Peter Ridsdale has quit as Leeds chairman.

The resignation was announced to the London Stock Exchange after the club revealed losses had increased to œ17.2m for the six months to 31 December from œ13.8m inthe same period last year. Ridsdale will stay at the club as a non-executive director.

Fellow director Professor John McKenzie will replace Ridsdale as the club’s chairman.

‘The priority for the club is to focus on avoiding relegation Leeds chairman John McKenzie

“This has been a very tough six months for the company and our performance both on and off thepitch has been unsatisfactory,” said Ridsdale in a statement.

“This means that tough action has had to be taken to generate funds from player sales and to reduce costs both on and off the pitch.

“The intensity of personal criticism hasled me to conclude that the best decision for myself, my family and the company is that I step down as chairman of the plc and football club.

“When this criticism becomes so intense that it affects your family and health it requires clear reflection on the right way forward,” added Ridsdale.

Ridsdale has come under firce criticism from supporters after the club were forced to sell several key players to help balance the books. The situation on the pitch has reflected the mood off it, with Leeds slumping to 16th in the Premier League. The club appointed Terry Venables last summer, but sacked him 10 days ago and installed former Sunderland boss Peter Reid until the end of the season.