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Takeover finally goes through
Takeover finally goes through
Wednesday, 21st Nov 2012 13:45 by Tim Whelan

This morning we finally got the news that we have been waiting for for the last siz months. The takeover by GFH has finally been agreed, although Papa Smurf will remain as Chairman until the end of the season.

A statement on the official site says “Dubai-based investment bank, GFH Capital Limited has today signed the deal for the acquisition of Leeds United Football Club. The signing of this deal marks the start of a one-month transitional period in terms of full change in ownership and control of the club. Following Football League approval, GFH Capital Limited will be 100% shareholders.”

“The deal sees GFH Capital Limited injecting further funds for working capital and to support Neil Warnock's intentions to strengthen the team. GFH Capital executive David Haigh will join the board of Leeds United with immediate effect with fellow GFH Capital executives Hisham Alrayes and Salem Patel joining in December as the leadership of the club is further strengthened”.

But unfortunately the statement went on to say “Ken Bates will remain as Chairman for a transition period until the end of the season after which point a new GFH Capital-led Chairman will take over the position and Ken Bates will become club President”. What exactly he will be doing in these roles isn’t yet clear, but hopefully it won’t be all that much.

Bates himself said “Neil Warnock will continue as manager with more support than the present owners have been able to give”, which is a sad admission, seeing as he himself was the ‘present owner’!  But when he says “I look forward to sitting back and taking more time off” I’m sure there will be thousands of Leeds fans nodding in agreement. Just put your feet up old boy, we’re all looking forward to you taking time off.

Meanwhile David Haigh, Deputy CEO, GFH Capital Limited said: "We have today injected further funds into the club and now we look to the future and start the exciting journey to take Leeds United FC back into a prime position in English football once again. From a Leeds family myself and a supporter of The Whites since childhood, know that football is at the very heart of the people of Leeds and the wider community. Let’s now march on together, taking the club back to the Premier League as soon as possible."

Hopefully this deal also includes the purchase of Elland Road and Thorp Arch, although this hasn’t been mentioned so far in the official statements. It would have been handy if this deal had gone through much earlier, as the pre-Christmas loan market is only open for a few more days, but at least it gives Neil Warnock time to start lining up a few transfer targets for January.

Let’s hope that GFH have can find sufficient funds to fulfil their promises and get the club back to where we want it to be, despite the recent reports that they need to sell some other assets in order to keep going. Time will tell how far they will be able to take the club, but at least I’m far more optimistic about our future than I was first thing this morning.

Photo: Action Images



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TimWhelan added 13:46 - Nov 22
To answer the question about the ownership of Elland Road and the training ground, no, they have not been included in this takeover deal, but whoever owns Leeds United have the right to buy them back at any time, and GFH are hoping to do so in the very near future.

Leeds currently pay £1m a year in rent to Teak Ltd, a company regisitered at the same time as Bates took over Leeds United, and which is based in the British Virgin Islands. Bates denies that he controls this company, but he's done business in the Virgin Islands in the past. Thorp Arch is owned by Birmingham businessman Jacob Adler.
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