BusinessCompany NewsBirch takes charge as Leeds post £50m loss

Birch takes charge as Leeds post £50m loss

Leeds United confirmed this morning that insolvency practitioner and former Chelsea chief executive Trevor Birch would be joining the club next month - just as the club announced record pre-tax losses of £50m.

Link: Birch offered Leeds Utd role

Former Ernst & Young partner Birch will take over as chief executive on 1 November. The appointment – and the club’s financial results, also announced today – makes clear the club’s intention to restructure. Birch joins another former and insolvency practitioner, finance director Neil Robson, on the board.

The club announced a pre-tax loss of £49.4m for the 2002/03 financial year this morning and said that debts were little changed at £78m. The loss is believed to be a record for a listed club.

But in a stock exchange announcement it stressed that it was a going concern. ‘The directors continue to believe that the going concern basis is appropriate,’ the statement said.

Describing the results as ‘miserable’, analyst Henk Potts of Barclays Stockbrokers told AccountancyAge.com that if the club got relegated, ‘financial meltdown’ would follow. And he said that football club’s inability to juggle the twin demands of winning on the pitch and maintaining sound finances meant that clubs should not be quoted on the stock exchange.

Leeds play Manchester United tonight.

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