Leeds United: Full steam ahead for transfers

Managing director David Haigh chats to manager Brian McDermott.
Managing director David Haigh chats to manager Brian McDermott.
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The consortium behind the takeover of Leeds United insisted last night that the wait to complete their buy-out would not hamper transfer dealings at Elland Road as it emerged that the group have already invested around £6m in the club.

A source close to the four-man consortium – a group which includes United managing director David Haigh and Enterprise Insurance chairman Andrew Flowers – said Football League approval of their buy-out was still to be granted after the governing body asked for “additional documentation” relating to the bid.

The purchase of a 75 per cent stake from current Leeds owner GFH Capital was originally due to be finalised before the January transfer window but the takeover has run into the new year, raising concerns about possible implications for manager Brian McDermott.

The Leeds boss, whose team are eighth in the Championship after two draws and two defeats from their past four games, asked United’s board for four new signings last week and has spoken repeatedly of the importance of securing new players after a spate of poor results and tired displays against Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers.

McDermott met with Haigh at Elland Road on Wednesday and received fresh assurances about the funds available to him. Those involved in the takeover say money is being offered to McDermott regardless of the wait for completion and claim the incoming consortium are already exerting influence having put some £6m into Leeds before the turn of the year.

Their deal to purchase the club is now expected to be sealed midway through this month, with further indications last night that Football League approval – a requirement for all takeovers – is the sole remaining obstacle.

The legal team representing Haigh and the other buyers will resume work after the Christmas break on Monday. A share acquisition agreement was first reached with GFH Capital on November 30.

The source told the YEP: “The Football League requested additional documentation which has been supplied. This is an on-going process.

“They (Haigh’s consortium) are working towards a conclusion but it won’t affect the January transfer window. As Brian has said, the new investors will be fully supporting him in January.”

The £6m figure includes two personal payments made by Haigh to Leeds in the past three months.

The 36-year-old sanctioned a six-figure loan from Dubai-based Berrydale Seventh Sport Holdings in October and another sum in excess of £1m in November through Sport Capital, a company set up in England.

Both amounts are believed to have been used to pay operating costs at Elland Road, including wages, and the consortium are now indicating that a further £4m has been put forward by the individuals involved, of which only Haigh and Flowers have been identified.

The lifelong Leeds supporter has been a senior executive at Enterprise Insurance since 2004 and was behind the deal which saw Enterprise become United’s primary shirt sponsor in 2011. The firm renewed the agreement earlier this year.

GFH Capital, which bought United from Ken Bates in December 2012, is set to retain a small shareholding once Haigh’s group secure control but is unlikely to be heavily involved in the future running of Leeds.

Haigh will remain as managing director and Salah Nooruddin – another minority shareholder – is to continue as club chairman.

But attention continues to focus heavily on United’s work in the transfer market with the club’s push for a play-off place seemingly dependent on immediate investment in their squad.

Cameron Stewart, the Hull City winger who has been on-loan at Charlton Athletic, is one of McDermott’s key targets.

Talking after a 2-1 defeat to Blackburn on Wednesday, McDermott said: “We’re squeezing everything out of the players here and they’re doing what they can but it’s time now to bring in some new players to freshen the squad and help those who are here.

“I’ve spoken to someone already and it would be good if we can do that. I’ve had another good conversation with David Haigh.

“The board are doing their best and the club are in the best position we’ve been in for a few years.”

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