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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


March 27: Ben Parker's loan to Darlington has been extended to the end of the season as the last moves of the year were finalised on deadline day. So unless there's a major emergency that wipes out half the squad, Gary McAllister now knows exactly what resources he - and all the other teams - will have available for the promotion run-in.

March 27: Chief exec Shaun Harvey has defended the arrangement which will see commentary denied to all but a few Leeds fans next season. The Yorkshire Radio deal was good for the club he said - pointing out that the station was now 95%-owned by the club as Bates post-administration reconstruction continued. Harvey said that all the BBC had to do was pay more money if they wanted to be allowed to broadcast the match commentary again. So whose side do we take here? Without knowing the details of the commercials on offer, it's hard to say. Are Leeds asking for vastly more money than other clubs in the same league (or even Championship level)? Or are the BBC being less than reasonable in their offer, and expecting the family jewels for the price of a paste bauble? If someone wants to leak a piece of paper or two, I'm here to help....

March 25: Gary McAllister says that just because he has allowed Ben Parker to go out on loan and failed to pick Paul Huntington, it doesn't mean they don't have a future at the club. The manager said: "Ben has come up through the ranks of the Academy and I'm keen to keep that tradition going... Both him and Paul have big futures at the club."

March 23: With the win over Walsall dragging the team to just 2 points off a playoff spot, the next 4 games will decide the fate of the season - and it's all down to the players to decide what happens next. With automatic promotion-chasing Doncaster and Carlisle and closer rivals Brighton and arch-whingers Leyton Orient on the fixture list, we should have a pretty good idea by 2pm on April 12 whether or not we can book that May holiday or whether we need to wait until June.

March 22: When Jermaine Beckford missed a sitter in the first few minutes and then saw another shot zip wide, I don't think I was alone in having a few concerned thoughts. However it seems that the presence of Gary McAllister is starting to rub off on some of the players, and the team produced some neat passing football to carve out more openings before Beckford muscled his way past a defender, took the ball past the keeper and agonisingly scuffed a shot goalwards that came close to being cleared rather than giving Leeds a half-time advantage. The second half saw more of the same, but with just the one goal separating the teams it was understandable that a few nerves crept into the crowd and the players. But Beckford popped up again with a good finish to seal the win and hopefully kick off a final promotion push. Kilkenny and Howson both played well in midfield, the defence looked pretty solid, and although you can't ignore Beckford's brace, Dougie Freedman was the key to this victory, with his positioning and intelligent movement providing the space that Beckford exploited so well.

March 21: Andrew Hughes is suspended for the visit of Walsall, so Gary McAllister will probably pick one of Frazer Richardson, Seb Carole or Peter Sweeney as a midfield replacement. Jonathan Douglas is in the squad but is unlikely to start until he's a little closer to full match fitness.

March 19: Jonathan Douglas is continuing his fight back from injury and turned out for the reserves in their 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night. Anthony Elding scored both Leeds' goals in the game, which also saw Ivory Coast international triallist Georges Ba turn out for Leeds.

March 18: Casper Ankergren has been charged with "improper conduct" which sounds like it should be something which takes place in a public toilet, but in fact relates to Leeds' visit to Swindon. It is alleged that he threw something at the Swindon fans at the end of Leeds' victory at the County Ground, and the keeper now has until April 1 to decide how to respond.

March 17: From next season, BBC Radio Leeds will no longer be broadcasting match commentary after the club declined to renew a deal that has seen local radio station bring all the latest goals and incidents from the games for the last 40 years. Instead digital Yorkshire Radio (prop K Bates) will be your only source for live commentary and bland praise of the Almighty Ken and Those Upon Whom He Allows His Shadow To Fall.

March 17: Andy Hughes' "handball" at Port Vale on Saturday not only saw him give away a penalty when the ball only hit his head, it also gave rise to his 10th booking of the season, which means he will now miss the vital games against promotion rivals Walsall and Brighton.

March 16: Leeds Ladies will face Arsenal in the Women's FA Cup Final after a penalty shoot-out win over Everton at Southport today. Keeper Carly Telford saved a spot kick during the game and then saw the same Everton player blast the ball over the bar after 2 hours of goalless play took the game to penalties. Arsenal hammered Lincoln 1-5 at Sincil Bank to book their place in the Final which will take place on May 5 at the City Ground in Nottingham.

March 15: Games against relegation-threatened sides should be meat and drink to a club chasing promotion. And if you face the bottom side of all then 3 points are essential if you want to claim a playoff spot. So the fact that we blew a 0-2 lead and then failed to hang on to a 2-3 advantage for 5 minutes at the end spells trouble for our promotion hopes. Two well-taken goals by Dougie Freedman on top of Rui Marques' opener should have been more than enough to despatch Port Vale, but an injury-time scramble saw Vale grab a share of the points. That leaves us 10th in the table, and although we're only 2 points off the playoff zone, there look to be 9 clubs in the hunt for 3 playoff spots (unless Carlisle totally blow up). With 9 games remaining, I can't see anything less than 24 points being enough to do the business - so that case we've submitted to the arbitration panel had better have more legs than the London Marathon.

March 14: Experienced sports lawyer Richard Cramer rates Leeds' chances of a successful appeal against the 15-point deduction as 1 in 4. But he said: "A few weeks ago, I thought it was bleak. But having seen the legal documents, I think the prospects have improved. I think there's probably a 25-30% chance of winning." He went on: "It's a very well presented case, and Leeds United have clearly worked very hard, which is not surprising as there's a huge amount at stake. There are significant hurdles to overcome. Probably the biggest hurdle is that Leeds actually signed a document to say they would take the Golden Share but they would accept the 15-point deduction." Cramer reckons that some penalty might stand - but there is a reasonable chance it won't be the full 15 points, and in the current circumstances that would be very useful indeed.

