SOFT drinks giant Red Bull have flatly denied reports suggesting they are ready to mount a takeover bid for Leeds United.
Weekend reports had suggested that the multi-national company were lining up an offer for United as they sought to extend their sporting portfolio.
But Red Bull moved to clarify their position last night.
A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Red Bull has no plans to take over Leeds United, nor take a stake in the club.”
Earlier, United owner Massimo Cellino had vehemently denied reports he was ready to sell his majority stake.
The Italian said rumours of his impending exit from Elland Road were “disrespectful” and “100 per cent not true”, despite confirming that meetings have taken place with Red Bull.
He said: “I don’t know where they (stories) came from but they’re disrespectful to me and the supporters.
“We talked with an agent who said he was working for Red Bull but I’d never met him before and I don’t know what Red Bull want to do. I’m not selling the club.”
Meanwhile, head coach Neil Redfearn has called on his Leeds United players to front up and be brave in tonight’s home clash with Charlton – as the hosts bid to end an alarming seven-match Championship winless streak.
The 49-year-old admits he will be a proud man when he leads United on home soil for the first time as full-time head coach, against one of his former clubs, but his key concern is on his side taking the initiative from the first minute to the last to engineer a morale-boosting win.
Redfearn, who says talks regarding bringing in an assistant are ongoing, is anxious his United side are proactive and make things happen in home clashes against Charlton – boasting just one away success this term – and basement boys Blackpool, yet to win on the road this term.
United are sixth-from-bottom in the Championship table, with their last win arriving back on September 20 when they beat Huddersfield 3-0 in a powerhouse display, the final match of Redfearn’s last spell as caretaker head coach when Leeds boasted a four-game unbeaten run.
Redfearn is hoping Leeds can replicate that impressive show this evening against a side who have not been beaten in their past six visits to Elland Road.
On leading out Leeds for the first time as permanent boss at home tonight, Redfearn – who has confirmed that Liam Cooper will start in place of suspended captain Jason Pearce – said: “It is a fantastic honour; at the club I have supported as a boy and obviously, the tradition of everything and the club being well respected throughout the Football League.
“We have got two home games now where we want to get something out of them.
“I am mindful we are trying to get back to what we are doing as regards when we were on a bit of a run. I need to get those things back in place.
It will take time, I know that. But I want to see our play resemble what is was like before. I want to see bravery on the ball, forward passing, energy, work-rate and efforts on goal.
“The good thing on Saturday was that our efforts on goal were up. Ten efforts on goal for an away side is good and a plus. Now, we have to start hitting the target a bit more.
“At the other end, we have got to start shutting the back door and keeping things tight.
“I want to make the players proud of what they are doing and give them ownership. They have got to take responsibility. It is alright talking about it; it is them that do it.”
Redfearn is still finalising the appointment of a number two, with Huddersfield assistant Steve Thompson, a team-mate during his playing spell at first club Bolton Wanderers, strongly linked.
Town manager Chris Powell yesterday said he was unaware of reports linking Thompson with Leeds, but the rumours continue to persist.
Redfearn said: “It is still ongoing and I have spoken to somebody I have got in mind and Massimo (Cellino) is aware of the fact I need some help as well. That will get resolved in due course.”
Redfearn admits that he is hoping to do some business in the emergency loan market before it closes on November 27, with some incoming and outgoing activity regarding fringe players likely.
On the likelihood of some activity, he said: “I would have thought so. That is a natural process. It is a really big squad and we don’t want to dilute it, we want to make it competitive.
“We want to make players compete for places, but genuinely feel like they have got a chance. I would imagine some players will come in and some will go out. That is the same as at every football club.”