Wed, Nov 12, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Leeds United fires Peter Reid as club attempts to regroup

AP , LEEDS, ENGLAND

Peter Reid was fired as manager of Leeds United on Monday, two days after the club lost 6-1 to Portsmouth in its worst defeat since 1959.

Reid, 47, had been in charge for six months and 20 league matches.

Leeds is in last place in the Premier League with eight points from 12 matches. The Portsmouth loss was the club's sixth defeat in seven league matches. Former Leeds manager Eddie Gray was appointed caretaker manager.

Reid's departure was announced following daylong meetings with chief executive Trevor Birch.

"The recent run of results has clearly been unacceptable," a club statement said. "The board therefore concluded that it has a duty to act now."

Leeds said it has begun the search for a full-time replacement to help the side "return to its place as one of the top clubs in England."

Nottingham Forest's Paul Hart, a former Leeds defender and youth coach, is the favorite for the job. West Bromwich Albion's Gary Megson, Southampton's Gordon Strachan, Coventry's Gary McAllister and Leicester's Micky Adams have also been mentioned.

Gray, who played for Leeds from 1965-1983 and managed Leeds from 1982 to 1985, is unlikely to be interested in returning in a permanent role.

He was relieved of his duties as a coach at the end of last season, but is still viewed as a legend by the Leeds fans.

Reid is the second Premier League manager to be fired this season. Glenn Hoddle was dismissed by Tottenham on Sept. 21. Reid, a former manager of Manchester City and Sunderland, was on a year-by-year contract worth ?850,000 (US$1.41 million).

He became full-time manager at Elland Road on May 9 and helped steer the debt-ridden club out of the relegation zone. Reid had been brought in on a temporary basis in March when Terry Venables was fired. He was fired by Sunderland in October 2002 after 7 1/2 years in charge.

After Saturday's defeat at Portsmouth, Reid admitted he would struggle to keep his job.

"I've never known a worse 45 minutes in football as a manager or player," he said.

Three years ago, Leeds finished third in the Premier League and reached the semifinals of the Champions League.

This time two years ago, Leeds was top of the league after a long unbeaten run, eventually finishing fourth. Leeds was fifth last year.

The last time Leeds was bottom in the top division was in 1981, when it was relegated.

Last month, Leeds reported pretax losses of ?49.5 million (US$84 million), with a debt of ?78 million (US$132.3 million) -- the worst financial results of any British club.

Relegation would further hit the club -- any first division club which starts next season in financial administration will automatically be docked 10 points.

"Leeds' problems will not be put right overnight," former manager Howard Wilkinson said.

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