Viduka is staying for now as players' gesture brings the club extra time

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The Independent Online

Leeds United maintained last night that no players would leave the club before tomorrow's closure of the transfer window - and that includes Mark Viduka. The striker, who is currently on compassionate leave back in Australia, where his father is seriously ill, had been linked with a cut-price £4m move to yesterday's opponents, Middlesbrough. But an Elland Road source was adamant that no transfer deal would be negotiated.

It is also believed unlikely that the defender Danny Mills, already on loan with Boro, would be signed on a permanent basis by manager Steve McClaren, although Boro apparently remain determined to acquire the England man.

As the window prepares to close without any enforced sales, Trevor Birch, the acting chairman and chief executive, has achieved what many suspected would prove impossible: avoiding the club being placed in administration while maintaining the current staff, with the exception of the cancelling of the season-long loan contract of the Brazilian World Cup defender Roque Junior.

Negotiations with two consortiums offering rescue packages are said to be "continuing", but the immediate concern of Birch has been to succeed in persuading the club's creditors to agree to a further extension of the "standstill period" until next Friday, and that was agreed on Friday. However, the fact that he has effectively raised £5m, through a successful appeal to the players to defer 25 per cent of their wages, a similar approach to previous managers David O'Leary, Terry Venables and Peter Reid to defer their severance payments (worth a total of £1m) and a windfall £1.5m from Manchester United as full and final payment of the fee for Rio Ferdinand, means that he is confident that Leeds can survive until the end of the season.

A payment of £10,000 per week to former striker Robbie Fowler, owed as part of his £6m move to Manchester City a year ago, has apparently been put on hold, while Birch has also saved on the wages of loanee Cyril Chapuis by letting him leave.

Birch said yesterday: "Whatever has been reported in the last two weeks, asking anyone to defer a big proportion of their wages is a big ask. After the shock of the initial request the players have responded magnificently and acted in a mature and responsible way."

He added: "For the time being we have taken a big step towards securing a breathing space until the end of the season, which gives us more time to deliver a longer term solution which is in the best interests of Leeds United."

However, having spelt out the effect of the Premier League's proposed rule change on clubs who go into administration being docked nine points, he stressed: "It remains a critical time for the club and all we can do is work hard, remain upbeat and be positive."

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