x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai-based company complete takeover of Leeds United with 'no debt'

Ken Bates to remain as chairman until the end of the season, after GFH Capital announce taking control of Championship club.

Executives of the Dubai-based equity company GFH Capital said yesterday that they would not spend "crazy money" to restore the former English champions Leeds United to the Premier League after completing a takeover reportedly worth £52 million (Dh310.2m).

GFH Capital has bought the club from the majority shareholder Ken Bates, the former owner of Chelsea and a familiar figure in English football for three decades. Bates, 81, will remain club chairman until the end of the season.

Well-supported Championship clubs such as Leeds are drawing interest from foreign investors who have an eye on promotion to the lucrative Premier League.

"Leeds United is a great football club," said Salem Patel, a GFH Capital executive. "It's got history, it's got pedigree, it's got a fantastic base on which we can build. We looked at a number of clubs but for us Leeds United was the most attractive."

"We're not going to be spending crazy money like some football club owners have. What we want to do is to make the investment sustainable and make the club successful." He added that their business model was not predicated on the club being in the Premier League. David Haigh, a GFH Capital executive and Leeds fan who has acted as the front man for the bid, defended the takeover and the credentials of the company. "We've bought this club with cash, there is no debt," he said.

Leeds have not been in the Premier League since 2004 and last won a top-flight title in 1992.