Elland Road on offer for £50m-£60m but Smith stays

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The Leeds chairman, Professor John McKenzie, has put a value of £50m to £60m on his financially troubled Premiership club - but believes Elland Road is worth investing in.

Leeds, who drew Arsenal at Elland Road in the third round of the FA Cup yesterday, are around £81m in debt, but have reached an interim agreement with creditors to stave off the immediate threat of administration.

They have until 19 January to either find a buyer or to negotiate a longer-term deal with creditors, and McKenzie believes this is possible.

"It might be £50 to £60m but it is worth it," said McKenzie. "It is a one-club, very prosperous city which has had very great successful teams at Leeds and the opportunity is there for development.

"We are now trading at break-even, having managed to cut £20m out of our costs and I think the opportunity is there and there are certain people who are really interested in a Premiership club.

"My concern is Leeds having a successful team in the future and being properly financed. I think there is an opportunity for someone and there will be some interest.

"It is like when you sell your house. It is a question of what the market will pay at that time, and in this case it is complicated by what deal creditors will do."

Allan Leighton, the deputy chairman of the plc, has resigned from the Leeds board, prompting speculation that he is poised to put together a financial rescue package. Leighton may have a rival in SheikhAbdulrahman bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, a member of the Bahrain royal family, who has made his interest in buying Leeds known to the club and is apparently backed by a group of Saudi businessmen.

Although a deadline has been set, McKenzie is confident that can be extended if a deal was close to being reached with a buyer. He also attempted to allay fears that players such as Alan Smith would be sold.

"If we were near to completing satisfactory negotiations with somebody just before that period I am sure our creditors would extend the time zones, so I am sure it not quite as defined as that," he said

"I am sure that, in whatever form, Leeds United will be able to go forward.

"Alan Smith is the epitome of what our club is about and if we are not going to slide into mediocrity we have to in some way negotiate a situation whereby we retain someone like Alan Smith - to move someone who represents the club as he does out of the picture would be completely unacceptable."

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