After four months of speculation and rumours, the proposed Leeds United takeover saga remains unresolved. On the 27th September, Bahrain based investment bank Gulf Finance House sent a letter to the Bahrain stock exchange stating that they were to lead and arrange the purchase of Leeds City Holdings, who are the current owners of Leeds United.
Whilst this much needed news was welcomed by the majority at Elland Road as the silence was finally broken, a deal remains unsigned nearly a fortnight later and the fact that Ken Bates remains in charge at Elland Road ensured that only 22,000 fans attended last Saturday’s victory over Barnsley. Many Leeds fans are refusing to attend home games until Bates departs the Yorkshire club, although unrealistically high ticket prices are another factor behind the rows of empty seats.
In typical Leeds fashion, the takeover has been far from straight forward, and riddled with complications and frustrations. A confidentiality agreement between the two respective parties has ensured that little has been said in the media about the proposed takeover, leading to another summer of uncertainty amongst Leeds fans as they have been kept in the dark over the direction their club is taking. The latest news is that Ken Bates has denied any responsibility for the drawn-out nature of the takeover.
On Saturday he said, “The real problem is their lawyers because this is a straightforward deal, by anyone’s standards. I don’t know what the delay is, they appear to try and make complications when there is no need to do so. By GFH’s standards, this is not a big deal, so I say to Leeds fans, don’t blame me.”
The news that Bates is willing to sign the deal and sell the club will be welcomed by the majority of Leeds fans. The protests aimed at his direction have increased drastically over the past two years as Leeds haven’t re-invested the money made from the sales of top players such as Robert Snodgrass or Jonny Howson, to name but two, back into the playing squad. Instead, money has been spent on improving the stadium,which conflicts with the priorities of those sat in the stands who are desperate to see Leeds make a return to the Premier League.
After all, it was Bates himself who said that if Leeds fans wanted to see Premier league football at Eland Road, they would have to pay Premier League prices. Seven years later, the Premier League remains all but a distant dream despite Neil Warnock’s best efforts on a limited budget.
With rumours that bids have been made from both Australia and Saudi Arabia further complicating matters, it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen over the next few months at Elland Road, as Leeds United are once again resembling something more akin to a soap opera. Ken Bates’ recent comments indicate that he is willing to sell, so perhaps a deal is slowly, but finally going to be completed.