By Andy Sambidge
GFH Capital voices disappointment after deal with Italian businessman is stopped by the Football League
The Gulf owners of English football club Leeds United on Monday voiced their disappointment after plans to sell a 75 percent stake to an Italian businessman were blocked by the Football League.
GFH Capital said it was disappointed by the decision not to approve the stake sale to the Cellion family, which owns Eleonara Sport Ltd.
The Cellino family, headed by Massimo Cellino, is a well known Italian sports family, who have owned Serie A side Cagliari since 1992.
The Football League's decision to disqualify Cellino follows a court ruling last week in which he was found guilty of failing to pay import duty on a yacht.
In a statement, Dubai-based GFH Capital, a unit of Bahrain's Gulf Finance House, said: "The club and its shareholders are disappointed at the decision of the Football League not to approve Massimo Cellino as a director of Leeds United FC.
"However, the Board and Executive Management of the club, will continue discussions with the Football League and Eleonora Sport to find a solution that is suitable to all parties.
"Our shareholders continue to support the club directly or through additional investments as has always been the case. We would like to reassure the fans of the continuity of our great club."
GFH bought the club from former Chelsea owner Ken Bates in December 2012 but had planned to cut their stake to only 10 percent by selling out to British investors led by Leeds managing director David Haigh.
But Haigh, who joined the club after the GFH takeover, said in February that his partners had failed to put up the money they had pledged.For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
In certain circumstances, I think foreign ownership of English clubs is a good thing but, at the same time, when a sale is planned so quickly, it makes you question the wider motive at the outset when the initial purchase was made. If the Italian family already own Cagliari, then the English club will be a small part of its European club strategy which will inevitably involve using some Italian players to switch to play at Leeds whilst the family expand its European football interests. Not a good strategy for the English game and the loser will be the English club who then become a bit part of a wider centipede football business. Why did GFH buy Leeds in the first place; to make a fast buck?