Tag Archives: David Haigh

High Time That Profiteer Parasites GFH Took Some Responsibility – by Rob Atkinson

Cellino - silent and unimpressed

Cellino – silent and unimpressed

The fact that Leeds United have missed a 21 day deadline imposed by a Statutory Demand – for payment of just under £1m allegedly owed to David Haigh’s Sport Capital outfit – is capable of interpretation in a number of ways.

One is to take the gloomy view that new United owner Massimo Cellino is not quite as minted as we have been led to believe; that he is starting to struggle under the weight of outstanding bills left behind by previous owners notable mainly for their incompetence and lack of experience, along with sundry other negative attributes.  And yet Cellino has acted swiftly to clear debts up to this point; when HMRC were owed £500,000 in unpaid tax, the bill was settled in the first flush of the Corn King’s reign.  Likewise, former suitor for the club Andrew Flowers was paid off quickly and the players’ deferred wages were restored to them, saving them from inevitable penury and the soup kitchen, I shouldn’t wonder.

Cellino has remained silent on this latest financial demand.  The form-book, though, suggests that if he was both willing and able to pay up, he would have done so promptly, perhaps with a few typically acerbic Latin observations on the craziness of running a Championship club along the lines of one in the latter stages of the Champions League.

But nothing has yet happened – and obviously this has persuaded some that the scenario above – of Cellino being not exactly skint, but cash-strapped enough to prevaricate – is being proved true.

Another possible version of reality, though, is that Cellino, a downy bird if ever there was one, is determined not to be taken for a mug; determined not to pay up meekly when others might be liable for at least some of the burden.  The money that Haigh is demanding was put into the club at a time when GFH – as they loudly and repeatedly trumpeted – were still Leeds United owners, for as long as Cellino’s purchase of a controlling stake was still held up by Football League red tape.  As has since become clear, however, GFH throughout this time were resolved to avoid meeting the club’s running costs and relied instead on what they claimed were contractual provisions supposedly obliging Cellino to meet those costs – even though the success of his purchase was in extreme doubt. Cellino differed on that matter; although he had been funding the club, he cut that off when the League initially ruled against him, a ruling that made his chances of ultimately owning Leeds United seem remote indeed.

At this time, Leeds were therefore grubbing about for money wherever and however it might be obtained, in order to keep the ship afloat.  Can Cellino, who must have seen his prospects of becoming owner receding by the hour, really be held totally responsible for the debts incurred in running the club and paying the bills during this awkward limbo period when nobody really knew what was going to happen?  His verdict on that is likely to have been: Not on your Nélie.

Another relevant consideration is of just how well GFH did for themselves during the time they were in charge of Leeds.  The bald fact of the matter is that Gulf Finance House has reported a net gain of $6.46m (£3.8m) from the investment bank’s time as majority owner.  This will, of course, include those last few weeks of uncertainty when they basically backed away from any financial responsibility, pointing fingers at just about anybody else, but refusing to meet business costs from their own purse.  Elementary arithmetic shows that the money they avoided paying not only had to be provided from elsewhere – but also that the cash thus saved by GFH will appear as a significant part of that £3.8m GFH net gain.

Profiting from an abdication of responsibility?  You can bet that Signor Cellino is not too impressed by that – especially when he is now faced with a bill from one or more of the people who did pay up when Cellino was hamstrung by the Owners and Directors test – and when GFH were pouting and sulking and claiming that, despite being owners, it wasn’t their responsibility.

It is also a fact that, as part of the deal whereby Cellino’s Eleonora Sport bought a 75% stake in Leeds United, GFH have retained a 10% stake “in order to take advantage of future revenues” – in other words, because they wanted to make damned sure that they would get a fat slice of the cake as and when Leeds United return to the Premier League.  This will be seen by some as just good business practice – but it means also that GFH are still a part of the entity which now faces a winding-up petition – and yet they are apparently showing absolutely no sign of wishing to contribute towards the settling of that matter, even though the debt was incurred on their watch, due to their unwillingness to meet owners’ responsibilities at that time – and despite the fact that they were telling anyone who would listen that they were still in charge.

So now we have a situation whereby Cellino, having already stumped up millions during his brief time as owner, to settle legacy debts and repel winding-up orders, is faced with yet another bill – one incurred while he was not yet owner and one arguably attributable to the fact that the nominal owners GFH had put their wallets away and abandoned their financial responsibilities.  The same GFH who recorded a fat profit from a time in which they managed the club in a cack-handed way, the results of which are now at Cellino’s door.  And the same GFH that remains one-tenth owners of Leeds, ready to profit in that proportion from any future success, but seemingly unwilling to take anything like 10% of the responsibility for the currently pending litigation.  Does that seem remotely fair to you?

