Sainsbury insists cash for Leeds is in bank

Sebastian Sainsbury claimed last night that he had finally delivered "irrefutable" proof to Leeds United's board that his consortium has £25m in cash to complete a takeover.

The 41-year-old said the money was now sitting in a London branch of a "big four" bank, and that the bank's manager had provided written evidence that the funds were available for immediate transfer to facilitate the buy-out. Sainsbury added that he hoped a deal will be concluded this week, and that he will become the Leeds chairman no later than next Monday.

Leeds' chairman, Gerald Krasner, appeared to confirm that Sainsbury's consortium is making progress by saying: "There are ongoing discussions at lawyer level." He added: "Until there is something positive or negative to confirm I'm not going to go into any details. There is still nothing definite that I will hang my hat on. Talks are at a very delicate stage."

The Leeds board met last night to discuss the takeover, which is being led by Sainsbury but funded primarily by an America company, Nova Financial Partners, which was established specifically to buy Leeds.

Nova's president, Michael Lucas, has been in Leeds for more than two weeks trying to broker a deal. Two other Nova partners, Burl Sheppard and Bradley Ray, are due to fly in from America tomorrow to attend what Sainsbury hopes will be the completion of the deal.

Failure to complete the deal would leave Leeds' future uncertain, and Sainsbury hugely embarrassed. The board are thought to be under pressure to do a quick deal to alleviate financial pressures arising from loans acquired when they bought the club.

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