Bates saves Leeds with £10m takeover

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The Independent Online

Ken Bates completed a £10million takeover of Leeds United today to lift the threat of administration at the crisis-hit Championship club.

Ken Bates completed a £10million takeover of Leeds United today to lift the threat of administration at the crisis-hit Championship club.

Bates, who will succeed Gerald Krasner as chairman, is expected to unveil his plans to take the club forward at an Elland Road press conference.

Leeds, who were £25million in debt before the takeover, were believed to be on the brink of administration and the 10-point penalty that would have gone with it would have plunged the club into the relegation zone.

The 73-year-old former Chelsea chairman is heading a £10m consortium reported to be based in Geneva.

Leeds revealed the deal was finalised at 2.27am ending Bates' 10-month absence from football during which he made a failed takeover attempt at Sheffield Wednesday.

Krasner confirmed his consortium had been asked to remain in the background at the club for an undisclosed period to help ensure a smooth handover.

Krasner told Leedsunited.com: "The consortium led by Mr Bates completed the deal this morning."This deal ensures the medium to long-term survival of the club and I believe Mr Bates' proposals are totally for the benefit of the club.

"We are content that under Mr Bates, Leeds United will continue to consolidate and move forward."

The Krasner consortium came in at a time when the club was at its most desperate, over £100m in debt, and over the past 10 months has managed to cut away those debts to under £24million.

And Krasner believes that, despite the problems he and his board have had to solve since taking over, it has all been worth it.

"The club has always been in safe hands since we took over," he said.

"It was actually a year ago on Wednesday when I first met Trevor Birch to begin all this, and it has been worthwhile because Leeds United still exists and the football team still plays at Elland Road.

"Some people told us it could not be done and that we would have to take the club into administration, I think this proves it could be done."

Bates was recently linked with Sebastien Sainsbury's failed £25million takeover bid at Leeds, only to deny any involvement with the great grandson of the supermarket founder.

Leeds-based property developer Norman Stubbs had been linked with a £10million takeover but Bates moved into pole position yesterday when Leeds confirmed they had opened talks with him.

Bates paid tribute to Krasner and his fellow directors telling The Sun: "Gerald Krasner and his team have performed miracles by reducing the club's debts from £103million a year ago to a present figure of £21million.

"Obviously, everything has had to be sold," he added. "Though the old board have done 80% of the work they needed someone else to finish off the job.

"We have bought the shares in the club for a nominal consideration and now it is a question of working capital.

"It is no exaggeration to say Leeds are very hard up. It's going to be a tough job and the first task is to stabilise the cash flow and sort out the remaining creditors.

"But there is light at the end of a very long tunnel. For the past year it has been a matter of fire-fighting - now we can start running the club again."

Bates had made it known, since parting from Chelsea just over 10 months ago with a £17million pay-off from current Blues owner Roman Abramovich, he is eager to return to football, with money burning a hole in his pocket.

He courted Sheffield Wednesday only to find his money was not welcome by chairman Dave Allen and the rest of the Owls board, despite the club's debts spiralling to over £25million.Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell welcomed Bates' imminent arrival last night.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I've been very proud to be manager of this football club. We're proud people up in Yorkshire. I'm pleased to hear good news and the fans deserve some good news.

"With Mr Bates hopefully we can start moving forward. With investment in the right areas I don't see why we can't give it a good push."

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