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Nov 21, 2012

Bates: Leeds takeover almost completed

Championship club Leeds will be taken over by Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House Capital (GFHC) next month, current chairman Ken Bates has said.

Earlier this month, Leeds fans urged the club to clarify the situation after reports suggested Bates could remain at Elland Road as a partner of GFHC, but he has now confirmed that the takeover will be 100%.

The 80-year-old former Chelsea chairman, who took over at Elland Road just under eight years ago, said the first part of the deal had been done. He will take on a new honorary role as president.

He said he would stay on as chairman until the end of the season, and told Yorkshire Radio: "We have now completed all the negotiations and investigations with GFH and we've now completed the first part of the purchase. That happened at 10.30pm last night.

"Put briefly, they're taking over 100% of the club. It will be totally completed on December 21. Meanwhile there's a transitional period in which they get to know more about the club.''

Bates said David Haigh, a representative of GFH, would be joining the club's board immediately and three other new directors would be in place before the end of the year.

He explained that GFHC would be "providing additional working capital for the club and are also providing funds to strengthen the team".

The deal, which comes after more than six months of negotiation, will see Neil Warnock remain as manager at Elland Road, and Bates said: "I look forward to handing over to my successor and becoming president and sitting back perhaps, taking a bit more time off and enjoying what has been eight years of very hard work."

He said the length of the negotiating period had given the new owners "opportunities to see how Leeds United works" and added: "You can look for a more Manchester United-type transition than we've seen at Blackburn, Portsmouth and other less fortunate clubs."

The cost of the deal is reported to be in the region of £52 million, and Leeds fans will hope it ushers in a period of greater stability at Elland Road, where the team are 18th in the table after seven league games without a win.

Boss Warnock had warned supporters that he would only be able to mount a genuine promotion challenge with financial backing from new owners.

Bates added: "We've made no secret of the fact that we've been looking at additional partners and investors ever since I joined the club on January 21, 2005.

"There have been a number of reasons why it hasn't succeeded before, one of them being that there are so many liars, chancers and conmen attracted to football.

"We've had to be very careful about who has come along, but these people have the resources and are backed by a very rich individual who is very close to the government of Bahrain. It gives us confidence we've made the right choice here."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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