Cellino’s Leeds United takeover deal confirmed

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Only the Football League can prevent Massimo Cellino from completing his takeover of Leeds United following confirmation today that contracts have been exchanged between the Italian and existing owners GFH Capital.

The deal is now subject to Football League approval, but it has been confirmed that a 75 per cent stake in the club has been sold Eleanora Sport Ltd, owned by Massimo Cellino so long as he passes the fit and proper persons test set to be heard next week.

In a statement on the club’s website, GFH said they would be retaining a stake in the club and that Salah Nooruddin would remain as chairman with David Haigh staying on as chief executive.

The statement said: “The board has always had as its principal aim the creation of a long term ownership structure through partnership with sound and strategic investors to build on the foundations we have laid for sustainable success for this great club.

“We believe we will have achieved that with this deal. It provides the basis from which Leeds United can move forward to a position which will enable it once again to compete at the highest levels of football.

“That is where this great club belongs and it is nothing less than its fans deserve. Throughout the difficult years, as well as the glory years, they have remained second to none in their support of the club and we as a board have always appreciated their passion.

“Following the introduction of GFH to the Cellino family which owns Eleonora Sport Limited it quickly became apparent that the family and the company offered both the long term investment and the footballing knowledge necessary to take their place as majority owners of Leeds United FC.

“Everyone on the board is looking forward to working with our new partners who we hope will be in place at Elland Road very soon.”

GFH chief executive Hisham Alrayes said: “It has always been our aim since taking over Leeds United to create an ownership structure through partnership with like-minded strategic investors who would help us take the club forward on a long term and sustainable basis.

“It has taken us some time to get the right deal in place with people who truly shared our commitment to, and faith in, the future of Leeds United.

“We are delighted to have reached agreement with Massimo Cellino and Eleonora Sport Ltd who share our determination to move the club forward.

“Despite media and market speculation, we have refrained from making any official comment on this matter until this point when contracts have been exchanged.

“We understand that the speculation has been unsettling for the fans and, even though it was not of our making, we apologise to them for that. We are happy now to inform them of the accurate position with regard to the new ownership which will, we believe, enable the club to achieve promotion in the shortest realistic time possible.

“GFH Capital and its investors continue to show its commitment to Leeds United through the minority 25 per cent shareholding we will be retaining.”