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GFH outline plans for Leeds United
GFH Capital, the Bahrain-based investment company who this week announced they had signed an exclusive agreement to lead a takeover of Leeds, tonight revealed details of their plans for the Championship club.
The company, a subsidiary of Gulf Finance House, have been negotiating with current United owner Ken Bates throughout the summer but only yesterday did any real detail come to light.
Following on from comments by Bates last Saturday that he was speaking to potential investors from the Middle East, GFH penned a letter to the Bahrain stock exchange to confirm they were leading the “acquisition” of the Elland Road club.
Tonight they went one step further, with a lengthy statement outlining their plans which focus heavily on helping the club regain the Premier League status they lost in 2004.
“(GFH Capital’s) intentions, if successful in its acquisition, is to move the club back to the Premier League as quickly as possible and help to build a sustainable future for the club, both on and off the field,” they said.
“This is expected to not only benefit the club and the surrounding community but also the entire city of Leeds.”
Hisham Alrayes, chief executive of GFH, added: “Like many around the world, people from Bahrain and across the Gulf are passionate about the game of football and, notably, English clubs – their successes and hardships are a daily talking point.
“In so many instances this is what bridges the gap between borders and different cultures. We are excited by our intentions for Leeds United and remain fully focused on the specifics of this deal, hoping to conclude a positive outcome as soon as possible.”
Employees of GFH have been photographed with Bates in his box over recent weeks and one of them, chief executive David Haigh, is a Leeds fan who has been public in his support of the club through his Twitter account over recent days.
He said: “As a club, Leeds United has it all – passionate loyal fans, a great heritage and masses of potential to return to the Premier League with the right, sustainable investment.
“From a business perspective, ownership of an English football club, notably Leeds United, is a great opportunity if the right strategies are in place to benefit from the significant revenues available from renewed broadcasting rights.
“From a personal perspective, I have followed Leeds United since childhood and, having been back to Elland Road with my business colleague Salem Patel and our CEO Hisham Alrayes for the last few home games, it makes us even more determined to acquire the club Leeds United and to see the club prosper.
“The existing infrastructure of the club and the result of the work of Ken Bates means that Leeds United is ready off the field to compete in the Premier League.”
Sections of the Leeds support may choose to disagree with Haigh, though, as they have been protesting against Bates, the outspoken 80-year-old former Chelsea chairman, for some time about a perceived lack of investment.
He took over the club in 2005 and has overseen a relegation to League One, a 15-point deduction and a return to the second tier in 2010.
Bates has also appointed four full-time managers – the last of which was Neil Warnock, who was given the backing of GFH investment officer Patel, who also indicated a desire to repurchase the club’s ground.
He said: “We also hope to take back ownership of Elland Road eventually and continue to work closely with Neil Warnock and the team.
“We intend to show the fans – some of the most passionate in the game – just how we can ‘March On Together’ to give Leeds United the success it so richly deserves.”
There was no comment from Leeds United last night.