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SBD Global/February 6, 2014/Franchises

Consortium Led By Andrew Flowers Pulls Out Of Takeover Bid For Leeds United

A key member of a consortium hoping to take control of League Championship side Leeds United, Andrew Flowers "has withdrawn his bid to purchase the club," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. Flowers "criticised the current owners Gulf Finance House (GFH) for apparently favouring the Italian Massimo Cellino, who moves one step closer to securing a takeover deal for the Championship side." Flowers, the managing director of Leeds' shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance and a member of the Sport Capital consortium that saw its takeover bid rejected last month, "was locked in talks with GFH in London on Wednesday but has bowed out of the race to buy United." The decision "paves the way for Cellino to take control of Leeds," the Cagliari owner having already agreed to a deal in principle for a 75% stake in the club for a reported £25M ($41M) (GUARDIAN, 2/5). The BBC reported members of the Sport Capital consortium and those involved in the Together Leeds consortium "were planning to launch a joint bid to take over at Elland Road." However, it appears that the planned bid "has not come to fruition." Flowers said in a statement, "I entered discussions in good faith to buy this club for the simple reason that I am a lifelong supporter and sincerely believed that I could make a real contribution towards the goal of promotion to the Premier League and at the same time provide the stability and sound financial governance the club desperately needs. However, the emergence of Mr. Cellino's bid, and the nature of the transaction, seems to have crystallised the attitudes of both GFH and the Leeds United board, enabling them to dispose of the club with no consideration for its ultimate security and wellbeing" (BBC, 2/5).

ON LOAN: In London, Andrew Bounds reported Leeds took a £1.5M ($2.5M) loan from Cellino as he finalized "a prospective takeover of the championship club last week. The revelation that GFH Capital accepted the loan "will add to questions over the club’s financial state." Leeds Managing Dir David Haigh has loaned about £2M personally since its '12 takeover. A person with knowledge of the situation said that Cellino "is still the favoured bidder, with the deal expected to complete this month" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/5).
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