Leeds United announce massive losses

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The Independent Online

Leeds today announced annual losses of almost £50million – but said the club faced the future with growing confidence.

In the year up to June 30 the Elland Road club recorded pre–tax losses of £49.5million, which amounted to £25.4million before transfers were taken into account.

However, chairman Professor John McKenzie tried to put a positive angle on the news, claiming cost–cutting had worked.

He said "We have taken £20million of costs out of the business and rebuilt the management team. As such, it is now possible to begin to look forward with some confidence."

Today's announcement to the Stock Exchange also confirmed that Trevor Birch will become chief executive on November 1.

The club's turnover fell by 21% to £64million, thanks in part to drops of 36% and 9% in television and merchandising income respectively.

Despite seeing the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Jonathan Woodgate, Robbie Fowler, Robbie Keane, Lee Bowyer and Olivier Dacourt leave during the 12 months up to June 30, Leeds' wages actually rose by £3million while the club made a loss of £17million in player trading.

McKenzie, who will now become non–executive chairman, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Why does everybody always want to knock Leeds down all the time? We have turned the corner and we are on our way back.

"There will yet another opportunity for fans and others to invest in the first part of next year.

"We will not sell a player unless they ask to go and that will only be when the price is then right. The key is whether they want to go or not."

On Birch's appointment, he added: "He's going to be chief executive, he'll be in control of the day–to–day running of the business. He brings considerable talent and expertise.

"This is the first step of a turnaround of a difficult situation."

Despite a year of frantic cost–cutting and players sales, Leeds' debt rose slightly to £78million.

That process has, however, seen the club's assets stripped, with today's statement valuing the plc's assets at just over £60million as of June 30 this year, compared to over £109million a year earlier.

McKenzie has already implemented a number of redundancies in a bid to save £5million annually, although the one–off costs associated with that and paying off former manager Terry Venables cost the club £7.2million in the 12 months to June 30.

John Boocock, of the Leeds United Supporters' Trust, refused to blame McKenzie for the position Leeds now find themselves in.

He told Sky Sports News: "There has been a complete lack of planning as far as the club is concerned. We have this unserviceable, unmanageable debt. If we were making nuts and bolts the receivers would have been in called in by now.

"The one thing we know about Professor John McKenzie is that he does understand about business and I'm not blaming John for any of this."

"He understands how business works and he knows that the position of a chief executive and chairman should be separate – all best practice says that's what you should do," he added, referring to Birch's appointment.

"The other thing is we have the problems on the pitch, but it's not Peter Reid's fault, he inherited that."