a crowded Easter/April programme is another matter.
January 16: Speaking on Radio 5's Sportsweek programme this morning, chairman Gerald Krasner once again talked up the prospects of the Stubbs consortium pulling off their takeover/investment plan. He said: "They are the first consortium that consists of true Leeds United supporters. That is why I have backed them, and I have not backed any of the other consortia as being serious... They are very serious contenders. They have been talking to us for a couple of months and I believe that if anybody is going to come in with new investment, these will be the people to do it." Krasner wouldn't set a date for the deal to go through though: "I thought when we bought the club originally it would take four weeks; it took 10 weeks, so it is a bit dangerous giving indications and raising expectations. Over the next few weeks, let's put it that way." He once again had a dig at Sebastien Sainsbury after the would-be saviour of Leeds failed to come up with fifty grand to cover the legal costs he was asking the club to incur as part of his bid: "They were causing havoc, quite honestly. They were running a media campaign despite confidentiality agreements with us. It was impossible to seriously negotiate with them and they were spoiling the other consortium who we are still talking to." And despite his hints of last week, he's still talking up the club's chances of avoiding administration: "We do not even consider the A-word. We have done 80 per cent of this job so far. We do not intend to fail at this stage. I am not looking as far as the end of the season, I am looking at this week at the moment. We understand the situation, but as I say, we are not considering that as an alternative. We are going to make this work."
January 15: Kevin Blackwell is continuing to take a pragmatic approach to managing Leeds United, doing his best to focus on the things he can control while the board let the finances implode around him. He knows administration is a possibility, but knows he can't do anything about it: "The chairman is a lot better advised on the finances of this football club and if that is what he says, then whatever will be, will be. How do we deal with that? We deal with the football, and that's all I will do until it happens. Until we face the realities of it, if and when it happens, then we will get on with life and move on. But I don't know what is going to happen. I can't say what is in the future, and I can't dwell on it. At this stage it's speculation, and you can't live your life based on that, but I can't worry about what's happening off the pitch because I've enough to worry me on it." He wasn't impressed with Sebastien Sainsbury's declared aim to oust him and replace him with Iain Dowie as soon as he took over, but Sainsbury's continued failure to deliver on his big financial promises make it a bit easier for Blackwell to shrug off the implied criticism of his management: "That upset me to a degree - but you treat anything like that lightly. He wasn't the owner of this football club... You take it with a pinch of salt and get on with the football."
January 15: Things must be getting really desperate. According to this morning's YP, Norman Stubbs has returned from his holidays early to resume discussions on his bid to take over - and he's been in talks with Allan Leighton. The YP says that Leighton's involvement will "add credibility" to Stubbs bid. Hello? McFly? Now I know that journalists aren't always blessed with the longest memories and aren't legally obliged to print common sense, but WHY ON EARTH WOULD BRINGING IN SOMEONE WHO WAS A LEADING MEMBER OF THE BOARD THAT RUINED US LEND CREDIBILITY TO ANYTHING? Although we'll never know exactly who authorised what in the mad spending spree, it's beyond dispute that his failure to execute his duties to the shareholders of Leeds United by questioning the blatantly shaky foundations of Ridsdale's business plan (remember Trevor Birch pointing out that Leeds would have needed to WIN the Champions League more or less every year for it to make sense) completely blow any credibility that his undoubtedly exemplary stewardship of the umpty-odd other companies who line his wallet might seem to give. Of course Stubbs might be asking Leighton for a few tips on how to walk away scot-free from such a financial shipwreck, but that's hardly comforting to us on the terraces.
January 15: Okay, ref Neale Barry wasn't quite as bad as we'd feared - and his decision to award a penalty to Cardiff early in the second half might not necessarily be one we all agreed with but in fairness to the bloke he did seem to look across to his assistant for a decision on whether or not Neil Sullivan had reached the ball first. On the negative side his wonderful positioning twice nearly took a Leeds defender out of the game giving Cardiff a couple of great goal chances. The teams? Well nothing we've not seen before. Early pressure from Leeds ended in a great close-passing move and Simon Walton's cool finish to give us an early lead and snuff out the last murmurs of noise from the small number of visiting fans. In the second half things changed totally: Aaron Lennon, Julian Joachim and David Healy barely saw the ball as the Leeds midfield was swamped and Jermaine Wright dropped off the face of the planet. Cardiff came into the game more and more, and if we're honest there wouldn't have been too many complaints if they'd turned their possession into a second goal, while we never quite followed through on our tactic of trying to beat their keeper by first giving him so little to do that he falls asleep. Okay, it's another point in the bag but with Gillingham winning this weekend it does mean that a 10-point deduction would put us right in the drop zone, and that's becoming a more and more relevant as the days go by.
