It has been a summer of change for Leeds United, with 10 players arriving at the club, many from relegated Portsmouth, as well as a number heading out of Elland Road, including former club captain, Robert Snodgrass.
Despite the substantial amount of transfer activity, the one change that many fans at Elland Road have hungered for the most is that of the club’s ownership.
Back in May, talk began to spread that incumbent owner, Ken Bates, was seeking investment at the club and potentially even a takeover. A Chicago-based consortium was mooted to be leading the pack and it later transpired that this group had toured both Elland Road and Leeds’ Thorp Arch training ground.
However, on 26th June, the club revealed that it had granted an exclusivity period to an unidentified consortium, later revealed to be a group of businessmen from the Middle East, led by life-long Leeds fan and member of the Bahrain Royal Family Sheik Abdulrahman bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa; Leeds allowed the group to carry out due diligence on the club’s accounts.
The move raised hopes amongst fans that Bates would bring his seven-year tenure to a close, with many supporters blaming the former Chelsea supremo for high-profile player exits due to a lack of investment and ambition.
Leeds stuck rigidly to a policy of not conducting business through the media, and then went quiet of the proposed takeover with no official news being announced for over a month. The lack of updates began to raise concerns about the deal and culminated in the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) urging the club for news on behalf of the fans.
During the first week of August, Leeds’ chief executive Shaun Harvey flew out to Monaco to discuss the takeover with Bates, leading to LUST announcing that the takeover had collapsed. Disillusioned fans quickly took to social media to voice their frustrations, with much of their anger directed at Bates.
The announcement by LUST forced the club into making a statement on its official website, in which it was revealed that the exclusivity period had elapsed, but the club was still keen to speak to the Middle Eastern consortium and any other potential investor(s).
Another twist occurred just days later when it was suggested that the takeover deal was back on, with sources close to the club and the potential new owners believing a deal could be struck as early as next week.
The delay in a possible takeover may have inadvertent positive effects for Leeds. Over the past few seasons, Championship clubs which have been taken over or found themselves with money to spend have made big signings on substantial wages, but not necessarily achieved promotion, such as Leicester City and Ipswich Town.
An on-off takeover has meant that Leeds have lost Snodgrass, but have also had to wheel and deal. Manager Neil Warnock has put together a team with work ethic and a winning mentality and if the takeover can cross the line it would allow potential marquee players to sign before the transfer window closes.