Daniel Chapman | Writing etc

Gulf Finance House “made a net profit of $5.2m in the three months to December 31, up from $2.5m in the prior-year period,” reported Arabian in February. “For the 2013 full year, GFH’s net profit fell 37.2 percent to $6.3 m.”

Another story from Arabian, dated March 10th, says, “Bahrain’s Gulf Finance House will start building a $3 billion financial park and real estate development north of Tunisia’s capital, a project that had been suspended for five years, the Islamic investment bank said on Monday. The $3 billion project will start on March 15th.”

Bear those headlines in mind if you’re looking to the future with fear, and remember this: Leeds United will only go into administration if it receives a bill that its owners can’t – or won’t – pay.

The various reactions to the Yachtgate verdict have tended to revolve around doomsday scenarios. The Football League will fail him, and now the club will go bust. The fans who wrote to the Football League to complain when he sacked Brian McDermott are to thank for our club going bust.

Anyone who suggested Cellino might not be squeaky clean has created an atmosphere of negativity and that’s why the club is heading to League One. Mike Farnan was an unwelcome distraction from Eleon- ora’s arse and its his fault she won’t be resting it against the crash barriers in the East Stand anymore.

It doesn’t have to be this way. For one thing, Cellino didn’t have to buy a yacht; and he didn’t have to try and avoid paying taxes on it. He bought the damn boat – Nelie is its name-o – in 2010, and the case has been pending since 2011. There’s a longer narrative at play than anything involving Leeds United, and not only because his lawyer Johnny Coconut has other identical cases to defend involving another yacht and a Range Rover.

If the yacht is the reason that Cellino’s takeover fails – at the time of writing, nothing is confirmed – it’ll be his own fault, and nobody elses, and no amount of crying that Wah, It’s Not Fair will change that.

Likewise, if Leeds United do enter administration, with all the dangers that entails, we’ll have nobody to blame except Gulf Finance House. A bank that made $5m profit in the last three months of last year can cover the £1m losses at Leeds; a bank that is starting a $3 billion real estate project on March 15th can afford to support a second division football club.

We don’t even have to look as far up the chain as GFH itself. GFH Capital, the subsidiary that still owns Leeds United whether it wants to or not, bought a luxury property, “in Kensington, is a five unit Grade II listed building overlooking the Queens Gate Gardens,” in December, and “GFH Capital senior executive officer Jinesh Patel” – David Haigh’s replacement – “said the investment is expected to deliver above average capital appreciation.”

In other words, GFH Capital are doing just fine. GFH are doing just fine. And if a doomsday scenario does occur and Leeds United enter administration or worse, GFH will still be doing just fine.

Nothing happens without a reason. There’s a reason why Cellino’s takeover appears to have failed, and it’s impounded in a Sicilian harbour. And if Leeds United go into administration, there will be a reason for that, too. Doomsday isn’t inevitable, but whether it’s avoidable is up to GFH.


From The Square Ball Magazine, 2013/14 issue 08