Leeds United: Buy-out delays trouble Trust

Gary Cooper.
Gary Cooper.
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The head of the Leeds United Supporters Trust last night called for an end to “confusion and doubt” surrounding the club as Sport Capital’s takeover deal hung in the balance.

Gary Cooper, the chairman of LUST, urged Sport Capital and Gulf Finance House to “provide clarity one way or the other” following two days of talks aimed at forcing the buy-out of Leeds over the line.

United have been on course for a change of ownership for almost two months but the sale of 75 per cent stake from current owner GFH to Sport Capital – a consortium led by Leeds managing director David Haigh – ran into problems earlier this week.

The two parties have been locked in negotiations for the past 48 hours but neither side was able to offer reassurance last night or provide a certain timescale for completion.

And the situation at Elland Road was clouded further amid reports from Italy that Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino was poised to complete his own 75 per cent buy-out of Leeds.

Sources close to United dismissed those claims but it is understood that Cellino has held talks with Haigh and Andrew Flowers, another of Sport Capital’s members. No deal has been agreed between them.

Cooper told the YEP: “We were told at the outset that the takeover would be done by January and while slight delays are understandable, there’s a lot of confusion and doubt about whether it’s going to happen.

“There seem to be issues behind the scenes and we saw with the Ashley Barnes deal (United’s failed attempt to sign him from Brighton two weeks ago) that the situation is interfering with the manager’s job. On that basis alone, the supporters are going to have concerns.

“I don’t think anyone would pretend that this hasn’t gone on longer than it was supposed to and it seems essential that GFH, Sport Capital or both provided some clarity about where this is going, one way or the other.”

Sport Capital agreed to buy a majority share in Leeds on November 30, with GFH relinquishing its position as owner and retaining a 10 per cent stake, but disagreements over unspecified issues prompted renewed negotiations this week.

Neither Sport Capital nor GFH have commented on the reasons for the delay.

Cooper said: “All the supporters want to know is that this situation is going to deliver an outcome which is in the best interests of Leeds United.

“The longer it goes on, the harder it is to feel confident about that.”

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