Football is business – big business.  But it’s not simply that.  It’s also an emotional matter, with complex questions of loyalty and commitment very much to the fore.  GFH remain on board at Leeds United – but it appears that they are here simply as parasites, unwilling to help or assist their host in any way, intent merely on sucking away greedily when the good times come around again.  That’s a deeply unattractive position to adopt, and the better it is recognised and understood by the fans, the worse it will reflect on GFH who, presumably, still have some interest in retaining a good name in the business world if not in the more parochial football sphere.

Cellino’s silence and inactivity in respect of David Haigh’s winding-up petition should really be seen in the light of the GFH stance – and not as any sign of poverty or lack of commitment on the Italian’s part. Massimo is no mug and it could well be the case that he is preparing to fight over this, even if the amount of money involved is small beer to him.  If GFH really are prepared to “lie low and do nuffink” until such time as there are dividends to be reaped on their 10% holding, then it’s laudable on Cellino’s part to stand up to them and make them pay up on their responsibilities, if possible – instead of simply allowing them to sit tight and reap a fat reward at some future date.  Surely fighting such unfairness has to be the right and proper thing to do.

The bill is due; it was incurred under GFH while they were cocking a deaf’un to the club creditors – including the playing and general staff.  Now it’s landed on Cellino’s doormat, and when he looks around, he sees only parasites – not partners.  That’s a tawdry and disgusting state of affairs.

If Massimo Cellino is prepared to contest this current matter on that basis, then this blog is of the opinion that he deserves the support of all Leeds United fans in bringing GFH to account.  Good luck to him in this – and also in the greater battles ahead as he looks to restore Leeds United to the game’s top table.

Whatsamatter You, Haigh? Gotta No Respect? – by Rob Atkinson

Massimo Cellino

Massimo Cellino

Reports that a winding-up petition against Leeds United FC had been issued by Sport Capital (Sole director: former United CEO David Haigh) were initially dismissed, due to the fact that they had first appeared in notorious lie-rag the Daily Mirror.  However, it now appears that – contrary to the best traditions of tabloid journalism in this country – there may have been an element of truth in the story.

It seems that the matter is to be considered by a judge in that there London on June 9th, according to documents seen by the altogether more reliable Yorkshire Evening Post.  This follows a statutory demand which set a 21 day deadline for payment of £957,000.  United failed to meet the deadline and were then served with the winding-up petition.

New owner Massimo Cellino, who purchased 75% of Leeds United through his company Eleonora Sport, has already seen off a £500,000 tax bill, paid arrears of wages deferred before the takeover and dealt with two other winding-up petitions in the short time since he was allowed to assume control of the club after a successful appeal against the initial refusal of the Football League to sanction his status as an owner or director.  Now, Cellino appears to have less than five weeks to settle another substantial demand.

David Haigh may now be seen in an even more unpleasant light by United fans, although there was never any unanimity of opinion that he had the best interests of the club at heart.  This blog has become rapidly disillusioned with the prospective Tory candidate, having once hailed him as a nice guy who might take us places.  Well, we all make mistakes – as the Dalek said, climbing off the dustbin.  Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is now happy to make clear that it regards David Haigh as an unctuous and oily chancer who was only ever after the main chance, and was probably a scummer in the first place (see below).


Haigh – a deeply dodgy past?

Haigh will henceforth be identified in the minds of Leeds United fans with a period of ownership characterised by hollow and broken promises, facile attempts to manage supporter expectations, tacky publicity stunts and a solitary positive point of “Not Being Ken Bates”.  Massimo Cellino, meanwhile stands for – we hope – a brighter future under more efficient and ambitious leadership.  That being the case, we will look to see this latest financial threat being dealt with in short order, as Cellino has already managed more than once.  The nagging question is: why was the statutory demand not met within the 21 day deadline?  It remains to be seen whether or not United have any serious grounds for disputing that the money is owed.

