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Gulf Group’s Takeover of Leeds United Agreed, Soccer Club Says

Three-time English soccer champion Leeds United today signed a takeover agreement with a Dubai-based unit of Bahraini bank Gulf Finance House EC.

GFH Capital Ltd. has been in negotiations with the team’s chairman Ken Bates since May. The group will take full control following a month’s transition, pending Football League authorization, Leeds said in a statement on its website. Financial details were not disclosed.

Leeds attempted to challenge Manchester United and Arsenal for England’s Premier League title in the early 2000s with a spending spree for top talent. The team’s failure to match its expenditure with success led it to fall into financial difficulties and in 2004 it was demoted from the top flight. After a spell in the third division and entering bankruptcy protection, Leeds now plays in the Championship, one level below the Premier League.

“We have completed all negotiations with GFH Capital,” Bates said in a statement, in which the club confirmed the new owners had been financially supporting the team since entering into an exclusivity period.

“One thing I can say that has benefited from the negotiations is that this six-month courtship has given GFH Capital the opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses and what needs to be supported,” added Bates.

Leeds in 18th place in the 24-team Championship following a 1-0 defeat to Millwall on Nov. 18.

“We have today injected further funds into the club and now we look to the future and start the exciting journey to take Leeds United FC back into prime position in English football,” said David Haigh, GFH Capital’s deputy chief executive officer.

GFH has also suffered from financial difficulties in recent times. In May the investment bank, which specializes in Islamic finance, obtained permission from creditors to restructure a $110 million debt.

Editors: Christopher Elser

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