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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 October, 2004, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Leeds told 'sell club or ground'
Leeds' Elland Road stadium
Leeds have been warned by a consortium bidding to buy the club that its 25m takeover offer is the only realistic way they can keep Elland Road.

The bid, led by Sebastian Sainsbury, was discussed by the board on Thursday.

"The board has two options - the option we have put forward or that of selling Elland Road, the pride and joy of Leeds United for the past 85 years," he said.

"They have to make a decision in the best interests of the shareholders, the players and particularly the fans."

Afterwards the meeting, Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner said that no deal had been done.

"The board of Leeds United confirms that a number of discussions are continuing with various parties, and at this stage no agreement has been signed," said Krasner.

"We have always insisted that any interested party must be able to confirm that the necessary funds are available in order to complete any transaction.

"Despite much press speculation, as we stand now, no party has met our conditions."

But Sainsbury hit back on BBC Radio Five Live: "I'd like to deliver proof of funds tomorrow, but more realistically it will be on Monday.

"On Tuesday morning we made a formal offer to buy Leeds and agreed terms and conditions and it would appear today (Thursday) the conditions have changed.

"They said (it was because) of proof of funds but they were offered a 500,000 non-refundable deposit on Wednesday. If that money didn't arrive they could tear up any agreement we had."

The Yorkshire club have been drastically reducing their debt since relegation from the Premiership at the end of last season.

Having sold their big-name players, Leeds recently sold their Thorp Arch training ground and the club are set to receive a 5m windfall when they sell land close to Elland Road for a casino development.

The current Leeds board took charge last March and have since reduced crippling debts from more than 100m to just over 30m.

Banker and restaurateur Sainsbury, 41, is the great grandson of the founder of Sainsbury's supermarkets

The consortium is backed by the American Nova Finance Group - and Sainsbury claims that they want to bring the good times back to Leeds.

"I want to work closely with the supporters with the objective first of getting back into the Premiership. Then we must re-establish Leeds as a top club," he explained.

"But this is not going to be a Malcolm Glazer-type story or a Russian revolution. I want to be straight and avoid disappointing people.

"This has opened my eyes to how much football means and it is quite a scary prospect.

"I am not somebody who walks around with bodyguards or public relations officers and it is a scary thought that I will have a public profile.

"But this is one of greatest names in English football and anybody would relish the challenge of realising their enormous potential."

However, Sainsbury hopes that his long pursuit of the club will pay off.

"In three months of negotiations I have yet to sit in the same room with more than two members of the Leeds board at any one time," he added.

"I don't know how you can close a deal in those situations. Today is the first time they will all have sat in the same room and discussed our offer."

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