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John Burridge: Leeds United a sleeping giant

Yorkshire club has potential to rival the best, says former keeper coach

Gulf News

Dubai: The proposed Leeds United takeover could make the club as big as Manchester City, according to UAE-resident and former Leeds United goalkeeper coach John Burridge.

A Dubai-based equity firm is said to be on the verge of sealing a takeover for the Yorkshire-based club after six months of negotiations. The deal had believed to have been stalled over issues surrounding the council’s ownership of the club’s Elland Road Stadium and Thorp Arch training ground.

Burridge, 60, who coached goalkeepers Nigel Martyn and Paul Robinson under David O’Leary at the club between 1997 and 1999, told Gulf News: “Leeds are in exactly the same position as Manchester City were before the Abu Dhabi takeover.

“It’s a sleeping giant with huge potential in terms of gate receipts and fanbase and in the same way that Abu Dhabi owners made Manchester City a global giant, Leeds could become a global giant, too.

“The same way you see kids here wearing City shirts, you could soon see them wearing Leeds tops. Leeds are Manchester United’s traditional rivals not City.”

Burridge added: “If I was buying an English football club based on potential it would be either Leeds United, Aston Villa or Sheffield Wednesday, because the infrastructure is already in place. All you need is the right players and management and you’re away.”

Of current coach Neil Warnock, Burridge added: “They’ll need someone more politically correct and showbiz to rival Roberto Mancini at City. Warnock is a spitting sawdust type of guy. He’s good at his job but they’ll need someone more high profile.”