Thursday, January 30, 2014

Leeds United takeover bid collapses, reveal consortium

Independent 30/1/14
Mark Walker
The consortium hoping to complete a takeover of Leeds this month have confirmed the deal has collapsed.
Sport Capital, headed by the club's current managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, the managing director of their main sponsors, Enterprise Insurance, had agreed the terms of a buy-out with owners Gulf Finance House on November 30.
But talks between the two parties reached an impasse when Sport Capital submitted a revised offer for 75 per cent of the club's shares after completing due diligence and Haigh has now revealed some financial backers were unable to deliver.
Haigh said in a statement: "As fans know, we signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital at the end of last year. This meant, I believed, that we were in a position to move things forward and complete the transaction in time for the January transfer window.
"Throughout every stage of the process we sought to keep fans as fully updated as possible on the progress of the negotiations.
"I can personally assure each and every supporter that every public statement made regarding the acquisition was made in the utmost good faith.
"Unfortunately, however, some of the consortium's backers ultimately didn't feel able to deliver the financial backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward.
"Despite this, the future of this club remains the most important thing to me personally and I remain totally committed to putting the right team and backing in place to ensure that Leeds United can move forward."
Haigh, who joined the board at Elland Road when GFH completed their takeover at Elland Road in December 2012, is still hoping to attract new investors.
Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino has been in talks with the club in recent weeks. His representatives have been seen at the club's Thorp Arch training complex and reports in Italy said he was close to completing a takeover.
Another British consortium is also keen to take control of Leeds, who are searching for the right backers to help lift them back to the top flight for the first time in 10 years.
Former managing director of Manchester United International Mike Farnan heads a British-based group who had an offer turned down in November.

A statement from GFH Capital, owners of Leeds United

leedsunited.com 30/1/14
Following recent media speculation, GFH Capital can confirm that we are in continual discussions regarding the introduction of new investment into Leeds United Football Club.
Since acquiring ownership of the club in December 2012, we have supported the club financially, supported the manager, and worked hard to forge closer links with both the fans and the local community.
We have never made any secret about the fact that our aim has always been to attract investment partners, and we are currently speaking to a number of parties regarding the acquisition of shares.
We would ask fans to ignore the media speculation surrounding investment, and be assured that we remain as committed as ever to the club and ensuring any new investment is in the best interests of Leeds United, for now and the future.
We'd like to thank our fans for their wonderful support and for their patience, and we will endeavour to keep you updated.

Leeds United: David Haigh-led takeover bid falls through

BBC 30/1/14
A proposed takeover of Leeds United by a consortium led by managing director David Haigh has fallen through.
Haigh's group were expected to acquire a minimum of 75% stake through his company, Sport Capital.
"As fans know, we signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital at the end of last year," Haigh said.
"Sadly, some of the consortium's backers ultimately didn't feel able to deliver the backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward."
He added: "Despite this, the future of this club remains the most important thing to me personally and I remain totally committed to putting the right team and backing in place to ensure that Leeds United can move forward.
"I have met many, many potential investors over the past year and, sadly, while many are keen to talk the talk, they have been unable or unwilling to deliver in financial terms.
"Nevertheless, these talks continue with a number of parties to seek the best possible outcome for Leeds United."
Haigh arrived at Elland Road as part of the GFH Capital group that purchased the club from Ken Bates in December 2012.
The collapse of his consortium's bid for Championship side Leeds means GFH must now look elsewhere for a buyer.
A rival bid involving Massimo Cellino, the owner of Italian club Cagliari, recently emerged and a third involving another consortium is also believed to be an option.
After Tuesday's draw with Ipswich Leeds boss Brian McDermott said that off-the-field uncertainties were having a negative impact on the players.

McDermott feels he owes it to the fans not to quit

Yorkshire Post 30/1/14
by Leon Wobschall
DEFIANT Leeds United manager Brian McDermott has vowed not to walk away from Elland Road in the face of the off-field crisis threatening to engulf the club.
The 52-year-old reiterated his grave concerns about the chaotic situation at United after Tuesday night’s draw with Ipswich Town, with club owners Gulf Finance House (GFH) now believed to be locked in discussions with controversial Cagliari owner and president Massimo Cellino regarding a potential takeover.
Cellino, who spent time in England last week with a number of associates speaking to club officials about purchasing Leeds, appears to be in the box seat to take over the club with Sport Capital’s bid looking increasingly doomed.
Representatives of Cellino were present at United’s Thorp Arch training ground at the start of this week, including his close ally, former Middlesbrough and Portsmouth defender Gianluca Festa.
The 44-year-old – who served as a player under Cellino – is understood to have observed training on Monday ahead of the midweek game with Ipswich and asked to sit on the bench for the first-team fixture following a request from Cellino.
This was denied and while McDermott refused to divulge details regarding what amounted to outside interference prior to the Ipswich clash, his sense of unease at developments behind the scenes was also emphatically clear.
McDermott, just nine months into a three-year deal he signed after being appointed manager last April, said: “I’m a strong person, I’m resilient.
“Having said that the last few days have been a big test.
“Some of the stuff that’s gone on has not been pleasant and doesn’t belong in football in my opinion.
“I’ve had to go through a lot as a manager that you’d never think you’d have to go through in the last few days. It’s been beyond frustrating.”
Stressing his determination to remain at the club despite the effective undermining of his position, he added: “No, never would I walk away from the club.
“I’m a long way from home but I’d never do that, I’d never do it to the players or the staff or the supporters. They deserve better. They are fantastic supporters.
“When I was brought here, I was brought here on a three-year contract to stabilise the club and take them forward.
“As far as I’m concerned, that hasn’t changed.”
The takeover saga took a fresh twist ahead of Tuesday’s game when Andrew Flowers – a leading member of the Sport Capital consortium seeking to complete a 75 per cent buy-out of the club – voiced deep concern at GFH’s 11th-hour decision to speak to Cellino, warning of “major negative repercussions for the club, its staff and fans” if the deal was pushed through.
He also revealed that GFH had refused to accept a revised offer for a majority stake, which was made “because a number of things have come to light which were not originally described”.
With Sport Capital’s deal, fronted by United managing director David Haigh, now in major jeopardy, GFH have firmly engaged with Cellini, who initially held discussions with Haigh and Flowers about investing in the club before striking out on his own with a separate takeover bid.
The 57-year-old has two convictions for fraud and is awaiting a trial for embezzlement charges and would have to satisfy the Football League’s Owners and Directors Test to take over.
League ownership rules require that prior to the completion of any deal, certain information has to be provided to them, including financial information regarding the funding of a club going forward.
Part of that involves the relevant people seeking to take over any club being certified by the league under the owners and directors test. Any prospective new owners must comply with that.
Stuck in the middle in what is an increasingly invidious position is McDermott, who admits he is currently going through the toughest time of his managerial career, with results on the pitch having compounded matters.
Leeds head into Saturday’s West Yorkshire derby with Huddersfield Town without a win in eight matches, with McDermott admitting he is in the dark regarding his prospects of being able to boost his squad ahead of tomorrow’s 11pm transfer deadline.
On whether he will be able to bring in any players before tomorrow night as he seeks to arrest Leeds’s decline, McDermott said: “I have no idea because I don’t know where we are. I don’t know.
“We don’t know where we are as far as bringing in players goes.
“I’m trying to get as many points as I can before the summer, get everything resolved and move again in the summer.
“The more important thing for me would be to resolve the ownership situation.
“The football’s been peripheral this last 10 days and that can’t (continue to) be the case.
“Everything’s got to be harmonised and we had that a month ago. At this moment, I can’t say that we have.
“I’m desperate to see an end to this. You keep getting light at the end of the tunnel, but it doesn’t happen.
“We need this resolving at the top and we need the right people in place.”
Striker Luke Varney, who refused to play in Tuesday’s match ahead of transfer talks with Blackburn Rovers, is expected to complete his move across the Pennines before the window deadline.
The deal has been delayed slightly by the going-ons behind the scenes at Elland Road, but is set to be sealed shortly.
Life and times of Massimo Cellino
Cellino was born in Cagliari, Italy in 1956. He is aged 57.
The agricultural magnate, nicknamed “King of Corn” took over his hometown club in June 1992.
He has a reputation for sacking coaches quickly, axing 36 in around 20 years.
In January 2010 he lost out to David Gold and David Sullivan in the race to buy West Ham United.
In March of that year he revealed his interest in buying Crystal Palace, with reports suggesting their London neighbours QPR represented a second option.
Cellino is told two months later by administrator Brendan Guilfoyle to stay away from Selhurst Park, due to his chequered past.
He has two convictions for fraud and is currently awaiting trial on charges of embezzlement.