January 15: Despite pleas from Peter Lorimer and Kevin Blackwell among others, some disgruntled Leeds fans failed to show that we're any different from the thugs and morons who have made our last two visits to South Wales such fun. The police didn't repeat their mistake of the Millwall game by letting the away fans out straight away - in fact they kept them back for 50 minutes after the game. But that didn't stop several hundred Leeds fans from hanging around and waiting for the gates to open before attempting to launch an attack on the Cardiff coaches and the police trying to keep order. There were 10 arrests after the game and the M621 was briefly closed. A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "At the conclusion of the match the Cardiff supporters were detained inside the ground with a view to their own safety, and they behaved extremely well. Unfortunately after making their way to the waiting coaches, Leeds supporters attacked police officers, with two sustaining minor injuries. One injured his back after being pulled from his horse which bolted, but fortunately was retrieved, while another injured his leg. There were 10 arrests for public order offences." What can I say: bloody geniuses. Not that there's many people out there who might want to put any money into the club anyway but let's see what we can do to attract as much negative publicity as possible just to make sure that we go out of business and no longer have a club to support.
January 15: Robbie Fowler scored once and set up Shaun Wright-Phillips for another as Manchester City had a tough 3-1 win over Palace this afternoon. Nick Barmby equalised for Hull against Peterborough just after half-time, and the home side then went into a 2-1 lead before being pegged back late on and being forced to settle for a 2-2 draw that sees them knocked off the top of the table. Andy Keogh continued to build his reputation in the lower leagues with a strike for Bury that gave them a 1-2 lead at his former loan club Scunthorpe, but the home side game back to win 3-2 with a goal three minutes from time. Finally Steve Guppy scored from a 25-yard free kick to bring Wycombe back to draw 2-2 with Swansea after being 2-0 behind.
January 15: Gerald Krasner is scheduled to be on Radio 5's Sportsweek programme tomorrow morning. It starts at 0900 - not sure when exactly he's on but you can always listen again on the net if you miss it: Sportsweek home page.
January 14: Former Leeds Youth striker Chris Armstrong has joined Stockport County. The 20-year-old has gone in on a short-term contract after being released by Queen of the South, where he failed to impress sufficiently after joining in the summer.
January 14: Chairman Gerald Krasner today won an award from the prestigious Stating The Bleeding Obvious Foundation when he told the world that administration was a possibility unless a new investor came forward to help shoulder the burden at Elland Road. He said: "Eventually, it will happen. It is not going to happen today or tomorrow, but unless something positive happens, it will happen. The financial situation has not been good since day one." He then trotted out the usual guff about how brilliantly they'd reduced the club's debts (by rescheduling some of them into the future, selling assets as a huge discount to their actual value to get a bit more cash, and investing in a bulk print run of form letters that tell creditors that the cheque is in the post). Norman Stubbs' bid is not quite dead yet, although its corpse needs a solid kicking a jolt from the National Grid to make it twitch convincingly. Stubbs will meet the board next week to discuss the way forward, but with the January wage bill and more tax debt to service in the coming fortnight, the board's options are fast disappearing and the camel's back is looking dangerously hay-laden.
January 14: Clarke Carlisle and Paul Butler return from suspension - and both have a good chance of making it into the starting line-up - depending on what formation Kevin Blackwell goes for. With Nathan Blake out, Blackwell's options appear to be to play Michael Ricketts up front - or finally use David Healy as a genuine striker, with either Danny Pugh filling in on the left or loan-signing Leandre Griffit getting his chance. Sean Gregan is also a doubt after a stomach bug laid him low this week. For the visitors, Peter Thorne is expected to be recalled after missing the Bluebirds' FA Cup game against Blackburn with Alan Lee dropping to the bench. Willie Boland, Joe Ledley and Paul Parry are all doubts and keeper Martyn Margetson is joined by fullback Gary Croft on the long-term absentee list. Finally - and just to round off a wonderful week - the man in black is our good friend Neale "Leeds are evil" Barry. It was Barry who set out the principle followed by Andy D'Urso in the infamous cup game in Cardiff, which basically said "The opposition can pull, elbow and kick Alan Smith without fear of punishment, but as soon as he tries to remove their arms from his shirt he gets sent off" in the Villa home match in 2001-02 - a game where he also allowed Lee Hendrie to get away with an attempt to break Danny Mills' leg with just a yellow card, allowing John Gregory the luxury of replacing a player who should have been having an early bath. So don't expect any favours.
