Date: 27th February 2008 at 10:25am
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The Football League has made a huge u-turn in the fight against Leeds United’s 15 point penalty appeal by offering the club an arbitration hearing.

It is not yet known as to whether Ken Bates and Leeds United will accept their offer, as the proceedings would include a representative of the Football league, and would likely be held within legal privacy. The club will now negotiate for a fully open hearing.

Today was deadline day for the Football League to respond to the writ issued by United and the timing has been viewed on suspiciously by the Leeds United chairman, however it is undecided as yet whether to accept the arbitration, complete with a Court of Appeal judge, or continue to push the league all the way to a very public and potentially damaging High Court battle. It was the intention of the Football League chairman, Lord Brian Mawhinney to fight ‘robustly’ any attempt by United to get their points back.

Speaking to the official website, Leedsunited.com was Ken Bates:

“The letter arrived from the League’s solicitors yesterday morning suggesting that this should go to arbitration with a Court of Appeal judge.

“To quote their words, ‘impartiality and independence will be guaranteed and the competence of the tribunal will be par excellence’. Impartiality and independence is what we have been arguing for all along.

“It is a long overdue development and the pleasing thing from our point of view is that a Court of Appeal judge will hear it. After a Law Lord, they are the highest in the land.”

He went on to add a further swipe at the Football League, and their motives behind punishing Leeds United for a second time, the only team to have received this treatment following administration:

“We haven’t accepted as yet, we are now considering the matter. If we do accept we would want the matter to be open, and if they are satisfied that it has all been done correctly, they would want the world to know that as well.

“But, this matter has to be resolved sooner rather than later for the sake of all the clubs in League One with an interest in promotion.”

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