New owner must have Leeds in blood - Birch

Click to follow

The Leeds United chief executive, Trevor Birch, is of the opinion that any prospective new owner has to have the club "in the blood".

Birch, portrayed as the man who saved Chelsea from ruin with the introduction of the billionaire Russian Roman Abramovich, is now attempting to douse the financial fires which have long raged out of control at Elland Road.

Birch remains confident he will save Leeds from administration, and believes not only will no players be sold in the January transfer window, but new faces will arrive.

Despite claims of a £17m offer from the Bahrain Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa, who is backed by Saudi businessmen, Birch said no formal bid has yet been received.

Birch also hopes the former deputy chairman of the plc, Allan Leighton, who last week resigned from the board, comes back in with his own consortium, while he insists "there is likely to be further interest from other potential parties".

After being set a deadline of 19 January by the club's main creditors - three companies who are owed £60m, and the player-leasing agents who are owed a further £21m - Birch has his work cut out.

"It's tough because it's a hard market out there," Birch said. "Football is going through a difficult period and therefore there aren't people queuing up to snap your hand off. So it has to be something that's in your blood. You are looking for somebody with an emotional aspect to the investment.

"If you are looking for a normal return then you are not going to look at football, save for Manchester United. But I do think there will be a solution. I'm confident that there will be somebody out there who wants to buy Leeds United.

"We are a Premier League club, with the potential to be a top Premier League club, and we are a one-club city.

"It has a large catchment area; it is the second city to London in terms of finance and banking and it's an affluent area. You then add the residue of a reasonable team with some good, young players coming through. So I am confident something will happen."

Birch, who refuses to put a price on the club as he claims it comes down to "whatever anybody will pay", feels new owners would also invest in the squad next month to ensure Leeds would avoid relegation. Birch has reiterated the fact that the club's position will not be compromised by the sale of star names, nor will any potential signings add to the debt mountain.

"If you get an absolute knock-out offer and somebody comes in and offers £50m for Mark Viduka then you are going to think about it," Birch said. "But the stated objective is to retain our status as a Premier League club and you don't achieve that by selling your players - again.

"We are not a selling club. We won't be a selling club in January because that's not consistent with our overall objective. So selling Mark Viduka for, say £5m, and losing £25m if you get relegated, those figures don't really stack up.

"As for investment, it depends on the strength of the buyer coming in. Anybody looking at the club has got one eye on some investment in the transfer window and you would assume it would be done through their own resources.

"They will factor that in to the amount of money they are prepared to pay for the club, and therefore there will be an element of cash available, or earmarked for the transfer window."

Comments