Football: Sky's cash injection at Leeds `will win approval'

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The Independent Online
THE LEEDS UNITED chairman, Peter Ridsdale, has spoken of his confidence that the Elland Road shareholders will vote through BSkyB's bid for a nine per cent stake in the club next month. Ridsdale yesterday countered suggestions that the deal, worth pounds 13.8m, would be blocked when the shareholders vote on the issue on 4 October.

"I have spoken to all the major institutional shareholders again today and I am confident the deal will get voted through," Ridsdale said.

The move would strengthen the hand of the manager, David O'Leary, in the transfer market as the funds from the satellite broadcaster will be added to an already substantial war chest. "The view of the board as a whole is that it is a very good deal," Ridsdale added. "I think people have to look, not only at what the short-term money is, but also the long- term strategy of building with one of the acknowledged best brands in TV football."

One of the club's strikers, Michael Bridges, has taken the unusual step of writing to a Sunderland fanzine to explain why he left the Wearside club in the summer for pounds 5m after contract talks with their manager, Peter Reid, collapsed. The 21-year-old was given a hostile reception by Sunderland fans last month when the two teams met in Yorkshire, and was substituted in the second half of his side's 2-1 victory. However, the chants of "Judas" upset Bridges to such an extent that he contacted Sunderland's A Love Supreme to present his version of events. Bridges, who is Tyneside born, explained: "My sole motive for declining the offer of an extension to my contract was that I could not reasonably foresee the prospect of a place in the first-team.

"Reassurances were sought on that specific issue without anything tangible being forthcoming. To have committed myself on this basis would have been no way to further my footballing ambitions. As far as I was concerned, money was never in the equation."