SHANGHAI: A Chinese petrochemicals tycoon could be a top contender to buy debt-strapped British football team Leeds United, a Chinese newspaper reported yesterday.
Xu Ming, president of PVC housing materials maker Shide, has since the beginning of this year repeatedly expressed interest in buying teams in South Korea, Australia, Italy and the United States, the Shanghai Morning Post announced.
Xu, 31, also serves as chairman of Chinese first division football team Dalian Shide, the seven-time national champions who boast several Chinese international's on their squad. Xu has said he would like to partner the team with top European clubs, according to the company's Web site.
Meanwhile, Leeds caretaker manager Eddie Gray is pinning his salvage job on the broad shoulders of Mark Viduka.
Gray has been using the Aussie striker as a lone frontman with Alan Smith back in midfield and Viduka's super goal against Fulham on Sunday his first in 10 games has the club buzzing.
Goalscorers do worry when the goals aren't coming, but I just said to him at half-time keep going and the goals will come for you, Gray said.
So I was delighted to see Mark Viduka score.
Once he starts scoring goals to go with everything else he's got, we're dangerous.
He's important to us in the system we are playing at the moment because he holds the ball up and he lets the two young wide boys support him and he plays in the boys in the middle of the park, plus he scored a great goal.
His great strength is holding the ball up for others on the edge of the box. I have to say that since I have come back to the club, Mark has been terrific.
Gray believes that seven points from their last three matches are restoring confidence.
Although Leeds remain second bottom, their resurgence means they are only five points adrift of 11th-placed Middlesbrough.
Players the need to use the ability they have and that comes from hard work and confidence, he said.
Gray is also pleased to have avoided the stigma of being bottom at Christmas. No team has yet to avoid relegation in the Premiership after being rooted to the foot of the table at Christmas.
Everyone knows the scenario with that and it will probably give the boys a lift to know that they have avoided that, he said.
I am not looking beyond the next game, that's all that concerns me. When we played Chelsea last week I just said we'll look at the Fulham game and we'll do the same now with the Man City game.
We'll take it each game at a time because they are all as important as each other.
Michael Duberry has given Gray the thumbs-up.
Gray has switched formation by playing five across the middle and dispensing with the services of the six on-loan foreign players signed by former boss Peter Reid.
Duberry was in the right place at the right time on Sunday to steer home the opening goal from a parried Ian Harte free-kick.
It was Duberry's first goal for three-and-a-half years, and only his second for Leeds since his 5 million pound arrival from Chelsea in 1999.