Liverpool deny offering £7m for Kewell

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The Independent Football

The Leeds United chairman, Professor John McKenzie, was under growing pressure last night as Liverpool denied that they changed their bid for Harry Kewell.

McKenzie is also heading for trouble with the Leeds manager, Peter Reid, as it emerged that there will not be any money to spend from the Kewell sale because funds are needed to pay more bills at the financially troubled club.

The Leeds chairman's claim that Rick Parry, the Liverpool chief executive, had offered £7m for Kewell before agreeing £5m was dismissed by the Anfield club, as was the notion that the extra money had gone to Kewell's agent, Bernie Mandic.

"We did not make a £7m bid," Parry said. "We have paid Harry through his contract and Leeds United through the fee. Those were the only two payments. Any inference to the contrary is without foundation. There is no mystery, there is nothing untoward."

Mandic reacted furiously to suggestions he had made £4m on the deal. He also has evidence to support his insistence that McKenzie gave him a letter on 27 June, stating that he would receive £2m from the £5m sale. The Australian has instructed English solicitors to look at the comments and the allegations that he received £4m in total, and may take legal action.

Kewell also contradicted McKenzie, claiming that Leeds had not even offered him the option of extending his contract.

"I'm sorry to say that Leeds never offered me a new contract," Kewell said. "I was there nine years and you expect a friendship with the club, but there was no friendship there."

Kewell also dismissed the view that Leeds had been shortchanged. "Why do I have to repay Leeds?" he asked. "They never bought me when I was young, they were only doing what they do with normal players and that didn't involve paying a big fee for me. In a way, they have come up trumps. It's disappointing how the chairman at Leeds has portrayed me. The fans there were always great to me. It's been a shame the way it has panned out."

McKenzie, who replaced Peter Ridsdale as chairman earlier this year, is new to football. David Walker, the Leeds director who traditionally handles public relations for the club, is on holiday and McKenzie has given the impression of being out of his depth on his own.

Reid, without the benefit of the transfer money, is likely to opt for a free agent for Kewell's replacement, although he may be able to afford Julian Gray, who is out of contract at Crystal Palace. As Gray is under 24, Leeds would still have to pay some compensation to Palace, who were yesterday threatened by the Professional Footballers' Association with a transfer embargo unless they pay players the bonuses they are owed from last season.