Tag Archives: conservative

Leeds and a Tory party activist, a disappearing website and a 52m takeover: Nick Harris

The Tory party activist, a disappearing website and the 52m takeover of Leeds United

By
Nick Harris

PUBLISHED:

00:00 GMT, 2 December 2012

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UPDATED:

10:16 GMT, 2 December 2012

Mystery surrounding the proposed
takeover of Leeds United by Dubai-based GFH Capital deepened last week —
and that will cause alarm among fans of the famous old club.

First, the front man for the bid, a
Conservative party activist called David Haigh, declined to answer a
series of questions from Inside Sport about both the deal and his own
background.

Then Haigh’s personal website, which
included an outline of his career and business activities since his
first job as a reporter on The Cornishman newspaper ‘at the age of 13’,
was taken offline and the website’s registration details were withdrawn
from public scrutiny.

Haigh is deputy chief executive and
chief operating officer of GFH Capital but his involvement in the Leeds
takeover has baffled some observers, and while sections of the club’s
huge following have welcomed the apparent prospect of Gulf money being
poured into Neil Warnock’s side, others have questioned the degree of
transparency surrounding GFH Capital’s purchase of current owner Ken
Bates’s 49 per cent shareholding.

Front-man: David Haigh, the Tory activist involved the a Leeds buy-out

Front-man: David Haigh, the Tory
activist involved the a Leeds buy-out

Leeds, a club renowned for their glory
days under Don Revie and a period under David O’Leary when they reached
the 2001 Champions League semi-finals, dropped to the third tier of
domestic football for the first time in their history in 2007 before
rising back to the Championship three years later.

Supporters desperate for a return to
the Premier League say they are fed up with a perceived lack of clarity
over the takeover by GFH Capital, who expect to take full ownership of
Leeds on December 21. ‘This has been going on for seven months and there
are many more questions than answers,’ said Gary Cooper, chairman of
the 8,500-strong Leeds United Supporters Trust. ‘We have concerns that
are not being addressed.’

Haigh, 35 and a lawyer who grew up in
Cornwall, has claimed to be a lifelong Leeds fan (his parents are from
the city) but had never tweeted about the club before July. At least one
tweet from last year, celebrating success by Leeds’ bitter rivals,
Manchester United, was later deleted from his Twitter account.

The replacement last week of his
personal website, davidhaigh.co.uk, by a ‘holding page’ came after
Inside Sport asked for clarification over claims made on the site.

One article posted there and dated May
21 reported that Haigh had been nominated for a ‘General Counsel of the
Year’ award for a ‘successful’ $75m bid for a Turkish bank. The same
article failed to say that another lawyer had already won the award and
that Haigh’s bid for the bank had actually failed.

Until last week, a simple online
check revealed that Haigh’s website was registered to him as an
individual, via an address in Camden, north London, where a company
called Prime Secretarial act as a postbox for personal and business
mail.

Before: David Haigh

Now you see it… Haigh's website, before Inside Sport's questions (above) and as
it looks now (below)

And after: David Haigh

And after: David Haigh

But as Inside Sport sought more
information about Haigh and GFH Capital, details of where the website is
registered were removed from public view. A spokesman for Haigh said
the disappearance of his personal website was ‘entirely coincidental’
and was a result of it undergoing renovation.

The website for GFH Capital — owned by
a Bahrain parent company, Gulf Finance House, who boast of billions of
dollars of deals since 1999 — is also registered to Haigh as an
individual and with the same address in Camden as his personal website.

More from Nick Harris…

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Haigh has close ties to the Conservative Party as vice-chairman of ‘Gulf Tories’, an association of expatriate Conservatives. He once stood in local elections for the Conservatives in London, polling 4.7 per cent of the vote to come ninth out of 13 candidates in Oval ward in 2006. He then emigrated to Dubai, from where he is spearheading GFH Capital’s buy-out of Leeds United.

When the deal is completed in 19 days’ time, full ownership will switch to a Cayman Islands-based firm owned by GFH Capital, who have agreed to buy Bates’s 49 per cent shareholding, plus the 18 per cent held by minor shareholders. That will add to the 33 per cent holding GFH Capital have already acquired.

