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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 15:03 GMT
Leeds keep takeover options open
Leeds' Elland Road stadium
Leeds have insisted they are still some distance away from concluding a 25m takeover deal with Sebastian Sainsbury.

The club's board met on Wednesday and issued a statement claiming it had yet to be convinced that the consortium could raise the necessary funds.

"The board is continuing to review all possible options, including discussions with other interested parties," said Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner.

Sainsbury has promised to provide proof within the next two days.

The United board is also believed to be holding talks with a consortium headed by Yorkshire-based businessman Norman Stubbs.

Sainsbury has set Friday as his target for becoming the clubs new chairman and claims legal smallprint is the only thing stopping his Anglo-American group's takeover being completed.

"The banks are communicating with the lawyers and we are trying to put something together," he said.

A spokesman for Nova Financial Partnership added: "The monies are now in a US bank specifically identified for the Leeds United FC transaction."

He continued: "The two US banks involved and the attorneys for Nova Financial Partners, as well as the attorneys for Nova Partner providing the funds are in the process of completing the necessary documents for the Leeds solicitors, who will receive the designated funds in their escrow account."

Sainsbury, great grandson of the founder of the supermarket chain, had pledged to deliver the relevant documents by close of business on Monday.

Escrow: Money, property, deed, or bond put into the custody of a third party for delivery to a grantee only after the fulfilment of the conditions specified

But as the consortium's lawyers are based in Texas, the time difference meant this was extended to 2300 GMT in Leeds.

Sainsbury has been frustrated at the lukewarm reception given to his approach from the Leeds board and claims they keep changing the conditions of the deal .

The 41-year- old businessman, who stood for Parliament in 1997, claims he offered a "non-refundable 500,000 deposit" to show his good faith.

And he added: "We have confirmed to the board that the money is sitting in a bank ready to do the deal."

But Leeds are insistent they receive proof that Sainsbury's consortium has the whole 25m it needs to buy the club.

A group led by Krasner paid 22.5m when they took over Leeds last March and since then they have reduced the club's debts from 103m to just over 30m.

The club's Thorp Arch training ground was recently sold for 4.2m and up to 15m more could be raised by the sale of land adjacent to Elland Road for a proposed casino.

Sainsbury claims without the injection of his consortium's cash, Elland Road would have to be sold - but that if his bid is successful the club would secure the future of the stadium and buy back Thorp Arch.

Of the proposed 25m, 2m would go to the existing board in the form of shares, with the remainder going to pay off the estimated 17m debt, leaving manager Kevin Blackwell with around 5m for new players.

Blackwell wants an end to the saga and told BBC Radio Leeds: "I don't need to go through the same scenario as we did last year.

"It certainly affected the players then. The situation needs resolving one way or the other. It's best if people put up or shut up. Lets just get Leeds on the back pages for football reasons."

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