For better or worse, Cellino is the foreseeable future of Leeds United, and the fan-base will wish to see decisive action on several fronts over the summer, leaving a leaner, fitter club to embark on a more successful campaign next season.  The club’s captain, Ross McCormack, has quite reasonably pointed out that Leeds need to be challenging at the top end of the table next time around. This stance has quite a lot to do with his own age – not a million miles from thirty – as well as the undeniable necessity of firing the club’s support with enough enthusiasm for what the immediate future holds in terms of on-field ambition.  Cellino’s pronouncements have been more cautious – he appears to envisage a season of recuperation for a financially ailing organisation, prior to a promotion charge the year after. One thing it would be good to see is the owner,the manager and the captain all singing from the same hymn-sheet. After all, there’s a telling clue in the word “United”, chaps.

So Massimo – if you get to read this, or if anybody brings it to your attention – let’s get a few preliminary things sorted.  You have the reputation of a guy with a few quid behind him.  Very well – let’s get the aforementioned oily creep Haigh paid off and sent packing, damn his eyes. Then let’s get the ownership of the stadium and training ground brought back wholly within the club – thousands of us seem to remember a very definite statement to this effect not too long back, but there have been no signs yet of you taking a trip down to the nearest ATM and withdrawing the necessary 15 or 20-odd million quid.

And lastly – for now – let’s get you, Brian, or whoever, and Ross around a table somewhere (Billy’s Bar is quite nice, I’ve heard) and let’s see if a unified statement of policy can be agreed upon, one that satisfies supporter thirst for success and ambition – as well as meeting the prudent fiscal constraints you might feel necessary in order to restore the club to a state of rude health, financially speaking.  All that these current mixed messages are doing is muddying the waters and worrying the fans.  And you need the fans on board, Massimo. As a wise man said quite recently, “You can buy a bitch for one night, but you can’t buy the love my friend.”  You can, however, chuck a few quid at bringing about a situation where love may grow.

Leeds United's chief executive, David HaighFirst things first though.  I’m sure you’ve had enough of judges lately – so let’s send Haigh packing with his grubby money repaid to him, shall we?  No need for any June 9th court date then, and we can get on with the other items on the agenda.  We’re expecting you to be busy, you know, while we’re sat on our backsides watching Wimbledon and the World Cup. Attaboy, Massimo.  Go get ’em.

New Atomic Clock Will Signal QC Leeds Decision; But NOT Today – by Rob Atkinson

In science news, it has been announced today that a revolutionary, super-accurate atomic clock has been designed by the Public Institute of Standards & Technology (PIST).  The clock is so accurate that it could run continuously for 300 million years without ever straying from the precisely correct time.  As it is definitely envisaged that, sometime within this 300,000 millennia time-scale, a decision will be notified on the outcome of the Massimo Cellino appeal, Leeds United have decided to utilise the PIST clock for the timing of any such announcement.

A decision had been expected by 6pm on Friday evening, 4th April – but Twitter carried the news this morning that the deadline had been put back. No new decision time has been predicted, but Leeds officials are confident that news of Cellino’s appeal will be available at some point within the 300 million year operational period of the new clock.  A GFH spokesman commented “We are certain that this time window is reliable.  We’re a go-ahead club, and an atomic clock sends appropriate messages about accuracy and honesty.  So we’re going for PIST.  It just feels right.”

The barrister responsible for the decision, QC Tim “Juan” Kerr, is described as a thoughtful man who likes to get things right, no matter how long it takes to negotiate the legal complexities before him.  “It’s better to get it spot on than do a fast, but possibly shoddy job,” said the pedantic silk, slowly. “I’m prepared to cogitate for as long as it takes and, if necessary, my descendants will be willing and able to complete the job for me.”

The man at the centre of the whole saga, Massimo Cellino, would say only: “Sono disposto ad aspettare – almeno fino a quando il mondo smette di girare. Spero che i tifosi sono, anche. Siamo tutti Leeds, non siamo?”  Mike Farnan, of erstwhile competitors in the Leeds takeover, Together Leeds, indicated – after a brief interval on Google Translate – that he was in full agreement with this.

David Haigh is a son of a b***h, dangerous, a f***ing devil.  Allegedly.

That GFH Statement Decoded – By Rob Atkinson

This is a statement from GFH – we still own the club, right? We are the OWNERS, so get that into your heads until you’re told different. Capisce??

GFH and Massimo Cellino are currently jumping through a set of hoops set up by Shaun Harvey, who we upset quite enough last year, so we have to tread carefully or we might not get our money and Massimo might not get his football club. It’s all frightfully complex and even we don’t understand it, so we don’t see how you rabble are going to make head or tail of it.

