On this day of 2003 – Leeds avoids threat of administration with creditors


Leeds announced the first step in a financial restructuring program and avoided becoming the first Premier League club to take office that day in 2003.

It marked the final point in the Yorkshire club’s desperate battle to survive after falling out of favor and plunged into a series of financial crises which ultimately saw the club relegated to the third tier of the English game.

The restructuring program included a £ 60million loan which, in theory, would give the club time to find new buyers.

Leeds United captain Billy Bremner during the club’s heyday (PA Archive)

A statement read: “Leeds United plc announces that it has today signed a formal standstill agreement with its main financial creditors for the period up to January 19, 2004 in order to provide the Group with sufficient working capital until that date. to give him time to try to identify the parts. who would be prepared to make a substantial investment or an offer for the company as part of an overall financial and balance sheet restructuring.

“The Standstill is the result of negotiations between Leeds United and, among others, the providers of £ 60million senior secured tickets and Gerling General Insurance Co, the credit insurer of Registered European Football Finance Ltd which is the supplier of the Leeds United football player finance leases.

Unfortunately, it was the loan that got United in trouble in the first place.

Under President Peter Ridsdale, Leeds had taken out large loans against the prospect of TV rights and sponsorship income from Champions League qualification and subsequent progress in the competition.

Preston North End v Manchester City - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Deepdale Stadium
Peter Ridsdale was president of Leeds at the time of the 2003 crisis (PA / Images / Richard Sellers)

However, United failed to qualify for the Champions League in successive seasons and, as a result, did not receive enough income to repay the loans.

The first indication the club were in financial difficulty was the sale of Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United for around £ 30million in the summer of 2002.

Ridsdale and manager David O’Leary fell out publicly over the sale and O’Leary was sacked and replaced by former England boss Terry Venables.

Leeds performed poorly under Venables and other players were sold to repay loans, including Jonathan Woodgate, and, with the squad’s failure, Venables was sacked in March 2003 and replaced by Peter Reid.

Ridsdale eventually resigned from the Leeds board and United managed to avoid relegation in the penultimate game of the season, beating Arsenal 3-2 at Highbury with a late strike from Mark Viduka.

It was, however, only a stay of execution as the club continued to be plagued by financial problems over the next decade.


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