GFH Capital sign Leeds United takeover deal

LONDON Wed Nov 21, 2012 12:02pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Dubai-based GFH Capital has signed a deal to buy former English football champions Leeds United, the latest foreign group to invest in one of the clubs with hopes of promotion to the lucrative Premier League.

Leeds were one of the top names in English football in the 1970s and won the Premier League in 1992 but are now struggling in the second-tier Championship.

"The signing of this deal marks the start of a one-month transitional period in terms of full change in ownership and control of the club," the Yorkshire club said in a statement on its website (www.leedsunited.com).

"Following Football League approval, GFH Capital Limited will be 100 percent shareholders," it added.

Leeds majority shareholder Ken Bates, the former Chelsea owner, will remain as chairman until the end of the season and will then become club president.

"Neil Warnock will continue as manager with more support than the present owners have been able to give and we look forward to a smooth transition," said Bates.

Leeds have not won in their last seven league games, sliding down the table and putting pressure on Warnock.

GFH Capital Deputy CEO David Haigh, a Leeds fan, said the company had injected further funds into the club.

Questions have been raised about the financial firepower of GFH Capital and its Bahrain parent firm Gulf Finance House.

A group of Kuwaiti investors took over former European champions Nottingham Forest earlier this year, another club now playing in the Championship.

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by John O'Brien and Ken Ferris)

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