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SBD Global/February 12, 2013/Franchises

Leeds United Owner GFH Capital Turn Down Takeover Bid From Yorkshire-Based Consortium

Leeds United owners have turned down a takeover bid from a Yorkshire consortium.
League Championship side Leeds United owner GFH Capital has confirmed that it has "turned down a bid by an undisclosed party to buy a controlling stake in the club," according to the PA. A Yorkshire-based consortium made an offer for a 51% share of the club with an option of "a phased buy-out." The identities of the consortium members "have not been disclosed." GFH Capital said in a statement, "Since our acquisition we have received several offers to invest in the club alongside us. The most recent offer was for a majority stake and has not been accepted" (PA, 2/10). The BBC reported the future of Leeds Manager Neil Warnock "has been in doubt." Warnock's contract expires in May, and the current owners have "come under pressure to clarify their stance" on his position at the club. Former Leeds Owner Ken Bates remained chairman after he sold the club to GFH in December and is "due to become honorary president at the end of the season" (BBC, 2/10).

BIDDER NAMED: In London, Andrew Haigh reported former Derby County & Hull City Chair Adam Pearson is "believed to be leading a bid by a consortium of Yorkshire businessmen" to buy the club. Pearson is the current owner of Hull FC rugby league club, but "fancies a return to football" (THE SUN, 2/10). In Yorkshire, Phil Hay reported GFH confirmed that several offers of investment "have been tabled since its takeover" in response to claims that a Yorkshire-based consortium are looking to acquire a controlling interest in Leeds United. A third party from the Middle East is "also interested in purchasing a large shareholding" in the club, despite GFH Capital "concluding its protracted buy-out of chairman" (YORKSHIRE EVENING POST, 2/11).

POLICING THE GROUNDS: The YORKSHIRE EVENING POST also reported a dispute over who should pay for policing of matches at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium "has reached the Court of Appeal." The litigation involves "policing in the extended footprint of land immediately around the stadium which is not owned, leased or controlled by the club." High Court judge Justice Eady said that those services "could not be classified as special police services," and the club "should be repaid." He concluded that the services rendered "fell within the normal constabulary duty to keep the peace" (YORKSHIRE EVENING POST, 2/11).
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