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Leeds United takeover: Haigh hails super start

ALL SMILES: GFH Capitals deputy chief executive and new Leeds United director David Haigh, left, and GFH board member Salem Patel, right, celebrate Uniteds 2-1 victory over high-flying Crystal Palace in the directors box at Elland Road on Saturday. PIC: Simon Hulme

ALL SMILES: GFH Capitals deputy chief executive and new Leeds United director David Haigh, left, and GFH board member Salem Patel, right, celebrate Uniteds 2-1 victory over high-flying Crystal Palace in the directors box at Elland Road on Saturday. PIC: Simon Hulme

  • by Phil Hay
 

New Leeds United director David Haigh saluted a “great start” to GFH Capital’s reign at Elland Road after the club thrilled their future owners with a defiant win over 
Crystal Palace.

United’s squad raised themselves at the end of a dramatic week to breathe life into their season and spark celebrations in the Elland Road directors’ box by inflicting a 2-1 defeat on the Championship’s leaders.

Haigh, who was appointed to the board at Leeds last week after GFH Capital completed the first stage of its 100 per cent buy-out, looked on from the East Stand as United withstood a late fightback from Palace to earn a first victory in eight league games.

Second-half goals from Luciano Becchio and Paul Green were enough to break an in-form team whose last defeat came back in August, and Haigh revelled in a “cracking win” after full-time.

GFH Capital’s deputy chief executive was joined on Saturday by company board member Salem Patel – due to be named as a United director next month – and a number of other guests including local Member of Parliament Stuart Andrew.

Asked for his reaction to the victory, Haigh – a lifelong Leeds fan – told the YEP: “What an atmosphere and what a result. The fans were amazing and so was the football. It’s a cracking win and a great start on the field in our first week as owners.”

GFH Capital is due to officially complete its takeover from current owner and existing chairman Ken Bates on December 21. Its parent company, investment bank Gulf Finance House, has confirmed the deal in a letter sent to the Dubai Financial Market.

If the set schedule of payment is met and the Football League approves the deal, GFH Capital will take control of Leeds in time for the January transfer window, and Haigh and Patel met with first-team manager Neil Warnock on Saturday to begin planning for the turn of the year.

Warnock, whose side are 16th in the Championship, was fulsome in his praise of GFH Capital after the win over Palace, describing the agreement over its takeover as a “massive lift.”

Warnock appeared to have written off United’s chances of promotion 10 days ago but the 63-year-old said: “More days like Saturday and who knows? It’s such an early part of the season.”

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