Blackwell attacks takeover dithering at Leeds

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Leeds United manager, Kevin Blackwell, yesterday expressed his fears for the future of a club he feels is being "undermined" by ongoing takeover uncertainty.

The Leeds United manager, Kevin Blackwell, yesterday expressed his fears for the future of a club he feels is being "undermined" by ongoing takeover uncertainty.

The patience of the Leeds chairman, Gerald Krasner, and his fellow board members is being tested to the limit by the continued failure of an Anglo-American consortium fronted by Sebastian Sainsbury to provide proof that funds are in place to complete a deal. Self-imposed deadlines from Sainsbury, the 41-year-old great-grandson of the supermarket founder come and go, with the latest now Tuesday, and concern is growing that the deal will fall through.

Sainsbury's consortium cohorts are Michael Lucas and Burl Sheppard, of the Nova Financial Partnership, a company based in Tampa, Florida. Lucas claims to be a former American international, yet United States Soccer Federation records dispute that.

Waiting in the wings is a Yorkshire businessman Norman Stubbs, a Leeds supporter who has held his own negotiations with the board. Blackwell, who lived through the drama which ripped through the club last season, can see worrying similarities to the present time.

"I am hoping something positive happens for this club, be it the takeover or leaving this present board in place so they are not being undermined," he said. "But at the moment they are being undermined by a takeover bid because the leadership of a business has to be strong, to know where it's going and what it's doing.

"Because of things outside this board's control, things are not in place and that's what has happened for the last two years. I turned up here last year and I couldn't tell you after three weeks who the chairman was, who was running the business or making the decisions. Now how can that be right for a club of the stature of Leeds United? Never mind stature, how can that be right for a business the size of Leeds United? If your middle management aren't sure what's happening from day to day, it becomes pure guesswork."

On the pitch Leeds are suffering. They fell to their fourth successive defeat on Wednesday, their third in a row in the Championship, a 2-1 home defeat to Burnley leaving them four points off the relegation zone. "We're in such a perilous state financially," Blackwell said. "The debts are massive. The wages have been cut, but we're still in a situation where we're paying £18m out a year."

Comments