Leeds United legend Mick Jones claimed there was “light at the end of the tunnel” at Elland Road after GFH Capital pulled off its long-awaited takeover.
Jones, an FA Cup and Division One title winner with Don Revie’s revered Leeds squad, believes the buy-out of United could be the catalyst which sparks their return to the Premier League.
The 67-year-old predicted that attendances at Elland Road would “rocket” if GFH Capital’s deal prompted a revival in United’s form but said the current squad “do not look anywhere near” winning promotion this season.
Leeds’ new owners took more than six months to finalise a deal to buy the club from Ken Bates, and Jones, who works in corporate hospitality on match days at Elland Road, said: “The fans have been waiting for it. They expected something quicker but it’s been going on and on.
“I’m all over the ground talking to supporters and the first question they ask is ‘have you heard anything?’ But we were in the dark as much as anybody.
“There were rumours going around all the time; somebody says one thing and another says another. You don’t know where you are. Now there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
“The gates will rocket if they get some players in and get back to where they belong. The club belong in the Premier League. It’s a big club and we talk to people from all over the world on match days. You’d be amazed where they come from – Australia, New Zealand and Norway; it’s unbelievable.
“If Leeds got into the Premier League there’d be 40,000 at Elland Road every week. That’s the aim but at the moment we don’t look anywhere near that.”
GFH Capital injected money into Leeds within hours of completing its takeover on Tuesday night, offering badly-needed funds to manager Neil Warnock ahead of this evening’s emergency loan deadline.
United’s boss has seen his side fall to 18th in the Championship after seven league matches without a win and three straight defeats.
Jones said: “It’s hard for a manager when he’s not got money. You’re relying on the players you’ve got and the manager’s hands have been tied. It’s been a vicious circle.”
Former United director Bill Fotherby also expressed sympathy for Warnock but said Bates deserved acknowledgement for his management of the club since coming to Elland Road as chairman in January 2005.
Fotherby told the YEP: “More than anything I’m pleased for Neil Warnock. He’s a great manager and it’s been sad to watch him struggle.
“This is a fresh start and all of sudden there’s a bit of hope again. But I have to say that I think Ken Bates has done a tremendous job, sorting out a real financial mess. Without him I’m not sure where the club would be now but what Leeds United need – and what I don’t think he could give them – was that little bit extra.”
Ex-United striker Noel Whelan said: “The uncertainty shouldn’t have affected the players because they get paid to do a job, not to worry about takeovers. But it’s been bothering the manager. You can see that a mile off. He’ll be delighted about this. Finally he’s got a chance to get on and do what he planned to do. It’s happy days.”