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Leeds United takeover: Good deal but Bates’ role is sticking point - Cooper

LOOKING FORWARD: Leeds United Supporters Trust chairman Gary Cooper, above, believes GFH Capitals deal to take over United is good news for the club but questions whether current chairman Ken Bates should continue to have a long-term involvement in the club .

LOOKING FORWARD: Leeds United Supporters Trust chairman Gary Cooper, above, believes GFH Capitals deal to take over United is good news for the club but questions whether current chairman Ken Bates should continue to have a long-term involvement in the club .

  • by Phil Hay
 

The chairman of the Leeds United Supporters Trust last night voiced concern at the agreement which will see Ken Bates become club president under the ownership of GFH Capital.

Gary Cooper said confirmation of GFH Capital’s takeover was “very welcome news” but claimed a deal allowing Bates to maintain long-term involvement at Elland Road was a “mistake”.

GFH Capital will officially complete a 100 per cent buy-out of Leeds next month but the agreement struck by the Dubai-based firm will keep Bates as chairman until the end of this season and hand him the role of president next summer.

The 80-year-old will succeed the late Lord Harewood, who was president for almost half a century before his death last year.

Lord Harewood’s wife Patricia was subsequently named as club patron.

Bates and the Supporters Trust have fought a running battle for most of the past year and animosity between them intensified during GFH Capital’s seven-month bid to purchase Leeds.

Cooper said: “It’s great that the deal’s gone through. The frustration can now be put to bed and we can look forward to seeing what the takeover delivers.

“GFH Capital have talked a great game all the way through this and they’ve talked about a really ambitious future. Now we’ll be looking for actions on top of the words.

“If they do what they’ve promised then great. But I do feel there’s going to be a problem with Ken Bates remaining as chairman to begin with and then becoming president. In my view it’s going to make things incredibly difficult and I think it’s a mistake. An awful lot of the Trust’s members take the same view.

“A transitional period would be understandable but Ken Bates remaining as president doesn’t sit well with me.”

Cooper said the Trust was hopeful of establishing a more productive relationship with United’s new owners, saying: “The Trust will be hoping for more involvement and communication.

“I’d hope they’d be interested in working with an independent group with more than 8,500 Leeds United supporters behind it.”

Ray Fell, the chairman of the Leeds United Supporters Club, said: “The financial situation at Elland Road is clear for all to see and the team are struggling. You’d hope that this is the news that lets everyone turn a corner.

“The situation with the squad needs sorting out quickly but I hope the new owners find acceptance here. Time will tell how this takeover takes its course.

“We’re all be hoping for a new beginning.”

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