We have noticed you are using an ad blocker
To continue providing news and award winning journalism, we rely on advertising revenue.
To continue reading, please turn off your ad blocker or whitelist us.
As Ken Bates confirmed yesterday that the takeover of Leeds by GFH Capital has been completed, lawyers, supporters and former players say that it has been a positive outcome for all parties involved.
GFH, a Bahrain-based investment bank, will become the 100% shareholder of the Championship side, with the takeover to come into effect on December 21.
Bates, who took over the club in 2004 and has had a particularly volatile relationship with the fans during his time in charge, said that he would stay on as chairman until the end of the season, and then take a role as club president, while David Haigh, a representative from GFH, will join the board with immediate effect.
"We have now completed all the negotiations and investigations with GFH and we've now completed the first part of the purchase and that happened at 10.30pm last night," Bates told Yorkshire Radio.
"Put briefly, they're taking over 100 per cent of the club, as I say the first part was completed at 10.30pm last night and it will be totally completed on December 21.
"Meanwhile there's a transitional period in which they get to know more about the club."
GFH were believed to be in talks with Leeds as early as in June over taking over the club, who are hoping to move towards getting back into the top tier after 10 years of financial turmoil saw them relegated lower than ever before in their history.
Leeds legend Mick Jones welcomed the news that the takeover had been confirmed, telling the Yorkshire Post: "Fans have been waiting for it and expected something quicker and things have been going on and on.
"I am all over the ground talking to the supporters in the [corporate] boxes 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, so you do not know where you are.
"Now there's a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel."
Lawyers from Leeds-based Walker Morris also insisted that GFH is in a very positive position to take the club back to where they feel they belong.
"Clearly, GFH are a well-regulated institution who had their own issues to contend with," Simon Concannon, partner at Walker Morris, said. "Equally, Ken Bates was very concerned to ensure the people who were buying it had an understanding of what was needed to move things on.
"A lot of different lawyers were involved in the team. I had at one point we had over twenty lawyers involved and the due diligence exercise was significant and undertaken very thoroughly.
"We will have some further involvement during the transistional period. But we do not expect a significant involvement [now] until the final completion."
Fans have also taken the news in a positive light, though many have been quick to point out their disappointment at Bates staying on as president of the club.
"We're very pleased the deal has finally been done and that six agonisingly-long months for Leeds United supporters can be put to an end," Leeds United Supporters' Trust chairman Gary Cooper told the Daily Mail.
"GFH Capital have spoken a wonderful game and made some very ambitious statements with regards to what they want to do with the club and we're looking forward to seeing them put their plans into action.
"But there is one 'but'. Why the continued involvement with Ken Bates? We're not questioning the transitional period at all, that makes absolute sense.
"But my members are already asking me, going forward, why does the club need or want Ken Bates as president? His tenure at the club has not been one of success.
"He's like marmite, you either love him or loathe him and he's proved very divisive at this club. He's done his best to discredit supporters' groups, he's called fans morons and dissidents and he's sold all our best players.
"He's a hell of a character, but he's done nothing to endear himself to the supporters of Leeds United.
"GFH Capital now have the unenviable task of rebuilding the club's relationship with the fans when appearing to be hand-in-hand with Ken Bates."