7:10pm Friday 11th April 2014
By Sports Desk
Leeds managing director David Haigh has announced his resignation amid another day of chaos at Elland Road.
Haigh - who was due to become the club’s new chief executive following the completion of the takeover by Italian Massimo Cellino - confirmed his exit on an afternoon when West Yorkshire Police said it was investigating allegations of theft at the Sky Bet Championship club.
It is understood the allegations centre on the installation of surveillance equipment in the stadium’s boardroom and toilets, although there is no suggestion that Haigh’s resignation is connected.
Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs, head of crime for Leeds, said: “We can confirm that police are investigating an allegation of theft relating to Leeds United Football Club following a report made by the club made on April 9.
“The investigation relates to an allegation of club funds being misappropriated for the purchase of technical equipment.
“Inquiries are at an early stage and we are not in a position to give any further information about the nature of the allegation.”
Haigh, 35, was due to assume a new role at Leeds after Cellino completed his 75 per cent purchase of the club from Haigh’s former employers, Gulf Finance House Capital, under the banner of Eleonora Sport.
Relations between the pair soon turned sour, though, with Cellino embarking on a foul-mouthed rant about Haigh in an interview with a fan that he did not know was being recorded, before last week telling a national newspaper that he intended to sack him.
Haigh has pre-empted that and walked away, insisting he never did anything that was not in the club’s best interests.
He said in a statement: “Owing to various statements made by and on behalf of the new majority owners of Leeds United FC, I am left with no alternative than to resign as Managing Director of the club.
“This is a matter of particular regret to me since I was the person who first introduced Eleonora Sport to the club’s owners. I also gave them my full and constant support in the Football League’s lengthy approval process.
“I am not yet, due to confidentiality obligations, in a position fully to respond to various statements which have been made about me over recent months. As soon as I am I will address the various issues - obviously a great deal has happened these past two years.”
Haigh went on to claim that he had done his best to fund Leeds throughout some financially barren times.
There was a stand-off between GFH and Cellino as to who would pay the bills while the latter waited for his purchase to be rubber-stamped and Haigh reckons he did what he could to plug the holes.
“As is well known by those in or close to the club, my unstinting support of Leeds United throughout my time at the club has extended to loaning the club money to ensure that tax, players and staff were paid and to underpin its continuing viability - loans which to this day remain in the club,” he said.
“I also searched endlessly for suitable investors, whilst at the same time not taking any payment that was due. In addition to all this I had to deal with and manage what can only be described as the crazy situation of very limited support from those who should have supported the club and the management, whilst at the same time having little or no decision-making ability.
“On occasions this resulted in my paying club running expenses on my personal cards and last-minute dashes to wire personal money to the club to pay the HMRC.
“Notwithstanding, I did everything which was in my very limited power to take the club forward, to engage with the fans and the community and to keep the promises which were made to its great fans.”
Haigh had previously led a takeover attempt of his own under the guise of Sport Capital - a group which included club sponsor Andrew Flowers and, according to the man himself, Leeds’ former owner Ken Bates who sold the club to GFHC in December 2012.
“I very much hope that the new owners will do the same and will deliver on the many promises and contractual commitments they have made to Leeds United, the players, the manager, the staff and fans and will run the club in the manner of the fit and proper owners they have been judged to be,” Haigh said.
“I have arranged for Sport Capital to convert some of the loans made to the club into shares and once complete, those shares will be given to the fans, so it truly will be the fans’ club.
“Leeds is a fantastic club in a fantastic city and I wish Eleonora Sports, Brian McDermott, the players, staff and fans all the very best for the future.”
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