Brian McDermott said completion of the takeover of Leeds United should be the club’s “number one priority” as he urged Sport Capital to push their buy-out over the line in the wake of a fifth straight defeat.
McDermott revealed his own sense of urgency about the planned change of ownership at Elland Road after a 1-0 loss to Leicester City cast his squad six points adrift of the Championship’s play-off zone.
The United manager, who has spoken at length with members of the Sport Capital consortium, said the group were “spot on” and voiced confidence in the credentials of their buy-out but the delay in the handover of a majority stake from current owner GFH Capital has created growing uncertainty about the deal.
Sport Capital – a four-man group involving United managing director David Haigh and Enterprise Insurance executive Andrew Flowers – struck the terms of their takeover with GFH Capital on November 30 but are yet to finalise an agreement which was originally due to be signed before the start of the January transfer window.
The manoeuvring in the background at Elland Road has come at a difficult time for McDermott, whose side turned in a vastly improved performance against Leicester but could not prevent the Championship leaders snatching a late win. David Nugent’s 88th-minute tap-in settled an even game at Elland Road but McDermott drew comfort from Leeds’ reaction to their woeful 6-0 rout at Sheffield Wednesday seven days earlier and turned his thoughts to the impending buy-out of GFH Capital as the dust settled on another loss.
“The whole place could have imploded after a situation like (the defeat at Hillsborough),” McDermott said. “You have to stabilise after that. That’s why this ownership situation is so important. That’s the key for me, the key going forward.
“I would say that the number one priority for the football club now is to get that over the line. I think the people who are coming in to take charge of this club are spot on for it, I really do.
“They think of nothing except the good of Leeds United so obviously from my point of view it’s important that that deal is done as quickly as possible. They’ve got the club at heart. They’ll be really good people moving forward.”
McDermott has come under intense pressure in the past few weeks with Leeds’ humiliation at Sheffield Wednesday following on from a feeble FA Cup exit at the hands of Rochdale.
United’s form has forced them down to 12th in the Championship table and they were punished on Saturday for a series of chances that went begging in the first half against Leicester.
“The last couple of weeks, and last week certainly, have been some of the toughest of my life as far as managing goes,” McDermott said.
“But that was a good response from us and I’ll take the positives.
“We should have been three up at half-time and I actually thought Nugent was lucky to be on the pitch because he kicked out at Jason Pearce.
“He obviously scored the goal but there you go.
“There’s a long way to go, 20 games to go, and there’s not a lot in the league.
“But the most important thing for me – obviously you want to win and I’m used to winning games, especially in this league – was to restore pride in the shirt. I think the players did that.”