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Last Updated: Friday, 27 February, 2004, 16:42 GMT
Leeds in limbo
Leeds are heavily in debt
Leeds United's major creditors have refused to extend the standstill agreement over its 80m debt.

But the club claims the creditors are still backing its search for a buyer.

Administration remains a possibility, but the club is also still locked in negotiations with a Yorkshire-based consortium as it looks to stay afloat.

Friday's developments, which also saw the club's shares suspended on the Stock Exchange, mean the creditors have held off while those talks continue.

The consortium, led by insolvency expert Gerald Krasner, are the only bidders left after another consortium pulled out.

The 'standstill agreement' had been extended on five occasions since the turn of the year - which kept Leeds out of administration.

But the club's future could now be resolved early next week either way.

Mr Krasner also issued a statement on Friday, saying the consortium he is involved with was "passionate about the club".

The creditors are giving the Leeds board notice to get a deal done
Dr Bill Gerrard
Leeds University Business School

Krasner's group became the sole party interested in rescuing Leeds - who have debts totalling as much as 100m - when the other consortium pulled out on Thursday.

That consortium consisted of ex-Huddersfield chairman Terry Fisher, Bolton Wanderers director Ian Currie and former Leeds player Trevor Cherry.

The statement from Krasner's consortium claimed the bidders had "the credentials and the finances to save Leeds from administration" regardless of whether they stay up or are relegated.

The statement continued: "Any suggestion the consortium is looking at this acquisition as an asset stripping exercise is completely untrue, so much so we can make a commitment now that, if we are successful in buying the club Leeds' future is and always will be at Elland Road.

"Anyone suggesting otherwise is simply scaremongering.

"We have nothing to hide and, despite wishing to keep the members of the consortium anonymous for the moment, our intentions have been clear for everyone to see.

"Our one and only motivation is to ensure the survival of Leeds United."

'Days from going under'

Tom Cannon, a professor at Kingston University, said it appeared Leeds were "days rather than weeks away" from going under.

"It must be that the savings they have made such as getting the players to reduce their wages are running out," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"The trouble for Leeds is that as they get to the end of the season, their income drops but their outgoings remain roughly the same."

Dr Bill Gerrard, a professor at Leeds University Business School, said the statement appeared to suggest the creditors would not be pushing the club into administration on Monday morning - but are putting pressure on chief executive Trevor Birch to get a deal done as soon as possible.

"The announcement is a major surprise because even the club themselves as late as lunchtime on Friday were expecting the agreement to be rolled over again," he said.

"It is a fall-out of the Terry Fisher consortium dropping their interest.

"The creditors are looking at it and giving the Leeds board notice to get a deal done (with Krasner's consortium) or they are going to put them into administration.

"That will happen if and when Leeds fail to make a payment due to the creditors."

On the pitch, the team has suffered a spectacular fall from grace since reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001.

High-profile sales of key players could not prevent losses of 49.5m in the year to June 2003.

And the threat of relegation - a very real one with the club currently bottom of the Premiership - would lead to another sharp, possibly terminal, loss in income.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar
"The club statement strikes an optimistic note"




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