Leeds United defender Scott Wootton is set to leave Elland Road this summer – after it emerged that a contract extension handed to him last year was never finalised.
Wootton will be released on a free transfer when Leeds publish their retained list due to a bizarre scenario which left a 12-month extension to his existing deal incomplete.
The former Liverpool and Manchester United centre-back, who took up a three-year contract with Leeds when he moved from Old Trafford in 2013, signed an agreement in February 2015 which would have tied him down until the end of next season. The extension – negotiated at a time when owner Massimo Cellino was serving a Football League ban and Andrew Umbers was running the club as chairman – was formally announced on United’s official website but the club’s failure to complete the necessary paperwork will see them move the 24-year-old on before the start of next season.
The YEP understands that having put pen to paper, Wootton believed the terms were binding and that he was contractually committed to the club until 2017.
In an interview with LUTV broadcast shortly after his extension was announced, Wootton said: “Obviously I’m very pleased and delighted to have signed a contract extension.
“I was on loan at Rotherham and I would never have expected everything to turn round like it has (at Leeds).”
Leeds ran into legal trouble during a previous contract dispute involving Cameron Stewart, the former Hull City winger who moved to Elland Road on loan in January 2014.
Stewart signed a permanent three-year deal at the time of his loan and was due to make a full time switch at the end of the 2013-14 season but United and Cellino reneged on that contract after Stewart struggled to make a serious impact.
Leeds were later ordered by a tribunal to pay Stewart compensation in excess of £500,000.
Wootton made 74 appearances for United, many of them at right-back, but he was an increasingly maligned figure at Elland Road owing to a series of defensive mistakes.
His own goal saw Leeds crash out of the FA Cup’s fifth round at Watford in February and an injury-time mistake on Saturday allowed Preston North End to snatch a 1-1 draw in United’s final game of the Championship season.
Head coach Steve Evans defended him after that blunder, saying: “We know it’s a big mistake. I feel for the kid as I’d feel for anyone who does that.
“He’s not been around the first team for a little while and I thought up until then he did really well against two good strikers in (Jermaine) Beckford and (Joe) Garner. They’re real quality in this division.
“I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that because he’s not played much at this level, it was maybe just tiredness in the last few seconds.”
Wootton is the second of two senior players preparing to leave after Italian striker Mirco Antenucci confirmed last weekend that he would move on when his two-year deal expires next month.