The proposed takeover of Leeds United was in the balance today after the club opened their door to fresh offers of investment.
Amid intense speculation that the buy-out planned by a consortium from the Middle East was on the verge of collapse, United said they were ready to consider “other options” from “potential new partners” while negotiations continued.
An exclusivity period granted to the Middle Eastern group in June has now elapsed and their proposed deal to take control of Leeds appeared to be in serious trouble yesterday after talks involving United chairman Ken Bates and chief executive Shaun Harvey in Monaco on Wednesday failed to bring an agreement closer.
United claimed they were “happy to continue discussions” with the consortium and the YEP understands that both parties remain hopeful of reaching an agreement, despite the intense doubt surrounding the bid. The two sides are bound by a confidentiality agreement but a figure close to the negotiations said today that the takeover “isn’t definitely on but isn’t definitely off either.”
Talks aimed at purchasing chairman Ken Bates’ majority stake in United have been ongoing for more than two months, and the prospective buyers were granted a period of exclusivity on June 26, allowing them to analyse United’s finances and set up a takeover. The window has expired in the past seven days, clearing the way for other investors.
In a statement which appeared to put pressure on the would-be buyers, United said: “Leeds United announces that the exclusivity period granted to a potential investor as mentioned in the statement of June 26 has ended.
“The club remain happy to continue discussions but not on an exclusive basis so as not to prevent other options passing.
“The first priority must be to ensure that the credibility of any future investor or ultimate owner is such that the Leeds legacy and its future is in safe hands, back in the Premiership. The club will continue to be receptive to approaches from potential new partners who can establish that they have the necessary credentials.”
The identity of the group bidding to buy Leeds has been a secret ever since United announced at the end of May that they were engaging in talks with prospective investors.
The consortium is known to be based in the Middle East, but claims that Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa – a member of Bahrain’s ruling family and a man who tried previously to mount a takeover of Leeds in 2003 – was behind the bid have not been confirmed.
Claims that the takeover deal currently on the table had fallen through came yesterday morning (August 9) from the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST), with the group suggesting that the buyers had grown impatient in the time taken to finalise a sale.
The Trust later issued a statement saying: “We are pleased to read that Leeds United remain willing to listen to approaches and we welcome this positive stance.
“As we have stated previously, Leeds United Supporters Trust have spoken with several parties interested in the future of Leeds United, and we are pleased that the door appears to be open for them to come forward.”
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