Leeds United‘s Champions League semi-final defeat to Valencia in April 2001, they have experienced two relegations, financial implosion and the sale of some of the club’s best players.
Their return to the top-flight has been eagerly anticipated ever since they dropped out of the top tier of English football for the first time in 14 years in 2004. It hasn’t happened yet but, with the news of Dubai based investment bank GFH Capital acquiring 100% of the club, Leeds may finally look forward to a bright future and a return back to where they belong.
It all started when former Chairman Peter Risdale took out large loans against future revenue that comes with competing in the Champions League. Leeds failed to qualify the following season, finishing fifth in the Premier League, and subsequently left the club in huge debt.
Such debt lead to the sale of the some of the clubs best players with Rio Ferdinand being sold to Manchester United for £34 million, a deal that lead to the sacking of manager David O’Leary after he and Risdale publicly fell out over the deal.
And that was just the beginning. More players were sold to help repay the loans and the Elland Club road began its six year decline into to third tier of English football, the lowest level they had ever competed in, after entering administration in 2007.
It took three years for Leeds to climb back up to the Championship and, under current chairman Ken Bates, they have looked a solid Championship team who have competed in the top half of the table in each of their last two seasons.
Now, despite sitting in 18th and without a win in their last seven Championship outings, Leeds can look towards rebuilding what is one of the country’s most popular football clubs.
Although this deal has taken a long time to be completed, Leeds fans can now rest easy that everything is done and their club should now be in safe hands. David Haigh, Deputy CEO of GFH Capital Limited said yesterday: “A brief but important transitional period now begins in terms of the changover of ownership; we have today injected further funds into the club and we now look to the future.”
This transitional period is probably the most important aspect of the takeover and one that should be applauded. It allows them to get to know the club more, analyse its strengths and weaknesses and see how a football club is run. There won’t be any uneducated, disastrous decisions made with this football club takeover.
Too many times have we seen clubs being bought and the new owners throwing themselves straight into things without properly understanding how it works and the consequences of their poor decisions. Very rarely does that end well. However, GFH Capital appear to have a genuine interest in improving the fortunes of Leeds United and, after having paid a reported £52 million for the club, it’s what you would expect.
Ken Bates told Yorkshire Radio: “They will be providing additional working capital for the club and they are also providing funds to strengthen the team.”
That’s something that will please manager Neil Warnock, who we can all expect to be dipping his fingers into the up coming January transfer window. If he can get the necessary funds to bring in the players he wants in January, coupled with his experience at getting clubs promoted from the Championship, Leeds will soon be climbing the table.
With GFH Capital’s investment and the stability it will being to Leeds United, we may be getting closer to the long awaited return of Leeds United in the Premier League. It won’t happen immediately, but from what he have heard from both Ken Bates and GFH Capital, this is the best possible deal the club could have asked for.
The Leeds United revival starts here.
What do you think? Is GFH Capital’s acquisition of Leeds United what the club needs to get back into the Premier League after an eight year absence? Leave your comments below.