Leeds directors to dig into their own pockets for £4m

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The Independent Online

Directors of Leeds United are ready to invest up to £4m of their own money in the football club to bolster its flagging share price.

Shares in Leeds fell to an all-time low of 7.25p on Friday as the City digested the impact of last Sunday's 4:0 home defeat by Liverpool. This saw the team drop to sixth in the Premier League, endangering its chances of qualifying for the Uefa Champions League.

Failure to make Europe's top team competition could cost Leeds £10m next season and force it to sell some of its best players.

The City has become uncomfortable about Leeds' big-money transfer signings. It has spent more than £70m on players, running up a debt that is rumoured to be approaching £90m.

Executives from Leeds have been holding meetings in the City in recent weeks to reassure investors about the club's debts.

Stephen Harrison, the group's finance director, denied borrowings were that high but admitted they exceed the £60m the club raised though a bond issue last autumn.

Peter Ridsdale, Leeds' chairman, said the club would be prepared to sell players to cut its debts. Rumours abound that Australian winger Harry Kewell could be the first to go.

Mr Ridsdale also hinted that the directors could purchase the 11.2 per cent stake in the club held by stockbroker UBS Warburg. "The management is prepared to put our money where our mouth is and invest in the club," he said.

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