THE long-time parent company of Leeds United is fighting to reverse a winding-up order issued against it by the High Court this week.
A judge in London ordered Leeds City Holdings Limited to be liquidated on Monday over a debt claimed by former club solicitor Mark Taylor.
Taylor - a lawyer who acted on United’s behalf during much of Ken Bates’ time as chairman - sought payment of £45,000 for work carried out in December 2012, the same month that Bates sold Leeds to Gulf Finance House.
A winding-up petition was served on Leeds City Holdings before Christmas and a receiver has been appointed to liquidate the firm following Monday’s court hearing, a hearing which officials from United failed to attend.
Speaking today, however, club chairman Andrew Umbers said attempts would be made to overturn that ruling.
Umbers said: “The debt is a solicitor’s bill which is incapable of founding a winding-up order. LCH is now taking the appropriate action.”
Leeds City Holdings (LCH) was incorporated in April 2006 and acted as the parent company for Leeds United throughout Bates’ reign as club chairman and latterly owner.
The firm remains part of Leeds’ corporate structure but the club’s financial accounts for the 2013-14 year stated that Leeds United Football Club Limited had been passed to a new parent company, Eleonora Immobiliare SPA.
Eleonora Immobiliare is an Italian entity based in Milan with connections to Massimo Cellino, United’s former president who is currently banned from running the club by the Football League.
The accounts read: “On June 27, 2014, subsequent to a share issue, Eleonora Immobiliare SPA became the immediate parent. Until this date, Leeds City Holdings Limited was the immediate parent.”
A source close to United said LCH was effectively a “dormant parent” and said the company held only a small shareholding in Leeds United, around five per cent.
LCH was “toxic with liabilities and no value” to the club and was likely to be set aside in the near future, the source said.
The overall split of shares at Elland Road continues to see 75 per cent of the club owned by Cellino and his associates and 25 per cent controlled by Gulf Finance House.
Cellino has been faced with numerous liabilities and winding-up petitions since leading his takeover of Leeds from GFH last year.
In a radio interview broadcast yesterday, Bates claimed he had spoken to Cellino in August in an attempt to resolve the issue over Taylor’s £45,000 bill.
Bates told Radio Yorkshire: “Mark Taylor is a lawyer, he used to act for Leeds United when I was chairman.
“He did some work for us in December 2012 and the bill was due until January, February 2013. GFH just ignored his bill.
“I met Massimo Cellino on August 1 in London when we resolved our differences outstanding from GFH’s days and I raised the subject of Mark Taylor and him being owed £45,000. Massimo said ‘if he’ll take £40,000 I’ll pay him now.’ I rang Mark Taylor who accepted it and thought that was the end of the matter. Unfortunately it hasn’t been paid.
“What Mark Taylor then did was petition the court to bankrupt Leeds City Holdings as a last resort. Nobody turned up from Leeds United for the hearing even though a proper notice had been served so the judge wound up LCH and appointed an official receiver to liquidate it.”