David Haigh bowed to pressure last night and quit his role as managing director of Leeds United with a veiled attack on Gulf Finance House and new club owner Massimo Cellino.
Haigh’s position was under serious threat after Cellino completed his takeover of United and immediately vowed to sack the 35-year-old.
The Italian businessman warned that he had “had too much of him” following the completion of his 75 per cent buy-out and Haigh tabled his resignation yesterday, three days after Cellino’s purchase of United was officially sealed.
Haigh, who negotiated the role of club chief executive under Cellino but failed to take up the post, said his departure was “a matter of particular regret” and hit out at what he claimed was a “crazy situation of very limited support” during GFH’s protracted sale of shares Cellino and Eleonora Sport.
“Owing to various statements made by and on behalf of the new majority owners of Leeds United, I am left with no alternative than to resign as managing director of the club,” Haigh said.
“This is a matter of particular regret to me since I was the person who first introduced Eleonora Sport to the club’s owners. I also gave them my full and constant support in the Football League’s lengthy approval process.
“As is well known by those in or close to the club, my unstinting support of Leeds United has extended to loaning the club money to ensure that tax, players and staff were paid and to underpin its continuing viability - loans which to this day remain in the club.
“I also searched endlessly for suitable investors whilst at the same time not taking any payment that was due. In addition to all this, I had to deal with and manage what can only be described as the crazy situation of very limited support from those who should have supported the club and the management, whilst at the same time having little or no decision-making ability.
“On occasions this resulted in my paying club running expenses on my personal cards and last-minute dashes to wire personal money to the club to pay the HMRC. Notwithstanding, I did everything which was in my very limited power to take the club forward, to engage with the fans and the community and to keep the promises which were made to its great fans.”
Haigh, who helped to drive through GFH’s buy-out of Ken Bates in 2012, has loaned Leeds close to £2million in the past year.
“I have arranged for Sport Capital to convert some of the loans made to the club into shares,” he said. “Once complete, those shares will be given to the fans, so it truly will be the fans’ club.”