Sheikh dismisses Leeds role

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The Independent Football

Sheikh Abdul bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa has dismissed reports that he is set to buy Leeds United, while confirming that he is acting as a broker between the club and a Middle East consortium.

Reports yesterday suggested that the sheikh, a member of the Bahrain Royal family, was part of a consortium ready to launch a takeover for Leeds, who have debts of around £80m. But Sheikh Abdul, who has been a Leeds fan for 25 years, has denied he wants to buy out the club.

"This is complete nonsense circulated by worldwide media agencies and I am personally embarrassed being embroiled with this affair," he said. "I have close ties with [the club president] John McKenzie who updates me with the financial situation at the club that I love ever since I was a teenager. Anything more than that is just complete nonsense."

However, the sheikh admitted that he is keen to help out the club and had recommended a number of parties who might be interested in investing in Leeds.

"I was in direct contact with Mr McKenzie during my last visit to England recently, and after being notified about the disastrous financial status of Leeds United, I have suggested to start negotiations with some of the main investors in the Gulf region in order to buy the club," he said. "It is my honour to help out the club passing through this critical phase, now that they are threatened to get relegated from the Premiership."

The sheikh will have a financial summit meeting on Tuesday with other potential investors. "Negotiations with various parties in the Gulf region are still undergoing and I feel happy to be the main broker," he said. "I am hopeful in bringing out a positive outcome in the next 10 days.

"I am committed to having the club back to where they belong, at least at the financial level, with no personal investment for the time being contemplated at Leeds."

Any major move by the consortium being assisted by the sheikh would necessarily involve negotiations with the club's major creditors - the American lenders Lazards and the companies behind the "player lease" scheme. Lazards are owed £60m and the player lease policy is complicated but is valued at £23m.

Lazards charge Leeds hefty interest and that debt would have to be managed or bought out, and talks are reportedly scheduled soon to find the best way forward. The sheikh is reportedly keen to lure Gordon Strachan from Southampton as manager - and that would require additional money in compensation and wages.