By Harry Sykes
Andrea Radrizzani’s takeover of Leeds United is under major threat, according to a legal expert.
Mike Thornton, who is the company secretary of supporters group Leeds Fans Utd, revealed in a bombshell blog on Thursday night that Radrizzani’s full takeover could be “called off” due to Bahraini investment bank Gulf Finance House (GFH).
Co-owner Massimo Cellino bought a 75 per cent stake in Leeds from previous owner GFH in April 2014 for £11million to end their deeply unpopular two-year reign and took total ownership for the first time last September.
Although this meant that GFH no longer had a stake in the Championship club, the terms of the deal meant that the bank is still owed around £17million by Leeds and a debenture was issued guaranteeing the repayment of that liability.
Thornton explained that this was causing a major headache for Radrizzani just days after he claimed that he would complete his takeover of Cellino’s half-share to give him 100 per cent of the club by the end of next week.
“GFH are demanding Radrizzani takes over Cellino’s commitment to pay future club profits and earnings to GFH once Cellino leaves,” wrote Thornton in the blog.
“Furthermore, it seems GFH have a clause in their loan agreement that if there is a change of owner the debt becomes due immediately.”
Thornton outlined the doomsday scenario where Radrizzani’s takeover could now be stopped in its tracks, which would be regarded as a shattering blow to the club’s immediate future.
“Radrizzani’s deal could be called off for now if GFH don’t back off and accept they can’t be continually rewarded for their previous mistakes,” added Thornton. “I hope Radrizzani can overcome their demands and rid us of GFH completely.”
— MikeT/AdrianTeakdesk (@Mike_J_Thornton) May 12, 2017
The revelation comes just days after Radrizzani told the Brescia edition of sports newspaper Corriere della Sera that the Championship club “will be 100 per cent mine” within the next fortnight.
Radrizzani went public for the first time to confirm the deal is all but done for him to buy out fellow co-owner Massimo Cellino.
Speaking from his London office, Radrizzani told Corriere della Sera: “Within 10 days, two weeks at most, Leeds will be mine 100 per cent.”
— TBG (@TBG2005) May 10, 2017
The deal means that Cellinio will step aside with immediate effect following three-and-a-half years at Elland Road marked by controversy, court cases and run-ins with supporters and the football authorities.
Intriguingly, there have been reports in the Italian media in the last 24 hours that Cellino is close to buying a majority stake in Serie B club Brescia.
Italian business publication Calcio Finanza claim the businessman, 60, has offered £4.2million for a 60 per cent holding in the Italian outfit as well as to take on their £6.3million of debts.
In other Leeds United news, it can be exclusively revealed that the club registered a new signing last month.