Leeds fans have had to wait a long time for this, but after months of speculation, Dubai based GFH Capital have finally put pen to paper on a takeover deal. The Daily Shift’s Kevin Bolger has more…
One thing I can say that has benefited from the negotiations is that this six-month courtship has given GFH Capital the opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses and what needs to be supported. You can look forward to a smoother transition than we’ve seen at a lot of clubs.
These were the words of Leeds United Chairperson Ken Bates, speaking about the recent takeover of the club by GFH Capital, a Bahrain based investment bank. Leeds fans will certainly be relieved that this “courtship” is finally coming to an end and they can now look forward to the future.
After years of flirting with potential investors, only to be left hanging, the club now have the deal that Chairman Ken Bates has been searching for.
“Determined to see the job through”. Ken, 80, since taking over the club some 8 years ago has been working tirelessly to stabilise the free falling Yorkshire club who crashed out of the Premiership all those years ago, down to the 3rd tier of English football. After taking over the club, he first set about controlling finances. His reluctance to spend large sums on players has not won him many fans.
But perhaps now Leeds fans can understand what it is he has been doing. After years of speculation about potential take overs, Ken has finally brokered a deal that not only the investors are happy with, but he is too. It was never as simple as selling the club to some one with plenty of money, it was about selling the club to the right person.
Speaking with Yorkshire Radio Bates commented on the subject of past suitors:
There have been a number of reasons why it hasn’t succeeded before, one of them being there are so many liars, chancers and conmen attracted to football and it’s been a very slow, steady, careful process in weeding out those people and not letting them anywhere near Elland Road.
The deal which will see the Bahrain based investment bank take a 100% stakehold in the club will be complete on the 21st of December, bang in time for the January transfer window. Deputy Chief Executive Officer of GFH Capital, David Haigh, will join the board at Leeds with immediate effect, and will be joined by 2 more of his colleagues in December.
David, as well as being a renowned businessman, has a history with Leeds that could be vital when it comes to getting the cash flowing in January. Speaking to the club about the deal which he finalised with Ken 10:30pm last night, he had these very encouraging words to say:
From a Leeds family myself and a supporter of The Whites since childhood, I know that football is at the very heart of the people of Leeds and the wider community. We want to thank all the fans in UK and around the world for their patience and support while the negotiations have been taking place. Lets now march on together, taking the club back to the Premier League as soon as possible.
Despite the criticisms he has endured over the past 8 years, Ken Bates clearly has an undeniable passion for the club.Having secured the deal, he will now continue on as Chairperson until the end of the season in a transitional period, so as the new owners can learn more about the club.
According to Bates, the directors of GFH are grateful for Bates’ accomodation in this transitional period. In his interview with Yorkshire Radio, he has this to say about them:
They think this is important because they know nothing about the day-to-day running of Leeds United and I’m happy to work in tandem with them to ensure that the learning curve from their point of view is as smooth and as easy as possible
We’ve had to be very careful about who has come along, but these people have the resources and are backed by a very rich individual, who is very close to the government of Bahrain, so it gives us confidence we’ve made the right choice here.
“The right choice”. A phrase which sums up Bates’ approach to this perfectly. This wasn’t a get rich scheme; No, this is, in a way, part of his legacy, which already includes the sale of Chelsea FC to Roman Abramovic. Come the end of the season, Bates will step down as Chairperson, likely to be replaced by one of GFH’s own and will take up a new role as president of the club.
At 80 years of age, it is a break from his duties as Chairperson that he is looking forward to. “I will continue as chairman until the end of the season when I will take over as president and I look forward to sitting back and taking more time off.” he said in a release by Leeds United.
The next big question for Leeds fans is how does this effect the immediate future of the club? Well according to Bates, Neil Warnock will remain in charge of the team, but with “more support than the present owners have been able to give”. Leeds fans can only hope this means what it implies – money.