LONDON: Leeds United became, finally, the latest European club to fall into Gulf hands after GFH Capital of Dubai completed its £52m buy-out of the Elland Road club.

This follows the likes of Manchester City, Malaga and Paris Saint-Germain and the comparison will inspire optimism that the one-time European Champions Cup finalists can see a return to title-challenging times.

GFH spent more than seven months negotiating the purchase of Leeds after approaching owner and chairman Ken Bates with an initial offer towards the end of May. Bates, who had previously sold Chelsea to Roman Abramovich in 2003, has been chairman at Elland Road since January 2005.

He will remain in his post until the end of the season but three members of GFH Capital’s staff – deputy chief executive David Haigh and directors Salem Patel and Hisham Alrayes – have joined the club’s board.

Haigh said: “We’re delighted but also honoured and proud to be the new owners of Leeds United. We have had over 4,000 e-mails of support from fans and we have been overwhelmed by the reaction.

“Everyone we have spoken to in the city has been fantastic, and the atmosphere on Wednesday night was incredible, and we look forward to bringing more of the same to Elland Road.”

Patel added: “We’re looking forward to a bright future. This is a fresh start for the football club, and we welcome fans both old and new to Elland Road.

“From a business point of view this is an exciting investment and it is also exciting for GFH Capital and we look forward to Marching On Together.”

GFH is a subsidiary of Bahrain-based investment bank Gulf Finance House. Leeds last won the English championship in 1992.

# # # #