Leeds United: 'Bahrain' Bid For Football Club
A private equity firm based in the Middle East has announced a deal to take control of Leeds United Football Club.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House (GFH) has been in talks with the club's current owner Ken Bates for several weeks.
Equity firm GFH Capital said it had "signed an exclusive agreement to lead and arrange the acquisition of Leeds City Holdings, the parent company of LUFC".
It added Leeds was "one of the best-supported clubs in English football with a higher than average match day attendance than most Premier League teams".
Citing a confidentiality provision, GFH Capital gave no financial details or any acquisition time frame but reports indicate a bid of around £50m for control.
Company officials would not comment on whether the Bahraini unit would provide all the money for the purchase or whether other investors might be involved.
It said the club would benefit financially from a recent renegotiation of television broadcast rights for football, if it won promotion to the lucrative Premier League.
David Haigh, lifetime Leeds supporter and deputy-CEO of the equity firm, also posted a Twitter message hinting at the impending deal.
Mr Haigh tweeted: "Good morning everyone. Thank you for all your messages of support. They are very important to us. #LUFC"
Last weekend, club chairman Ken Bates confirmed advanced negotiations involving a "banking institution" were taking place, and GFH board members were spotted at Elland Road.
Last June, details emerged that 80-year-old Mr Bates, who took control of the club in 2004, was in discussion with investors.
Details of a possible sale end a four-month period where fans have been given little information about the club's future.
Having reached the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League in 2001, the club was relegated from the Premier League in 2004 and dropped into the third tier of English football in 2007 before promotion to the Football League Championship in 2010.
The on-field descent came against a backdrop of financial woes, which forced the club to sell key players and ultimately led to administration in 2007.
"If you look back since the start of the Premier League, Leeds are without doubt the most successful club not to be in it right now," Dan Jones, partner at Deloitte's Sports Business Group, said.
"If you can return it to the Premier League, then it could return to being one of the top 20 clubs in the world by revenue - that's the scale of the club you're dealing with."