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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 October, 2003, 07:50 GMT
Leeds Utd posts record 50m loss
Trevor Birch
Trevor Birch is to become Leeds' chief executive
Leeds United have announced losses of almost 50m for the year - a record annual loss for a Premiership football club.

The club reported pre-tax losses of 49.5m ($82.6m), which amounted to 25.4m before transfers were taken into account.

Today's announcement to the Stock Exchange also confirmed that Trevor Birch will become chief executive on November 1.

It is understood the former Chelsea chief will take over the day-to-day running of the club.

The move will leave chairman Professor John McKenzie free to concentrate on resolving the Elland Road club's finances. Despite a year of frantic cost-cutting and players sales, Leeds' debt rose slightly to 78m.

Costs cut

But the process has seen the club's assets stripped - with their value falling to just over 60m from 109m last year.

Why does everybody always want to knock Leeds down all the time? We have turned the corner and we are on our way back
Prof John McKenzie, Leeds chairman
Prof McKenzie has already implemented a number of redundancies in a bid to save 5m a year - but the one-off costs linked to that and paying off former manager Terry Venables cost the club 7.2m.

Prof McKenzie said: "We have taken 20m of costs out of the business and rebuilt the management team.

"As such, it is now possible to begin to look forward with some confidence."

He added that Leeds should move into profit after the current financial year, provided the club did well in the Premier League.

Second from bottom in the English top flight, the club also said turnover fell by 21% to 64m, while its debt stood at 78m, from 77.9m a year ago.

The club blamed 36% fall in television income and a 9% decline in television and merchandising revenues.

Despite seeing the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Jonathan Woodgate, Robbie Fowler, Robbie Keane, Lee Bowyer and Olivier Dacourt leave during the past 12 months, the club's wages bill rose by 3m.

'Corner turned'

Meanwhile, it also made a loss of 17m in player trading.

Prof McKenzie told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Why does everybody always want to knock Leeds down all the time? We have turned the corner and we are on our way back.

"There will yet another opportunity for fans and others to invest in the first part of next year.

"We will not sell a player unless they ask to go and that will only be when the price is then right. The key is whether they want to go or not."

On Mr Birch's appointment, he added: "He brings considerable talent and expertise. This is the first step of a turnaround of a difficult situation."

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