leeds united letters to the football leagueBack
Chief executive (and former postman) Shaun Harvey is “abroad on business in the Far East,” but that isn’t stopping a deluge of letters to the Football League about Leeds United’s takeover/non-takeover.
First came the contact from fans outraged by the sacking of Brian McDermott; then complaints from the Together Leeds consortium that Gulf Finance House were refusing to listen to their bid.
Now Gulf Finance House themselves have written to the Football League demanding a decision on Massimo Cellino’s suitability under the Owners and Directors Test. Or rather, a GFH spokesman said that Leeds United have written to the Football League – later in the morning, BBC Leeds’ Adam Pope tweeted that “David Haigh has arranged” for the letters to be sent, and later Haigh contacted Adam again "to now clarify that the letters were sent by legal representatives of owners GFHCapital," to which Adam added, "By the way, that last text was in direct contradiction to what I was told earlier this morning."
Whoever sent it, Phil Hay of the YEP has tweeted some of the contents of the letter: "[It] accuses Andrew Flowers and the Farnan group of making objections to the FL and trying to block Cellino’s takeover … It also claims that the impact of Cellino’s conviction on the O&D test might not be clear for a while. #lufc want FL to approve immediately."
At the same time, Adam Pope says he has spoken to David Haigh, who says he is pleased with how the League "are dealing with all aspects of the job." Haigh added that Shaun Harvey, who is in Kuala Lumpar, "Has even taken calls at 3am local time!"
United are in limbo following Cellino’s conviction for evading tax on Nelie, a yacht now rivalling Ridsdale’s goldfish for infamy; the judgement is widely believed to make Cellino ineligible to control Leeds United as it would be considered an “unspent conviction for offences of dishonesty” under the league’s own rules.
The Football League have only released a two line holding statement so far, to say that they are “engaged in an ongoing dialogue with his legal representatives”; they are believed to be waiting for official documentation from the Sardinian court that delivered the verdict. Judge Sandra Lepore has up to 90 days to produce justification for her verdict, while the League still have time left since their last statement, when they said they hoped to have a decision “within ten days.” That was seven days ago.
That delay is doing nothing to help tempers at Elland Road, with a GFH spokesman saying today: “Leeds United have this morning sent a letter to the Football League, demanding that the Football League hands out its decision by the close of play today. This is an unprecedented delay which is damaging the owners’ ability to move the club forward.”
There have been no other official comments from the club or GFH since the Yachtgate verdict was announced, except a GFH statement to the YEP this morning to deny that Pino Pagliara, a former agent who was banned for five years after a match-fixing scandal nine years ago, is involved at Elland Road, despite the YEP’s report that he has been seen around the club in recent months.
While GFH lobby the Football League to hurry, Cellino’s lawyers continue to argue that their client should be considered innocent until the outcome of his appeal is known – a process that could take up to a year.
The other interested party remains Together Leeds, the consortium including Red Strike Marketing’s Mike Farnan, former Leeds director Adam Pearson, and led by Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who remains in line to be chairman if Together Leeds can reach an agreement with GFH. The group submitted details of their own bid for United directly to the Football League on February 11th.
Farnan told the YEP at the time that, “We’ve got strong funding behind this, institutional funding, and we’re talking to the Football League. We’re going to do everything we can to be heard. I’m doing this in the interests of the club because we can bring stability.”
It is understood that in the five weeks since sending that bid to the Football League, Together Leeds have continued to work on the bid’s structure, and that institutional funding or venture capital is no longer involved. The bid is now said to be financed by a group of around six high net worth individuals, most of whom are Yorkshire based, with the ability to buy the club using equity rather than loans – meaning no additional debt will be added to the club.
The mounting debts at United continue to be a source of concern to the fans, although Haigh told The Yorkshire Post last week that, “There is no chance of the club going into administration. None whatsoever.” Massimo Cellino also publicly announced he would stop funding the club unless and until his takeover is confirmed, describing United as “a black hole”; he is believed to be owed back several millions that he has put into the club in recent months.
Owners GFH Capital, meanwhile, have spoken this week about the success of their recent residential investment in Kensington; a luxury Grade II listed building bought in January was described by GFHC’s MD Hisham Al-Rayes as attracting a “quick uptake and oversubscription … of investors looking for good returns.” Parent bank GFH are also restarting work on $3billion real estate project in Tunisia that has been stalled for five years.
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