White departs as Liverpool board rally round embattled Benitez

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The Independent Online

Noel White, the Liverpool director, has resigned from the Anfield board after he admitted making comments last week attacking the club's manager, Rafael Benitez.

An unnamed director was quoted in a national newspaper questioning the Spaniard's leadership and transfer dealings in the wake of the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United.

White, the club's former chairman and an influential member of the Football Association's international committee, yesterday owned up to being that man and felt his only option was to tender his resignation.

"For the 21 years I have had the privilege of being a director of this great institution my guiding principle has been to act in the best interests of the club," said White.

"In view of the controversy caused by comments in a national newspaper, attributed to an anonymous director, and the effect this has had on the chairman, my fellow directors, the manager and many supporters, I feel the honourable course is to resign.

"It was never my intention to cause such controversy, nor did I envisage that my remarks would receive such widespread coverage. I recognise, however, that I must take responsibility for my actions even though the outcome was not what I intended."

David Moores, the chairman, claimed to be disappointed to lose the services of White but accepted there was no other option. "This is very sad for both the club and Mr White, who has been a valuable member of the board for 21 years," Moores said.

"However, the board considers that the statements made do not reflect its own views and that this is not the Liverpool way of doing business. The proper place for debate is around the boardroom table.

"It is vital that we pull together at all times whether on the field or off it. It has to be said that at the first available opportunity on the day the article appeared Mr White was completely honest in telling me that he was responsible for it. He recognised that this made his position on the board quite untenable and he did the honourable thing by resigning."

White's decision will be welcomed by Benitez as it demonstrates a show of support from the remaining members of the Anfield hierarchy. White is believed to support building magnate Steve Morgan's attempt to gain a place on the Liverpool board, an investment proposal that has been resisted by Moores for several years.

The Reading captain, Graeme Murty, could return for Saturday's Premiership match with Liverpool.

Murty has been making good progress in his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered in the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in mid-October and may figure at Anfield.

Reading physiotherapist Jon Fearn said: "Murts is doing very well and is back in sprint training. He has a chance of playing against Liverpool."

Dave Kitson's rehabilitation from a knee injury sustained against Middlesbrough on the first day of the season is also progressing. Fearn said: "Dave was given a final set of injections last Friday and the early signs are very positive. He'll do some light running and ball work at the end of this week. It's the most positive we've felt since the injury occurred."

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