However, the Leeds board are also in discussions with the consortium led by Leeds-based property developer Norman Stubbs and a third group chairman Gerald Krasner held constructive talks with in London earlier this week.
Bates was recently linked with Sebastien Sainsbury's failed £25m takeover bid, only to deny any involvement.
But Bates has since made his own approach, and with other investors by his side, the 73-year-old has seemingly come from nowhere to move into pole position.
Leeds spokesman Bryan Morris confirmed: "We are still talking to all consortiums and Mr Bates is one of those.
"No deal has been finalised, but as soon as negotiations have been concluded we will issue a further statement."
Bates was linked last year with a takeover of Yorkshire neighbours Sheffield Wednesday.
Sources close to Bates suggest he has more respect for the Leeds board who appear to be more committed to getting Leeds moving forward again.