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GFH Capital Faces New 33 Million Claim Over Its Sale Of Leeds United FC

Lawyers Begin English High Court Claim On Behalf Of Sport Capital As Ex-Leeds MD Spends His 255th
Day In Dubai Jail Without Charge or Questioning.
29th January 2015
Lawyers acting for Sport Capital the consortium that included David Haigh, the former Managing
Director of Leeds United and which was set up to buy Leeds United in a deal which collapsed a year
ago today - has launched a 33 million pound claim against Dubai-based Islamic GFH Capital, the
former owners of the club and Haighs ex-employers. Haigh himself has been held in a Dubai jail for
almost nine months without charge or trial.
A letter of claim was sent to GFH Capital (GFH) on New Years Eve. A claim form and Particulars of
claim were subsequently filed in the High Court London on behalf of Sport Capital Limited (SC BVI) an entity formed for the purposes of purchasing Leeds United from its then owners GFH. The
consortium members at the time of the bid included Haigh, Andrew Flowers (MD of Leedss shirt
sponsors, Enterprise Insurance Company), Terry Riley (Ascot Property group), Massimo Cellino and
Sport Capital intends to donate a substantial percentage of any monies received from GFH as a
result of its claim to causes which will directly benefit Leeds United fans and supporters groups.
The action by leading international law firm Stephenson Harwood, with Queens Counsel Zafar Ali 0f
23 Essex Street Chambers and Ryan Hawthorne of Deveraux Chambers, alleges that GFH and SC BVI
entered into an exclusive Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) in November 2013 under which SC BVI
was to purchase 75 per cent of Leeds United.
The SPA provided for Sport Capital to fund the working capital of the club throughout the term of
the SPA which they did, with the date of the last funding in as late as January 2014. The SPA also
specifically prevented GFH from entering any negotiations or discussions with any other parties
regarding the sale of Leeds United shares.
The legal action against GFH states that the exclusivity of the SPA was breached by GFH which it
claims continued, throughout the period of the SPA, to pursue the sale of Leeds United to third
parties including Mr Khaled Al-Baltan, then the president of the Al Shabab Football Club in Saudi
It further claims that GFHs separate negotiations with Massimo Cellino and Eleanora Sport Ltd were
in breach of the SC BVI agreement. Eleanora Sport ultimately bought a 75 per cent shareholding and
became the owner and Massimo the President of Leeds United in Spring 2014.
The claim alleges further breaches of the GFHC/SC BVI share purchase agreement which provided for
Haigh, as the then Leeds United MD, to run the club with full powers and authority. Instead, it
alleges, there was constant interference from Hisham Alrayes, GFHs MD in Bahrain. The claim says
this included blocking players transfers: blocking funding: attempting to fire the first team manager
(Brian McDermott) at half time during a match: insisting on using the Football Manager 2013
computer game to assist select players: and various matters relating to financial liabilities at the

A spokesman for SC BVI said: When entering into any business relationship the minimum
expectations include good faith, professionalism and respect for laws and contractual obligations.
This is particularly so when dealing with a regulated and listed group.
Our contention is that the actions of GFH and specifically of Hisham Alrayes delayed and then
destroyed the Sport Capital deal to buy the great club that is Leeds United. This was a deal which
would have ensured a sustainable and successful future for the club and that included the almost
immediate purchase of Elland Road, the terms of which had been agreed.
We expect GFH to attempt to evade service of the claim from their Dubai HQ which will mean
ultimately that we have to serve this claim on them through diplomatic channels. Lawyers acting for
Sport Capital have informed us that they had their emails blocked by GFH in Dubai and Bahrain.
This claim, together with others against GFH of which we are aware, appears to dwarf the values of
any assets which are held by GFH at a time when the value of the shares of GFHs parent company
Gulf Finance House is diminishing.
Therefore it is our intention to apply to the English courts for an asset freeze over GFH Capitals
English assets at the appropriate time.
Editors Notes on Sport Capital
Sport Capital is a group based in London, Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands focusing on
investments in sport. Its first investment was Leeds United Football Club where it remains a financier
to this present day.
All Media Inquiries to Ian Monk or Jamie MacLaurin at Ian Monk Associates
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