Leeds United: Cellino wanted his man in the dug-out

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/14
by Phil Hay
The Yorkshire Evening Post can today reveal an attempt by would-be Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino to place a close confidant in United’s dug-out for their 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town.
The 57-year-old Italian asked for Gianluca Festa, the former Middlesbrough defender, to be given a seat on the bench on Tuesday as talks continued over a deal to sell Leeds to Cellino.
Cellino’s request followed two appearances by Festa at United’s training ground near Wetherby, the most recent made on Monday when he is understood to have watched the club’s final training session before their clash with Ipswich.
The suggestion that Festa observe from the dug-out at Elland Road 24 hours later – seen by many at Leeds as a flagrant move to undermine manager Brian McDermott – was rejected on the day of the game.
Cellino and his other associates planned to attend the Ipswich match and watch from a corporate box in the East Stand but they along with Festa unexpectedly flew home to Italy ahead of kick-off.
The YEP understands that the inexperienced Festa would be Cellino’s preferred choice of manager if he succeeds in taking control of United.
A frustrated McDermott hinted heavily at interference with his preparation for Tuesday’s fixture, saying: “This has been one of the most difficult periods I’ve had as a manager, especially the last few days.
“Some of the stuff that’s gone on has not been pleasant and it doesn’t belong in football in my opinion.”
The former Reading manager is caught in the middle of an unseemly fight for shares in Leeds with multiple parties vying to claim a majority stake in the club.
Cellino entered the frame as a serious bidder last week after the proposed sale of a 75 per cent shareholding by Leeds owner Gulf Finance House to British consortium Sport Capital effectively ground to a halt.
Sport Capital have reduced the offer they initially made to GFH in November, citing concerns arising from due diligence, but GFH has refused to accept the revised bid.
Consortium member Andrew Flowers launched an angry attack on the Bahraini bank on Tuesday night, accusing it of betraying Sport Capital and United’s supporters by engaging with Cellino at the “eleventh hour.”
GFH, however, remains intent on selling its shares in United having owned the club since its buy-out of Ken Bates in December 2012. In the wake of its disagreement with Sport Capital, the bank now favours the option of selling to Cellino.
The Italian recently held preliminary talks with Flowers and United managing director David Haigh – another Sport Capital member – about the option of linking up with that consortium but the owner of Serie A club Cagliari intends to purchase Leeds outright.
His record, though, is chequered by two convictions for fraud and it is not clear whether Cellino would pass the Football League’s Owners and Directors Test, a strict requirement for any investor planning to buy more than 10 per cent of a Football League club.
Cellino has nevertheless devoted a considerable amount of time to the possibility of investing in Leeds, and Festa was part of the travelling party which accompanied him to England almost two weeks ago.
Cagliari-born Festa has made two visits to Thorp Arch in the past week – at least one alongside Cellino’s son Ercole – and both Haigh and acting United chief executive Paul Hunt went with him to the training complex last Thursday.
The 44-year-old, who retired in 2009, is best known in England for his spell at Boro between 1997 and 2002 but he was a Cagliari player when Cellino bought the Italian club in the early 1990s and returned to Sardinia for a second spell in 2003.
Festa – a firm ally of Cellino’s – gained his only managerial experience during a brief stint as coach of Italian lower league side AC Lumezzane.
He was previously assistant boss at Cagliari.
The Italian press reported that Festa was in line for the manager’s job at Cagliari at the end of last season but Cellino opted to retain Uruguayan Diego Lopez instead.
Cellino’s brash attempt to force Festa onto United’s bench on Tuesday night raises serious doubts about McDermott’s prospects as Cellino pushes to claim a controlling interest at Elland Road.
McDermott has been in position for less than 12 months having replaced Neil Warnock on a three-year deal last April.
Tuesday’s draw with Ipswich was McDermott’s 36th game in charge.
United are back in action on Saturday at home to Huddersfield Town.

Brian McDermott gives his verdict on the Ipswich game

leedsunited.com 29/1/14
United boss Brian McDermott reflected on “the bigger picture” after watching his side pick up a point against Ipswich Town on Tuesday night.
Ipswich striker David McGoldrick opened the scoring but Ross McCormack levelled the evening with a penalty just five minutes later to secure a point at Elland Road.
The boss admits to it being tough at the moment but says that he has to remain positive.
“It’s tough at the moment, on and off the pitch,” said the manager. “They got a free-kick in the 93rd minute and you know something can happen at that point. At the moment I have to take that point.
“I can’t be negative after that game. There is enough negativity around the place at the moment so I can’t be negative in the dressing room. We don’t want that to filter down to the fans.
"I think that it is important that we try and stay as positive as possible as we can. We came from behind on Tuesday night to get a draw so I’ll take the point and move on.
“The bigger picture for me has always been the stability of this club. I’m not going to hide behind the performances, we know we are not doing as well as we want to be.
"We know that we will be better and we know that we have to be better. At the moment the most important thing at this football club is the ownership and where it goes in the future.
The manager had to re-shuffle his pack from the one which performed so well against Leicester last time out. El-Hadjio Diouf came in for his first start since September, in place of Luke Varney.
“With Luke Varney Blackburn have come in for him,” admitted the boss.
“I spoke to Luke before the game and he said that he didn’t want to get injured in the game. So if someone said that to you, you can’t play him.”

Leeds United takeover in disarray

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/1/14
by Phil Hay
Sport Capital’s takeover of Leeds United looked to be on the verge of collapse today after an outspoken attack by one of the group’s members on club owner Gulf Finance House.
Andrew Flowers – a leading member of the Sport Capital consortium – cast fresh doubt on the group’s ability to secure ownership of Leeds by revealing that they had lowered their bid to GFH and were now at odds with the Bahraini bank.
GFH and Sport Capital agreed the terms of a 75 per cent buy-out back in November but Flowers, the managing director of United shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance, said a “revised offer” had been submitted after “a number of things” arose during due diligence. The reduced deal has been rejected by GFH, leaving United’s current owner in direct conflict with a group who originally planned to complete their takeover before the start of January.
United managing director David Haigh – one of the driving forces behind the Sport Capital consortium but also a long-standing employee of Gulf Finance House subsidiary GFH Capital – appeared increasingly isolated last night as the scale of a bitter disagreement emerged.
Flowers went further in a statement released to the YEP by criticising GFH for considering an offer of investment from Massimo Cellino, the Italian chairman of Cagliari who has been in England for much of the past week pursuing his interest in purchasing Leeds.
Cellino was scheduled to attend last night’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town at Elland Road but is thought to have missed the game and flown home to Italy instead.
The 57-year-old – cryptically described by Flowers as a “prospective preferred bidder” – has prior convictions for fraud and is facing charges of embezzlement in Italy. Flowers accused GFH of breaching the terms of its agreement with Sport Capital by dealing with him and questioned Cellino’s suitability for a shareholding at Elland Road.
Flowers said: “We are convinced this will not be in the interests of the club, the manager, the players or the fans.
“We must ask the question whether the prospective preferred bidder understands anything about the culture of Leeds United, its fans, its heritage or British football.”
On Sport Capital’s proposal, Flowers said: “We were fully justified in revising our bid because a number of things have come to light which were not as originally described.
“However, as lifelong fans we believe our offer and plans were in the best interests of the club and its loyal supporters. This boils down to much more than money but GFH have chosen to ignore that.
“We believe the owners have breached their covenant with us but much more importantly they have breached their covenant with the fans.”
Sport Capital and Cellino are two of three potential buyers for Leeds with another group led by former Manchester United employee Mike Farnan expected to make a second bid for the club shortly.
Farnan’s consortium made an initial, unsuccessful offer in November but were unable to open negotiations with GFH while Sport Capital operated under exclusivity. The group were hoping to establish formal talks this week.
Signs of disagreement between GFH and Sport Capital have been increasingly evident for the past fortnight, opening the door to rival parties interested in buying the club.
The chaos behind the scenes overshadowed last night’s Championship match, with Ross McCormack’s second-half penalty earning Leeds a 1-1 draw.
The result ended a run of five straight defeats but Leeds are now eight points behind the play-off positions.
A dejected McDermott said: “It’s tough at the moment, on and off the pitch. Very, very tough. You have to take that point (against Ipswich) and I can’t be negative about it. There’s enough negativity here.
“The preparation was very difficult and this has been one of the most difficult periods I’ve had as a manager, especially the last few days.
“Forget the league. This isn’t about the league. It’s about the club going forward. Forget me too. This is about Leeds United. The only way you can do well here is to have stability at the top.”
Luke Varney was left out of last night’s match after an approach for him from Blackburn Rovers.
McDermott said: “Luke spoke to me on Tuesday and felt he didn’t want to get injured. It would have jeopardised his opportunity to go to Blackburn. He would have been in the team. What can I do?”

Cagliari to loan Italian playmaker to Leeds United - report

Here is the City 28/1/14
Dan Coombs
Leeds United may be about to get a welcome gift.
Massimo Cellino is hoping to complete his planned takeover of Leeds United before too long, and reports have even suggested he prepared to sell his stake in Cagliari to help smooth matters along.
Well there may be more unwelcome news for the Italian club, because a report states Cellino is poised to loan Leeds a player and create the first bond between the two sides.
Italian website Tuttomercatoweb claim is is 'certain' Leeds will be loaned playmaker Andrea Tabanelli:
"Andrea Tabanelli not wear the jersey of Cagliari in the second half of the season. It is certain that the understanding of Mediaset explains how the Sardinian club, after having purchased (him) on a temporary basis from Cesena, has decided in turn to send him on loan at Leeds."
Tabanelli, 23, is an attacking midfielder who has been playing this season in Serie B with Cesena. He has one goal and three assists to his name in 17 appearances.

Varney refuses to play with move away on the cards

Luke Varney refused to play for Leeds United in their game with Ipswich Town on Tuesday night.
Varney is reported to be on the verge of a move away from Elland Road and Leeds boss Brian McDermott revealed after the 1-1 draw with Ipswich that Varney had approached him and asked not to play to avoid the possibility of injury, something that could scupper the move.
Fellow championship side Blackburn Rovers have been reported to be interested in signing Varney in the past few days.