January 14: Frazer Richardson says that the team are confident on the back of three league wins in four games - despite the deflating defeat at Brum last weekend. He said: "We are well capable of making a decent push [for a playoff place] as long as we play like we did last Saturday and don't concede sloppy goals. If we'd have got a goal last week it might have been a different story. It's ifs and buts. We have just got to take it from there into the Cardiff game and get three points. We go in with 100 per cent confidence in what we are doing and want to push for a play-off spot." He went on: "Confidence is high because we are playing some good football and we're working hard for each other.The whole of the season has been based around hard work for us and now we are putting in the performances we know we are capable of. If we keep doing what we are doing I am sure we will start to push up the table."
January 13: The board today boldly moved to call Chelsea's bluff on Scott Carson. They announced that there had been discussions with Chelsea, but that no conclusion had been reached and that Carson remained a Leeds player. However board spokesman Bryan Morris as good as admitted that Carson's Leeds days were numbered. He said: "We have done everything to keep him but if he wants to go we can't really stop him. We now have to get the best price for Leeds. Chelsea and Liverpool have made contact and discussions will continue."
January 13: Olivier Dacourt appears to have got himself a new agent since he left Leeds, but it's no surprise to learn that the player is being touted all over the place with less than three weeks of the transfer window remaining. Apparently Steve McClaren is a fan - particularly with George Boateng out injured - and Roma's financial position is only marginally more stable than the disaster of Leeds, so player sales or loans to get the wages off the books look likely. Dacourt's agent said: "I never said Olivier could leave Roma during the January transfer window. Dacourt likes to stay at Roma and has no intention to move to other clubs.Then we will see in June if it's the case to make a move. He gets along with [Roma coach] Del Neri, and when he is physically fit, he will return to action." Given what we know about AgentSpeak, I think the above needs no further translation or comment.
January 13: Leeds have been heavily linked with a move for Macedonia skipper Artim Sakiri - the man who effectively ended David Seaman's England career. Sakiri has been at West Brom since summer 2003 but has made little impact and would be available for a nominal fee. However Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell said that these rumours were total garbage: "There is absolutely no truth in the suggestions that we are signing the player. No one has spoken to anyone about him and I have got no interest in him whatsoever." And to stress the point: "He's not someone I've even watched. I don't know where these reports come from, and the only thing I can think of is that it has come from an agent whose player obviously wants to leave the club. How better to create an auction than by sticking Leeds United's name alongside him?" Well, apart from that last bit: let's face it, folks are hardly going to quake and tremble at the buying power of Krasner's Magic Wallet, are they!
January 13: The club today issued a statement asking supporters "to be on their best behaviour" for the visit of Cardiff on Saturday. After the well-documented events of the FA Cup tie at Ninian Park, followed by a less-than-wonderful welcome for the league game down there, there is a suspicion that off-the-field activities might just hit the headlines, with gangs from several clubs in the area thought likely to turn up in Leeds City Centre with the intention of having a confrontation with the visiting Cardiff fans. The statement from the club read: "Strict and stringent measures have been put in place ahead of the game to ensure the safety of all spectators. Club officials have been working very closely with the West Yorkshire Police, South Wales Police and Cardiff City and hope that the measures implemented will help minimise the risk of crowd trouble."
January 13: Seth Johnson today said it was great to finally get out on the pitch for a real game of football after facing Sunderland Reserves the other night. Johnson's 9-month absence from the game has been frustrating for the player and fans as well - and if he gets back to anything like his previous form he should do well in this league. Johnson said: "The manager spoke to me before and said he only wanted 45 minutes from me. The main thing is to just get back playing and get a few more games under my belt. We've got a friendly next week against Darlington, so I hope to play a bit longer there. Now I am back playing I just want to feel as sharp as I can, and when I'm turning and stuff I don't feel my usual self but I am sure that will come with games." He spoke about his layoff and the problems he has faced: "I was scheduled to be back a while ago but I have been out for longer than I should have been. I've had four operations now since I first did my knee. I've come back at the same time as Eirik but he's been different and done brilliantly because he's come back earlier. I have had some dark times, especially when I first did the injury and had the operation. It got infected and I had to have it done again and that was one of the lowest times for me because I was really ill as well." And he's looking forward to doing what he can for the team this season: "I need more games before I can think about the first team and I am a bit rusty. I want to be able to make a difference to the team, if I can't do that then I won't be playing, simple as."