The thing is – we’re on with it, OK?? It’ll be done when it’s done, as long as Shaun’s in a good mood. So stop nagging. We don’t mind putting out the odd statement now and then, but don’t expect us to give any actual info to mere turnstile fodder. Just trust us, right? Have we ever let you down? Actually, skip that one.

David Haigh has left GFH and gone to work with Cellino’s daughter, Eleonora, who is apparently a sport. He’s not daft, is he? Knows which side his bread is buttered, that one.

We would like to thank those of you who have continued to part with your hard-earned to see us ship nine goals in two home games. God knows where we’d be without you lot now that Massimo’s pulled the plug. Just hang on in there, it’ll be fine. Probably.

Statement ends.

Wilting Flowers Set to Succeed Only in Winding-Up Leeds Fans – by Rob Atkinson

The battle for Leeds United

The battle for Leeds United

Probably the most significant recent development in the Leeds United Takeover Slapstick Farce is the winding up petition (WUP) served by Andrew Flowers, alleged fan of the club and disappointed member of the thwarted Sport Capital which failed to buy a controlling interest in United last month. Amid all of the speculation and rumours surrounding the moral probity of Massimo Cellino, it is interesting to examine the possible motivations of Flowers in the extremely drastic action he has taken.

This blog has come to the conclusion that Flowers is lashing out in a manner not dissimilar to a spoiled child’s tantrum.  To run further with that analogy, the winding up petition is as much of an over-reaction as that of the wailing child who, denied the biggest share of the sweets, hurls a set of wooden blocks through the dining-room window.  It’s an over-the-top reaction, the product of immature arrogance and spite.  Somebody should perhaps shut Mr Flowers in his room with no toys, until he’s learned how to behave nicely.

A little research shows that it’s not unknown for a WUP to be issued as a tactical measure, designed to impede an unwelcome rival bid as it nears completion.  The website “Company Rescue” states

“In the Leeds United case, it appears Flowers has issued the petition in order to settle the dispute over the bid, which can happen if creditors feel they are ignored.

This kind of action is likely to be dismissed by the Court, however , as a WUP should only be issued if the company is thought to be insolvent.  As Flowers seems to be issuing one to settle a dispute, this could be deemed in the court as an abuse of process.”

Naturally, the courts tend to take a dim view of this sort of thing, as Leeds United in its current guise will be hoping happens in this case.  Their statement last night referred to “abuse of process” and it has to be said that this will do absolutely nothing but harm to Mr Flowers’ reputation if it is shown to be the case.  Another term for less-than-sincere legal action is “frivolous and vexatious”.  Courts and judges just hate this sort of thing.

There is the effect on the fans (remember them?? Hang on, it’s US!) to be considered, too.  Once the supporters cottoned on to the fact that the actions of Flowers pose a serious threat to the reputation or even continued existence of Leeds United – and that cottoning-on did not take long – then sympathy started to drain away from Mr Flowers and from Enterprise Insurance like pus from an open wound.  The idea of being anywhere near the bottom of the league, and then incurring a ten point league penalty, is not a comfortable one for Leeds United fans, not comfortable at all. Minus fifteen is still a vivid memory and still a cause of bitter resentment.  Ten points deducted right now would leave us a precarious 5 points clear of the relegation zone.

Neither will the fans appreciate the prospect of this ridiculous pantomime being dragged out for very much longer.  And yet Flowers’ WUP is due to be considered by the High Court on March 17th – almost six weeks away.  Six more weeks of anguish and uncertainty?  No, thank you.  Another factor evident today is the high incidence overnight of nocturnal emissions in many a South Yorkshire hovel, as desperate fans of smaller clubs dreamed moistly of the possible disappearance of Leeds United from the football landscape.  The tweets today bear witness to this frankly sad level of excitement and anticipation among the inbred, chip-on-the-shoulder tendency.  The attitude of other fans will be of little import to the suits as they go about their squabbling – heavens, they can hardly bother to think about the club’s own fans – but it’s a real enough part of the misery being imposed on us – and a particularly irritating one to the loyal Leeds United following out here, unable to do much but watch in horror and wait in apprehensive uncertainty while this humiliating tussle goes on.  And on, and on…

Over the past few days, and particularly since the news of Flowers’ WUP gained some currency, the attitude of the Leeds United support has appeared to sway significantly in favour of the Italian Cellino, and away from the dubious methods being employed elsewhere.  At first there was much doubt and virtuous rolling of the eyes at the thought of Cellino’s supposed criminality and wickedness – and yet, in the cold light of day, he appears little different to other mega-rich football club owners in this respect.  It’s highly unlikely that his convictions – one apparently suspended, one seemingly quashed – will act so as to fail him under the League’s Fit and Proper Person (FAPP) test.  He has an embezzlement charge hanging over him, but is rightly regarded as innocent until proved otherwise on that score.  And are Cellini’s rivals so squeaky clean?  The background of one Liverpool-based member of one of the consortia begs some critical evaluation, what with drive-by shootings and the like and – let’s not forget – Enterprise Insurance itself is unlikely to be based in Gibraltar simply for the lovely scenery afforded on the Rock.

