LS Sport’s Kyle Hulme, an avid Leeds United fan through thick but mainly thin, takes us through his account of the Leeds United takeover.
On the 23rd of May this year, a rumour of a possible takeover was posted on the leading Leeds United message board WACCOE. At first I was dismissive; I’ve heard it all before, been there, got the t-shirt and I’ve been built up, let down and messed around more than The Foundations. But the rumour grew and grew, and with it so did my optimism.
Nothing could prepare me for the hell and anguish these six months have been. Let me explain – Leeds fans dislike Ken Bates (Master Bates, to you) with an intense, fiery passion, that has grown through seven years of mediocrity and high ticket prices under his tenure. The six months from the seeds of the takeover to its completion put me through things that I’d never imagined myself doing; staying up until 5am listening to news conferences in Arabic held by parties supposedly interested in buying Leeds United was a particular highlight (I don’t speak Arabic; I barely speak English), seeing Leeds fans impersonate Leeds United’s press officer and message our striker Ross McCormack (he fell for it!) on Twitter to get confidential information was another!
It really was a rollercoaster of emotions. The thread containing the rumour – which at present stands at 6,667 pages and 133335 posts – contains several posters claiming to be “in the know”, dozens saying the takeover had fallen through and even some claiming that we’re better off without our new investors. But in the end, none of that mattered – my beloved club have finally been acquired by Gulf Finance House Capital, an investment bank from Dubai, and supported by an as yet unknown “rich Bahraini man”, according to Ken Bates.
When I heard the news yesterday, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Being a Leeds fan recently has been pretty depressing, losing 6-1 to Watford at home and suffering a last minute goal to Milwall to see us continue our losing run. Leeds had been crying out for investment to fund loan players, with manager Neil Warnock feeling particularly aggrieved with the takeover situation – funds were not made available to him because Bates had no intention in putting money into the club he may not own in a couple of days, and GFH Capital remaining hesitant to invest until they had full control. Hopefully, as the loan deadline reaches ever closer, we can now bring in some quality to climb the league.
However, one part of the takeover remains a sour point for Leeds fans; Ken Bates will remain as Chairman until the end of the season before passing the mantle onto David Haigh, and will then have a role of President of the club – a ceremonial position, yet Leeds fans just want him gone.
I must also praise the role of the Leeds United Supporters Trust. LUST have been instrumental in putting across the views of Leeds United fans and attracting media interest and potential investors to the club, as well as masterminding the “Pen4Ken” campaign, inviting Leeds fans to send a letter to the Chairman with a pen inside, which he could use to sign the contract for the takeover.
With this massive boost to the club, Leeds are hoping to climb up the table; promotion may be out of our grasp, but with a couple of decent Premiership loanees and investment in January, Leeds are hoping to be back where they belong sooner rather than later. Marching on together!
Author: Kyle Hulme