TRANSFER windows and Leeds United haven’t exactly gone together well in recent years so surely the club’s supporters will be relieved to hear Neil Redfearn describe Rodolph Austin as “not for sale” ahead of Monday’s deadline.
The Jamaican has returned to the Elland Road fold in recent weeks after a spell when his time in West Yorkshire seemed to be over.
Redfearn’s switch to a formation that sees Austin play further forward has helped, the one-time club captain having been something of a revelation in the role with his display in last week’s morale-boosting win over Bournemouth being of the very highest order.
No wonder, therefore, that news of Wigan Athletic’s interest in a double deal for Austin and Jason Pearce, another who has worn the captain’s armband at Leeds, went down so badly with supporters this week.
However, while Pearce was absent from Thorp Arch yesterday discussing a possible move to the Latics, Austin remains very much part of United’s plans.
Redfearn said: “Obviously, I want to try and keep our better players and for me these are the sort of players that are going to benefit us for years to come.
“We have got a young squad and the good seniors we need to keep. Rudy has been in the side and, for me, he is not for sale, at all costs.”
Austin, ironically, probably would have been allowed to leave United had interest from Brighton & Hove Albion and Millwall developed into a firm bid at the start of the window.
Now, however, the midfielder has returned from the wilderness to become a key member of the squad, not least for the influence he brings to what remains a young staff.
Redfearn added: “We want to try and keep Rudy because you look at Lewis Cook, Charlie Taylor, Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt, and you need a Rudy Austin in there to give them that lift and give them that experience.
“The point of the matter is if we are climbing and we are building then you keep your better players and you add better players to it. You don’t let your better players go, simple as that.”
United’s upturn in form, they are unbeaten in three games, will be put to the test tomorrow at Huddersfield Town.
The Terriers are desperate to exact revenge for September’s 3-0 defeat at Elland Road and sit five places above their West Yorkshire neighbours in the table.
Leeds enjoy a five-point advantage on the bottom three but Redfearn is the first to admit there is plenty of work still to do before safety can be assured.
He said: “We are not out of the woods, we know that. There are going to be a lot of twists and turns between now and the end of the season.
“We know there are going to be some games where we expect to win and we get beat, and we know there will be games where we don’t expect to take anything from them and we win.
“It is going to be one of those types of season. But we have got to be tough and we have got to be focused.”
United made their first moves into the transfer market in 2015 this week as Palermo duo, Sol Bamba and Granddi Ngoyi, joined on loan until the end of the season.
Whether either is match fit remains to be seen, but Bamba’s arrival is timely with Pearce on his way to Wigan.
Redfearn added: “He brings physical presence at 6ft 4in. He has got pace, he is quick and he gives us a different dimension at the back. Sol is experienced. He understands the division and he understands the level.”
Meanwhile, Gulf Finance House, now a minority shareholder at Leeds, has been served with a £33m claim for damages by a consortium whose own bid to buy the club failed last season.
Sport Capital – a consortium headed by former Leeds managing director David Haigh – claims GFH and the bank’s private equity arm, GFH Capital, breached the terms of a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) reached between them, causing the proposed takeover to fail.
The group spent almost three months attempting to push the buy-out through. The bid’s failure in January 2014 cleared the way for current owner Massimo Cellino to agree the purchase of a 75 per cent stake in Leeds early the following month.
In the claim for damages, Sport Capital accuses GFH of breaking the terms of the SPA by negotiating the sale of United to Cellino and the Italian’s UK firm, Eleonora Sport Limited.
They also claim, via a statement, GFH attempted to sell to Khaled Al-Baltan, who was president of Al Shabab football club in Saudi Arabia.
Sport Capital’s statement reads: “The SPA provided for Sport Capital to fund the working capital of the club throughout the term of the SPA, which they did.
“The SPA also specifically prevented GFH from entering any negotiations or discussions with any other parties regarding the sale of Leeds United shares.
Andrew Flowers, managing director of United’s shirt sponsor, Enterprise Insurance, and a member of the consortium at the time, is not involved in the current claim for damages.