LONDON (AFP) - The fate of Leeds United's appeal against a 15-point penalty imposed over the club's handling of its bankruptcy last year looks set to be placed in the hands of a senior judge.
Club chairman Ken Bates revealed on Wednesday that the Football League, responding to a legal writ from Leeds, had offered to seek a resolution of the dispute through an arbitration panel comprised of a Court of Appeal judge, a representative from the club and one from the league.
The development will raise hopes among supporters that the points penalty will be either reduced or overturned, which would boost the club's prospects of securing promotion from League One, the third tier of English football, to the Championship.
Bates took Leeds into administration in May once it became clear that they was going to be relegated then bought the club back from the administrators in August.
The League ruled that the move constituted a serious breach of its rules governing the insolvency of clubs and ruled that Leeds should start the season with a 15-point deficit.
Leeds maintain the penalty was unfair and/or excessive and issued a High Court writ to that effect last month.
Bates welcomed the offer of arbitration although he would not commit himself to withdrawing the writ.
"What makes me laugh is that it has taken six months to get to this position, six months in which the League have refused to discuss the matter with us," the former Chelsea chairman told the Yorkshire Post.
"Only now, with the writ having been issued, do they instruct their lawyers to come back to us.
"It is a long overdue development and the pleasing thing from our point of view is that a Court of Appeal judge will hear it."
Leeds, who were Champions League semi-finalists only eight years ago, are currently ninth in League One, five points off the final promotion play-off place. If they had not had the 15 point deduction they would be second in the table and on track for automatic promotion.
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