The sad and frustrating fact is that Mr Flowers has taken a sledgehammer here to crack a peanut.  He filed his application the day after his consortium’s bid collapsed – on the rebound, as it were.  It has all the hallmarks of a fit of pique.  Given the statement from Leeds United last night – and even though that was swiftly watered-down, it’s still out there for people to see due to various assiduous bloggers – it seems inconceivable that Flowers and GFH could sit down around a table and discuss amicably any proposed business over the ownership of a football club which in any event actually belongs in a very real sense to the fans out here.  So what has Flowers to gain?  Read here and here to see what a very serious step a WUP is.  Why would he do that to a club he allegedly has close to his heart?

It will be interesting to see how the feelings of the Leeds United support continue to drift as the next few days go by – but already there has been a significant shift away from Flowers & Co and towards the “King of Corn”.  If Flowers is planning a long game, he risks completely exhausting the patience of the fans, patience that is already wearing dangerously thin.  And he might just find that any support or sympathy he ever had will have completely evaporated long before he ever gets his day in court.

West Ham “McCormack Bid” is the Acid Test for Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson


Please….. no more bloody straws…

When a tantalising Sky Sports News tweet appeared today, promising a “major Leeds United transfer development” after 4pm, you somehow knew it wouldn’t be good news – despite David Haigh’s promise of just that for long-suffering Leeds fans sometime this week.  But good news and the January transfer window don’t really go together like fish and chips for Leeds United.  The January transfer window is more of a misery time for us, or at best one of bleak disappointment, leading to dull and resentful apathy.  That’s the way it has been and – despite the usual promises – it’s looked for some time now as though this one will be no different.

So when this Sky Sports story finally broke, telling the world that West Ham United have made a “surprise bid” for our Captain of one week, Ross McCormack, the natural reaction was to laugh bitterly – and the first thought that went through a cynical head was, “Yeah, that’d be about right – why not really rub it in?”  After all, this is the club that sold top-scorer Luciano Becchio just when we needed him most, this time last season.  This is the club that sold our brightest talent and the nearest we’ve had to a Leeds United icon lately, in Robert Snodgrass.  Those were to Norwich, of course, a small club who seemed to delight in being able to pick on a moribund giant.  West Ham could easily be placed into that category too.

A hybrid of two riddles here: what do West Ham and Leeds United have in common – but also what’s the difference between them?  Answer: both are joke clubs – but West Ham are a joke club with some money.  And money talks, as we can all deduce from the deafening silence (apart from those few isolated tweets of promise) emanating from our club this past few weeks – weeks that were supposed to be about making signings and ratifying a takeover, for those who believed all the blarney we were fed in December.

It’s hard to write that riddle thing, even to make a point.  But, with everything that’s gone on at Leeds United lately, it’s difficult to reach any other conclusion but that we are a joke club.  A sick joke, an unfunny joke.  A joke club run by joke people who believe they can get away with feeding the fans crap for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and then expect them to beg for more crap for supper.  And the sickest joke of all is that they probably can get away with it.  The only possible source of resistance is from the fans, and our fans are as divided as any, with some factions for GFH, some wanting the Sport Capital group, even a maverick few still harking back to Bates – and all of them willing indeed eager to have a barney with any of the rest, whilst pouring ridicule on the few real attempts out there at organising support.  Read any Leeds United internet forum, and you’ll see it’s true.  We might all be Leeds, but United we most definitely are not – and that’s tantamount to a licence for the suits in the boardroom to do as they think best – a scary thought for anyone who wants Leeds United once again to occupy a prominent place in English football.

There’s the story of the straw that broke the camel’s back (this is not a middle-eastern consortium reference).  The moral is, of course, that if you go on piling up the burden on the poor old camel, it will eventually collapse at the addition of even one more straw.  In the same way, the faith and patience of the fans – those of us who can smell the stench of what we’re being fed – is surely at breaking point.  What will it take for that faith to finally collapse?  And what happens then?

