Leeds United: Former Whites chief Haigh still keen to buy shares in club

David Haigh.
David Haigh.
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Former Leeds United managing director David Haigh is persisting with an offer to buy shares in the club worth £150,000, despite his and Sport Capital’s attempt to claw back almost £1million from Elland Road.

Leeds have been served with a winding-up order by Sport Capital – a company with strong links to Haigh – over a loan taken from the firm last year but a proposal to convert part of a separate debt into shares remains on the table for owner Massimo Cellino to consider.

United, who have been under growing financial pressure for the past two years, received two separate payments from Sport Capital in November, one of £950,000 and a second of £825,000.

The loans were used to finance operating costs at Elland Road at a time when Sport Capital was bidding to buy Leeds from Gulf Finance House and GFH – the Bahraini investment bank – had moved to reduced its funding of United ahead of the proposed takeover.

Sport Capital’s bid fell through in January, leaving Cellino to negotiate his own buy-out of the club, but the Italian received a demand for repayment of the £950,000 loan shortly before completing his 75 per cent takeover on April 7.

Leeds have since been served with a winding-up petition after failing to settle the debt and the petition is due to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on June 9.

The YEP understand that most of the second loan of £825,000 has already been repaid to Sport Capital but a sum of close to £150,000 has been left in the club after a claim by Haigh that he would look to purchase a shareholding in Leeds and hand it over to one or a number of supporters groups.

Cellino, however, has not responded to the proposal since completing his buy-out of GFH and is unlikely to be willing to dilute his own stake.

Haigh, 36, was due to become United’s chief executive under Cellino but resigned as managing director within days of the Italian’s takeover, claiming threats by Cellino to sack him had made his position untenable.

In a statement announcing his resignation on April 11, Haigh said: “I have arranged for Sport Capital to convert some of the loans made to the club into shares and once complete, those shares will be given to the fans so it truly will be the fans’ club.”

The YEP understands that neither the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) nor the Leeds United Supporters Club (LUSC) have been officially approached about Haigh’s plan.

Sport Capital’s winding-up petition is a more pressing issue for Cellino who has little over four weeks to pay the company around £960,000 – a figure which includes a small amount of “profit” – or face the prospect of Leeds incurring a winding-up order.

The loans to United last November were made through Sport Capital Limited, a company based in Guernsey.

The off-shore firm is connected to other companies by the name of Sport Capital, one located in the British Virgin Islands and another incorporated in the UK last year.

Haigh operates as a director of the UK arm but, contrary to yesterday’s YEP report, is not a director or shareholder of the Guernsey company – the firm responsible for issuing the winding-up petition. The loans to United, however, were predominately personal funds put up by him. Haigh was unavailable for comment last night.

Leeds United fans celebrate their victory over Middlesbrough at Elland Road. (Picture: PA)

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