All to play for as Leeds wins two-week stay of execution from creditors

Leeds United, the vastly indebted football club, is set to win a last-minute reprieve tomorrow by securing an extension to a crucial deadline.

A standstill agreement with bondholders, who control Leeds' £81m debt pile, lapses tomorrow but it is understood that Trevor Birch, the club's recently installed chief executive and an insolvency expert, has negotiated a two- week extension. This will take it to the end of the January transfer window, meaning both that it has more time to find a buyer and that any player sales will raise more cash for the club.

Leeds warned before Christmas that it was facing administration. A number of parties were thought to be interested in buying the club but a spate of bad results deterred any firm bids. Leeds remains rooted at the bottom of the table and will lose around £20m in revenues should it go down, making it extremely hard to value the club.

Speculation grew last week that the Bahraini Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak al-Khalifa, a Leeds fan, had managed to secure £35m to buy the club. But insiders rubbished the rumours, and Leeds told the Stock Exchange on Friday that an offer had yet to emerge.

Serial director Allan Leighton is still seen as the most likely saviour. A former deputy chairman of Leeds, he offered to inject cash before Christmas and is now understood to be locked in talks about securing a deal to take it over. One insider valued his "pot" at between "£25m and £40m".

But before any deal can be struck, the buyer must agree terms with the bondholders. Around £60m is held by US bondholders through what is in effect a 25-year mortgage on the stadium. It is thought that the favoured option would be buying them out at a current market rate of around £15m.

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