Leeds United 1 Ipswich Town 1: Whites are paralysed on and off the field

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/1/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United are a football club and a renowned one at that. Their raison d’etre just has a way of deferring too often to destructive politics. A 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town last night was a mere interlude in the posturing and infighting that is rapidly infecting Elland Road.
A month ago Leeds were talking about the Championship play-offs; planning for them even, albeit tentatively. Transfers, results, money, ambition –United seemed to have all of it.
But these days the table is a sad afterthought, lost in the mire of a takeover that is more malignant than ever.
Leeds are 12th in their league and a large, eight-point step away from the play-off places. Five straight losses and a draw with Ipswich have seen to that in a period of total stagnation, but the one thing General Custer refused to do as the arrows flew was blame the foot-soldiers beneath him. The fault for the decay at Leeds goes higher and deeper, far beyond the dressing room.
Those shouldering most blame know who they are.
Where United will be in 24 hours’ time, never mind a week, is impossible to say. You doubt whether even the board are able answer that with certainty. United could be Italian-owned at a moment’s notice; they could also fall into the hands of two British groups whose interest goes back several months. Or they could reside for a while longer in the hands of a Bahraini bank which has dragged United into a game of poker and pounds.
A sixth successive defeat was at least averted last night by Ross McCormack’s 19th goal of the season, scored from the penalty spot in the second half and six minutes after Paddy Kenny failed criminally to guard his own net against a hopeful shot from David McGoldrick.
McCormack’s concession raised a cheer like few United’s players have heard this month and it gave his manager, Brian McDermott, an ounce of breathing space at a club who are suffocating him with their scheming and inaction. McDermott among others deserves better than this, as he must surely know.
Football did its best to get a look-in yesterday but the supposed takeover is everywhere in Leeds. Other clubs have crises and other clubs have problems but even at one as strained as Manchester United, the raging arguments concern results and the standard of players in their squad. United carry those worries too but here the problem is ownership; always ownership.
Staff at Elland Road last night were told to prepare for the appearance of Massimo Cellino, the twice-convicted Italian who owns Cagliari and seems keen to get his claws into Leeds. His associates have been shown around the club’s stadium and training ground twice in the past week, the most recent tour taken alongside acting United chief executive Paul Hunt, and Cellino is giving off all the signals a buyer would. Despite that and strong claims that he is already trying to offer jobs at Leeds to those he knows, a box set aside for him in the East Stand is believed to have stood empty throughout the meeting with Ipswich.
Cellino’s presence in Yorkshire, however, was enough to stoke the ire of Andrew Flowers, part of the Sport Capital group who have been fighting for a 75 per cent stake in Leeds with an increasing lack of conviction. In a statement released an hour before kick-off, he attacked club owner Gulf Finance House for engaging with and indulging Cellino and revealed that Sport Capital had reduced their offer to GFH on account of “a number of things have come to light which were not as originally described”.
In short, the takeover is in serious trouble. And so are Leeds. Quite how McDermott maintained his equilibrium to plan and prepare for last night’s match while politics flared and Italian leather strolled around Thorp Arch is anyone’s guess, and Luke Varney’s impending transfer to Blackburn Rovers saw him left out of United’s 18-man squad. He was replaced by El-Hadji Diouf, a player who McDermott half expected to leave Elland Road this month.
In the circumstances and the chaos, Diouf might now be the sort of asset who Leeds suddenly need. There is little prospect of any other players arriving before the transfer window closes, unless something gives in the fractious dealings between England and Bahrain. McDermott has changed his team this month but not substantially enough, and the performance against Ipswich was spirited, tight but very hard work.
Ipswich reached much the same standard and the first half at Elland Road was a gentle affair.
McGoldrick’s misguided volley in the 18th minute made Kenny stand flat-footed and watch his far post anxiously but in the main, both goalkeepers soaked up the drifting rain without a care for half-an-hour.
The better attacks that Elland Road saw still came from Ipswich before the interval. McGoldrick went close again when Jay Tabb cut down the left wing and picked out Paul Anderson with a cross which the winger teed up for McGoldrick, but Jason Pearce appeared in time to guard the goalline and hack a mis-hit shot to safety. Tom Lees twice averted trouble with sliding tackles behind a trailing defence and Kenny’s low save from Ryan Tunnicliffe prevented the ball from finding the furthest corner of his net.
United’s first shot came on 34 minutes, a Rudy Austin special from 30 yards which Dean Gerken pushed beyond his post, and they asked questions of Ipswich before half-time without unlocking the door. A cross from Stephen Warnock slipped off the head of McCormack as Ipswich lost the striker inside their box six minutes later. Mick McCarthy had hoped that McCormack – a target of West Ham United last week – would be as quiet as he was before the break.
Soon after half-time Leeds’ nerve began to fail them. Ipswich worked on the anxiety which showed itself in United’s play and McDermott’s defence had already escaped from a couple of tight corners when McGoldrick’s strike from a speculative distance slipped inside Kenny’s near post. The keeper appeared to be trying to urge the ball wide and lay on the ground.
His error was only as bad as Luke Chambers’ rash sliding challenge which handed Leeds a penalty six minutes later. The defender clipped the legs of Cameron Stewart as Stewart reached the byline and McCormack dispatch the penalty high into Gerken’s net. McCormack thought he had scored again soon after but his top-corner effort deflected over the bar and Gerken’s fingertips turned his 73rd-minute volley away. There was fight in those minutes and defiance too but Leeds need more than that. They need help and assurance, and they need it from the top.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Trust Statement: Rising Concerns at LUFC

Leeds United Supporters Trust 28/1/14
The board of LUST recognises the concerns its members are raising in numbers regarding the current situation at the club.
The takeover is apparently stalled, there has been a lack of transfer activity and, if what has been reported in the local media is accurate, at least one of Brian McDermott's targets has been blocked by GFH.
What is happening appears to be at odds with what was expected to happen in terms of completing a takeover and supporting the manager - and what was in fact reported by the club as happening - and we fully understand why this has caused confusion and anger among our members.
We have spoken to people at the club, including David Haigh, made sure they are fully aware of your concerns, and asked for clarity about what exactly is going on, but we can only ask questions and pass on your comments. We cannot force the club to say anymore than it has.
We understand some of the reasons why the club is saying very little at this time, and respect the fact that certain agreements may be in place preventing a more open dialogue with our members and the club's supporters.
However this does little to prevent the anxiety and lack of confidence felt by supporters, players and the management team, and the club should be aware that our members and many other LUFC fans feel that what is happening is detrimental to the club, harmful to our prospects this season and undermining the very good work that has been done before.
With this in mind we would ask our ultimate owners, GFH, to clarify to our members and the club's supporters what the position at the club is now - not with platitudes, public relations or with the interests of your investors in mind, but in accordance with the promises you made when you took control of our club from Ken Bates.
The supporters of this club will be here a long time after you have gone. We have respected your right to use our club as an investment and opened our arms in friendship to you. Now is the time for you to respect our right to some honesty and clarity in exchange.

LUST Update: Conversation with David Haigh
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
LUST Chairman, Gary Cooper, spoke this morning with David Haigh about the concerns many of our members have expressed to us about the time being taken to complete the current takeover process.
We have been contacted by a large number of fans who feel confused, frustrated and increasingly impatient as they wait for the takeover to be completed, and Gary made sure today that David fully understands the strength of feeling among fans who want to know exactly what is going on.
David said that he is fully aware of the concerns being expressed, and that in response he would be happy for us to tell our members that this conversation has taken place. He told Gary that money to complete the deal is in place, that the Football League have been very helpful, and that all that remains is "crossing a few 'Ts' and dotting a few 'Is.'"
David also said he would like to assure our members that Brian McDermott has funds available for players he wants, is able to deal in the transfer market without hindrance during the takeover, and that in effect it is 'business as usual' while completion is achieved.
Referring to the communication between GFH and the stock exchange that was widely reported this morning, David said he understands how confusing information coming from the Middle East can be but he wants to assure our members everything is on course.
Gary would like to thank David for taking the time to talk this morning, and for listening to the concerns expressed to us by our members.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
A Trust Statement
By now, the board of the Trust had hoped to be able to share with our members, as promised, the full story of the events of 2012 as they happened.
Before we can do this, we need to be sure that everyone involved has completed their business, and that there can be no repercussions for anyone involved from telling our story.
During this past autumn we began working in earnest with our friends at The Square Ball to tell the story through the medium of a free to all podcast, with the aim of having this ready before Christmas.
As most of you will be aware, however, various legal actions began late last year between several of the people involved in the takeover process of 2012, due to disputes arising from that process.
We have sought legal opinion and been advised that our plans for the podcast should be put on hold, at least until these cases have progressed through the courts and been concluded.
We realise that this will disappoint many of our members, and we can only apologise for that, but we hope you will all understand why this has to be our position for the time being.
Many thanks for your continued support.
Gary Cooper
Chairman, Leeds United Supporters Trust

