Leeds owners GFH Capital have added to the growing confusion at Elland Road by insisting they are actively seeking investment but do not want to sell the club.
The Dubai-based equity investment firm, who bought the club in December following a protracted takeover from previous owner Ken Bates, said in their financial statements for the year ending December 31 2012 – which came to light yesterday – that they were negotiating to sell their stake in the club’s parent company LUFC Holdings for £7m more than they paid.
But in a club statement released this afternoon the owners said they were looking to attract investors and did not want to end their involvement at Elland Road.
It read: “In March 2013, Gulf Finance House (GFH), parent company of Leeds United FC owner GFH Capital, published its financial audited report that stated it was looking to sell its stake in the club.
“To clarify and as previously stated, GFH Capital is looking for investment in part of its share in the club, not its entirety.
“GFH Capital has been transparent since acquiring Leeds United and is continuing to look for strategic investors in part of the club that can invest in Leeds United, alongside GFH Capital, to ensure a long-term, sustainable future.
“Since GFH Capital took ownership of Leeds United, it has fulfilled its promise of investing in the club, with around £10m having already been injected into the club; to strengthen the squad and for other working capital purposes.
“Additional financial support will continue to be provided as required.
“Through cutting ticket prices, reducing 2013/14 season-ticket costs and the introduction of half-season tickets, attendances have risen at Elland Road as GFH Capital continues with its goal of re-engaging existing fans and attracting new supporters to the club, plus the recent International Soccer Schools and ’Take it to the Kids’ initiatives.
“To date, GFH Capital has fulfilled the plans pledged and its strategy for the club remains the same; to build a group of strategic investors to put Leeds United in the best position both on and off pitch for the long term.”
But in their latest financial statements Gulf Finance House, GFH Capital’s parent company, had clearly stated they were looking to sell its interest in the club.
GFH’s financial statements for the year ending December 31 2012 said: “Subsequent to the year end, (GFH) has commenced negotiations relating to the sale of its stake in LUFC Holdings.”
GFH also said in their financial statements that they bought the club off Bates for a “bargain due to pressure on the sellers to exit their holdings due to change in their business plans.”
Last month GFH Capital confirmed they had turned down a bid by an undisclosed party to buy a controlling stake in the club.
It had been reported that an unnamed Yorkshire-based consortium had made an offer for a 51 per cent share with a view to securing a phased buy-out.
Former Leeds director and current owner of Super League side Hull FC Adam Pearson later distanced himself from speculation linking him with a takeover of the npower Championship side.
Today’s news brings more instability to the club, whose play-off hopes are hanging by a thread.
Leeds are seven points adrift of the top six with eight games to play, while manager Neil Warnock has indicated he will leave in the summer if the club are not promoted.