Leeds United takeover: Warnock’s GFH wishlist

Elland Road.
Elland Road.
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Neil Warnock will hold talks with Leeds United’s new owners after Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace and spell out his requirements for a season-defining January transfer window.

The United manager is preparing to meet representatives of GFH Capital for the first time since the Dubai-based firm put the finishing touches to its long-awaited buy-out of the Championship club.

GFH Capital agreed the terms of a 100 per cent takeover with current owner Ken Bates on Tuesday night and will officially complete the deal next month.

The new era of ownership at Elland Road made a promising start on Friday as Warnock’s exasperating search for loan signings paid off with the arrival of winger Jerome Thomas from West Bromwich Albion and defender Alan Tate from Swansea City.

The pair were signed until January ahead of last night’s emergency loan deadline and will be included in Warnock’s depleted squad for tomorrow’s meeting with Palace.

But despite the welcome arrival of two players, the Leeds boss insisted that the fate of this season rests on more substantial investment when FIFA’s winter transfer window opens on January 1.

He will outline his plans to new United director David Haigh and soon-to-be board member Salem Patel – two of GFH Capital’s senior management team – in the aftermath of United’s game against Championship leaders Palace.

Warnock, who had contact with the club’s new owners at various stages of a protracted takeover, said: “I’ll see them tomorrow after the game. I’ll know more about what’s happening then.

“We’ve got four or five weeks (until the transfer window) but we’ll be working hard to put things in place so we can move quickly, rather than waiting until the end of January. We don’t want to do that. We want to have deals in place.

“We’ll have the best part of four months’ fixtures left and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready as early as possible.”

GFH Capital injected money into Leeds shortly after finalising terms with Bates, who travelled to Thorp Arch yesterday to speak with United’s players and staff about the club’s immediate future.

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Warnock made the most of available funds in the final hours of the Football League’s emergency window by reaching late deals for Tate and Thomas.

Tate, 30, has not played for Swansea since September but he is in line to start against Palace tomorrow with United’s defence once again missing the suspended Jason Pearce.

Thomas could make his first appearance of the season having been surplus to West Brom’s plans for several months, and the arrival of a player renowned for his pace addressed an obvious shortcoming in Warnock’s squad.

The 29-year-old was once among the more promising English prospects, representing England at Under-21 level, and Warnock said: “He’s a player I’ve tried to sign five times so it’s about time I finally got him. He’s direct and positive when he’s attacking and he fits the bill.”

Warnock also claimed that the arrival of Tate would improve his team’s resilience, saying: “He’s a leader and I felt these last few weeks we’ve lacked leaders. We’re short on bodies so he’ll play tomorrow.”

An excited Tate said: “I played here a couple of times with the opposition so I know how difficult it is and to be on the other end will be great.

“I know Pughy and Paul Rachubka, and Tongey from a couple of years before, from being at Man United and some of the others from playing against them.

“I don’t know what it was like here before, but the chairman came in on Thursday and spoke to the lads, and gave the players and staff reassurances so I’m sure come Saturday there will be a spring in the step.”

United’s manager, who described confirmation of the takeover as “closure” after a process spanning almost seven months, was plunged into a desperate scramble in the transfer market ahead of Friday’s 5pm deadline.

“I counted 33 phone calls on Wednesday,” he said. “I actually logged them so I knew how many I’d done. I got 24 answers and nine never returned my call. I presumed they were a no.”

United, meanwhile, have sent twins Nathan and Lewis Turner on loan to non-league sides Chester and Harrogate Town respectively. Their deals run until January.

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