Leeds United: McDermott to press on with recruitment drive after board talks

Brian McDermott.

Brian McDermott.

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Brian McDermott will attempt to advance his transfer plans next week after holding “very positive and very encouraging” talks with two prominent members of Leeds United’s board.

The United manager met with Hisham Alrayes, a representative of owner GFH Capital, and newly-appointed director Salah Nooruddin for fresh discussions about his wide-reaching strategy for the Elland Road club.

McDermott handed Leeds a list of “six or seven” transfer targets before taking a short holiday two weeks ago but he also made clear his desire for necessary changes to United’s operations and the need for investment in their training ground at Thorp Arch.

The 52-year-old was appointed on a three-year deal last month, arriving with the remit of mounting a more concerted push for promotion next season but stressing the importance of “building a club and building a philosophy” over a longer period of time. Alrayes is known to McDermott as one of the men behind GFH Capital’s buy-out of Leeds last December but Nooruddin, a Bahrain-based businessman, is a new addition to the board.

The 49-year-old was named as a director towards the end of last month and had his appointment confirmed by Companies House on Thursday.

The three men met earlier this week and McDermott said: “We got on really well and spoke about a number of things to progress the club including player acquisitions, philosophies, how I see things and upgrading the training ground.

“We discussed an open working relationship and the importance of everyone pulling in the same direction. They were very, very supportive. I have to say it was very positive and very encouraging.”

GFH Capital is facing a telling examination of its financial strength this summer as it attempts to strengthen a squad who finished in the bottom half of the Championship this term and drifted dangerously close to the relegation places prior to McDermott’s arrival on April 12.

The Dubai-based firm confirmed this week that its majority stake in Leeds had fallen to 86.86 per cent after 3.33 per cent of its shares were passed to unnamed members of United’s six-man board. The company refused to reveal the identities of the directors concerned, insisting only that chairman Ken Bates had not received any equity.

Sports lawyer Richard Cramer, a partner at Leeds-based FrontRow Legal, told the YEP: “It would be typical in situations like this for directors to pay for their shares and, to go by the rough value of the shares, 3.33 per cent should have cost somewhere upwards of £800,000.

“Only GFH Capital knows why this deal was done but one possibility is that the business - Leeds United - needed a quick injection of cash.

“We’re talking about a very small amount of equity that’s been sold, not an amount which seriously changes the structure of ownership at Leeds. It’s a way of pulling in short-term funding quickly.”

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