Gulf-backed Leeds Utd deny talks on alcohol ban

GFH Capital head of investment management Salem Patel said to have brought up issue at board meetings
(Getty Images - photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Andy Sambidge
Thu 22 Aug 2013 02:02 PM

Leeds United, the English team bought by Dubai-based investment house GFH Capital, on Thursday said it has no plans to bring in an alcohol ban, refuting media reports in the UK.

The Championship club issued a statement making its position clear following a Daily Mail report that one Leeds director, Salem Patel, had proposed an alcohol ban to reflect the Muslim beliefs of owners GFH Capital, the Dubai-based subsidiary of a Bahraini Islamic investment bank.

Leeds managing director David Haigh said in the statement cited by UK media: "The board has never discussed banning alcohol and has no plans to change the current licensing arrangements at Elland Road.

"Enjoying a pint before and after watching the match is a time-honoured Yorkshire tradition as indeed it is among many British football fans.

"Equally the club will continue to offer a selection of wines and other alcoholic drinks to our corporate guests."

The Daily Mail reported that Salem Patel, the head of investment management at GFH Capital, had “made his views clear at Leeds’ first home match of the season, and is believed to have brought up the contentious subject at board meetings”.

The newspaper also reported that Patel’s stance was not shared by other members of the Leeds board, or by Lady Harewood, the club’s life patron.

Earlier this month, it emerged that GFH Capital, a subsidiary of Bahraini Gulf Finance House, had offloaded a 10 percent stake to Bahrain-based International Investment Bank earlier this year and its second quarter financial statement showed it had now sold a total of more than half the shares.

The statement did not say who the buyer was, specifying only that it had made a gain of $776,000 on the sale and was now deconsolidating Leeds results from its own.

The company paid 52 million pounds ($80.4 million) last year to buy Leeds from previous owner Ken Bates, reported by British media to have been sacked as lifetime president of the club in July over his use of a private jet to travel to matches.

The club's website lists shareholders of Grand Cayman-based LUFC Holding Limited - owner of Leeds City Holdings Limited, which in turn owns the club - as GFH Capital, International Investment Bank and Envest Limited.

Envest is owned by Salah Nooruddin, who replaced Bates as chairman, and his wife.

GFH, which had already booked a $10.4 million profit on the Leeds deal in its 2012 financial statement, said in April it had offers from several investors for stakes in the club.

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