Talisman Ross will stay at Leeds United – Mac

Yorkshire Post 28/1/14
United boss confirms West Ham made a bid for Leeds’ skipper but says they won’t be returning with another bid. Leon Wobschall reports.
PRIZE ASSET Ross McCormack will still be wearing the white of Leeds United by the weekend – and leading them out for the big West Yorkshire home derby with Huddersfield Town.
That’s the view of manager Brian McDermott, who is confident that the striker will be staying put this month – avoiding an unwanted hat-trick for Leeds, who saw key men Jonny Howson and Luciano Becchio both sold in the New Year windows of 2011-12 and 2012-13 – with fans left to rue both decisions.
West Ham saw a £3.5m bid for McCormack rejected on Friday and despite speculation that they will up their offer in a bid to break United’s resolve before the January transfer window deadline at 11pm on Friday evening, comments from Hammers manager Sam Allardyce suggest the contrary.
Speaking at a morning press conference ahead of the East London outfit’s derby clash at Chelsea tomorrow evening, Allardyce said that he has no plans to make a second bid for the 27-year-old.
McDermott went on to confirm that Allardyce had ended his club’s interest in his own media gathering yesterday lunch-time – having spoken to the Upton Park boss in the morning.
McDermott did reveal that he has received interest in one of his players, but confirmed it was not his captain, or El-Hadji Diouf for that matter, who has been told he can leave the club.
Reports yesterday linked Blackburn Rovers with United striker Luke Varney, who is also believed to have also attracted recent interest from their Lancastrian rivals Blackpool.
But on the McCormack front, the message as it stands is that he is staying put, news that will be welcomed by all United fans.
McDermott insists his star striker, subject of three failed bids from Championship rivals Middlesbrough before signing a new four-year-deal at the end of August, is happy at Leeds, having recently been entrusted with the captain’s armband and speaking of his massive pride at being named as Whites’ skipper.
Questioned on whether he believes McCormack will be remaining at Elland Road, he said: “Yes, I have a great relationship with Ross and he’s a great bloke. We speak regularly every day and he’s my captain and been fabulous for our club and has never said he wants to leave. I know the fans love him and rightly so.
“If I know anything, I tell him exactly what I know.”
On the question of whether West Ham had resurrected their interest in the silky Scot, he added: “I spoke to Sam this (Monday) morning and asked him the question. Because I don’t want to lose Ross McCormack.
“Sam’s a man I know well and I actually spoke to him and they said they put an offer in, the club (Leeds) rejected the bid and Sam said he wouldn’t be coming back.
“Ross is an integral part of what I have been trying to do since April. We’ve spoken about his leadership qualities and I think he’s got those, he really has. He’s been a talisman for us this season.
“There’s interest for one of my players at this moment (not McCormack). And we shall see what happens with that.”
Having brought in Italian pair Antonio Nocerino and Marco Borriello on loan, Allardyce – whose club accounts have revealed that their net debt has increased to £77million for the year ending May 31, 2013 – said the club were unlikely to do anymore business with the two signings taking their squad up to the 25-man limit.
Amid all the stories regarding the takeover saga at Leeds and the interest in McCormack, it was easy to forget that United are in fact in action in a crucial encounter this evening at home to Ipswich Town, managed by boyhood Whites fan Mick McCarthy.
Without a win in seven games since December 14, United are seeking to avoid a sixth successive defeat in all competitions tonight, something which has not occurred since the winter of 2004, in that desperate 2003-04 season when the club were relegated to the second tier.
McDermott insists that the 10-day break between games has come at a good time for his squad, who may have suffered another defeat last time out against Leicester City, but at least got back onside with supporters following a much-improved display that was worlds away from the shambolic displays against Sheffield Wednesday and Rochdale.
United face opponents who have proved obdurate on the road this season, with seventh-placed Ipswich – who claimed a 2-0 weekend victory over Reading at Portman Road – having been beaten just once on their Championship travels in their last nine outings.
McDermott acknowledges that tonight’s task will represent a stiff challenge, but says there are plenty of incentives for his side, who can move within one point of the East Anglians with victory this evening.
With derby rivals Huddersfield due at Leeds on Saturday, opportunity knocks for Leeds, according to their manager.
McDermott, who will again be without striker Matt Smith, who serves the second match of a three-match ban, added: “We are in okay shape and have worked on the team and how we are going to play.
“We know Ipswich and Mick well and know his teams are right up for games. We are going to have to make sure we win the battles early on and then do our stuff.
“We need to get our quality going and our wide players getting crosses and creating chances.
“Mick’s a good friend of mine and I like Mick a lot and he’s a good manager.
“He’s done a good job at Ipswich and got them right in amongst the play-offs.
“But if we can get a result, we will be a point behind them and right amongst it as well. It’s the first time, against Leicester, that I’ve been able to put two wingers on the pitch since I’ve been at Leeds. I think the performance, if not the result, was much better.
“We looked much more solid and that we were going to score goals.
“We looked like a team who are going to go in the right direction.”
Ex-United full-back Frazer Richardson has been named in Town’s squad after joining from Middlesbrough for the rest of the season.
Skipper Carlos Edwards is fit after shrugging off a groin injury.

Leeds must be owned ‘by right people’ says in-limbo McDermott

Yorkshire Post 28/1/14
by Richard Sutcliffe
BRIAN McDERMOTT last night pleaded for clarity over the ownership of Leeds United, insisting that the on-going saga is in danger of overshadowing what happens on the pitch at Elland Road.
Confusion reigns in LS11 with the bid by current managing director David Haigh to buy a 75 per cent stake having run into serious difficulties over the past fortnight.
This has alerted a rival group, headed by former Sunderland marketing chief Mike Farnan, who seems intent on launching a second attempt to buy into the Championship club after being rebuffed late last year by United’s owners, Gulf Finance House.
Then there is Massimo Cellino, the controversial owner of Serie A side Cagliari: the Yorkshire Post has been told by sources in Italy that Cellino believes a deal is imminent and that several of his business associates have spent time recently at Thorp Arch.
Amid this behind-the-scenes chaos, McDermott has the task of trying to unite a fractured club and elicit a performance from his Leeds players that can bring an end to a five-game losing run.
The United chief last night said: “This football club now is in a place where it has to go and be looked after by the right people in the right hands. Whoever that might be, that is so important for this club – our club.
“These are massively important times. It has got to a point where it seems as if the football has been secondary. That should never be the case at a football club, especially at Leeds United.
“But, first things first, the ownership needs to be resolved. It is so, so important.
“Forget my interests. It is not about me, but the football club. The interest I have got is Leeds United and that is absolutely genuine.
“It is not about the interests of me, David Haigh or anyone. It is about our fans and about our club. It has got to be done for the right reasons, for Leeds United. That is 100 per cent my opinion.
“You don’t want it to drag on, but be done. That is the important thing. That is number one, two and three priority at this football club – to get the ownership resolved.”
Haigh took to social network site Twitter over the weekend to reiterate that Sport Capital – the name of the consortium he heads along with Andrew Flowers, managing director of current shirt sponsors, Enterprise Insurance – “remain as committed as ever to finalising this”.
That, though, has done little to placate supporters, who are as keen as McDermott to see the ownership saga resolved.
West Ham United had a £3.5m bid for Whites’ captain Ross McCormack turned down last Friday and the worry is that if the current impasse continues, either the Hammers or another club may try to prise the Scot away with an improved bid before the transfer window shuts on Friday night.
Other players are also on the radar of rival clubs with Blackburn Rovers manager Gary Bowyer determined to land striker Luke Varney.
As all this uncertainty continues, McDermott’s priority is three points tonight at home to Ipswich Town.
The Leeds manager added: “The ownership needs to be resolved, that’s it. Let us get this business out of the way so we can stop talking about it, then we can move on. That is what I think is absolutely key, first and foremost.
“It is not easy at the moment. These are difficult times, there is no doubt about that. For myself and for the staff, we try and keep this away from the players.
“The players will go out and do their jobs against Ipswich, absolutely.”
United’s last win came seven games ago at Doncaster Rovers on December 14, when the club were sitting in the play-off spots.
Since then, however, the wheels have come off Leeds’s season to leave McDermott needing a huge lift from this week’s back-to-back home games against Ipswich tonight and Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
On his side’s prospects, McDermott added: “We are 12th in the league and that is probably about right. We started the season well and have had a little bit of a run that has not been great. We know that.
“But I keep coming back to the long-term stability of the club.
“When I was brought to this football club, I signed a three-year deal.
“I signed it because I was asked to do a job long-term, until I am told differently. That is the most important thing for me. To build up the stability, squad, team and fanbase – everything about it to make this club great again.”
The visit of Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich is Leeds’s first outing since being unfortunate to lose 1-0 at home to leaders Leicester City ten days ago.
McDermott said: “We know Ipswich and Mick well and know his teams are right up for games.
“We are going to have to make sure we win the battles early on and then do our stuff.
“We need to get our quality going and our wide players getting in crosses and creating chances.
“Leicester was the first time that I have been able to put two wingers on the pitch since I have been at Leeds.
“I think the performance, if not the result, was much better. We looked much more solid and that we were going to score goals.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

Boss McDermott nor expecting further Ross McCormack interest

leedsunited.com 27/1/14
Brian McDermott on his captain...
United boss Brian McDermott says he is not expecting any further bids for striker Ross McCormack.
The club rejected an offer from West Ham at the end of last week, and the United manager says he fully expects his new captain to be a Leeds United player after the transfer window closes on Friday.
“The bid for Ross was rejected on Friday and I’ve have spoken to Sam Allardyce since and he has said that they won’t be coming back in for him,” said the boss.
“I am confident that he will be here after the window closes on Friday. Ross has never asked to leave. He is my captain and he is a talisman for our team.
“He scores goals and he makes them as well. He has been a good leader for the team and for me and I’m confident he will remain here.
“He has been important since April, since I turned up at the club. I’m sure that he will get better and better and will and we are going to have him for his prime years.”
The boss did add that he has had interest in another player, and said: "There's been interest in one of the players, not Ross, and we'll see where that goes."

Farnan Group set for fresh Leeds United bid

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/1/14
by Phil Hay
A rival group to the Sport Capital consortium are positioning themselves to make a second offer for Leeds United and intensify the ownership struggle at Elland Road.
A group led by ex-Manchester United employee Mike Farnan could submit an improved bid early this week after a deal between Sport Capital and Leeds owner Gulf Finance House reached an impasse.
Sport Capital have been working on a 75 per cent buy-out for two months but their takeover has run into difficulties in the past fortnight and appeared to be no closer to completion last night.
Farnan’s consortium, which includes ex-Hull City chairman Adam Pearson and Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, made an unsuccessful offer for Leeds in November and looked to be out of the running once GFH agreed terms with Sport Capital later that month.
Sport Capital, fronted by United managing director David Haigh, initially planned to complete their takeover before the start of the January transfer window but protracted negotiations with GFH and delays have opened the door to rival interest.
Massimo Cellino, the owner of Serie A club Cagliari, was in England last week amid reports in Italy that he was planning to buy a 75 per cent shareholding in Leeds.
The 57-year-old has held talks with Haigh and Enterprise Insurance managing director Andrew Flowers – another of the men behind Sport Capital – but they are yet to agree on any investment.
Farnan, meanwhile, has given all the indications that his consortium will make a renewed offer to officials at GFH in Bahrain. He was unavailable for comment when contacted by the YEP but comments posted by him on Twitter suggested that his group would involve themselves again if Sport Capital failed to conclude a takeover by the end of last week.
On Friday he hinted that his consortium were continuing to work in the background, saying he needed to maintain “radio silence for the sake of progress.”
Haigh, however, took to Twitter yesterday to insist that Sport Capital “remain as committed as ever to finalising this.” As the ownership saga rumbled on, Leeds were waiting last night to learn whether West Ham United plan to follow up an initial bid for club captain and top scorer Ross McCormack.
Leeds rejected a £3.5m offer from Upton Park on Friday and have yet to receive an improved approach. West Ham signed another striker on Saturday, taking Marco Borriello on loan from Roma for the rest of the season, and they have until Friday’s 11pm transfer deadline to make a better offer for McCormack.

