United legend Peter Lorimer on Alan Smith...
Following Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Newcastle United, Leeds United legend Peter Lorimer has moved to reveal the story behind Alan Smith's move to Manchester United.
The trip to St James's Park was the first time Smith has faced Leeds since his £6m move to Manchester United in the summer of 2004, following the club's relegation from the Premiership.
Since Smith's move there has been a simmering anger among many fans, and a large of number of the amazing travelling support of around 3,500 Leeds fans made their feelings known at Newcastle on Wednesday.
The striker spoke afterwards about the "stick" he had received and while admitting he expected it, he also stressed that he fully understood the reaction of the travelling fans and pointed out that he would always remain a Leeds fan.
And, following the game, Elland Road legend and one-time director Lorimer, said he felt the time had to come to reveal the facts about Smith's move across the Pennines.
"Our fans are fantastic and the support again at Newcastle was terrific," he said.
"I think we all expected Alan to get some stick - he expected it as well - but I did feel a little sorry for him because while he went to our biggest rival football-wise, it's never been known by anyone what was behind him going to Old Trafford and I think now is the right time to clear that up.
"What happened was that going back to the Gerald Krasner board at that time, they had just taken over, the club had massive debts, the tax man was pressing, we were struggling to pay the wages and we needed money in desperately.
"The biggest asset at that time was Alan Smith. We had offers from Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Everton, and various other clubs were interested, but we also knew Manchester United were interested.
"I was asked personally by the board of that time to ring Alex Ferguson to let him know that Alan was available if he was interested and tell him how much we were looking for.
"And the reason he had to go there was that we were so pressed for money, and it was such a desperate situation, that they were the only team who could pay us the full amount there and then.
"The other teams who were interested - as with most transfers nowadays - were on partial payment terms over a longer period of time. But the club was in such dire straits we needed the money there and then. That was the reason why he went there.
"To a degree he might not have chosen Manchester United had he been given the choice, but he wasn't. The club led him down that line. His agent and Alan were made aware of the situation at that time, and the neccessity was that he went to Old Trafford.
"Leeds fans didn't want him to go there but as far as the club is concerned, Alan Smith going there probably saved us from going into administration or liquidation a lot earlier than we did.
"I know Alan. He is a Leeds fan and he always will be a Leeds fan and there is nobody more aware than him of how much it hurt our fans, but I would like to put the record straight.
"I fully understand how the fans felt, but he was made fully aware of how bid the situation here was and what the club's preference was.
"I hope they appreciate that he still loves Leeds and maybe now it's time to bury the hatchet.
"Our fans are fantastic. When you think what they have gone through over the past few years, from where we were to where we are. Hopefully we are on the way back. Our fans stood up to it and they are still following the club.
"It's sad our club has had to sell so many players, but all these lads don't forget their roots and I know Alan is the same."