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Sat 31 Jan 2015 05:29 PM

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Jailed former Leeds Utd boss lodges $50m claim against GFH Capital

A consortium including David Haigh, the former managing director of Leeds Utd, claims GFH Capital breached an exclusive agreement to purchase 75% of the club

Jailed former Leeds Utd boss lodges $50m claim against GFH Capital

Lawyers acting for a consortium including David Haigh, the former Leeds United boss being held in a Dubai jail, have launched a £33 million pound ($50 million) claim against Dubai-based investment firm GFH Capital, the former owners of the English football club.

It is the latest saga in a dispute between Haigh and the investment firm that has been running for nearly a year and seen Haigh spend the past nine months in jail without charge.

The claim, which has been filed in London’s High Court on behalf of Sport Capital, an entity established to buy the football club from GFH last year, alleges it entered into an exclusive Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) with GFH in November, 2013, to buy 75 percent of Leeds United.

The agreement gave Sport Capital until January, 2014, to fully fund its purchase, and stated that GFH could not enter negotiations with any other party regarding the sale of the club, the court claim states.

Sport Capital claims GFH breached the agreement by continuing to pursue the sale of the club with other prospective buyers, allegedly including Khaled Al Baltan, then the president of the Al Shabab Football Club in Saudi Arabia.

It also claims GFH’s negotiations with Massimo Cellino and Eleanora Sport Ltd were in breach of the Sport Capital agreement. Eleanora Sport ultimately bought a 75 percent share in the club and became the owner, while Massimo became the president last year.

GFH’s managing director in Bahrain also is accused of interfering in Haigh’s running of the club while he was its manager, including blocking players’ transfers and funding.

“Our contention is that the actions of GFH and specifically of Hisham Alrayes delayed and then destroyed the Sport Capital deal to buy the great club that is Leeds United,” a Sport Capital spokesman said in a statement to Arabian Business.

Haigh and GFH have made numerous counter claims against each other since the former club manager was arrested in Dubai in May.

Haigh is accused of embezzling at least £4 million from his former employer, GFH Capital, by fabricating about 100 invoices and arranging payment into at least four different bank accounts in Dubai, London and Manchester.

In a civil case, GFH is seeking $5 million in damages plus costs and “such further or other relief as the court thinks fit”.

GFH launched legal action against Haigh, a British national, following his arrest soon after arriving at GFH’s Dubai offices on May 18 on the premise of talking about a new work opportunity.

Haigh had resigned from GFHC in March, a month before resigning as managing director of Leeds United.

Haigh counters that he was dishonestly lured to Dubai to be arrested.

He is claiming £1 million in damages for pain and suffering, loss of liberty, earnings and reputation.

Haigh’s assets have been frozen. The statement from Sport Capital says it is now also applying to the London court to freeze GFH’s assets.

In a statement to Arabian Business, a GFH spokesperson said: "The latest press release issued by Sport Capital  looks like an attempt to divert attention from the allegations against Mr Haigh which are being heard in the Dubai courts. He and Sport Capital appear to have commenced cases in London although we have not been served with any papers.

"As Mr Haigh is facing criminal and civil proceedings in Dubai we do not want to say anything which would jeapordise any proceedings. We will be happy to comment further when we are able to do so, but until then we think that the courts, not the media, are where disputes should be resolved."

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alexis 5 years ago

When is the trial for David Haigh? 9 months and nothing? Very strange to hold him and not take him to trial for stealing GFH funds?