Leeds United: Bradley Johnson interview

Leeds United midfielder Bradley Johnson says his commitment to the club should not be in question, despite the contract dispute which could see him leave Elland Road next month.

The 23-year-old spoke out to defend himself this week in an attempt to appease the supporters who jeered him during United's 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace.

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Johnson was the target of criticism from both the club's fans and chairman Ken Bates, who accused him of showing a lack of respect during recent contract negotiations and said the club would not be forced into improving the final offer rejected by Johnson last month.

The former Northampton Town player responded by insisting he was being denied "equality" with the wages of other players at Elland Road and claimed his performances since joining United at the start of 2008 were proof of his commitment to the Championship side.

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The frank exchange of opinions is likely to end any possibility of Johnson agreeing an extension to his deal, which expires at the end of this season, and the club will push ahead with plans to sell him when the transfer window re-opens on January 1.

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His future was already doubtful after he was booed from the pitch when substituted midway through Leeds' win against Palace, and Johnson's claim that he could still sign a new contract has been undermined further by his public argument with Bates.

Johnson said: "If the fans think that (I'm not committed to Leeds) then they're not thinking right. My commitment since day one when I signed for Leeds has shown in every game I've played in. I always give 100 per

cent and every time I wear the shirt I give 100 per cent.

"I'm committed to Leeds. I love the club, I love the fans and I want to be here. It's not a case of me turning down a deal because I don't want to be here. I just want equality.

"The chairman made a statement that I'm being greedy. I'm not being greedy and I'm not asking to be the highest paid player at the club because I shouldn't be. I'm asking for equality. Me being greedy would be me going in and asking to become a millionaire overnight. That's not what I want. I want equality and I want to be on what other players are on.

"I'm an important player to the team, I feel, and I'm playing week in, week out. I don't feel that the contract they're offering is equality at the club."

Bates commented on Johnson's situation in his match-day programme notes before the clash with Palace, warning that the midfielder might struggle to find a better deal elsewhere due to the financial state of English football.

Johnson later claimed that his failure to sign a new deal was down to

a "breakdown in communications" between his representatives and the club but Bates said Johnson himself was responsible having failed to attend scheduled meetings with manager Simon Grayson and chief executive Shaun Harvey.

"Firstly, Bradley has not returned his chairman's telephone calls on at least two occasions," Bates said. "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."

Johnson has made more than 100 appearances for Leeds but the deterioration of his relationship with the club and their supporters is set to lead to a January exit from Elland Road.

Johnson said: "The chairman came out with something in the programme which didn't fight my corner. Everyone's got their opinions and the fans took it his way. I wanted to tell it my way.

"I didn't want it to get to this. It's not my choice being on the transfer list. The club have put me on there and that's down to them but I didn't want to come out and fight this battle. The chairman came out and I had to have my say.

"I helped get the club up into the Championship and I'm not asking for a lot. Every player has their worth and I think I'm a lot more worthy than what Leeds are offering me at the moment. But I don't want to leave.

"The manager's said to me that no matter how things are going, as long as I'm training well and playing well then he's still going to play me.

It's not in his hands whether I get a new contract or not but he's stuck by his word and said that if I do well he's not going to take me out of the team and let me rot. He's going to play me."

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