Peter Ridsdale - that beloved chap - has alleged that Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill signed a pre-contract to join Leeds shortly before Ridsdale left the club. Because, y'know, Martin O'Neill is a decent manager, and he might have done a better job at saving the club from relegation than Terry Venables and his successors. And so Ridsdale can claim that he really sorted out the problems he created, honest, and Leeds fans shouldn't hate him anymore. Idiot.
O'Neill, of course, denies Ridsdale's claims. In fact, he's gone to the press to explain his side of the story (understandable, seeing as Ridsdales version makes him sound like a traitorous and duplicitous man) and, as usual, his version of events in The Times makes vastly more sense than Ridsdale's:
“I’d signed a three-year contract at Celtic and into the last few months of that contract, when there had been no discussions about a new deal, I assumed Celtic wanted me to see my time through. So I was within my rights to speak to somebody and went to meet Peter [Ridsdale]. I signed a statement of intent which included quite a number of conditions. One was that Peter told me Terry [Venables], the manager at the time, wanted to leave. It was not a contract. Peter was pleading that he needed a signature indicating a serious intent and, of course, there had to be because I had to see if I had the potential to be working after June 30, 2003. When I realised that what Peter had said to me had not stacked up, when I spoke to Dermot and realised Celtic didn’t actually want me to leave and that the conditions were not being adhered to, I wrote to Peter and left it there.”
I don't think I'm alone in wishing that Ridsdale would just leave Leeds alone and stop making excuses for what, in any estimation, was a disastrous Chairmanship from a business standpoint. Nobody is questioning Ridsdale's footballing achievements - Leeds reached the Champions League semi-final, in large part thanks to his spending. To try to gloss over the fact that the club was all but ruined after his Chairmanship is laughable.