Leeds deny any offer by sheikh's consortium

Leeds have dismissed hopes of an imminent takeover to end their financial problems. The club is £81m in debt and warned last week that it is on the brink of administration. But fans' hopes were lifted over the weekend when Sheikh Abdul bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa from Bahrain said he was trying to broker a deal which would see a consortium of Middle Eastern businessmen take over the club.

He claimed a "positive outcome" was likely soon, but Leeds United plc yesterday dismissed this. Its statement to the Stock Exchange read: "The board of Leeds United plc notes recent press reports about a potential bid for the company. The board wishes to make it clear that it has received no bid approach from any party and therefore regards the reports as pure speculation."

The sheikh's weekend claims not only encouraged fans that the future may be brighter, but investors appeared to be encouraged, too. Shares in Leeds started yesterday at 3.25p but rose to over 4.75p - their highest price in the past 12 months had been 5.63p.

* Chelsea yesterday denied that they have offered the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, an £18m deal over four years to replace their present manager, Claudio Ranieri. Eriksson has been offered a two-year contract extension by the Football Association until 2008, and yesterday the Swede said that he would decide whether to stay on with England before next year's European Championship.

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