SIMON GRAYSON admits Leeds United being in the Premier League or Championship could make a huge difference as to whether the club can keep star player Robert Snodgrass during the summer.
However, the United manager has also firmly rebutted weekend reports that talks with the Scot, who has 18 months to run on his current Elland Road contract, over a possible new deal have broken down.
Instead, Grayson has revealed none having taken place since the summer due to an agreement between the club and player, who took his goals tally for the season to 10 in the 3-1 win over Ipswich.
Rumours about Snodgrass terminating discussions over a new contract swept through the crowd during Saturday’s game, adding to an already downbeat atmosphere following the news earlier in the week that United had accepted a bid for Jonny Howson from Norwich City.
However, when asked about the speculation claiming the Scot had cut short discussions, Grayson said: “His contract talks have not got going since the summer.
“We turned down a bid from Norwich and both parties agreed then that we would leave it until it suits. It is not as if we have got round the table in the last 10 days and things have stalled.
“There have been no negotiations for four to five months and that was agreed in the summer.
“He still has 18 months on his contract so we are in a good position. We would like to keep him longer, which is why we offered a new contract (in the summer). Plus, when you turn down a fee from another club then it is courtesy to offer a new deal.
“We didn’t have to do that in the summer, and that is why we have left it. Whoever has come up with the story saying talks have broken down is talking rubbish.”
Asked about the chances of keeping Snodgrass, who has been on the radar of Everton, West Brom and Wolves along with Norwich, Grayson replied: “We would like to keep all our good players and we will try to do that.
“The rest of this season will probably determine how easy that will be.
“Players want to play in the Premier League and I want to manage in the Premier League. If this club gets there then there will be no problem keeping them.”
A more pressing matter for Grayson is strengthening his squad before the closing of the transfer window.
With Leeds out of the FA Cup, they are not in action until a week tomorrow when Birmingham come to Elland Road just a few hours before the window closes.
Grayson has so far added loanees Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend to his squad along with Danny Pugh, whose switch from Stoke City was made permanent in a £500,000 deal.
The Leeds manager said: “We now have a week or so. Signing Fabian was a positive move as there had been a bit of negativity round the place during the week.
“It gave everyone a lift. Hopefully, we can bring in another few players and then people will see we are being positive.
“We are not too far away with a couple of deals but things can change quickly. Injury concerns at another club can put you back but if one or two of our targets aren’t available then we move on to other ones.
“If we can get the players in we want during the next week or so then that will hopefully lift the atmosphere.
“Let’s not forget, though, that we have some good players here. Sometimes, it is about keeping hold of players that other clubs are allegedly interested in.
“They won’t be going anywhere. We have a group capable of getting us promoted.”
Asked if the calibre of signing would be on a par with Delph and Townsend, Grayson replied: “Hopefully, they will be signings who excite people. There is no point bringing in to make up the numbers. We need players who can affect the team. That is why it can be hard to conclude these deals quickly.”
Grayson insists there is money to spend despite chairman Ken Bates revealing in his programme notes for the Ipswich game that the club has overspent on its planned playing budget by almost a quarter.
He wrote: “‘Where’s all the money gone?’ is the latest chant from the vociferous few. Well, I’ll tell them.
“Simon Grayson’s player budget was £9.5m for the year. As I write, we have so far committed £11.722m, over budget by nearly 23 per cent.
“It is bad business practice but a demonstration of how far we have backed the manager and continue to do so.”
Bates says that a tribunal to decide on the fate of Andy O’Brien has been set for February 27. Grayson claimed the defender refused to play for the club against Burnley last November.