Sun, Aug 05, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Leeds United hit with 15 point penalty

AFP, LONDON

Fallen giants Leeds United have been hit with a 15 point deduction as the price for being allowed to play in the English Football League next season.

The points deduction has been challenged by the Yorkshire side and their appeal will be heard at a yet-to-be-arranged meeting of all League clubs.

Football League officials have been unhappy since Leeds United chairman Ken Bates bought back the soccer club after it had entered administration.

The League, which is responsible for the three English divisions below the Premiership, dislike clubs going into administration or declaring themselves bankrupt as a way of writing off their debts, claiming it is unfair to financially responsible teams.

As a result, they have started to impose point penalties. League chiefs have been particularly concerned in Leeds' case by Bates' failure to agree to a Company Voluntary Arrangement to pay off an acceptable amount of the debt to creditors.

The Football League said on Friday it could not allow Leeds to operate outside its strict rules regarding administration.

Bates placed Leeds United in administration on May 4 when it was revealed the soccer club had debts of ?35 million (US$71.5 million) but then last month bought it back from the club's administrators.

Leeds, one of the dominant teams in English soccer in the early 1970s, were relegated from the second-tier Championship last season. The forthcoming season, which starts on Aug. 11, will be the first time they have played outside England's top two divisions in their history.

It is only 15 years since Leeds won England's top flight title and only six years since they reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

But, under the regime of then-chairman Peter Ridsdale, they ran up debts of about ?100 million.

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