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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 October, 2003, 11:50 GMT
Leeds court Arab sheikh
Leeds chairman professor John McKenzie
Professor McKenzie would welcome a big investor
Leeds United are courting a Middle East sheikh to try and help them out of their financial mire.

The stricken Premiership club are hoping Bahraini sheikh Mubarak al-Khalifa can do for them what Russian biliionaire Roman Abramovic did for Chelsea by pumping in massive amounts of cash.

Al-Khalifa, from the oil-rich United Arab Emirate, is believed to be the man behind investement company ARM, which has pledged 4.5m to the cash-strapped club.

But 4.5m will hardly make a dent in Leeds massive debt load of about 70m, and the club are hoping that al-Khalifa will plough significant money in.

Leeds have something of a head start as al-Khalifa is a long-standing fan of 20 years.

Al-Khalifa is a big supporter of footbal in home country, and is an influential figure in the Bahrain FA.

He regularly attends games at Elland Road, and sources say that he has been given tours of the club's training faclitities.

Al-Khalifa was at Leeds Carling Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United, although he took a seat outside the director's box to deflect any possible attention.

Leeds chairman professor John McKenzie has already said he would be more than happy for a big-hitting investor to come on board.

Club vice-chairman Allan Leighton has given himself the task of finding a major new investment by the spring.

By that time, Leeds will know whether they face the prospect of relegation, which could drive the club to the brink of extinction.

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