Chinese consortium eyes UK club Leeds United

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, July 29, 2016
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 Steve Tappin.

A Chinese consortium could be set to launch a bid for English Championship soccer club Leeds United.

The offer, which is likely to include an injection of working capital, could involve a payment for the club of more than 100 million pounds ($131 million).

The move follows Chinese conglomerate Fosun's acquisition of Wolverhampton Wanderers and the purchase of Aston Villa by Tony Xia's Recon Group.

The consortium is believed to consist of leading but as yet unnamed Chinese entrepreneurs as well as a private equity group.

It has been put together by Steve Tappin, the chief executive officer and founder of consultancy Xinfu, who has been holding talks in Beijing this week.

Tappin, who is also the presenter of the CEO Guru series on BBC World, declined to comment on the details of the potential offer.

"I have had a series of meetings with related parties all this week, and there is definite interest in buying Leeds, but I want to ensure it would be with long-term investment, significant working capital and the right governance so it can be a stable platform for sustainable Premier League success," he said.

"Leeds United is a big club with a very strong fan base and huge potential for investors, particularly if it can be returned to the Premiership."

The club, which finished 13th in the Championship last season, is owned by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino, whose family trust controls 81.58 percent.

Cellino bought it in April 2014 but has had a difficult period in charge, even agreeing to sell the club to its fans last year before calling off the deal.

He told The Times in May he would sell if he got the right offer.

"If somebody doesn't come in then I have no choice but to run it. A lot of people have called me, but they are just fishing. I don't see the money," he said.

The consortium could make its move before the transfer window closes on Aug 31.

The club is likely to have a value of between 50 million and 60 million pounds, but will probably also need an injection of working capital of a similar amount from the new owners.

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