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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
Ridsdale answers back
John McKenzie
McKenzie is trying to steady the ship at Elland Road
Former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale has hit back at criticism over the club's spending habits during his time at the club.

The troubled Yorkshire club announced losses of 78.9m on the day McKenzie took over as chairman from Peter Ridsdale seven weeks ago.

McKenzie described the spending as "irresponsible and indulgent".

But Ridsdale responded in a statement to BBC Radio Five Live which read: "Since leaving Leeds United I have kept a dignified silence.

"The comments by my successor John McKenzie are therefore extremely disappointing as they make reference to expenditure and a culture which are in some cases taken out of context, in some cases sensationalised and in some cases inaccurate.

"I will continue to keep a dignified silence whilst wishing Leeds United all the best for the future."

The new regime has made public some of the spending during Ridsdale's reign - and launched a thinly-veiled attack on the former chairman.

    Previous spending includes:
  • 5.7m in compensation to former managers David O'Leary and Terry Venables.
  • 600,000 per year on a fleet of over 70 company cars, including 70,000 on one single vehicle.
  • 70,000 in one year on private jets for directors and senior management.
  • 70,000 recruitment expenses on a senior management figure who left the club in less than six months.
  • 20 per month on goldfish for the chairman's office, which have now left the club as part of the cost-cutting measures.

Leeds have now had to make a number of redundancies in a bid to save more than 5m annually, with assistant manager Eddie Gray and first-team coach Brian Kidd's departures wiping 1m off the wage bill.

McKenzie, a professor of economics, said: "There's been irresponsibility and indulgent spending.

Former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale
Ridsdale was dubbed 'Publicity Pete' by supporters

"This is unacceptable at any time, but especially at a time when the club was losing vast amounts of money."

McKenzie believes he can turn the club's finances around - but warned it will not be a quick fix.

"It's like an oil tanker that was heading straight for the rocks and the shareholders have put someone else on board to turn it around," the professor added.

"The trouble with oil tankers is they're two miles long and they don't turn around in two minutes.

"But we will get back on a winning trail. I would ask the supporters to get behind us and be patient while we sort it out."


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