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SBD Global/January 23, 2014/Franchises

Deal To Buy League Championship Side Leeds United Remains In Limbo

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Sport Capital’s deal to buy League Championship Leeds United "was under pressure" Tuesday night with the consortium and Gulf Finance House "wrangling over completion of the takeover," according to Phil Hay of the YORKSHIRE EVENING POST. A 75% buyout proposed by Sport Capital "appeared to hit trouble" Tuesday amid claims that they and GFH "were at odds over unspecified issues relating to the terms of the sale." The purchase of a majority stake by Sport Capital -- a group headed by Leeds Managing Dir David Haigh -- "was agreed in principle almost two months ago but the process is shrouded in doubt following another round of negotiations" Tuesday. Neither side has commented on the process since a statement released by Sport Capital last Thursday said the buyout had taken “longer than we anticipated” but vowed to work towards a “successful conclusion sooner rather than later.” Cracks in the relationship between Sport Capital and GFH "showed themselves 24 hours earlier when it emerged that senior officials at the Bahraini bank blocked an attempt" by Leeds to sign Ashley Barnes, despite Sport Capital’s members -- among them Enterprise Insurance Managing Dir Andrew Flowers -- making funds available for a £500,000 ($828,000) transfer fee (YORKSHIRE EVENING POST, 1/22). HERE IS THE CITY's Paul Watson reported Serie A Cagliari Owner Massimo Cellino is "reportedly set to buy Leeds United from GFH Capital, usurping Sport Capital." It seems that Sardinian entrepreneur Cellino "has hijacked the deal and is set to take over the club." According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he "could be just hours away from closing the deal and is awaiting a confirmation fax." Several Italian media outlets "have reported that Cellino has become frustrated by Cagliari's underperformance and he sees Leeds as a new, exciting challenge." An "outspoken figure," Cellino "divides opinion but is widely credited with modernising Cagliari and turning the club into a more professional outfit" (HERE IS THE CITY, 1/22).
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