January 13: The countdown to administration advanced a little further this evening as Sebastien Sainsbury finally realised just how big and smelly a drain he would be throwing his money down and announced that his bid to buy the club was off. It seems that it would take around £40 million to take over the club in any sensible form - not the still seemingly overpriced £25 million that was on the table before, and with losses of around £10 million likely to crystallise in the next 6 months, he was faced with little choice. Sainsbury said: "I am really depressed. I really wanted to get something done for the sake of Leeds United and their fans and I am sick to my stomach that I have not been able to do so. But upon completion of due diligence by our potential funders, the true scale of Leeds United's debt and liabilities have become clear. It was obviously more than we, they, and many others had envisaged." The board indicated that negotiations were continuing with "other interested parties", but as I've been saying all along: only if you are Abramovich-scale rich and even then don't mind pouring an eight digit sum down the toilet is a takeover of the club in its current form a runner. Krasner and co have failed to get through 12 months after their over-generous, over-leveraged gamble to buy a club that still had a chance of staying up, and now there is an urgent need to face reality and call in the administrators. Sainsbury said he hadn't given up hope - and still thought he might be able to help stave off administration: "We never had all our eggs in one basket and we do have a possible contingency plan. Over the next 24 hours we shall be considering our options, but I have developed a real affection for this football club and I still hope there's a way to save Leeds United. There's no way I want to see it go into administration, but should that happen I will not try to rescue it. I want to make it clear it has always been a case of Leeds or nothing for me. I will not be bidding for any other club." And maybe someone needs to dial a West London number to enquire if that bid for Scott Carson is still on the table...
January 12: The reserve side were in action last night against Sunderland at Wakefield, but the most significant thing about the game was the return from injury of Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke. Johnson hasn't played for 9 months since breaking down at Blackburn - where he was replaced by Bakke in his last first team action other than a brief run out in a pre-season game in Sweden. Both players had a run for the first 45 minutes and neither seems to have suffered an adverse reaction as a result. Sunderland went in front straight from the kick-off, but Andy Keogh brought the scores level just before the break. Nick Gray - Eddie's son - gave United the lead barely five minutes into the second period, but Michael Bridges showed he still knows where the goal is by equalising for the visitors with 25 minutes remaining (now all he needs to do is repeat the feat in a REAL game). Kevin Blackwell was very happy to see his pair of injured midfielders come through their test unscathed. He said: "They haven't played for a long time so we have to tread carefully with both of them. They have to be built up slowly to avoid more problems and they'll have a few more reserve team games before we can consider them for first team duty. When you've been out for as long as they have it takes time to build up your fitness again, and we do need them fully fit, so they just have to keep working hard and we'll take it from there." Leeds are apparently trying to arrange a behind-closed-doors friendly next week to give the pair another run in the absence of a reserve game.
January 12: The participation of Ken Bates in the race to take over at Elland Road is still being suggested and denied. Sources close to the Sainsbury camp indicate that Bates has expressed an interest in joining forces with Sainsbury to take over at Leeds, and although Bates is publicly denying this, there's some suggestion that this could be to avoid a pre-emptive backlash from the fans similar to that faced by the Richmonds last year. The Stubbs bid appears to have dropped off the radar, although there is a school of thought that says that both of the recent bidding groups have been attempting to maintain the board's interest in a sale with the intention of getting as much information and winning as many concessions from the current owners as possible, while they were in reality waiting for administration to slash the price and remove any obstacles or onerous financial beartraps that the current owners have left scattered around.
January 12: Chelsea could be on the point of doing Leeds a big favour by splashing out a cool million quid for the services of Scott Carson. The attraction for Carson - other than the no-doubt improved pay at Stamford Bridge - is hard to see immediately, since he would clearly be behind Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini in the pecking order, so unless Cudicini is set to depart West London this month Carson will be pushed to even get into the reserves down there. Meanwhile the money from Chelsea will almost certainly go straight to the taxman (unless the board want to spend a very long time explaining to HMG how the money mysteriously got diverted between the time Abramovich's cheque cleared and the time they sent a rubber one to the Revenue). So maybe this will stave off administration until Easter: if we manage to offload Doobs (or at least his wages), Killa, Aaron Lennon and Frazer Richardson we might even make it to the end of the season!
January 12: Despite the fact that Kevin Blackwell is running out of strikers, Andy Keogh is set to leave the club on a month's loan. Bury are in the frame this time for the young front man who had a good loan spell at Scunthorpe earlier this season.
