Leeds United eye Neil Warnock appointment as chairman Ken Bates defends Simon Grayson sacking

The 42-year-old was axed on Wednesday despite his side being sat just four points behind the playoff places, with the ex-QPR boss heavily linked with the vacant job at Elland Road

Neil Warnock has emerged as the favourite to land the vacant Leeds United post after the club targeted him to replace the recently sacked Simon Grayson.

Former Blackpool boss Grayson had been at the Elland Road helm for three seasons, securing promotion from League One at the second time of asking, but the club’s controversial chairman Ken Bates opted to axe the 42-year-old due to recent performances.

“We have to acknowledge the previous three seasons Simon got us to the League One play-offs then promotion and then we finished seventh [in the Championship] and we have backed him all the way,” Bates told Yorkshire Radio.

The club currently find themselves in 10th in the Championship, just four points off the playoff places and Bates has railed against those who have criticised the way he has run the club in recent years.

“At 30 players, we have one of the largest squads in the Championship, and bigger than some in the Premier League.

"We spent over £12million on wages, so why are people blaming me for the recent results? All the money we have received has gone back into the squad.

"The manager decides who he wants to buy, we as the board just pay for it. I only said no once.”

Former England and Leeds defender Danny Mills believes the timing of the sacking has a lot to do with the recent availability of former QPR boss Neil Warnock, sacked this month in favour of Mark Hughes.

“He got sacked for QPR because he is basically known as a Championship manager who will get you up. That's what he has done time and time again.

"That has probably swung Ken Bates's decision.”

Any deal is thought to hinge on Warnock’s wage demands, with Bates unlikely to match the former QPR boss’s £15,000-a-week salary, a figure close to double what former boss Grayson was said to be earning.

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