The only way to register a protest in today’s world is to try and hit people in the pocket, because of that aforementioned fact that money talks.  It’s not the club’s fault that West Ham have seen fit to bid for McCormack.  But it IS the club’s fault – presumably – that this is the only item of news we currently have to chew on, we who are so hungry, so starving for some positive tidings, a ray or two of hope that maybe we have a brighter future.  That positive news, despite many coy hints, smileys and tweets from the usual suspects, has failed to materialise.  Our expectations have been managed; two loans apart, the club has almost managed to negotiate yet another window with no investment anywhere near the scale of the serious players at the top of the league.  That’s taking the mick, and dress it up how you like, it’s not good enough for a club like Leeds United with fans like the fanatical yet deeply put-upon Leeds fans.

Leeds United Football Club need to consider very, very carefully now as to just how much more their loyal body of fans will put up with.  Nobody likes to be made a fool of, especially not in front of a gaping, jeering world of rival fans, workmates and just anybody who feels inclined to rub salt into wounds, ie almost everybody.  The time is approaching when the final straw will be added to that onerous burden, and then some sort of collapse of support is possible.  People will vote with their feet, people will find better things to do with the hard-earned money in their pockets.  Why shouldn’t they?  The club will always preach about loyalty and support – but that’s a two-way street and at the moment the traffic is strictly one-way.  So why should people continue to pay still-exorbitant prices to watch football at a club which seems to have forgotten entirely what it’s supposed to be about?

It may well be that joke club West Ham are kidding themselves if they think they can tempt McCormack to join a team that has just sustained a 0-9 defeat in a semi-final and who are very probably headed for relegation.  But if Leeds United have any say in the matter – and after all, they do – then they need to consider very carefully what’s best for the club and the fans before taking that usual step of buckling and grabbing the cash.  That camel’s legs are trembling, and who can tell how many more straws it will take to complete the job of flattening it along with all of our hopes, our faith, our belief?

This bid for Ross McCormack may well be the acid test.  Can Leeds United pass it?

Enigmatic Haigh Might Just Make That Leeds United Dream Come True – by Rob Atkinson


David Haigh – heading for the top with Leeds United?

The New Wave is, as usual, coming in slowly at Elland Road.  Then again, with Leeds United, everything always seems to take its time – and the experience of the fans over the past few years has been that the outcome was not always really all that worth waiting for.  Without revisiting all of the painful twists and turns of the past decade or so, it’s safe to say that our lot, as a group of loyal and passionate supporters, has not by and large been a happy one.  The lowlights include administration, points deductions, Bates, Histon, League One, Bates, TOMA and more Bates.  There has also been the odd highlight, but it’s fair to say we’ve been living through some Dark Ages in the history of our club.  So, are we at last on the brink of a long-overdue and richly-deserved Renaissance?

The man who probably knows most about that will give the odd nod and wink here and there – but as yet he’s not really telling.  This is, of course, David Haigh – a likeable bundle of energy and charm whose polished persona you could look at and instantly say to yourself, that fellow would make a fine politician.  And such indeed is his aspiration as a lifelong Tory.  Not that such a summing-up is necessarily a negative thing.  It’s just one facet of the David Haigh enigma – a committed Conservative activist who is also an enthusiastic philanthropist, and one, moreover, who takes a distinctly hands-on approach to that philanthropy.

He seems to be a man of contradictions.  Interviewed on the radio, for instance, he has the politician’s knack of playing his cards close to his chest.  He will talk quite a bit without really saying very much, and it can feel a bit frustrating – you sense this in the demeanour of the interviewer, too.  He’s anxious not to show his hand too early.  And yet at other times he’ll crop up on his highly-active Twitter account, coyly dropping little hints everywhere, sending the Leeds United Twittersphere into meltdown seemingly at will – and driving information-hungry fans up the wall with tantalised yet baffled hope.

The latest example of this is just a few hours old – a casual mention that Haigh is looking forward to a coffee with one Peter Virdee.  Now, Virdee’s is a name that was all over Twitter only a few days back, with suggestions that he’s both minted and possibly about to get involved with Leeds United.  Haigh’s tweet is of great interest, not only to all of those so desperate to “Dare to dream”, but even for the rest of us, divided as we are into hard-bitten cynics and the weary “wait and see-ers”.  Team strengthening?  Stadium repurchase and refurbishment?  Buying back our very own Thorp Arch training heaven?  Anything can seem possible when you’re talking the figures Virdee is reputed to deal in.  But who knows?  It’s only a coffee, after all.

