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leeds united owners announce major investment in the works

leeds united owners announce major investment in the works

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Leeds United’s owners have announced a “period of exclusivity,” during which an English consortium will work to agree what seems to amount to a fresh takeover at the club.

In a detailed statement on Twitter, board member Salem Patel said:

🙂

— Salem Patel (@SalemPatel) November 30, 2013

A statement on the official website gives a bit more information. The two parties – the club and an unnamed UK consortium, made up of “a number of high profile businessmen” – have signed a share acquisition agreement which would see the new investors purchase shares while current owners GFH retain a “significant stake.” 

That’s open to interpretation, but implies that while a significant stake would remain with GFH, majority ownership would move elsewhere.

The period of exclusivity is said by the club to be “in readiness for the January transfer window,” while the words “GFH Capital nears deal” in the sub-headline suggest they don’t intend this process to drag on for long. Well, longer than a month. 

The identity of the people involved in the “English consortium” isn’t known, but the statement does say the group “does not include any previous owners or players of the club” – enough information for Leeds fans to commence a mass game of Guess Who? 

“Is he South African?” No. Click click. “Did he used to play for Leeds?” No. Click click click. “Does he have a white beard?” Definitely not. Click.

The statement ends by saying, “The announcement is the culmination of many months of negotiations by a team led by David Haigh,” although I imagine they mean the yet-to-be-finalised investment deal will be the true culmination, not just the announcement about it. It also says that the deal will keep managing director Haigh and chairman Salah Nooruddin at the club "for the long term", although it doesn’t confirm in what capacity.

UPDATE: The YEP’s Phil Hay has tweeted more details of his understanding of the consortium behind the major investment:

The way I understand it, #lufc MD David Haigh is leading this consortium who will take control of Leeds. They’re buying a majority stake

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) November 30, 2013

It appears that Haigh has put this group together and is about to take more major control at ER. #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) November 30, 2013

This would fit with the increased levels of investment from David Haigh in recent months, who has been named in connection with various companies – Berrydale, Brendale, and Sport Capital – that have all made loans or investments in United. Like Victor Kiam and Remington, it seems like David Haigh likes Leeds so much, he’s buying the company.

SECOND UPDATE: The announcement seemed to come as a surprise to to Mike Farnan, the former Sunderland marketing director of Sunderland, who along with Gary Verity of Welcome to Yorkshire was believed to be involved in a consortium with Lucas Radebe bidding to take over themselves at United.

Lucas and team totally surprised by this mornings announcement? Have written seeking clarification.

— Mike Farnan (@FarnanM) November 30, 2013

Farnan’s tweet was followed by further confusion about the role of Radebe, who despite being named in Farnan’s "team" seems to have been offered a role as ‘international ambassador’ by David Haigh’s consortium – although he won’t know about it until he checks his emails:

Bit more on the Haigh-led consortium bidding to buy Leeds – they’re aiming to appoint @LucasRadebe as an international ambassador of #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) November 30, 2013

News to me @PhilHayYEP

— Lucas Radebe (@LucasRadebe) November 30, 2013

RE: Radebe. An offer to become international ambassador of #lufc was made to him and his agent via email this morning. Had that confirmed.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) November 30, 2013

It’s been a busy week in the boardroom at Leeds, where legal eagles have been working on cases to do with the dismissals of Ken Bates and Gwyn Williams; Gwyn is contesting his sacking over a ‘lewd’ email he sent to Dennis Wise, while Phil Hay reported in the YEP this morning that Bates is alleged by the club to have told staff to fetch him cash from club shop tills as part of his expense account.

Most importantly, in less than four hours Leeds kick off against Blackburn Rovers, backed by almost 7,000 travelling fans.

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