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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 20:44 GMT
Newcastle agree Woodgate fee
Jonathan Woodgate
Woodgate's future points to Newcastle United
Leeds United have accepted a bid from Newcastle for defender Jonathan Woodgate.

The two clubs agreed a fee of 9m on Thursday for the England international.

And the 23-year-old is expected to finalise personal terms and undergo a medical at Newcastle on Friday.

Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale insisted on BBC Radio Five Live that the club simply could not afford to turn Newcastle's offer down.

"There isn't such a thing that you can never sell in a Public Company," he said.

I owe our shareholders and our supporters the financial stability of Leeds United

Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale

"An offer of this magnitude in the current market is something that the PLC must take into account."

And while Ridsdale said he had hoped the club would not have to sell Woodgate, he admitted: "You can't choose who you get offers for."

He added that the club were paying the price for overstretching themselves in the last few years.

He added: "With the benefit of hindsight, I think we thought we were going to have a better time than we had.

"We gambled, we thought it was right, we had some great times in Europe... but I owe our shareholders and our supporters the financial stability of Leeds United Football Club."

Ridsdale's Newcastle counterpart Freddy Shepherd could not disguise his glee at Woodgate's imminent arrival on Tyneside.

It could be one of the biggest signings in Newcastle's history

Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd

"He's a north east boy who understands Newcastle and the passion of the club," Shepherd said.

"It could be one of the biggest signings in Newcastle's history. He's only 23 and he's got a long way to go. He's got all the ingredients to be a top international."

Woodgate's imminent exit from Elland Road is a major blow for manager Terry Venables.

Venables may now consider his position following the double departure of Woodgate and striker Robbie Fowler.

His position, and possibly that of Ridsdale, will become clearer at an Elland Road news conference on Friday, though the club claimed on Thursday Venables would be staying.

Angry fans

Leeds United Supporters Association chairman Ray Fell admitted: "It's shattering news, it's a bad day for Leeds United.

"Terry Venables must be wondering where his future lies because this undermines his position. It's a sorry day for Leeds fans."

Earlier, angry fans placed a 'For Sale' sign round the Billy Bremner statue at Elland Road before it was hastily removed.

Further demonstrations are possible on Tuesday when Leeds replay their FA Cup fourth round tie against Gillingham.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Jonny Saunders
"The fee is believed to be around 9m"
Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale
"I have to consider the financial stability of the club"
Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd
"We are delighted"
Leeds United in crisis

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