Sport Capital’s troubled bid to buy Leeds United has collapsed.
United managing director David Haigh - a key figure in the Sport Capital consortium - conceded defeat this lunchtime, two months to the day after the group struck a deal to purchase a 75 per cent stake from Leeds owner Gulf Finance House.
His announcement casts further doubt over the future of the Elland Road club with Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino and another consortium led by Manchester United director Mike Farnan now involved in a two-horse race for a majority shareholding in Leeds.
Haigh’s statement in full reads:
“I have spent more than a year working for what I passionately believe are the best interests of Leeds United FC. During that time I have received fantastic support from the club’s staff and the fans. I have also been grateful for the full and continuing support of GFH Capital and my fellow board members at Leeds United FC
“My primary aim has always been to source the additional strategic investment necessary to take the club forward. Last year what I believed was the right opportunity presented itself in the shape of a chance for me to lead a consortium of investors, under the name of Sport Capital, to acquire a major stakeholding in the club.
“As fans know, we signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital at the end of last year. This meant, I believed, that we were in a position to move things forward and complete the transaction in time for the January transfer window.
“Throughout every stage of the process we sought to keep fans as fully updated as possible on the progress of the negotiations. I can personally assure each and every supporter that every public statement made regarding the acquisition was made in the utmost good faith
“Unfortunately, however, some of the consortium’s backers ultimately didn’t feel able to deliver the financial backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward.
“Despite this, the future of this club remains the most important thing to me personally and I remain totally committed to putting the right team and backing in place to ensure that Leeds United can move forward.
“It is an indication of that commitment that in recent months the Sports Capital consortium and I personally have injected substantial sums into the club to ensure its viability. At the same time neither my life nor my job has been made easier by the personal intrusions and abuse directed towards me on social media or by some of the smear campaigns against me personally. Equally, some of the speculation and stories published in the media have made things difficult for everyone, including the staff, players and supporters.
“I have met many, many potential investors over the past year and, sadly, while many are keen to talk the talk, they have been unable or unwilling to deliver in financial terms. Nevertheless these talks continue with a number of parties to seek the best possible outcome for Leeds United.”