Bolton director linked to Leeds takeover

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Bolton Wanderers are planning to question Ian Currie, a club director, about his role in a consortium which is planning a takeover bid for their Premiership rivals Leeds United.

The Bolton chairman, Phil Gartside, discovered yesterday that Currie is involved with the so-called "second Yorkshire consortium" who are in talks with the financially stricken club.

Currie, who is a fan of Blackburn Rovers, is part of a group which is putting together a £20m-plus offer for Leeds. Gartside will be seeking an explanation during talks today.

The extent of Currie's involvement emerged at the same time as a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post that the first Yorkshire-based consortium, who have been involved in talks with Leeds for a month, had sealed a £30m buy-out. A senior source close to Elland Road insisted last night that any such claims are premature. The buyout story is thought to have been circulated by someone close to the first consortium who is concerned that the second consortium was becoming a threat.

Discussions are on-going with all parties concerned, with the name of the former Bradford City chairman, Geoffrey Richmond, still being linked to the first consortium, despite denials.

Leeds have now been told the identities of the first consortium's principal backers and Richmond is not among them. It is thought he may be playing some role, however, which is something that Gerald Krasner, a spokesman for the group, would not confirm or deny yesterday. Krasner admitted that he knew Richmond but added: "That's not surprising. He lives in north Leeds. I have confidentiality agreements in place with regard to all members of the consortium and I will not be discussing names."

The second consortium comprises up to 10 wealthy individuals including the former Huddersfield Town chairman, Terry Fisher. Currie and Richard Hughes, Currie's business partner at the corporate finance firm Zeus Capital, are also involved, as are the former Leeds player Trevor Cherry, and Andrew Dick, a long-term Leeds fan who works for Begbies Traynor, a Manchester-based insolvency company. The group also has a secret "Mr Big" on board.

Leeds have gross debts estimated at more than £100m and their main creditors have allowed the club extensions to their "standstill agreement" to give them time to find a buyer. The latest expires a week on Friday. With the first Yorskshire consortium having already tabled a bid - still under consideration - and the second consortium due to enter the fray next week, the creditors will continue to allow more time. Leeds' chief executive, Trevor Birch, wants as long as possible to filter as many suitors as he can find.

The Yorkshire consortia bids are structured very differently. The first consortium is thought to be offering funding in the form of long-term loans that would need to be repaid. It may also involve Elland Road being handed over to creditors and then leased backed to the club. The second consortium will offer "100 per cent equity" that is not repayable. It is not known what conditions may be attached or whether they seek ownership of Leeds' property assets.

Meanwhile, Leeds' Mark Viduka was waiting last night to hear whether his club-versus-country dispute had been resolved. The Australian FA was due to meet to decide whether to invoke the five-day rule over his call-up for a friendly with Venezuela. Doing so would mean he would miss this weekend's match with Manchester United. Their alternative was to accept he has a hamstring injury.