West Ham to return with improved £5m offer for McCormack after initial rejected bid

Mail 26/1/14
By Simon Jones
West Ham are poised to make an improved £5million offer for Leeds United striker Ross McCormack on Monday.
Leeds have rejected an initial proposal of £3million plus and extra £1m on appearances and the Upton Park club will return with £4m plus £1m.
Leeds are willing to accept that as talks continue over a takeover from Cagliari businessman Cellino.
Scotland international McCormack is the Championship's leading scorer this season with 17 goals, one more than Jordan Rhodes of Blackburn. The 27-year-old was also made Leeds captain just last week.
Leeds chairman Salah Nouruddin said on Twitter last week: 'I'd like to reassure all £lufc fans that we're working hard for the club and can confirm we've rejected an offer from West Ham for Ross.'
West Ham are third from bottom in the Premier League with 18 points, the same amount as the two teams below them Sunderland and Cardiff, and one behind Fulham and safety.

Friday, January 24, 2014

West Ham's McCormack bid rejected

leedsunited.com 24/1/14
Bid rejected for United striker...
Leeds United have rejected an offer from West Ham United for striker Ross McCormack.
The London club made an offer for the player on Friday afternoon which was rejected by the club's board.
Managing director David Haigh said: "We received an offer from West Ham this afternoon for Ross which we have rejected.
"As a club we showed our intentions as far as Ross is concerned during the summer by offering him a new contract."

Leeds United reject £3.5m bid for McCormack

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/1/14
Leeds United have tonight rejected a £3.5m bid from West Ham United for captain and top scorer Ross McCormack, the YEP understands.
The Premier League side tabled their offer earlier today and are now considering whether to return with an improved proposal for the 18-goal striker.
McCormack, who was named as United’s new captain last week, signed a four-year contract in the summer after Leeds fended off repeated bids from Middlesbrough.

Massimo Cellino: Is the King of Corn after Leeds United?

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/1/14
Phil Hay profiles Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino who has been linked with Sport Capital’s bid to take control of Leeds United.
In Sardinia, Cagliari Calcio are the only show in town. They are the island’s national team. Since 1992 Massimo Cellino has run that show and more besides; an agricultural magnate whose nickname translates as the ‘King of Corn’.
He went global in 2005 by relocating to Miami, and by showing an interest in Leeds United, Cellino is following Italian football’s trend of doing the same. Two years ago, the Pozzo family – the owners of Udinese – bought out Watford. Aurelio De Laurentiis, the chairman of Napoli, is said to want an English club of his own. And in England, there are always clubs for sale.
Italian journalists believe Cellino has been looking at Leeds for some time. Last weekend, he and Cagliari’s vice-president flew to London with the intention of pursuing their interest closer to home.
Several newspapers in Italy, among them the respected La Gazzetta dello Sport, reported yesterday that Cellino had agreed the purchase of a 75 per cent stake and was effectively United’s new owner. Leeds denied the claim but admitted that discussions had taken place between Cellino and David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, the only named members of the Sport Capital consortium who have been bidding to buy United for two months. Cellino is believed to have attended last weekend’s defeat to Leicester City.
He is a new name in the saga of Gulf Finance House’s sale to Sport Capital but not a new name in England. Back in 2010, he tried to take control of West Ham United but was beaten to the punch by David Gold and David Sullivan amid scrutiny of his background and two convictions for fraud. At the time it was alleged that he would have failed to pass the Premier League’s Fit and Proper Person’s Test had West Ham taken his money.
Crystal Palace fended off approaches from him that same year but Cellino is back in the ring as Cagliari, as a team and club, stutter along. He has controlled the Sardinian club for 21 years and seen enough in that time to make his commitment worthwhile but life there is not as fulfilling as it could be. Cagliari are in a rut; to quote one Italian writer, “a small club with no stadium at the wrong end of a depressed island.”
For half a decade and more, Cellino has wrestled with Cagliari’s mayor and the local authorities for permission to move his club out of their decrepit Stadio Sant’Elia ground and into a new custom-built arena. Sant’Elia is a wreck, capable of holding no more than 5,000 fans for league games. Television footage of a Serie A match against Juventus two weeks ago made the stadium look completely empty.
In the intervening years the dispute was messy. Cagliari moved briefly to the Is Arena in 2012, only to see the stadium declared unusable and unsafe on several occasions. In February 2013, Cellino and the mayor of Quartu Sant’Elena, Mauro Contini, were arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of attempted embezzlement and false representation relating to the development of the ground. Those criminal proceedings have yet to come to trial. Before long, Cagliari requested that their home fixtures be staged in Trieste – some 800km away. They are back now in Stadio Sant’Elia, a ruin of a venue which Cellino has openly criticised.
Earlier this month Cagliari accepted an offer of around nine million euros from AS Roma for Radja Nainggolan, their Belgian midfielder. Cellino was more than willing to let the transfer happen, saying: “He has six or seven clubs looking (at) him and I can’t keep hold of him. It’s not an issue of money, as even if they give me less than his price-tag, he’ll still go. If he doesn’t want to go, I’ll send him away.
“We play in a stadium worthy of Serie C, the players had to travel all around Italy for two years because we weren’t allowed a home stadium. I can’t keep anyone in these conditions.”
It sounds like a club in crisis but reporters in Italy say Cellino is a popular figure with Cagliari’s brow-beaten supporters, in spite of his penchant for sacking managers – 36 employed by Cagliari during his 20-odd years as president.
“He’s very impatient with the trainers,” says Federico Casotti, a broadcaster and journalist with Goal.com in Italy. “It’s very strange because he often keeps the same coach until the end of the season and then makes a change. But the change always comes.
“The head coach at the moment (Diego Lopez) is doing an average job with a squad which is quite average too so whenever they lose a game, everyone talks about a possible dismissal. It’s always like this with Cellino. When things go wrong, the coach is at risk.
“But he’s very popular at Cagliari. Cagliari Calcio in Sardinia is like Athletic Bilbao in the Basque region – there’s a close affection. He was around the club at the time when they played in the UEFA Cup semi-final and people remember that team fondly. They weren’t as good as the team who won the Scudetto in 1970 but they were good.
“The club got promoted back to Serie A with (Gianfranco) Zola and everyone else and he’s always managed the club in a wise way. He’s well known for being able to sell players for a very good price.
“But in Italy over the last few years, (football club) owners have been trying to expand their businesses abroad. You saw the Pozzos at Watford. It might be that Cellino is getting frustrated with Italian football and the authorities and wants to run a club in a sweeter environment.”
How likely he is to have that opportunity at Elland Road is far from clear. His suspended jail sentences would cause the Football League obvious concern and Sport Capital have not gone so far as to say that Cellino is fully on board with them, only that talks have been held between him, Haigh and Flowers.
Cellino’s son, Ercole, set tongues wagging on Wednesday night by publishing a picture of Elland Road’s East Stand on Instagram. Yesterday, he produced another from the director’s box inside the ground.
If a seat is found for Cellino there, the club should avoid giving him number 17 – an unlucky number in Italy. A superstitious man, Cellino apparently got rid of seat 17 in the main stand of the Is Arena, replacing it with 16B. For all the good it has done Cagliari Calcio lately.

Cellino was thwarted in West Ham bid
Massimo Cellino took a swipe at the “transparency” of English football after failing to buy West Ham United in 2010.
Cellino thought he had reached a deal to purchase the Premier League club and vented his fury after West Ham’s Icelandic owners sold a stake to David Gold and David Sullivan instead.
“I am astonished more than disappointed,” Cellino said. “In many years in football I’ve never seen anything like this.
“Everything was ready, I was poised to buy 100 percent of the club and instead this morning when I arrived in London I discovered they’d decided to sell to people they’ve been talking to for eight months – who have taken only 50 percent.
“I would have paid all the debts and I was ready to make some big buys. I think England didn’t want me.”
Speaking to the Italian press, Cellino added: “In England they don’t know how to run football. In Italy we really shouldn’t be ashamed as in London I found less transparency and on top of that we’re more efficient.”

Confusion and doubt surrounds Leeds takeover

Political economy of Football 23/1/14
Confusion and doubt is surrounding the projected takeover of Leeds United. Leeds never seem to have much good fortune when it comes to sorting out their ownership and it has undoubtedly held back their progression to the Premiership.
United have been on course for a change of ownership for almost two months but the sale of 75 per cent stake from current owner GFH to Sport Capital – a consortium led by Leeds managing director David Haigh – ran into problems earlier this week.
The two parties have been locked in negotiations for the past 48 hours but neither side was able to offer reassurance last night or provide a certain timescale for completion.
And the situation at Elland Road was clouded further amid reports from Italy that Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino was poised to complete his own 75 per cent buy-out of Leeds.
Sources close to United dismissed those claims but it is understood that Cellino has held talks with Haigh and Andrew Flowers, another of Sport Capital’s members. No deal has been agreed between them.
Indeed, Cellino insists that he is not trying to buying the club, but is acting as an adviser to the consortium. He said, 'We are just talking, looking at numbers.' Leeds fans will be hoping that the talking comes to a conclusion.
What sort of advice the Sardinian entrepreneur would offer is an interesting question. Calgari under his leadership has to some extent flourished and established itself in Serie A rather than hovering between the top three divisions as the Rossoblu did in the late 1980s.
But Cellino's attempts to build a more suitable new ground for Cagliari have been a comedy of errors and ended in a bizarre period of house arrest last year when he was accused of embezzlement - charges that seemed spurious and politically motivated.
And Cellino's hands-on approach may not work well at Leeds or any other English club for that matter, even given that the turnover of managers has become increasingly rapid. The fiery businessman is known as a mangiaallenatori or 'manager eater' in Italy as he loses patience very quickly. Cellino axed a total of 36 coaches in 20 years at Cagliari.

