Leeds United: O’Brien dispute yet to be resolved, say Whites

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Leeds United say discussions over the future of Andy O’Brien are “on-going”, with the Professional Footballers’ Association working to settle the dispute between the club and the defender.

The players’ union has confirmed to the YEP that it is assisting O’Brien in negotiations with Leeds following the fall-out with manager Simon Grayson which will spell the end of the centre-back’s career at Elland Road.

O’Brien is in a state of limbo after ruling himself out of last month’s Championship game against Burnley and informing Grayson that he no longer wished to be considered for selection in any future Leeds fixture.

Grayson warned that O’Brien “won’t play for me again” and received the backing of chairman Ken Bates, who said: “To my mind he has resigned his position. As far as I personally am concerned, Andy O’Brien has left the club and we have moved on.”

But a fortnight later, O’Brien remains on the books at Leeds with a deal which runs for another 18 months, until June 2013.

Interested

The option of sending him out on loan passed when the Football League’s emergency deadline elapsed last Thursday – midweek reports claimed Championship rivals Bristol City were strongly interested in signing O’Brien temporarily – and United are looking for a way to sever his contract.

A spokesman for the PFA echoed recent comments from Grayson and Bates by describing O’Brien’s situation as “delicate” and declined to speculate on how the dispute might be resolved.

He told the YEP: “Like any situation of this nature, you have to allow for due process and for all sides to consider the information available to them.”

Grayson left no room for reconciliation with O’Brien after the centre-back made his feelings plain 24 hours before Leeds’ 2-1 win over Burnley.

Grayson had planned to name O’Brien in his starting line-up at Turf Moor after recalling him to good effect in a victory over Leicester City two weeks earlier.

O’Brien’s appearance against Leicester was his first since August, and an impressive outing suggested that the 32-year-old had overcome the lack of form and fitness which saw him jeered from the field by his own supporters during a Carling Cup tie against Bradford City on August 9.

The fate of O’Brien has taken a back seat this week with public attention in Leeds focused on the death of the club’s former winger, Gary Speed.

But Grayson said: “It’s on-going in terms of conversations between Andy’s representatives and us about what we need to do.

“It’s not been as major an issue at this moment as it might have been but we’re dealing with the situation, as we’re dealing with a lot of things.”

O’Brien has played 37 times for Leeds since joining the club from Bolton Wanderers on a two-and-a-half year contract in January.

He is yet to make any comment on his reasons for ruling himself out of Grayson’s first-team plans.

lPORTSMOUTH’S players have been assured they will be paid this month.

The south-coast club’s future is once again under threat after owners Convers Sports Initiatives went into administration last week.

Joint-administrator Andrew Andronikou admits they urgently need a new investor, but manager Michael Appleton has met with chief executive David Lampitt and been assured short-term funding is in place.

“The meeting with David went fine, not a problem,” Appleton said.

“From a football point of view it is business as usual. Everyone is aware that obviously CSI are in administration.

“I have been told from a funding point of view we are okay in the short-term. The lads were paid for last month and we’ve been assured we are going to be paid this month.”

lKen Dulieu has stood down as Coventry chairman in order to work more closely with manager Andy Thorn as head of football operations at the Ricoh Arena.

Dulieu only took over in late March after Ray Ranson resigned but he has now made a sideways move in the latest off-field twist.

Dulieu insists the first stages of a long-term turnaround plan have helped stop financially-stricken City “haemorrhaging cash”.

He said: “Right now my time and effort is best spent working with Andy Thorn and his team.”

Chris Wood

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