January 12: The Youth team were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by Fulham at Elland Road tonight. There were no goals in two hours of open play, and so it was down to penalties with the visitors winning by 5-4 after sub Sam Hird failed to convert his spot kick.
January 12: The Football League will publish figures tomorrow detailing how much each club has paid to agents as part of an attempt at transparency and to discourage under-the-counter payments. And guess who is right at the top of the league? Yep, Leeds United are responsible for nearly ONE THIRD of the five million quid that went to line the pockets of the spivs and wideboys as the board were forced into a selling spree to bring in the cash to get the debt down. Chairman Gerald Krasner justified the fees on the grounds that they had facilitated a massive decrease in player wages and insisted that they wouldn't be spending anywhere near as much in the next 6 months. In fact, they're unlikely to spend much money at all in the next six months for the very simple reason that there's none left to spend.
January 11: Glenn Hoddle is apparently keen to show off his managerial judgement in the transfer market. And the player who he is intending to make his first target is... Michael Duberry! Good luck with your purchase Glenda - it will need a bit more than Eileen's faith-healing to fix that one.
January 11: In the hope of getting a few more bodies in, Leeds have pulled the Brighton home game back from Tuesday 22 February to the FA Cup 4th round weekend - Saturday 29 January. Good news for those of us who find it difficult to make it to those midweekers, bad news for the decorating and gardening which might just get put on the back burner.
January 11: With 20 days of the transfer window remaining, a possible bit of good news for the club. Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke return to reserve team action against Sunderland tonight. Bakke has come back from a tendinitis problem, and Johnson has been out for 9 months with a ligament injury. Bakke told the official site: "I just am keeping my fingers crossed that everything stays fine and then hopefully you'll see me back in February. I am not worrying about my knee anymore because that feels like it's going to be fine now, it's just a matter of building up the strength in my legs and general overall fitness to be ready for matches. It's just the fitness at the moment that's lacking, I need that if I want to get back into the team." A couple of reserve games and maybe someone will take a punt.
January 11: Young Scottish player Jamie Winter has signed for Aberdeen on a free. He signs on a two and a half year contract after failing to break into the first team at Leeds. Dons boss Jimmy Calderwood said: "He's only 19, but he's a good passer of the ball and has good vision for his age. I will see how he goes for the rest of the week, but all being well he might be in the squad for Sunday."
January 11: Leeds Ladies' reward for getting to the 5th Round of the FA Cup is just about the most difficult tie they could ask for: Arsenal Ladies. The game will be played at Garforth on Sunday 30 January. Ladies boss Julie Chipchase said: "It isn't the easiest draw and didn't suprise me when Arsenal came out, but if we are to go all the way we must come up against them sometime, so why not in the fifth round. Arsenal are the best team we have played this season, but it was a narrow 1-0 defeat away and we really didn't play as well as we know we can. If we can get a few more of our players back from injury by then, who knows, and we have quite a few players with big game experience. We respect them but we dont fear them."
January 11: Ken Bates and the club both denied any suggestion that he was involved in takeover talks at Elland Road. Sebastien Sainsbury had said that he'd discussed a possible investment with Bates as he tries to keep his bid prospects alive, but Bates said: Speaking from his new base in the south of France, he said: "This is absolute rubbish. I know nothing about it. The only thing keeping me busy is unpacking my shopping from the supermarket." Chairman Gerald Krasner also indicated he'd had no contact with the former Chelsea chairman: Krasner said: "I have never met Ken Bates, or spoken with him or any of his representatives. Whether he is talking with one of the two consortiums bidding for the club I don't know." So that's that rumour shot down. Next please...
January 10: Nathan Blake was set to go for a scan today to confirm the diagnosis of a ruptured hamstring. Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell said: "Nathan is in a bad way and has ruptured his hamstring. It is back to the drawing board and I will have to see if I can come up with something else." Brian Deane is still a month away from fitness, and the only alternative on the club's books appears to be Michael Ricketts. Blackwell added: "I have been pulling rabbits out of the hat for sometime and think I am getting quite skilled at it so let's hope I can find another." Blake will continue to work with the players and club physios as much as he can before he returns to Leicester though. Blackwell said: "We will keep him at the club for as long as we can because he's a great lad and we enjoy having him around."