What does come across very strongly with David Haigh is a cheerful optimism that he can take on this massive task – to revive a club that once enjoyed an almost global pre-eminence but has since defied most attempts to rouse the sleeping giant – and that he can and will succeed.  If there have been doubts, he’s never let them show and his habitual outlook is one of an almost insouciant conviction that he can achieve where others have so conspicuously failed.  That confidence communicates itself to fans desperate for the good times to return and for a True White, full-blooded Leeds fan to lead us.  It’s still the case at Elland Road that we’d rather have one of our own in charge than some dodgy “off comed’un”.

Despite his Cornwall roots and other initially apparent doubts about Haigh – insidious little rumours of a sneaking regard for a certain Franchise over t’other side of the Pennines, for instance – he does seem to have established himself this solid credibility as a Leeds United fan; something that counts for a great deal.  Not that we haven’t had trouble with our own, before – the memory of Peter Ridsdale is fresh enough to ensure that we won’t trust anyone just because he has a yellow, white and blue scarf about his neck.  But the appeal of Haigh seems somehow much fresher and much more believable than Publicity Pete’s self-adoring pitch – though it’s always possible this is the sharply clear vision of 20-20 hindsight.

It’s not easy at all to figure David Haigh out.  There is that enigmatic exterior to him which defies attempts to add up the elements we know are there beneath the surface.  The philanthropy is encouraging – his eager willingness to get involved in fund-raising events for causes which are clearly close to his heart.  This positive aspect looks like reflecting well on the club too, as Haigh leads Leeds into areas they may previously have been wary to tread.  One such initiative, the Beyond “It” campaign featuring openly gay ex-Leeds player Robbie Rogers’ anti-discrimination crusade, has received unequivocal backing from Haigh and a highly gratifying response from the fans of a club not always associated with such enlightened thinking.  He also supports a number of other charities in the UK including the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, English Heritage and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. In April 2013, Haigh completed a 250km arctic charity trek for the Make A Wish Foundation, which has recently helped a very poorly little Leeds fan from my own home town.  He completed the six-day, husky drawn challenge which took him through temperatures as low as -30 to raise funds for Make A Wish which supports his niece, Sienna who lives with the genetic disorder Homocystinuria.

There appears to be little doubt that, in all of his extra-professional endeavours – which fill an already very busy life to overflowing – Haigh is the Real Deal in terms of commitment, belief and enthusiasm.  I could wish I knew more about exactly what manner of Tory he is, but the ranks of Football Club revivalists are hardly packed with the kind of radical reforming Socialist I’d personally like to see in Number 10 Downing Street.  If David Haigh can grasp the nettle of sorting out my beloved United – and bring to that task the energy and attainment so evident in other areas of his life – then he will have a very good chance of becoming one of the major figures in Leeds United history – and, what’s more, in a good way.  If that turns out to be the case, then the man’s politics will bother me not a jot.

Personal charm and likeability haven’t usually been enough to move such mountains, but beneath the Haigh enigma there appears to be evidence of a great deal more than that.  Besides which, the fact that he does seem such a very pleasant guy is still – in these first few months after the nightmare of Bates – massively important in itself.  A good radio manner with an infectious chuckle in his voice, the ability to say the right things at appropriate junctures and to deal with people in a civilised and courteous manner – all of this is the very antithesis of the old rogue who squatted on the Leeds throne for far too long.  So that, alone, commends David Haigh as The Right Sort.

Can he succeed – can he help to bring about success?  After an uncomfortably long silence that was at least partially broken yesterday with an “Investment Update” confirming that Mr Andrew Flowers of Club main sponsors Enterprise Insurance will be involved, it appears that things are still moving towards a positive conclusion.  We now know that the consortium is called Sports Capital, and that other, as yet un-named, investors will also be involved.  We know too that the financial backing is there for Brian McDermott to start bolstering his fatigued and pallid-looking squad.  There is little doubt that these are Good Things, and the way the wind is blowing suggests there will be more to come.  And as long as Leeds United AFC is seen to be moving in the right direction, engaging with fans and embracing transparency of intent and information – why then, the great majority of the fans will be happy, will be supportive, will be on-board and ready to March On Together back to nearer the top – which is United’s natural place in the order of things.  I’m pretty certain David Haigh would have no trouble agreeing with that.

