Leeds to leave Elland Road for new home

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The Independent Online

Leeds United will today confirm that they will be leaving Elland Road in favour of a modern new multi-million pound stadium. Shareholders and season-ticket holders have been voting during the last three weeks on whether the club should remain at their present ground, or move to the 50,000-plus capacity complex.

The new stadium, which would be built on a 50-acre site close to junction 45 of the A1(M) at Skelton on the south-eastern outskirts of the city, would be ready in time for the start of the 2004-05 season.

The Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale outlined in a letter to the shareholders and season-ticket holders the pluses and minuses behind staying and going.

Ridsdale is convinced leaving Elland Road represents the logical step forward for Leeds, particularly if they are to compete on an equal financial footing with Europe's top clubs.

The supporters' club chairman Ray Fell has also given his endorsement to the proposed move, while 87 per cent of Leeds fans in general – more than 1,000 who voted in a website poll – are behind the plan.

"Our supporters have a unique opportunity to make a difference," stated Ridsdale. "I can't think of any other club in the country which has given its supporters such an active role in such a major decision."

The Southampton defender Dean Richards and the chairman Rupert Lowe have "ironed out a lot of differences" following a 90-minute meeting yesterday. The duo held what Lowe described as "cordial and civilised" talks. Richards' agent Ian Elliott revealed the pair, who have been at loggerheads after Tottenham's five-week pursuit of the player, have cleared the dispute between them.

The centre-back Richards, 27, insisted on meeting Lowe after intense speculation over his future, which reached a peak with Spurs' unsuccessful £4m bid and Lowe's complaint to the Premier League over the approach.

David Buchler, Tottenham's chairman, confirmed yesterday that his club had "withdrawn its interest" in signing Richards. "It is quite clear that the valuation that the respective clubs place on this particular player are a long way apart, so we are now looking elsewhere," he said.

The Liverpool defender Markus Babbel has been ruled out for a month after being struck down by illness.

The German had complained of flu-like symptoms, and was taken off at half-time in Liverpool's first two league matches against West Ham and Bolton, but further investigations revealed his condition was more serious.

The Czech Republic defender Tomas Repka has left Fiorentina and signed a four-year contract with West Ham.

The Juventus midfielder Edgar Davids yesterday had his five-month nandrolone ban reduced to four months by the Italian sporting court of appeal.

The Dutchman was seeking to overturn the ban, but he can now return for Juve's Champions' League match against Celtic on 18 September.

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