x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai’s GFH Capital plays all the way for Leeds United

GFH Capital has signed a deal to acquire Leeds United Football Club after more than six months of negotiations

GFH Capital has signed a deal to acquire Leeds United Football Club. Charlie Crowhurst / Getty Images
GFH Capital has signed a deal to acquire Leeds United Football Club. Charlie Crowhurst / Getty Images

GFH Capital has signed a deal to acquire Leeds United Football Club after more than six months of negotiations.

The deal now passes to the English Football League, which will decide whether GFH Capital and several of its proposed appointments can take control of the club.

GFH Capital, a Dubai-based subsidiary of Gulf Finance House, a Bahraini Islamic investment bank, announced in September it had entered talks to arrange a takeover of the Championship club, following months of speculation among fans that a sale was in the works.

Ken Bates, the current owner of Leeds, will continue to serve as chairman until the end of the season before becoming club president. GFH Capital will then appoint a new chairman.

"The signing of this deal marks the start of a one-month transitional period in terms of full change in ownership and control of the club. Following Football League approval, GFH Capital Limited will be 100 per cent shareholders," Leeds United said in a statement on its website.

David Haigh, the deputy chief executive of GFH, said the deal was "fantastic" after "a long seven months over the summer" when the deal was hammered out.

GFH Capital said it would inject "further funds into the club for working capital" and to "strengthen the team", having already provided funding for the club since its takeover intentions were announced.

GFH Capital did not give financial details of the transaction.

The deal now faces scrutiny from the Football League, which must submit both GFH Capital's appointments and the firm itself to a "fit and proper" test to ascertain whether they should take control of the club.

Mr Haigh declined to comment on how long it could take to secure approval for the deal. He and his fellow GFH Capital executives Hisham Alrayes and Salem Patel will now join the Leeds United board.

ghunter@thenational.ae