Sport | Football

New Leeds owners plan to awaken ‘sleeping giant’

GFH Capital's deputy CEO vows to to take Yorkshire club back to 'where it belongs'

  • By Gautam Bhattacharyya, Sports Editor, and Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 19:07 November 21, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Leeds United's Jamaican midfielder Rodolph Austin (L) vies with Southampton's Brazilian striker Guly do Prado (R) during the English League Cup Fourth Round football match between Leeds United and Southampton at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on October 30, 2012.

Dubai: GFH Capital Limited, the Dubai-based investment bank which has taken over Leeds United, wants to see the club back in the Premiership in the near future. The deal confirming the takeover was announced on the club website on Wednesday afternoon.

Speaking to Gulf News over the phone, David Haigh, Deputy CEO of GFH Capital, said: “We would like to take the club back to where it belongs and the immediate challenge will be to take them back to Premiership.” A Premier League winner in 1992, the club has been currently struggling of late in the second-tier English Championship.

“We will be holding 100 per cent stakes in the club once the formalities are over in about a month. Our long-term goal will be to make it a sustainable unit as it’s one of the sleeping giants of English football with a big fan base,” remarked Haigh, who will join the board of Leeds United with immediate effect with fellow GFH Capital executives Hisham Al Rayes and Salem Patel joining in December.

Ken Bates will remain as chairman for a transitional period until the end of the season after which point a new GFH Capital-led chairman will take over the position and Bates, who was the owner of Chelsea FC, will become club president.

“Neil Warnock will continue as manager with more support than the present owners have been able to give and we look forward to a smooth transition,” said Bates.

“One thing I can say that has benefitted 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 supported. You can look forward to a smooth transition than we’ve seen at a lot of clubs,” the chairman observed on the club website (www.leedsunited.com).

Leeds reached the semifinals of the Champions League in 2001 but was relegated from the English Premier League three years later after being engulfed in financial problems. The team is currently 18th in the League Championship standings having failed to win their last seven league games, putting pressure on Warnock.

“After a long process of negotiations, spanning Leeds, London, Monaco, Dubai and Bahrain, it gives us great pride today to have completed the deal for Leeds United,” Haigh, a Leeds fan, earlier told the website.

“We are forever grateful for all the support we have received in the past. Things have not been easy, but that has made us more determined to see the job through,” Haigh added.

Gulf News
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