Enjoy your coffee today, Mr Haigh, you likeable enigma – oh, and don’t stint yourself in bestowing that charm and appeal of yours on Mr Virdee – and on anyone else with the good of Leeds United at heart, and who might be able to restore us to our former glory.  If what I hope for and dream about can eventually emerge out of this coffee morning, I’d willingly treat you to a cappuccino or two apiece out of my own pocket.  From a socialist Yorkshireman, that’s 100% unequivocal support.

That LUFC Investment Update in Full – by Rob Atkinson


News you already know update

  • Good Evening
  • We’ve been working hard and hope it’ll pay off
  • Andy Flowers is on board after his chastening Ashes winter
  • Erm….
  • That’s it, with regard to this one
  • Look, stop nagging OK?

Thierry Henry to Fire Leeds United to Promotion? – by Rob Atkinson


Thierry Henry – short term deal with Leeds?

Twitter didn’t exactly go into meltdown last night but, on the basis of one optimistic tweet from Phil Hay, the respected local journalist with his finger on the pulse of Leeds United, it did start to get decidedly warm.  The gist of it was that good things were being heard about the imminent takeover of Leeds United and that good times might just be about to roll.  A couple more juicily-tantalising snippets were added into what became a heady mix, with David Haigh tweeting that he couldn’t wait to be at the Barnsley match next weekend as Elland Road would be “rocking”.  We heard also that Haigh is over in Austria, a country linked strongly to Red Bull who have in turn been linked strongly with Leeds United.

Now, it would be all too easy to take these morsels of information and add them up to make something totally unrealistic.  Then again, the elements do seem to combine of themselves into the oft-talked about “Dare to Dream” scenario.  One particularly exotic rumour that arises out of such an optimistic outlook is the possibility that one of Red Bull’s most marketable assets, Thierry Henry, might be on the point of jumping on board at Leeds United to provide the sort of boost that even a pair of Red Bull wings could hardly hope to emulate.  Even at the age of 36, the French superstar could inflict massive damage in this league, even if mainly from the bench.  Could there be anything in it?

On the face of it – why not?  The team is in good shape at the moment; there are a couple of obvious areas where improvement is needed and all Leeds fans will be hoping to see those addressed in January.  But with the current doubt over the fitness and commitment of El-Hadji Diouf, there may well be a vacancy in the squad for someone who can do something special, someone who can add a touch of class and elevate the profile of the club at the same time.

The combination of Diouf and Warnock was an unlikely one – but it happened.  Let’s not forget either that Dioufy was something of a star with World Cup heroics behind him and a global profile.  Thierry Henry is all this, and more – and at this stage of his career, what could be more of a challenge to him than the task of reviving a sleeping giant, a club where he would catch the imagination of the fans and raise the atmosphere that extra notch or two, giving the whole place a lift and the team new impetus?  That’s a scenario well known to Leeds fans with long enough memories as the “Gordon Strachan factor”.

This week promises to be very interesting indeed.  If those tweets from Hay and Haigh carry what I believe they do in between their lines, then it’s fair to say we might expect some significant news before the Barnsley game.  Just how significant that news might be is anyone’s guess – but my guess is that an announcement is distinctly possible  of further takeover details making that “Dare to Dream” scenario burst into reality.  And what was on David Haigh’s mind when he was talking about “Elland Road rocking” on the pre-Christmas weekend when football crowds are notoriously thinned out by last-minute shopping?  It does make you wonder.

Thierry Henry in a Leeds shirt?  Bizarre.  But how wonderful it would be, what an incredible boost.  It seems too good to be true, of course – but if you’re going to dare to dream, then why not be extravagant about it?  A legend like Henry in the famous white shirt – that’d be a hell of a good dream as far as I’m concerned, but could it actually happen?  You just never know – it possibly could.


Leeds United MD David Haigh on Transfers and Stadium Development

Click here:  Leeds United MD David Haigh on Transfers and Stadium Development

An upbeat interview from the charming and urbane Mr Haigh, who promises an exciting time ahead and commits to supporting manager Brian McDermott in the January transfer window.  Well worth listening to – and even an unabashed cynic such as myself couldn’t fail to be impressed by the enthusiasm in the man’s voice when he talks about the club which he has, apparently, supported since boyhood.  Developments in both the stadium and the transfer situation will be awaited with bated breath – and a certain amount of that very unfamiliar commodity as far as Leeds United fans are concerned – optimism.