Leeds Utd £10m in debt to taxman and Customs

Embattled football club Leeds United is in debt to the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise to the tune of £10m.

The club's chief executive, Trevor Birch, confirmed that the sum, which forms part of Leeds' £81m debt pile, was owed to the Crown. The Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise had both signed a creditors' standstill agreement that was put in place while Leeds searched for a solution to its financial problems. Administration is thought to remain the most likely outcome for the club.

The standstill agreement was originally signed in December but shares in the club were suspended last month after Leeds failed to extend it. In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, the club said it continued to retain the support of its "major finance creditors", leading to speculation that lesser creditors were now less supportive. Sources close to the club believe Registered European Football Finance, a Guernsey-based firm which Leeds used to buy players on hire purchase, and the Crown could be among the less supportive parties.

The club has been looking for a buyer since before Christmas but so far no deal has been agreed. An offer by Allan Leighton, a former director of the club, was knocked back and a consortium led by former Huddersfield Town chairman Terry Fisher pulled out last month.

That leaves just one consortium still in the running, led by former Bradford City chairman Geoffrey Richmond, but it is not believed to have sufficient funds. A sale to the consortium would, it is thought, prove unpopular with Leeds' fan base as some supporter groups are known to be sceptical about the group's plans for the club.

Any deal, however, is likely to prove complex as Leeds, facing relegation at the bottom of the Premier League, would stand to lose £20m in revenues if it started the new season in the First Division.

Mr Birch, who joined the club last year from its London rival Chelsea, said last week there had been no further developments regarding the club's future and he did not expect to make any announcement in the immediate future.

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