January 10: Kevin Blackwell defended his selection of Michael Duberry for the FA Cup defeat at St Andrews on the grounds that he needed to make up the numbers and was struggling for defensive cover. Blackwell said: "If I hadn't got him in I would have been struggling for a squad. So what do I do? If we concede goals with him in you get slaughtered for your decision that way, and if he doesn't play and we still concede, we get slaughtered for it that way." He went on: "If you look at your playing staff and have a big centre-half there and you don't play him, and then bring someone out of midfield to play at centre-half, people start questioning your sanity and at the end of the day the lad has been playing every week." This from the man playing a centre back and a right back at left back, a left back and a centre back in midfield and a blatantly overweight and unfit player for 90 minutes of every game he hasn't managed to get himself suspended for. As for the man of the moment, Duberry said in this morning's Yorkshire Posty that he couldn't see a future at Elland Road but understood the problems involved in sorting out a transfer. He said: "I did well at Stoke but don't know if they will come back in for me. It is no secret that my wages are scaring clubs off, not a lot of people want to take that sort of thing on. I am in a strange situation because if I am to go anywhere there will be a lot of things to sort out." Well call me stupid mate, but if you want to play first team football somewhere, then just maybe - after a four million quid move to Leeds and playing just 78 games in five and a half years at twenty-odd grand a week for the club - you can just about manage to take a pay cut if you really want to establish yourself somewhere else.
January 10: Julian Joachim spoke up in praise of his young team-mates and their performances at Birmingham and said now was the time to move forward and build on that game. He said: "The Birmingham game was a step up in class, but none of them looked off the pace. They shone. It should give them all the encouragement they need to play at the top level. They know they've done well and had a run-out against a Premiership side." He went on: "We created a lot and I think we came away with some credit. If we'd put our chances away it would have given us a great opportunity. Two-nil is a funny scoreline and we said at half-time that we had to keep at it. If we'd have popped one in we'd have had them on the back foot... We've got to keep at it - and keep doing what we're doing. The performance and the experience should stand us in good stead. It's important that we take the good things away, keep our good run in the league going and make sure we keep climbing the table."
January 10: Ken Bates was today said to be talking to Sebastien Sainsbury about joining his group in their bid to take over Leeds United. Just when you thought you'd been asset-stripped to the bone, a man that knows more than any other football club chairman about how to walk away from a financial basket case with a fat wallet and smelling of roses is considering a jaunt up the M1 from his current seat at Hillsborough. Of course, this could be just more random takeover rumours, and just the sort of thing that might be seen as giving some credibility to Sainsbury's efforts to persuade the board and the banks that he has the money and a viable business plan, and far be it from me to suggest that a rather public meeting at the Dorchester and a well-timed press report have happened just a little too conveniently...
January 09: Kevin Blackwell said that it was a lack of a cutting edge that did for his side's FA Cup hopes as they went down 3-0 at Brum. But Blackwell was happy with the players' spirit and attitude. He said: "I was proud of the side. The difference between the teams was Premiership quality where it matters most and that was in the penalty area. But last season we came here and got absolutely battered and you couldn't say that was the case. If we had taken our chances it might have been closer."
January 09: Nathan Blake has managed to rupture - not just pull - his hamstring and could be out for the remainder of his one-month loan spell. The striker pulled up after less than 20 minutes at St Andrews and now looks set for a length spell with the physios before he takes the field again.
January 08: Despite not being flavour of the month with many Leeds fans (hi there!), Michael Duberry says he'll do his best for the club when he turns out at St Andrews today. He said: "I enjoyed it [at Stoke], but I'm back now because of injuries and suspensions and I've got a job to do. I'll get on with it. I always wear a smile and I'm on a high. I'm confident and despite what things are said I know what I can do and what I can't do. That part of my game hasn't changed since I was 17." And he went on: "I don't know what will happen, it's down to the manager. I can only do what I can do. I'm confident in my ability and I know what I can do." It's still likely that he will return to Stoke if an agreement over his wages or paying up his contract can be done between the two clubs and he said: "Everything was going well and it was a happy time for me and I'd like to thank everyone there. Now I'm back here hoping to continue my form."
January 08: Kevin Blackwell says that he wants the club to start climbing back up to the top level - and he doesn't want to wait too long for it. After three wins in four games over Christmas, he's hoping some of that form can continue in the FA Cup and points to another significant tie just three years ago: "People see Cardiff as the trigger for Leeds' decline, but it's been a bloody long time since then and it's been a long slog. I hope I can point at Birmingham and say it will be a different trigger. Certainly, it would be nice to change from looking up the hill to looking down one." He went on: "But now the results are good and we've only lost one of our last seven, which isn't bad considering we've got such a young side. For the first time in a long time, we've got a positive outlook. It's like anything else when you're building something and you've got to make sure the foundations are right... I want to be successful here and I know it may take time, but I want it to happen tomorrow, not next year or the year after."
