£5m Purse Nearly Raised

Last updated : 28 January 2004 By Kevin Markey
Talks were put on hold last week after Birch made an initial request for the players to defer their wages, but they are expected to offer firm support when they meet again.

Birch has been in negotiations with a Yorkshire consortium, led by Leeds-based accountant Gerald Krasner, who were hoping to seize control, but nothing has been finalised.

It is thought that an offer is on the table, but the Yorkshire Evening Post understands that the club's bondholders are not entirely satisfied with the package and are backing Birch in his quest to seek alternatives.

Birch was in London today for another round of talks with United's major creditors. The acting chairman has a deadline of 5pm on Friday by which to raise £5m or sanction a takeover.

The £5m would keep the club afloat until the end of the season and that would buy valuable time and keep the administrators away.

Former deputy chairman Allan Leighton is still working on putting a late bid together, while a second group of Yorkshire businessmen are also discussing the possibility of investment.

Both parties were alerted to the situation after revelations that an unknown consortium were close to clinching a deal to takeover. It is understood that a group of local businessmen called a meeting to discuss a number of ideas aimed at providing financial assistance if required.

There are also suggestions that lifelong fan Sheikh Al-Khalifa is poised with a potential bid, but he has yet to make a move and demonstrate proof of funds.

The other option open to Birch is the sale of players, but the acting chairman insists that survival is the priority and he is not prepared to sell members of the squad whilst trying to salvage their Premiership status.