Former Leeds chief Ridsdale returns north to take over as chairman at ailing Preston

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PRESTON North End have appointed Peter Ridsdale as their new chairman.

The former Leeds United and Barnsley chief replaces Maurice Lindsay, who stood down from the position last week because of ill health.

Ridsdale, 59, joins the League One club from Plymouth Argyle, where as acting chairman he oversaw James Brent’s takeover of the ailing League Two club.

But he will be best remembered for his time of fluctuating fortunes at Elland Road.

After 10 years as a club director, Ridsdale was appointed chairman in 1997 and approved a lavish transfer policy which allowed the Yorkshire club to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2000 and the same stage of the Champions League a year later. But the club’s success proved unsustainable as debts mounted and a dramatic slide resulted in relegation from the Premier League in 2004.

He spent a season in charge of Barnsley in 2003-2004 before taking up the reins at Cardiff City from 2006 until 2010.

The Welsh club also suffered severe financial problems before Ridsdale negotiated a deal with Malaysian businessman Datuk Chan Tien Ghee, who took a 49 per cent stake in the club.

In a statement released by Preston, Ridsdale said: “I am delighted and privileged to be joining Preston North End Football Club.

“Preston North End is a football club that has an incredible football heritage, a large and loyal supporter base.

“It’s a club that, frankly, ought to be competing to join the Premier League rather than playing in League One.

“I sincerely hope that working with Preston North End’s existing staff and with the continued support of its fan base, I can play a part in ensuring that we return to the Championship as a minimum in the not too distant future.”

The appointment comes as a surprise, since Preston owner Trevor Hemmings was expected to pick someone from within his own business empire.

Hemmings, who has an estimated fortune of £900m, was the owner of Blackpool Tower until last year.

After a bright start to the season under manager Phil Brown, Preston have slipped to 14th in League One.

Ridsdale acted as administrator at Plymouth from March until Brent’s takeover, and was then kept on by the club.

Brent said: “I would personally like to thank Peter for his contribution to Argyle as there is little doubt that, without his presence here during the period of administration, it is highly likely that this football club would no longer exist.

“I fully understand the reasons why he would wish to take up the offer at Preston North End and I and everyone at Argyle wish him well for the future.”