Leeds’ Dubai fans greet takeover with ‘cautious optimism’

Leeds United’s new owners, GFH Capital, have been warned that actions speak louder than words as they begin the task of restoring the club to its past glories.

After eight months of protracted negotiations the Dubai-based investment bank were handed the keys to Elland Road on Friday after finally sealing a £52million takeover of the Championship club.

GFH Capital debuty CEO, David Haigh, and director, Salem Patel – both of whom have joined the Leeds board – spoke of their ambition of guiding the club back to the top-tier of English football for the first time since 2004.

After eight years of austerity under the controversial custodianship of Ken Bates, it was music to the ears of Leeds’ long suffering fans who have seen their club left behind by the Premier League gravy train.

“The dream is the Premier League. That is where we want to take the club,” said Patel. “It will take investment; we are ready to make that investment. We won’t spend crazy money, but we will make the investment sustainable and make the club successful.”

The Dubai Whites, the 100-plus-member supporters club in the UAE, have been interested observers throughout the whole takeover saga, not least because of the link to this particular region.

“Personally and as a supporters club we are pleased to have a special connection with the club,” the supporters’ club secretary Dan Galley told Sport360°.”I just hope they improve on the record of previous Dubai-based football club owners!

“On the whole, though, I’m pleased to see new owners in charge of the club and finally see the fans unite once again, hopefully for the long-term.”

But while Galley, like the majority of other fans, are excited by what Haigh – a lifelong Leeds supporter – described as a “new era” for the club – he has sounded a note of caution.

Mindful of the broken promises of past regimes, Galley believes the January transfer window will give fans a clearer indication as to the new owners true intentions and ambitions.

“I think there is an element of relief it’s finally completed and we can focus on the football again,” added Galley.

“They have set their stall out well with opening the communication channels with the fans, but i think we should look to the future with cautious optimism. Actions speak louder than words as we found out with Ken Bates, they must act on what they tell us.

“January will tell us a lot about their ambition and I think this needs to match the supporters to keep the positive attitude.”

While there may not be “crazy money” at his disposal, Leeds boss Neil Warnock has been promised the necessary funds as he looks to add six new faces to his squad in the January transfer window.

“We shall support Neil as is required. He has stated what he wants in terms of strengthening the squad. We shall try our best to make sure he gets it,” said Patel, echoing the sentiments made by fellow director Hisham al-Rayes last month.

Permanent deals for on-loan quartet Alan Tate, Michael Tonge, Ryan Hall and Jerome Thomas are high on the agenda, while a new striker is also a top priority.

Patel added: “Tonge, Tate and Thomas have already become key players for us, and we hope to keep them. But we have a good squad with players coming back from injury now.”

– The Dubai Whites gather for live games in the Goodfellas pub in the Ramee Rose Hotel, Tecom, Dubai. For more information, contact: Dubaiwhites@gmail.com.


Former Managing Director and One Time Dubai White Released from Dubai Prison.

The former CEO of Leeds United has been acquitted of criminal charges relating to a tweet sent on his behalf while he was held in a Dubai prison.

David Haigh has been imprisoned in the UAE since May 2014 after being convicted of fraud and was just 24 hours from his release in November last year when he was accused of slander.

Mr Haigh has said he now hopes to be reunited with his family for Easter after spending nearly two years in custody in Dubai.

David Haigh – ex-CEO of Leeds United – has been acquitted over charges related to a tweet sent on his behalf, and now hopes to be able to return to the UK after two years in a Dubai prison

Mr Haigh was first arrested in Dubai in May 2014, after former Leeds United owners GFH Capital accused him of defrauding the company of £3million.

He was then held in prisoned for 14 months without charge before a Sharia court found him guilty and sentenced him to two years in August 2015

Unable to pay for legal representation, Haigh was sentenced after three brief court hearings in Arabic – totalling 35 minutes – and was given no right to address a single judge or call witnesses.

As he had already served a majority of his sentence, he was due to be released in November, but just 24 hours before his November release date GFH made a new a complaint against Haigh.

He was charged with a further offence of slander in relation to comments made on his Twitter account, which has been run on his behalf by a third party while he is in jail.

Haigh has been imprisoned in the UAE since May 2014 after being convicted of fraud and was just 24 hours from his release in November last year when he was accused of slander

Haigh has maintained his innocence in both cases, and was acquitted on Monday.


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