January 08: This year's FA Cup run lasted more or less 22 minutes. By that time, injury had forced Kevin Blackwell to make a change up front and at the back, and Leeds had conceded two goals. In fairness, it wasn't the worst performance in the world, and Leeds dominated the corners and shots count so it wasn't all one-way traffic. But as is usually the case in games like these it was the more incisive approach play and finishing that made the difference, and when Darren Carter scored his second and Brum's third just past the hour, it was all over for sure. Now we can really concentrate on the league...
January 07: Kevin Blackwell indicated that he expected Scott Carson to leave the club - and that was the key reason he was missing from the reserve side hammered by Boro this week. Blackwell said: "Scott was not injured, I chose not to play him in the reserves. There has been a lot of speculation about Scott and we daren't risk him because of that. I badly want Scott to stay, but if he is to leave I would not want to jeopardise any possible move by him getting injured." But where would Carson go to? Liverpool had been mentioned as a possibility, with Chris Kirkland's inability to stay fit for more than two games at a time calling his long-term future into question. But Anfield boss Rafa Benitez ruled out a move for the Leeds keeper: "We have had many offers from agents to sign young goalkeepers but we are looking for an experienced goalkeeper. We have two good keepers here and Chris Kirkland will be back in three months. We want to sign someone on loan instead. It's not likely that we will be signing Scott Carson now."
January 07: Board spokesman Bryan Morris tried to inject some reality into the fevered transfer speculation surrounding almost half of Kevin Blackwell's squad (if you read all of the press). Morris indicated the board were trying to take a pragmatic view, despite the financial problems. He said: "The transfer window will undoubtedly hold a challenging time for Leeds United. Kevin Blackwell is doing a fantastic job in creating what is fast becoming a winning team. The board is keen to continue supporting Kevin and our aspiration is to keep the current team intact. Any offer that is made will have to be considered on its individual merits. An outstanding offer from a Premiership club would be good news for one of our highly-rated players and we would have to decide if a deal would also have a mutual benefit for the club. I would like to see our strong team unchanged, but it could ultimately prove damaging to the club if we did not weigh up the positive aspects that any deal could hold and act upon that accordingly. Like our loyal fans, we want what is best for Leeds United. The recent wins have been fantastic and we are doing everything in our power to ensure this continues." Other rumours suggest that Sebastien Sainsbury has insisted that there be no further sales if his takeover is to progress - although the alternative of administration and subsequent investigations into the possibility that the club have been trading while insolvent might just focus the minds of the directors. After all, they will find it very hard to justify why they can afford to make a new signing like David Healy barely a month before missing out on a payment to the taxman.
January 07: Kevin Blackwell says that his young side will be under no pressure at all at St Andrews tomorrow: as underdogs they should feel free to go after a Premier League scalp. He said: "For the first time this season the pressure is not on us, it's on our opponents. Everywhere we have been we've been seen as the big boys in town. Well, we're the smaller boys tomorrow and that'll be a nice change." And he added: "A lot of people wrote us off a few months ago but the boys have shown there is life here and we'll fight. The boys will go there and give their all tomorrow and you never know. We'll certainly have a go at them." Blackwell is looking for a big game from his young players. He said: "The good thing for our youngsters is that they are playing at a massive club and have big crowds anyway, so hopefully when we go to Birmingham that doesn't matter, but certainly the test is to see how well they do against Premiership players. When you look at people like Simon Walton and Aaron Lennon only 17 in midfield and then people like Danny Pugh, Matthew Kilgallon and Frazer Richardson who are in their early twenties, and David Healy's only 25, we are a young side and it will be a nice early test in their careers. Even though we go there as underdogs people still look at us as Leeds and say we should be looking to get a result there."
January 06: With Jamie McMaster the only player with any sort of first team experience in the side, the reserves went down to a 0-5 defeat to Middlesbrough last night. Boro fielded plenty of names in their side - Ehiogu, Riggott, Parnaby and Christie to mention but a few - so it's not that surprising that they triumphed over an inexperienced Leeds side. To make matters worse for Leeds, Ian Morris was shown a red card after coming on as a sub and getting involved in a scrum after a poor tackle left one of the Boro players in a heap.
January 06: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that he's happy to see the back of 2004 and is hoping for better things in 2005. He said: "It has to be the worst year in living memory I would think. To almost go out of business totally, to have lost every player of any note, and then we've sold our ground and training ground. I am sure if fans had sat down two and a half years ago and written that script they would have been laughed out, and maybe even kicked out of town because it was just something you couldn't think of." Speaking to the YEP, he added: "We have had to suffer the torment of seeing a great club on its knees, but out of adversity comes triumph and we have to believe that this club will come back to where it should be and there is no doubt it should be competing at the highest level... I think the signs of recovery are starting to show. It will take time to turn the club around but I am more than happy to see the back of 2004 as a Leeds fan."
