Leeds United: Johnson hits back at Bates

Bradley Johnson's hopes of reconciliation with Leeds United appear to be in tatters after a bitter exchange of words with chairman Ken Bates.

Johnson came out in defence of himself after Bates blamed the midfielder for the "breakdown in communications" which Johnson said was preventing him from signing a new contract at Elland Road.

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Bates cast doubt on Johnson's insistence that he might yet agree an extension to his deal at Elland Road by reiterating that United's offer to the 23-year-old would not be improved.

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He went on to accuse Johnson of showing a lack of respect by failing to

return his phone calls and missing scheduled meetings with club chief executive Shaun Harvey and manager Simon Grayson, at which his contractual situation was due to be discussed.

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Johnson responded by saying negotiations with Leeds were the responsibility of his agent and claimed again that United were denying him equality with other professionals at Elland Road.

The former Northampton Town player, who is out of contract at the end of this season, rejected an improved and final offer from Leeds last month and was subsequently transfer-listed.

He was jeered by a section of the home crowd during Saturday's Championship match between United and Crystal Palace at Elland Road but spoke out afterwards, saying: "There's been a breakdown in communications and I want to get it sorted. It's not me being greedy. I just want to be treated as an equal. I want to stay here."

Bates addressed the issue yesterday, saying: "Firstly, Bradley has not returned his chairman's telephone calls on at least two occasions.

"Secondly, he had an appointment to see Shaun and didn't turn up. His excuse was that he had to pick his parents up.

"The following day it was arranged that he would see the manager before

training at 10 o'clock. At 10.35am the manager went down and Bradley was training. When Simon pointed out that he had an appointment, he (Johnson) said 'I thought I'd see you afterwards.'

"So if there's a breakdown in communications, it's down to one person – Bradley Johnson. As far as we're concerned, he was earning more than the Prime Minister, we made him a good offer and his agent demanded considerably more than we were willing to pay. We increased the offer once more and Bradley declined it.

"At the moment, there isn't even an offer on the table. We're not running after Bradley. If Bradley wants to stay at Leeds United then he's got to show a bit more respect and, to use his phrase, get it sorted."

Reacting to Bates' comments, Johnson said: "I was called two hours prior to the meeting (with Harvey). I'd made plans, my parents were coming up from London, the snow was bad in Leeds and I had to pick them up from the (train) station. I said 'sorry I can't make it.'

"But then again, I don't feel that I should be going into meetings with the chairman or the manager or the chief executive. That's what I've got an agent for and that's what every player has an agent for.

"I didn't feel that I had to see them by myself. My agents have been up here three times to see whoever they saw, but the now (the club) are trying to get me on my own."

Leeds will look to sell Johnson when the transfer window opens next month and his remarks may end any possibility of further talks between the two sides.

Grayson, however, has fielded him in his starting line-up for three successive matches since Johnson rejected Leeds' final offer, and he insisted last weekend that the midfielder would only be dropped on the basis of form.

Johnson insisted again that he wanted to commit himself to United but said: "Like I've already said, I'm asking for equality.

"Being greedy is asking for more than what other players are on and I'm not asking for that, in no way, shape or form. I feel I've been targeted. There've been breakdowns in contract (talks) with other players but I'm the only one being put in the public eye and being transfer-listed."

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