Leeds United owner Gulf Finance House has today exchanged contracts with Massimo Cellino as his buy-out of the Elland Road club edges closer to full completion.
The 57-year-old is now awaiting only Football League approval of his takeover, with United now on the brink of Italian ownership.
Cellino, who will buy 75 per cent of the club through his company Eleonora Sport Ltd, is set to meet the Football League next Wednesday, although the governing body admitted this morning that it is still to receive full documentation from both sides.
Chairman Salah Nooruddin will remain in his post and managing director David Haigh will become chief executive. Acting CEO Paul Hunt was sacked last week.
In a statement, Nooruddin said: “I am delighted to announce that we have exchanged contracts for the sale of 75 per cent of the club to Eleonora Sport Ltd, subject to Football League approval.
“GFH Capital and its investors will retain a 25 per cent stake in Leeds United. I will remain the club chairman and David Haigh will be the club CEO.
“The board has always had as its principal aim the creation of a long term ownership structure through partnership with sound and strategic investors to build on the foundations we have laid for sustainable success for this great club.
“We believe we will have achieved that with this deal. It provides the basis from which Leeds United can move forward to a position which will enable it once again to compete at the highest levels of football.
“That is where this great club belongs and it is nothing less than its fans deserve. Throughout the difficult years, as well as the glory years, they have remained second to none in their support of the club and we as a Board have always appreciated their passion.
“Following the introduction to GFH to the Cellino family which owns Eleonora Sport Limited it quickly became apparent that the family and the company offered both the long term investment and the footballing knowledge necessary to take their place as majority owners of Leeds United.
“Everyone on the Board is looking forward to working with our new partners who we hope will be in place at Elland Road very soon.”
Gulf Finance House chief executive Hisham Alrayes said: “It has always been our aim since taking over Leeds United to create an ownership structure through partnership with like-minded strategic investors who would help us take the club forward on a long term and sustainable basis.
“It has taken us some time to get the right deal in place with people who truly shared our commitment to, and faith in, the future of Leeds United.
“We are delighted to have reached agreement with Massimo Cellino and Eleonora Sport Ltd who share our determination to move the club forward.
“Despite media and market speculation, we have refrained from making any official comment on this matter until this point when contracts have been exchanged.
“We understand that the speculation has been unsettling for the fans and, even though it was not of our making, we apologise to them for that. We are happy now to inform them of the accurate position with regard to the new ownership which will, we believe, enable the club to achieve promotion in the shortest realistic time possible.
“GFH Capital and its investors continue to show its commitment to Leeds United through the minority 25 per cent shareholding we will be retaining.”