Conflicting reports of Leeds United’s for sale status as Parkin speculation hots up TSS March 21, 2013 Leeds United 10 Comments Even by Leeds United’s standards, yesterday was an odd one. Following on from GFH’s year-end financial statement, whether or not Leeds United was for sale wasn’t really debatable when the day began. As an held-for-sale asset, Gulf Financial House had indicated their intention to sell at least a majority stake in LUFC within 12 months. With the words in black and white, published in an audited financial document, no further evidence was needed. Leeds United is for sale. Isn’t it? Well, that’s what everyone thought. Armed with such compelling evidence, the press published Leeds United’s ‘for sale’ status as fact and started speculating on how much GFH will make, when the club will be sold and who the new owners could be. Then the whole world went a little bit crazy. With Gulf Financial House’s financial statement free for all to read, Whites fans felt they’d been misled by previous comments from GFH Capital, in which they stated that they only wanted a minority investor and suggested they were here for a relatively long-term spell – which most fans interpreted as, until Leeds United are promoted. The year-end financial statement from GFH-C’s parent company had seemed to contradict these comments. Held-for-sale is a very specific term, one which means the club is being marketed for sale and that the company expects to lose a majority holding within 12 months. It was a strange situation. On the one hand, we had Leeds United’s owners pointing Reuters towards an interview in which they state a minority share sale is all they wanted, while on the other hand, the parent company of our owners seemed to think we were selling much more. Bad communication perhaps? Whatever it was, GFH-C responded to speculation with a statement on Leeds United’s official site, one which offered no real specifics and did little to clear up the confusion. While at first glance GFH-C seem to be reiterating previous comments about only wanting to sell a minority stake, they never actually say that. Instead we’re told GFH-C is looking to for ‘strategic investment partners’ to sell a percentage of the club to. 10%? 50%? 100%? No one knows. They quite clearly state that they’d like to retain some percentage of shares, but there’s no specifics given as to whether they’ll be minority or majority shareholders. If anything, the statement only managed to further confuse matters as parts of the press started backtracking on what they’d published over the 24 hours previous, concluding that Leeds United isn’t for sale, completely ignoring the fact it doesn’t actually say that. But the simple fact remains. GFH-C’s parent company lists the club as held-for-sale in an audited financial document, a classification which requires the firm to be intent on selling the majority share within 12 months. For that reason alone, the club must surely be for sale? Right? Whatever you’d decided was going on by this point, the confusion was yet to be compounded by another story which claimed a deal to sell Leeds United is ‘all but completed‘. Considering the amount of false speculation which surrounds Leeds United at the best of times, I’d usually suggest you take such claims with a hefty dose of scepticism. But the publisher wasn’t some random British tabloid renowned for their works of fiction, this story was coming from Reuters. Probably the most respected news organisation in the world. When a news organisation famed for it’s strict editorial guidelines, one which considers factual accuracy to be sacrosanct and is trusted the world over for their unbiased reporting tells you that Leeds United is for sale, then you have to give them the benefit of doubt. According to Reuters, the man close to completing a takeover of Leeds is Clipper Logistics chairman, Steve Parkin, a lifelong Leeds United fan who is known to have been involved in previous attempts to buy the club. They claim that Parkin, himself a very wealthy man, has teamed up with another investor of Saudi Arabian origin and has almost completed the deal with Gulf Financial House (not GFH-C). Lies, damned lies and Leeds United With so many stories which seemed to contradict one another, have fans been lied to? Well, not really. When you take a step back and look at the whole picture, everything kind of ties together. GFH-C failed to specify the percentage of share they’re prepared to sell, only stating that they’d like to retain some kind of shareholding. The held-for-sale term doesn’t mean GFH have to sell 100%, only a majority shareholding, so that doesn’t conflict, and there’s nothing to say any deal with Steve Parkin et al wouldn’t leave GFH with a minority shareholding. Reuters’ story strongly suggests GFH are acting independently of GFH-C in selling the club, which could also be a factor. Maybe the one hand has no idea what the other one is doing? Either way, everything comes back to the held-for-sale classification in GFH’s accounts. It’s black and white, concrete evidence that Gulf Financial House plan to sell a majority shareholding of Leeds United Football Club within the calendar year. Any speculation must be based on that fact.