End this confusion, demands LUST as Leeds deal hangs in balance

Yorkshire Post 23/1/14
by Phil Hay
THE head of the Leeds United Supporters Trust last night called for an end to the “confusion and doubt” surrounding the club as Sport Capital’s takeover deal hung in the balance.
Gary Cooper, the chairman of LUST, urged Sport Capital and Gulf Finance House to “provide clarity one way or the other” following 48 hours of talks aimed at pushing the buy-out of United over the line.
Leeds have been in line for a change of ownership for almost two months but the sale of 75 per cent stake from current owner Gulf Finance House to Sport Capital – a group led by club managing director David Haigh – ran into problems earlier this week.
The two parties have been locked in intense negotiations for the past two days but neither side was able to offer reassurance last night or provide a certain timescale for completion.
The protracted talks look set to run into the final week of the January transfer window, potentially complicating manager Brian McDermott’s attempts to add to his two new signings so far.
Cooper said: “We were told at the outset that the takeover would be done by January and while slight delays are understandable, there’s a lot of confusion and doubt about whether it’s going to happen.
“There seem to be issues behind the scenes and we saw with the Ashley Barnes deal (United’s failed attempt to sign Barnes from Brighton two weeks ago) that the situation is interfering with the manager’s job. On that basis alone, the supporters are going to have concerns.
“I don’t think anyone would pretend that this hasn’t gone on longer than it was supposed to, and it seems essential that GFH, Sport Capital or both provided some clarity about where this is going, one way or the other.”
Sport Capital have agreed to buy a 75 per cent stake in Leeds, with Gulf Finance House relinquishing its position as majority shareholder and retaining a 10 per cent stake, but disagreements over unspecified issues prompted renewed negotiations this week. Neither Sport Capital nor GFH will comment on the reasons for the delay, though Sport Capital have consistently stated that they have the necessary funding in place to force the purchase through.
Cooper said: “No-one is asking for fine details, financial figures or anything like that.
“All the supporters want to know is that the situation is going to deliver an outcome which is in the best interests of Leeds United. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to feel confident about that.”

What next for Leeds United if a deal is not done?

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/1/14
Chief football writer Phil Hay looks at the ramifications for Leeds United if sport Capital’s deal to take over the Elland Road club is not agreed.

1: WHERE DOES THE SEASON GO FROM HERE?
The transfer window closes a week tomorrow and Leeds United have signed two players, Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart. On the basis of what Brian McDermott said before the start of January, that is half as many deals as he wanted the club to complete.
Without the impact of internal disagreements, he would have made Ashley Barnes his third signing a fortnight ago but the boardroom dispute over that transfer and Leeds’ failure to pay a £500,000 fee was indicative of problems developing between Sport Capital and Gulf Finance House.
United have been linked with several other strikers this week – Danny Graham, Luke Moore, Leroy Lita, Matty Fryatt – but it is plain to see that the attention of Leeds’ existing owner and the consortium bidding to buy the club is fixed on the issues delaying and complicating Sport Capital’s takeover. Two weeks have passed since Kebe arrived on loan from Crystal Palace and United have the look of a club suffering from a sudden vacuum of authority.
Officials at GFH opposed the Barnes deal and were not overruled. What confidence can McDermott have of receiving more solid support before January 31, particularly if the takeover is on the edge? This, remember, is a coach who talked about getting his business done early and avoiding an appearance on Sky Sports News’ deadline-day extravaganza. He is also a coach who talked about “having a go” at promotion during the second half of the season. A club paralysed by confusion so late in January does not give him much chance.

2: WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR UNITED’S MANAGER?
GFH’s influence in the aborted deal to sign Barnes from Brighton was hardly a resounding vote of confidence in McDermott. In fact, it was old-fashioned interference preventing him from buying a player who, while not the Championship’s premier goalscorer, was an outside-the-box target who McDermott clearly identified carefully.
The United manager is a fan of David Haigh and acting chief executive Paul Hunt, and he spoke positively about the individuals behind Sport Capital last weekend, describing them as “spot on”. There is no doubt that Sport Capital have confidence in him and no suggestion that their faith has diminished during Leeds’ run of five straight defeats.
But if Sport Capital’s purchase collapses, responsibility for decision-making and – perhaps more crucially – funding reverts to GFH until another buyer is found. McDermott would be working for a Bahraini bank which no longer wants the stress of owning more than a minority stake. It’s a minefield for a manager and a difficult environment to thrive in.

3: WHERE WOULD SHORT-TERM FUNDING COME FROM?
If Sport Capital’s claim that they invested £6m in Leeds before the turn of the year is strictly accurate, it is plainly obvious that GFH is no longer providing the weight of funds needed to run the club. Several sources say GFH’s financial input has decreased markedly since last summer, and the bank’s willingness to sell a majority stake suggests it is no longer committed to running the show.
Over the past seven months Leeds have taken a number of payments from outside sources. Dubai-based Brendale Holdings, of which Haigh is a director, made a loan to the club during the close season and Berrydale Seventh Sport Holdings – another firm set up by Haigh in Dubai – provided more cash in October. The following month, Sport Capital put up around £1million in advance of its deal to buy out GFH.
There have been transfers in that period and contract extensions too but some of the money loaned to Leeds was used to cover wages and other day-to-day costs. That raises two concerns about a failed Sport Capital bid – firstly, that the group seek to withdraw the funds they have injected, and secondly, that they leave behind a firm without the will or the cash to prop United up.

4: HOW QUICKLY COULD OTHER BUYERS BE FOUND?
One rival group has been watching this situation throughout – the consortium who bid a reported £7million for Leeds in mid-November, shortly before Haigh and his backers agreed terms with GFH.
That rival consortium was made up of Mike Farnan, the former Sunderland and Manchester United employee, one-time Hull City chairman Adam Pearson, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, Frank Devoy – a business associate of Farnan’s – and ex-United captain Lucas Radebe. The group have made no further offers since their original bid was rejected by Leeds but they claim that Sport Capital’s agreement essentially gave Haigh and company the right to tie up their purchase without GFH engaging other parties. The consortium led by Farnan is not believed to have held direct talks with officials at GFH in Bahrain so any plan to step in and replace Sport Capital would need time and space to move forward. It is, however, a potential fall-back.
Reports in Italy, meanwhile, name Massimo Cellino – the owner of Serie A club Cagliari – as another would-be buyer. Italian newspaper L’Unione Sarda says Cellino has turned his attention to Leeds with Cagliari’s season going nowhere. He and club vice-president Giancarlo Matteoli have seemingly been in London since last weekend. Cellino tried to buy West Ham in 2010 but lost out to David Gold and David Sullivan. “England didn’t want me,” he said.

5: WHAT FUTURE FOR THE BOARD AT ELLAND ROAD?
This was essentially a management buy-out of Leeds, led by Haigh and supported by others around him in the boardroom. Their authority hangs on completion, as does the credibility of the assurances given to McDermott over the past two months. Little wonder they are fighting so hard to keep the deal afloat.

Leeds United: Takeover deadlock needs to be broken

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/1/14
Talks between United’s owners GFH and sport capital to try and thrash out a deal for the club have yet to conclude. Phil Hay reports.
The ongoing takeover of Leeds United was portrayed as a neat-and-tidy purchase of a club in good fettle but over days and weeks the mooted change of ownership has become as all-consuming as the last.
There were shades of Neil Warnock in Brian McDermott’s remark that bringing negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion was United’s “number one priority”; more crucial in McDermott’s eyes than the January transfer window. No matter the promises or the money at his disposal, the view of Leeds’ manager is that the club cannot move forward with conviction while uncertainty lingers in the background.
On November 30, when United first announced a deal between owner GFH Capital and a consortium of British buyers, the projected timescale for completion was late December. By late December, sources involved in the process were talking about early January. Early January became the middle of the transfer window, and the window now closes in nine days’ time. Discussions between the two sides have continued unabated this week.
It was inevitable as time ticked by that the delay in completion would beg the question of whether the buy-out had run into trouble. Yesterday it transpired that seven weeks on from their initial announcement, Gulf Finance House – the parent company of GFH Capital – and the firm trying to take control of Leeds, Sport Capital, were wrangling over unresolved issues and struggling to bring the takeover to a head.
Rifts between Sport Capital – a consortium which includes United managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, a senior figure at Enterprise Insurance – and GFH were revealed last week when it emerged that the Bahrain-based bank had opposed and prevented the signing of Ashley Barnes from Brighton, despite the availability of a £500,000 fee needed to complete the transfer.
The decision from Bahrain was a peculiar one in light of GFH’s plan to take a large backward step at Elland Road. The bank announced on Monday that the terms of its sale to Sport Capital would see Haigh and Flowers’ four-man consortium take up a 75 per cent stake with GFH retaining a 10 per cent share. Its statement added only that the deal depended on Football League approval and Sport Capital fulfilling “certain obligations to complete the transaction.”
GFH has been a willing seller for most of the past year and is prepared to relinquish its authority in return for repayment of much of the £30million-plus it spent on buying and running Leeds. Funding from Bahrain has dried up this season and prior to the end of 2013, Sport Capital claimed to have invested around £6million in the club, some of the cash put up for transfers but much of it used to meet day-to-day operating costs including wages. The annual accounts which United will publish before the end of March are expected to show that the club are losing money.
In the circumstances, McDermott was happy to play the long game when he succeeded Warnock as manager in April. At his press conference before last weekend’s defeat to Leicester City, he offered the same message saying: “When I first came here I was told that this was a long-term project. The club wanted me to build the infrastructure, the academy, the training ground and build up numbers at Elland Road.
“That can’t be forgotten and I have to focus on that – until I’m told that they’ve changed their minds and this is now a short-term project.”
He went further after the Leicester loss – United’s fifth in a row, a downturn which has coincided with the takeover delay – by admitting that major work on his squad was likely to take place in the summer, rather than in what remains of January. He has made two signings this month, Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Kebe, but was unable to land Barnes due to boardroom conflict. Suggestions that he is keen to bring in Danny Graham on loan from Sunderland seem unlikely to lead to a third arrival with Nottingham Forest close to agreeing terms with the forward. Leeds are also being credited with a firm interest in Swansea City’s Leroy Lita.
McDermott spoke highly of Haigh’s consortium at the weekend, describing them as “spot on” for the job of running United, but his comments about the delay in the handover of shares from GFH spoke volumes about the uncertainty the saga was causing.
“This ownership situation is so important. That’s the key for me, the key going forward,” McDermott said.
“I would say that the number one priority for the football club now is to get that over the line. I think the people who are coming in to take charge of this club are spot on for it, I really do.
“They think of nothing except the good of Leeds United so obviously from my point of view it’s important that the deal is done as quickly as possible. They’ve got the club at heart. They’ll be really good people moving forward.”
There are obvious implications of failed negotiations between Sport Capital and GFH, not least the question of whether Sport Capital’s members would halt further funding and look to recover the £6million they say they have invested in United. At least one of their payments was a loan, paid by a Dubai-based company for which Haigh acts as a director.
Sport Capital’s offer to GFH is presently the only one which the Bahraini company has accepted. A bid for United worth a reported £7million was submitted by a group featured ex-Manchester United employee Mike Farnan, former Leeds commercial director Adam Pearson, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity and United legend Lucas Radebe in mid-November, shortly before Sport Capital agreed to purchase a controlling stake of 75 per cent. Leeds rejected the £7million proposal out of hand.
The rival group remain in the background with their own plan to invest in Leeds, though Farnan said on Twitter on Sunday that a “lock-out” by GFH had given Haigh the right to close out his takeover unhindered. Haigh for his part claimed on Saturday night that this week would bring “good news”.
Neither Sport Capital nor GFH made any comment last night.