March 14: Matt Heath will join Colchester on a one-month loan to provide them with defensive cover during a bit of an injury crisis. The 26-year-old has been told he's well down the pecking order at Elland Road and is likely to leave when his contract expires in the summer.

March 12: International callups for Tresor Kandol, Lubo Michalik and Seb Sorsa have resulted in Leeds' game at Huddersfield to be shifted from 25 March to 15 April. Sorsa is in Finland's squad for their game in Bulgaria, Michalik is required by Slovakia for a friendly and Kandol could win his first cap for Congo in their game against Algeria.

March 12: Tore Andre Flo has decided to call time on his career after the signing of Dougie Freedman made it crystal clear that he had little chance of regaining a place in the Leeds squad. Flo's signing by Dennis Wise was a bit of a gamble given his injury problems and he was seldom able to get himself fit enough for a decent run in the squad: his debut saw him score and then break his foot. The 34-year-old has netted just 4 times in 24 games, and said: "I loved my time at Leeds and I just wish I could have been a lot more free of injury. I'd like to thank everyone in and around Leeds for their support. It was great to be a part of the club, and I'm very happy to have played for Leeds." He went on: "I talked it over with my family as it's a big decision. My wife is pregnant, I have been commuting, and I will be able to see my three children a lot more." Even though he's the one wielding the axe, Gary McAllister had words of praise for the Norwegian: "The time I did work with him here he was first class, but not only a first-class professional, also a fantastic player. I played against him many times, and during his spell at Chelsea - which was probably his best spell - he was a quality player who was always a threat." Chairman Ken - who knew him well from their shared time at Stamford Bridge - chimed in: "He's a great example for young professionals to look at." Bates added: "I've nothing but admiration for Tore Andre Flo... My personal thanks go to him. He has been a great player throughout his career and I would like to wish him all the best for the future."

March 11: Gary McAllister has told Matt Heath that he's free to find a loan club for the rest of the season - and it looks highly unlikely that his contract will be extended when it runs out in the summer. The manager said: "Matt was one of the players I sat down and told him there were two or three players ahead of him. His attitude has been excellent, but if he can find himself a club to go to we'll certainly look at that."

March 11: Loan striker Dougie Freedman says that he was persuaded to come to Elland Road by the chance to be part of a historic victory when the team win promotion after the Football League's vindictive 15-point penalty. But he's not talking up his ability or talking down the current squad. He said: "I'm here to try and help the lads and add that bit of experience. The way the lads have been playing I may not get a game, but I'd take that on the chin if we keep winning. If they do have a dip in form the manager knows I'm on the bench and can do my bit."

March 11: After all this time I guess I should expect the unexpected from Leeds - but to lose to a relegation-bound outfit like Cheltenham home and away is plumbing new depths. Automatic promotion is all but gone - and a couple more results like tonight's and we may end up missing out on the playoffs. Of course we might just manage to go through the rest of the season without dropping a point, but anything less than promotion this season will almost certainly spell the end of Gary McAllister's stint in charge and could have serious implications on the make-up of the squad and our chances of escape next time around.

March 06: Gary McAllister says the club should make the effort to hang on to Angolan centreback Rui Marques when his contract runs out in the summer. Marques' absence for the African Nations Cup coincided with the recent run of poor form and his return has brought some much-needed stability at the back. Marques will probably wait to see which division Leeds are playing in next season since he's clearly a class above the current level. McAllister said: "My contract doesn't go beyond May at the moment but my advice and recommendation is to keep him. He's a first-class player and a good man to have around the football club."

March 06: Leyton Orient boss Martin Ling is whining that Leeds' challenge to the 15-point penalty is unfair and that his club will be taking to the legal field if they blow a promotion spot. Ling said: "My big gripe with any change now is that we've been involved in a race all season in which Leeds have been 15 points behind us all. Indeed, we've factored that into all our plans." What? You mean you've assumed that you don't have to try as hard because you can lose 5 games and still be ahead of Leeds (provided only 5 other clubs finish ahead of you)? If you can plan to that level of detail and work with so many variables you should making billions on an investment bank's trading floor not managing a tiny tinpot third division football club. Gary McAllister is avoiding the controversy: "My philosophy will be not to get involved in it at all. I'll sit back and take notice of what people are saying but my job here is to get us out of this division and win points, so as much as I won't respond, I will be taking note."

March 06: It looks like Dougie Freedman has had a change of heart and will now join Leeds on loan to the end of the season. Gary McAllister said that the last few details were being sorted, but barely 24 hours after Freedman had indicated he wanted to remain at Selhurst Park, he now seems likely to be at Leeds and even in the squad for Saturday's visit of Bouremouth.

March 05: Gary McAllister looks to have made his mind up about what needs fixing and what can wait until next season as a rash of loan deals hit the books. Out has gone Ian Westlake to Brighton, Leon Constantine to Oldham and Curtis Weston to Scunthorpe. There's a potential minor fly in the ointment with the departure of Stephen O'Halloran - back to Villa after injuring himself in the warmup at the weekend - so maybe we could see another defender arriving unless Macca decides to make the best of what he's got. McAllister is still targetting Palace's experienced frontman Dougie Freedman but with a possible testimonial at Selhurst Park in the summer, the 33-year-old wants to try to hang around and break back into their team.

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