January 06: Leeds today signed Southampton's young French winger Leandre Griffit on a one-month loan. Griffit joined Saints from Amiens last summer, and scored twice last season in just two starts and three substitute appearances. But why, you might ask, do we need Griffit when we've got our very own nippy right-winger in Aaron Lennon? Well Kevin Blackwell's quote earlier today gives us a hint. He said that the predators were circling with the transfer window open and Leeds still in deep financial trouble. The board have, however, had the guts to turn down offers for Lennon and Scott Carson already - although they presumably are aware of other teams' interest in the players to not bite the very first ridiculous offer that comes through the fax machine. Blackwell said: "Scott Carson has been hotly tipped to be leaving the club and now someone has come in for Aaron. And I am worried that Simon Walton could also be involved, and even my top scorer David Healy is another one I worry about. People will look at the club and realise we are vulnerable due to finances and we will have to deal with predators looking to pick off your best players. Just as we are starting to build something here one hopes that we are allowed to continue. But it all out of my hands, the board are dealing with finances and I hope they will make the right decision." The arrival of Griffit might just be a hint that those decisions are not going the manager's way.
January 06: Peter Reid's record as a manager is starting to look a little tattered after the ex-Leeds boss today parted company with Coventry "by mutual consent". Reid had been at Highfield Road for just 7 months and his side are now heading towards the drop zone, with four defeats on the bounce leaving them in 20th spot. Adrian Heath takes over for the FA Cup tie with Crewe at the weekend.
January 06: New signing Gylfi Einarsson said today that he was over the moon to finally get on the field for Leeds in the Crewe game - and he's promising us some goals. Speaking to the official website, he said: "I will score some goals for Leeds - I can promise that much, especially with the way we played in that game when we got so many crosses into the box. I like to get forward and given the chance I hope to get some goals." And he's hoping to force his way into the side - although he clearly has to get past a few of Kev's inexplicable midfield favorites first: "There are a lot of games coming up and I'm ready but I know there is plenty of competition for places at this club and I will just try my best to get in the team."
January 06: Alan Maybury underwent a medical at Leicester this morning as he got set to link up with his former Hearts boss, Craig Levein. Maybury is out of contract at the end of the season, so is available on a free or for a nominal fee as he returns to England after three years with Hearts.He appeared 18 times for Leeds in a 5 year spell, but never scored any goals, and has been capped 9 times by Ireland. Levein said: "I am confident they will bring a lift to everyone connected with Leicester."
January 06: Simon Johnson says that he has accepted that he has no future at Elland Road, and that he's making the most of his loan spell at Doncaster. He said: "I've been pushed out at Leeds over the last few years and I realise it's definitely about time I started getting some regular first team football." And he said: "I'm enjoying it here at Doncaster, playing competitive matches regularly instead of reserve football. I thought I did all right [on loan at Sunderland]. I played two games, out of position, and thought that would be my chance with Leeds. But it wasn't to be." And he pointed the finger at a manager who has picked Michael Ricketts - a player who clearly isn't interested in playing for Leeds - ahead of him: "I don't think I've been given enough opportunities, but the gaffer has got his own plans and I'm obviously not part of them."
January 05: Leeds' trip to Turf Moor has been brought forward - but only by a couple of hours. On police advice, the game will now kick off at 1230 rather than 1500, but still takes place on Saturday 5 February.
January 05: Clarke Carlisle today hit out at the referee who showed him two yellow cards at Coventry. Carlisle said: "Both were diabolical decisions. The first card was my first foul of the game. I said to the referee that I thought it was a bit harsh and he said: 'Okay son, but it's still a yellow'. But there was no contact with the second one. We planned to have a look at the video but I didn't touch him, I was mugged." Any recourse to the video will be futile given that Carlisle's ban comes into effect straight away, but we can only hope that his criticism of the ref is treated with the same leniency shown towards Jamie Carragher. Not playing for Liverpool is a bit of a disadvantage in these circumstances though, so expect an extended ban for Carlisle opening his mouth and speaking honestly. He added: "It is going to cost me a game now and I'll just have to get on with it. It's a shame because you want to play in big games and I really wanted to play at Birmingham on Saturday."
January 05: Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it has. With Pa