Leeds United: Deal’s still all up in air

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/1/14
by Phil Hay
Sport Capital’s deal to buy Leeds United was under pressure last night with the consortium and Gulf Finance House wrangling over completion of the takeover.
A 75 per cent buy-out proposed by Sport Capital appeared to hit trouble yesterday amid claims that they and GFH were at odds over unspecified issues relating to the terms of the sale.
The purchase of a majority stake by Sport Capital – a group headed by United managing director David Haigh – was agreed in principle almost two months ago but the process is shrouded in doubt following another round of negotiations yesterday.
Neither side has commented on the process since a statement released by Sport Capital last Thursday said the buy-out had taken “longer than we anticipated” but vowed to work towards a “successful conclusion sooner rather than later.”
Cracks in the relationship between Sport Capital and GFH showed themselves 24 hours earlier when it emerged that senior officials at the Bahraini bank blocked an attempt by United to sign Ashley Barnes, despite Sport Capital’s members – among them Enterprise Insurance managing director Andrew Flowers – making funds available for a £500,000 transfer fee.
Sport Capital have been providing financial support for Leeds in recent months, with GFH increasing keen to relinquish a majority stake at Elland Road, but the proposed buy-out was delicately balanced last night and awaiting a breakthrough.
Flowers intimated last week that he expected the takeover to go through promptly, saying: “After a lot of hard work we’re almost ready to complete the deal.
“We’ve taken the time to ensure the terms of the deal will be in the best interests of everyone who wants to see Leeds United firmly on course for a long term and sustainable return to the top level of English football.”
United are presently on a five-game losing streak, a run which has dropped them to 12th in the Championship, and their early exit from the FA Cup leaves them without a game until next Tuesday’s home match against Ipswich Town.
A strong line-up was used in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Burnley at Thorp Arch yesterday.
El-Hadji Diouf, Matt Smith, and Luke Murphy scored in a 3-0 win.
Alex Mowatt, Michael Tonge and Marius Zaliukas also played having sat out of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Leicester City.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

GFH to hold a small stake in Leeds United when deal is done

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/1/14
by Leon Wobschall
GULF FINANCE HOUSE have confirmed to their shareholders that they will retain a 10 per cent shareholding in Leeds United once a consortium have completed its takeover.
In a statement, Bahrain-based GFH, the parent company of United majority shareholder GFH Capital, said that a 75 per cent stake will be sold to a consortium of British investors, once it receives the relevant approval from footballing authorities.
That Sport Capital consortium is led by United managing director David Haigh and also includes Andrew Flowers, the managing director of club shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance and two other backers.
In a statement, GFH said that they expect a ‘positive impact’ on its financials, following completion of the deal, with the terms of the agreement and value not disclosed.
Meanwhile, United manager Brian McDermott is working on bolstering his forward options ahead of United’s return to action in a week’s time at home to Ipswich Town, with a new striker at the top of his transfer list.
The transfer window remains open for another ten days, with McDermott revealing after Saturday’s game against Leicester City that he is attempting to agree terms with one particular player.
That deal is said to be ‘quite complicated’ according to the Whites boss, keen for this particular deal to go through after recently missing out on the signing of Ashley Barnes.
McDermott copped frustration after seeing striking target Barnes move to Burnley, which was reportedly blocked by senior officials at Gulf Finance House.
After missing out on Barnes, McDermott has switched to other targets, with several names having been linked with United.
They include former Swansea City striker Luke Moore, set to leave Turkish club Elazigspor, who are struggling to meet their financial obligations, having only signed him last summer.
Current Swans forward Leroy Lita, who McDermott knows from his time at Reading, is another being linked with United, with the Welsh club expecting the much-travelled 29-year-old to move on this month after receiving a number of enquiries.
Lita recently returned to the Liberty Stadium following a disappointing loan spell at Brighton, where he made just five substitute appearances and scored just once.
Frozen out at Swans under Michael Laudrup and expected to leave when his deal expires this summer, Lita is expected to join another club shortly.
On Lita, who spent loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City last term, Swans chairman Huw Jenkins said: “There’s been a lot of interest in Leroy.
“When he finds the right project for him, her will probably go out on loan again.”
Moore’s situation is being monitored by a number of clubs, with Leeds one of several to reportedly register some form of interest.
His representative, Peter Morrison of the James Grant Group, added: “The club (Elazigspor) have informed us that they are going to struggle to meet their financial obligations which is disappointing, but also enables him to leave without any compensation.”
Speaking about his quest to bring in another signing, after the home clash with Leicester, McDermott said: “We had a conversation (with a player); I can’t go into the details, because it’s quite complicated. But there is someone we are trying to do. We want it to go through.”
Leeds’ trip to Loftus Road to face QPR on Saturday, March 1 will now be screened live by Sky Sports, kicking off at 12.15pm. A youth United development squad side drew 0-0 with Birmingham City at Thorp Arch yesterday afternoon.

Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino ponders Leeds United acquisition?

Sports Mole 20/1/14
By Pascal Lemesre
The owner of Italian football club Cagliari Calcio, Massimo Cellino, has reportedly expressed an interest in owning Leeds United.
According to L'Unione Sarda, Cellino is getting fed up with his Sardinian side Cagliari and could turn his attention to Leeds, whose owners GFH Capital are looking to sell.
GFH has already agreed to sell a partial stake in the club to British investors but Cellino could also buy in.
Cagliari lie 14th in Serie A, four points above the drop zone, after 20 games.

The prode was back for Leeds - McDermott

leedsunited.com 20/1/14
Brian McDErmott gives his Leicester verdict...
Brian McDermott praised his players for restoring “pride in the shirt” despite suffering late heartbreak at Elland Road on Saturday.
League leaders Leicester City snatched all three points following David Nugent’s 88th minute winner – but coming off the back of humiliating defeats at Rochdale and Sheffield Wednesday, the boss praised his players for a dominant performance against the Championship promotion favourites.
“The most important thing for me was to restore pride in that shirt and we did that,” said the boss. "Of course, I wanted to win, but we had to restore pride after the last couple of games.
“The system was good, the shape was good and we never looked like losing the game. In the end with Kevin Phillips coming on and David Nugent being there, that bit of quality made the difference.
“I found it hard to talk to the players afterwards really because they did everything that you could have asked of them. I was proud of the response, but if you don’t win…that’s the bottom line is winning.
“Last week was the toughest of my life regarding managing, but that was a good response and I’ll take that. The result was tough to take. We should have been 3-0 up at half-time, and on another day we probably would have been.
“I also thought Nugent was lucky to be on the pitch after he kicked out at Pearce in the first half, but that’s how things are sometimes.
"I felt for the fans as well because they really deserved a result."

GFH Soars to 22-Month High on Leeds United Sale: Dubai Mover

Bloomberg 20/1/14
By Sarmad Khan
Gulf Finance House EC (GFH) climbed to the highest in more than 22 months after the investment company said it signed an agreement with a group of British investors to sell 75 percent of its stake in Leeds United Plc.
The shares gained 9.6 percent to 0.86 dirhams in Dubai, the highest close since March 2012. GFH will retain a 10 percent holding in the club after completion of the deal, it said in a statement on the Dubai Financial Market website, without disclosing its value, citing a confidentiality agreement.
The Bahrain-based firm is selling Leeds about 14 months after buying the soccer club as it prepares to begin making payments on $110 million of debt it restructured in May 2012. The transaction, which requires approval from the English Football Association, will have a positive impact on the company’s financial position, GFH said in the statement.
“The disposal of an asset like Leeds United will bring cash for the company to meet its refinancing obligations,” Montasser Khelifi, a Dubai-based senior manager for global markets at Quantum Investment Bank Ltd., said in an e-mailed response to questions. “That explains the positive market reaction to the deal announcement.”
GFH is starting to make payments on its restructured debt this year, with reimbursement of a sukuk in July and a so-called murabaha facility in August, Khelifi said.
The company’s shares rose for a third day after it said Jan. 15 it had signed an agreement to sell a stake in the club. Its Kuwait-listed stock rose 8.6 percent, while it gained 9.8 percent in Manama. Volume of shares traded in Dubai was almost five times the three-month daily average.

