Fears of a debt-funded purchase of Leeds United were ignited by one journalist (some of whose claims about the takeover have already been rubbished by Ken Bates) who told Twitter followers recently that potential buyers GFH Capital had declined to comment when asked if the company planned to fund the purchase of Leeds United with debt.
GFH Capital’s Chief Executive, David Haigh today tweeted:
I see a couple of Journos are back to making stuff up as they go along. What’s that reporters name from harry potter?
While Sun journalist and Leeds fan Andrew Haigh has tweeted that “a source close to the deal tells me there’s zero debt involved in acquiring the club”. Meanwhile the YEP’s Phil Hay, after speaking to somebody with apparent knowledge of GFH Capital’s operations, has tweeted that his contact sees two options: that GFH Capital either has rich backers, or is to purchase the club with a view to selling it for a profit – “flipping” it.
Dubai-based GFH Capital’s recent press release seems to suggest serious plans for the club, rather than a plan to “flip” it to another buyer. GFH Capital’s chief investment officer Salem Patel, for example, has stated that:
We are keen on waking this sleeping giant, building on and forging a sustainable long term future for the club – both on and off the pitch.
He also reveals plans to repurchase Elland Road “eventually”. That is no guarantee of action, but plans certainly seem to be in place for the long term judging by the language of GFH Capital’s press release, while fears about GFH Capital’s ability to bring Leeds United forward, although understandable, are perhaps a little misguided. Current Leeds owner and chairman Ken Bates has granted the group an exclusivity deal to tie up the purchase of Leeds’ parent company, Leeds City Holdings, and Mr Bates has always been very insistant that he will not talk to potential investors until proof of funds are given to him. Nearly a decade of hard work, with pride in running a reasonably profitable club would make it unlikely that he would ruin his legacy by handing the club over to unsuitable owners – just to spite what he calls an “idiot minority”.
Providing GFH Capital hold true to their stated intentions, and Andrew Haigh’s contact is telling the truth, GFHC appear to me to be very capable. The Dubai-based company has managed billions of pounds of investment, while the Twitter presence of board-members David Haigh and Salem Patel, as well as the company itself, also suggests a slightly more cutting edge approach to fan relations – surely a welcome change in direction?
Fans are never going to know everything about a takeover deal before it even exists. With the club renting top quality facilities, owning a top manager, and a squad with bags of potential, perhaps Leeds fans just have to believe that sometimes (just sometimes) things go right for us?