Leeds contemplate 25-year season tickets to raise funds

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The Independent Online

Leeds United's new owners are considering offering 25-year season tickets to help ease the club's financial crisis.

Leeds United's new owners are considering offering 25-year season tickets to help ease the club's financial crisis.

Gerald Krasner's group, advised by the former Bradford City chairman Geoffrey Richmond, are looking at a "super ticket", which would cost around £5,000 and would run for 25 years, working out at about £200 a season.

If 4,000 to 5,000 fans took advantage of the scheme and paid their money up front it would immediately raise funds equivalent to the £20m-plus invested by Krasner's group to take over at Elland Road.

Richmond used the same idea at Bradford City and found many takers, but those supporters were plunged into uncertainty when the administrators were called in after the club ran up £36m debts. Bradford's new owners agreed to honour the season tickets, but the worry for Leeds fans would be putting in their money and finding that the club later goes out of existence. There are no guarantees about where or whether Leeds will be playing between now and 2029 ­ even if the price of the package is potentially a huge saving.

Sheffield United have followed Rangers in unveiling plans for the development of a casino at their ground to try to help ease their debts.

On Tuesday, the Glasgow club unveiled plans, in partnership with the American company Las Vegas Sands Inc, to build a £120m entertainment complex next to their Ibrox ground which will include a Las Vegas-style casino. Yesterday, the Blades signed an agreement with the same company to build a complex behind the Laver Stand at Bramall lane, subject to planning consent and deregulation of the gaming laws, with the prospect of a hotel to follow.

The announcement comes on the day the Blades revealed their half-yearly figures to 31 December, 2003, which show an increase in revenue from ticket sales, merchandise and other business ventures. United's overall debt is up £900,000 to £9.8m in the last six months, although that represents a significant improvement compared to the same time last year when the Blades were £13.1m in the red.

Turnover has risen by £1.5m to £6.2m, with the average crowd attendance up 24 per cent to 20,438 from 16,500 over the same period last year, and with season ticket sales also up 34 per cent to 13,000 from 9,699.

Other improvements include a £700,000 increase in media and TV revenue; and sponsorship, advertising and merchandise sales up 26 per cent to £2.2m.