GFH to sell 75 per cent stake in Leeds United

Trade Arabia 20/1/14
Bahrain-based investment firm Gulf Finance House (GFH) said on Monday it was offloading 75 per cent of English soccer club Leeds United to a consortium of British investors and would retain a 10 per cent stake following the sale.
GFH, which bought the second-tier club in 2012, said last week that it had agreed a partial stake sale to British investors, without disclosing the size of the divestment or its value.
In a filing to the Dubai bourse on Monday, GFH said an agreement had been struck with the consortium on November 30 but the English Football Association had yet to grant approval for the takeover. The sale, it said, would have a positive impact on financials.
Leeds managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, managing director of club sponsor Enterprise Insurance, are part of the group buying the stake.
In addition to GFH, Bahrain-based International Investment Bank and Leeds chairman Salah Nooruddin's Envest company all own more than 10 per cent of Leeds, according to the club website.
Leeds won the English league title in 1992 and remains one of the best-supported clubs outside of the Premier League. - Reuters

Leeds United: Brown sees light at the end of the tunnel

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/1/14
by Phil Hay
Michael Brown said Leeds United were showing signs of emerging from a “problem month” after slipping to a cruel defeat to Championship leaders Leicester City.
A late tap-in from David Nugent inflicted a fifth-straight loss on Leeds on Saturday but Brown took encouragement from a strong display by Brian McDermott’s under-pressure squad. United paid for wasting a string of chances in the first half, with new captain Ross McCormack hitting a post and denied by Kasper Schmeichel when one-on-one with the City goalkeeper, and Nugent claimed the only goal of the game two minutes from time.
The forward’s finish extended a run of defeats for Leeds which now stretches back to December 29 but both Brown and his manager were reassured by United’s response to a 6-0 hammering at Sheffield Wednesday seven days earlier.
McDermott made significant changes to his team ahead of Saturday, replacing former captain Rudy Austin with McCormack and revising his line-up and formation for the visit of Leicester.
Brown said: “We’ve had a real problem month but we as players have to put that right. It’s a shame the result didn’t go our way because we were playing the top of the table side and we gave them a good game. It was cruel but that’s what happens when you’re top of the league.
“We’d had a bad result the week before and we had to stop that quickly. We know we can play like this against a team like Leicester but we have to make sure we’re more consistent.”
United are 12th in the Championship and do not play again until Ipswich Town come to Elland Road a week tomorrow.
McDermott will spend this week pursuing his remaining transfer targets, among them a player who he met for talks on Friday and is trying to agree terms with. Leeds have been heavily linked with Luke Moore, the ex- Aston Villa and Swansea City striker who is presently on the books of Turkish club Elazigspor.
Brown, however, gave a vote of confidence to Leeds’ existing squad, saying: “There’s a great bunch of lads here. We all get on and that’s a good thing. Sometimes you don’t like people across the room but here we have a great dressing room.”

McDermott wants swift end to Leeds United’s takeover saga

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/1/14
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott said completion of the takeover of Leeds United should be the club’s “number one priority” as he urged Sport Capital to push their buy-out over the line in the wake of a fifth straight defeat.
McDermott revealed his own sense of urgency about the planned change of ownership at Elland Road after a 1-0 loss to Leicester City cast his squad six points adrift of the Championship’s play-off zone.
The United manager, who has spoken at length with members of the Sport Capital consortium, said the group were “spot on” and voiced confidence in the credentials of their buy-out but the delay in the handover of a majority stake from current owner GFH Capital has created growing uncertainty about the deal.
Sport Capital – a four-man group involving United managing director David Haigh and Enterprise Insurance executive Andrew Flowers – struck the terms of their takeover with GFH Capital on November 30 but are yet to finalise an agreement which was originally due to be signed before the start of the January transfer window.
The manoeuvring in the background at Elland Road has come at a difficult time for McDermott, whose side turned in a vastly improved performance against Leicester but could not prevent the Championship leaders snatching a late win. David Nugent’s 88th-minute tap-in settled an even game at Elland Road but McDermott drew comfort from Leeds’ reaction to their woeful 6-0 rout at Sheffield Wednesday seven days earlier and turned his thoughts to the impending buy-out of GFH Capital as the dust settled on another loss.
“The whole place could have imploded after a situation like (the defeat at Hillsborough),” McDermott said. “You have to stabilise after that. That’s why this ownership situation is so important. That’s the key for me, the key going forward.
“I would say that the number one priority for the football club now is to get that over the line. I think the people who are coming in to take charge of this club are spot on for it, I really do.
“They think of nothing except the good of Leeds United so obviously from my point of view it’s important that that deal is done as quickly as possible. They’ve got the club at heart. They’ll be really good people moving forward.”
McDermott has come under intense pressure in the past few weeks with Leeds’ humiliation at Sheffield Wednesday following on from a feeble FA Cup exit at the hands of Rochdale.
United’s form has forced them down to 12th in the Championship table and they were punished on Saturday for a series of chances that went begging in the first half against Leicester.
“The last couple of weeks, and last week certainly, have been some of the toughest of my life as far as managing goes,” McDermott said.
“But that was a good response from us and I’ll take the positives.
“We should have been three up at half-time and I actually thought Nugent was lucky to be on the pitch because he kicked out at Jason Pearce.
“He obviously scored the goal but there you go.
“There’s a long way to go, 20 games to go, and there’s not a lot in the league.
“But the most important thing for me – obviously you want to win and I’m used to winning games, especially in this league – was to restore pride in the shirt. I think the players did that.”

Leeds prepared to part with El-Hadji Diouf

Sky 19/1/14
Leeds United boss Brian McDermott would be prepared to let El-Hadji Diouf leave if a suitable offer is put forward.
The 33-year-old forward has fallen out of favour at Elland Road and has been limited to sporadic first team appearances this season.
He was introduced off the bench in Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Leicester City, but that was his first outing since early October.
Diouf was drafted in by Leeds as an experienced head who could aid their quest for a Premier League return.
He has been a useful asset, but McDermott is now looking to take the Whites in a different direction.
Diouf still has six months left to run on his current contract, but Leeds will not stand in his way if the opportunity to leave in January presents itself.
McDermott said: "I told him I'm trying to build something here.
"If there's an opportunity that's right for him then, yes, he can go. But if not, then he's here."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

McDermott offering deal to player he met on Friday

Leeds United manager Brian McDermott says they are trying to sort out a deal with the player he met on Friday.
McDermott is desperate to add to his faltering Leeds side that made it four straight defeats at home to Leicester City on Saturday, seeing them drop to twelfth in the championship table.
As always though, it seems nothing is straightforward with Leeds in the transfer window. Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, McDermott said, "I met with a player on Friday but I cannot go into details about it because it is quite complicated but we are trying to do a deal.
"We want it to go through and we are working hard to complete it."
McDermott has already brought in Cameron Stewart from Hull City and Jimmy Kebe from Crystal Palace this month on initial loan deals.
Stewart could only sign on an initial 93-day loan deal having already played for two clubs this season but a permanent deal is in place for the summer.
Kebe, who played for McDermott during his time at Reading, has joined Leeds on loan for the remainder of the season with the possibility of turning the deal into a permanent one in the summer.
Leeds now have no game until January 28th when they entertain Ipswich Town and McDermott will be desperate to get a deal in place in time for this game with the transfer window closing three days later.

McDermott - Investment is number one priority

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott says the proposed investment into the club must be the number one priority.
A consortium led by current club chief executive David Haigh are looking to buy a minimum 75% stake in the club, with the deal currently being scrutinised by the Football League as Leeds wait for them to sanction the deal.
The consortium, known as Sports Capital, also includes the managing director of the clubs principal sponsors Enterprise Insurance and they are believed to have already made funds available to McDermott to strengthen his squad during the transfer window despite the deal yet being completed.
Speaking at his press conference following the defeat to Leicester, McDermott said, "The number one priority for the club at the moment is to get the investment in the club over the line.
"The people who want to come in are spot on for this club. The only thing they want is for the good of Leeds United, so it is very important that we get it done and as quickly as possible.
"It is the key to moving this club forward and getting this club back to where it belongs."
McDermott has already brought in Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart into the club on initial loan deals during this transfer window but confusing surrounded the club last week when current owners GFH Capital apparently pulled the plug on a deal to sign Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Ashley Barnes.
With less than two weeks remaining until the transfer window closes and nine days before Leeds are back in championship action, it is imperative that the Football League pull their fingers out and sanction this deal if McDermott and Leeds United are to have a realistic chance of making a sustained challenge for promotion from the championship this season.

Brian McDermott rues Leeds' luck in 1-0 defeat to Leicester

Sky 18/1/14
Brian McDermott admits he was "devastated" following Leeds United's late 1-0 defeat at home to Leicester in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday.
David Nugent's 88th-minute goal claimed all three points for the Championship leaders, but the Leeds boss felt his side were worthy of the win.
"The performance was chalk and cheese from last week but we still lost," he told Sky Sports. "They get a break right at the end, but we could've been three up at half-time.
"I said at half-time 'It's going to be a one goal game' and they just got it. They're top of the league and they got the break but we deserved to be in front, as from the first half we were much, much better.
"The players showed the character and the supporters appreciated the character shown, but we are devastated that we haven't got the result today."
Asked if he felt his side could still make a push for promotion, he said: "Of course we can make the play-offs but we must keep going and get a result against Ipswich."
Regarding further potential signings in the January transfer window, McDermott refused to reveal any major details.
He said: "Wait and see. We've spoken to someone last week so there's a possibility."
McDermott says it is imperative that the club's pending takeover by Sport Capital - a consortium led by the club's current managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, the managing director of their main sponsors, Enterprise Insurance - is completed.
"I would say it is the number one priority to get that over the line," he added. "That's the most important thing. The people who are coming in to take charge of this club are spot on for it.
"The only things they think of are for the good of Leeds United."
Speaking after the game, United striker Ross McCormack was keen to put the result behind him following his miss in the first half when he was one-on-one with Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
"I will try and get it (the miss) out of my head as soon as I can," he said.
"Leicester showed they are a quality side and resilience and I fancy them to go us as champions."
Reflecting on Leeds' performance, he said: "It was a better performance (than last week), but we have got to take our chances otherwise teams like Leicester will hurt you."
However, McCormack was equally optimistic as his manager on the subject of the Yorkshire club's play-off chances, he added: "Why not? Anything can happen in this league, it's about getting the fans behind us as well."