Birch: Comments Taken Out Of Context

Last updated : 02 January 2004 By Kevin Markey

Man United and Newcastle were reported to be poised with £8m bids amid rumours of a fall-out between Smith and the Elland Road board.

But Birch insists there is no dispute and the fans' favourite is going nowhere.He said in the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I know what Alan Smith means to the people here. As far as I'm concerned he epitomises everything that Leeds United is all about.

"We're not interested in selling Alan and we're not inviting offers for any player. Nothing has changed on that front.

"Birch is furious at claims that he has held showdown talks with a number of
players, who were angry at claims attributed the new chairman.

Birch was quoted as saying: "If you have a player who doesn't want to play for the club, he is going to mope. That can be disruptive.

"But the temporary chairman is livid at suggestions that he set out to criticise individual players.

"I never accused any individuals of moping around," added Birch. "My comments were taken totally out of context.

"It's absolute nonsense to suggest that there has been any bust-up between myself and Alan Smith or anyone else for that matter.

"The only time I've spoken to any players has been to wish them a Happy New Year."