THE head of the Leeds United Supporters Trust last night called for an end to the “confusion and doubt” surrounding the club as Sport Capital’s takeover deal hung in the balance.
Gary Cooper, the chairman of LUST, urged Sport Capital and Gulf Finance House to “provide clarity one way or the other” following 48 hours of talks aimed at pushing the buy-out of United over the line.
Leeds have been in line for a change of ownership for almost two months but the sale of 75 per cent stake from current owner Gulf Finance House to Sport Capital – a group led by club managing director David Haigh – ran into problems earlier this week.
The two parties have been locked in intense negotiations for the past two days but neither side was able to offer reassurance last night or provide a certain timescale for completion.
The protracted talks look set to run into the final week of the January transfer window, potentially complicating manager Brian McDermott’s attempts to add to his two new signings so far.
Cooper said: “We were told at the outset that the takeover would be done by January and while slight delays are understandable, there’s a lot of confusion and doubt about whether it’s going to happen.
“There seem to be issues behind the scenes and we saw with the Ashley Barnes deal (United’s failed attempt to sign Barnes from Brighton two weeks ago) that the situation is interfering with the manager’s job. On that basis alone, the supporters are going to have concerns.
“I don’t think anyone would pretend that this hasn’t gone on longer than it was supposed to, and it seems essential that GFH, Sport Capital or both provided some clarity about where this is going, one way or the other.”
Sport Capital have agreed to buy a 75 per cent stake in Leeds, with Gulf Finance House relinquishing its position as majority shareholder and retaining a 10 per cent stake, but disagreements over unspecified issues prompted renewed negotiations this week. Neither Sport Capital nor GFH will comment on the reasons for the delay, though Sport Capital have consistently stated that they have the necessary funding in place to force the purchase through.
Cooper said: “No-one is asking for fine details, financial figures or anything like that.
“All the supporters want to know is that the situation is going to deliver an outcome which is in the best interests of Leeds United. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to feel confident about that.”