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leeds united hit f5: refresh the board

leeds united hit f5: refresh the board

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Interpreting the communication from Elland Road can be difficult these days, especially when a club director goes on Twitter the night before a big announcement to say: “:-)”.

We can only guess at what Salem Patel’s first tweet to since 23rd April had to do with, well, with anything (if it had anything to do with anything at all), but fortunately Leeds United have released a slightly more comprehensive statement this morning, outlining the changes in the club boardroom now that Ken Bates’s old fur coat is no longer slung across the back of the top chair.

That Bates would bring his inglorious time as chairman to an end on 1st July has been known for a while, although there has been more speculation about whether he would actually leave on the proper day than about who might replace him. The lure of being able to call himself president seems to have been enough to tempt him back to his Monaco flat and away from the day to day running of the club.

What nobody really saw coming was that Chief Executive Shaun Harvey would also be giving up the keys to the stationery cupboards today. Harvey has effectively been running the club in Bates’s name for years, and there was a feeling that while the ‘transition period’ following GFH Capital’s takeover would end by jettisoning Ken, Harvey would stay on in his role; after all, he was still taking the middle chair as recently as Brian McDermott’s first press conference.

The all-new refreshed and fit for 2013/14 board announced this morning still has Harvey as a director, but his job title of CEO has disappeared. Managing Director David Haigh is now “responsible for the day-to-day running of the club.” Above Haigh, vice-chairman (since March) Salah Nooruddin has taken Bates’s place as chairman.

Not much is known about Nooruddin, and he didn’t give much away in last week’s question and answer article on the club website. We know he likes the words ‘foundations,’ ‘stability,’ and ‘sustainability.’ We also know that just a few weeks ago he seemed to have done himself out of the chairmanship when his mate’s lad’s trial at Thorp Arch became a sore spot between the boardroom and the academy that GFHC had to sort out.

More is known about David Haigh, although not necessarily because of what he has told anyone; his attempts to create a profile as a die-hard Leeds fan since birth have fallen short despite telling The Daily Mail he was born in Beeston (actually Salford), and waving scarves around. More important to Leeds fans will be his ability to run our football club properly and without zoning out and staring into space whenever he’s asked a question.

Between them the pair represent International Investment Bank (Nooruddin) and Gulf Finance Captial (Haigh), and as nobody involved in either has run a football club before, that’s where we have to look for clues to their business nous. It’s better to look through your fingers, though; between them the two companies have a record of announcing several multi-billion dollar construction projects, that don’t get constructed, get sold for a loss, or become the focus of protests by Bahraini protestors calling for regime change.

Completing billion dollar projects won’t be necessary at Elland Road; completing a million pound signing would be enough to start with, believed to be the price that will bring Crewe captain Luke Murphy to Leeds today. United haven’t spent that sort of money since Richard Cresswell arrived in 2005, and fans are understandably giddy about being associated with that kind of outlay; especially as it was only Friday when Steve Morison was being loaned out to free up wages for new players.

With a new chairman, a new managing director, and a new transfer market muscle, the words ‘new era’ come easily to mind; and the quotes currently being tweeted by Adam Pope of BBC Leeds tick all the right boxes to give Leeds fans a very unfamiliar serotonin rush. Refreshing the names in the boardroom now has to be followed by refreshing the actions of the club, and by matching talk of the “long term stability of Leeds United” with actions in GFH and IIB’s own boardrooms, where the club is still described as held for its “capital appreciation over the medium-term … with a consideration to offer it [for sale] once the club’s financial position is solidified.”

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The City Talking Issue 4

The City Talking Issue 4

about a year ago

The City Talking newspaper number 4 is now available in over eighty venues across Leeds, featuring our handsomely styled cover star, dazzling Hollywood legend Louis Le Prince.


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