A spokesman for Haigh said he did not want to comment on how much GFH Capital have agreed to pay for Leeds, although it has been reported to be 52million. The deal does not involve buying either Leeds’ famous Elland Road stadium or their Thorp Arch training ground, both of which are owned by a company called Teak Trading, who are based in the British Virgin Islands. Haigh’s spokesman said GFH Capital plan to buy Elland Road ‘at some stage’ but he could not say when.

GFH Capital’s original plan was, according to reports, to buy Leeds and sever ties with Bates but Bates will now remain as chairman until the end of the season and then become honorary life president.

No tin the deal: Elland Road is not included as part of the 52m takeover

No tin the deal: Elland Road is not included as part of the 52m takeover

Asked how GFH Capital intend to run a football club with no prior experience in the sector, Haigh’s spokesman said Leeds’s chief executive, Shaun Harvey, is experienced and is expected to stay, and that Bates ‘has a lot of experience running football clubs’.

Supporters Trust chairman Cooper said: ‘It is resoundingly clear that our members don’t want Leeds to continue our association with Ken Bates, under whose ownership the club fell to our lowest league position ever [bottom of League One for a period during 2007-08]. GFH Capital need to understand that, and that people are staying away because of it, and that our attendances are dwindling to the point where you wonder about potential cash-flow problems. We just want some answers.’

GFH Capital have a Twitter account on which they boasted on November 11: ‘GFH Capital team have led a number of large scale transactions in the sports sector (and) see sport as a key focus of GFH Capital going forward.’

Asked to cite examples of these ‘large scale transactions’, Haigh’s spokesman said the firm had sponsored Bahraini GP2 racing driver Hamad Al Fardan and the building of the Um Al Hassam stadium in Bahrain.

There is no record of Al Fardan competing since 2009 and the Um Al Hassam ‘stadium’ is, according to local sources, a municipal leisure complex.

Cricket stars in image rights probe by taxman

Tax officials are investigating some of England’s leading county cricket clubs over their alleged use of image rights payments to help players pay less tax.

By labelling payments as image rights rather than salaries, cash can be paid to companies owned by players and often based offshore. Such payments are then subject to corporation tax at 24 per cent rather than higher-rate income tax of 45 per cent.

HMRC are investigating whether such payments are appropriate in all cases, and the players’ union, the Professional Cricketers’ Association, admit that there may be problems ahead.

Ian Smith, the PCA’s legal director, said: ‘There are lots of genuine image rights contracts in the game. Surrey, Yorkshire, Essex and Middlesex are among counties that use image rights. However, it has become clear that the use of image rights is far more widespread than was originally thought and issues have arisen. There are a number of HMRC investigations going on with counties that are looking into players’ contracts.’

Surrey have image rights contracts with three current players and 15 have enjoyed such contracts over the last five years. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing at the county and officials say HMRC have not approached The Oval-based club.

Manchester United Onesie – would you wear this to Old Trafford?

There's only ONESIE team in Manchester – but would you wear this to Old Trafford

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UPDATED:

10:55 GMT, 27 November 2012

Can you imagine sporting this down at Old Trafford

The stars of Manchester United are generally thought to have a keen fashion sense and expensive taste in clothes.

But if they want to stay warm this winter, they could invest in something a little less costly and a lot more cosy, like this Manchester United Onesie, on sale online from 24Studio.

Dressed for success: The Manchester United Onesie

Cosy The Manchester United Onesie

Fashion meets football: The Manchester United Onesie is on sale in time for Christmas

With sizes available for all ages, the entire Rooney clan could spend their Christmas holidays in these stylish numbers, which can be personalised with up to 11 letters on the back.

Some members of the United squad have been known for their more flamboyant fashion decisions. Who could forget Rio Ferdinand's denim hotpants

So it's not too hard to imagine them setting a trend with this particular garment, which costs 19.99 for adult sizes.

It is, however, unlikely that this will appeal to Sir Alex Ferguson's more conservative dress sense. A suit and tie and perhaps on occasion a questionable polo neck is more the Scot's look.

Arsene Wenger demands introduction of video technology

Enough is enough! Arsenal boss Wenger demands introduction of video technology to help refs

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UPDATED:

16:11 GMT, 13 April 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants referees to be allowed to stop the game and consult video technology to make instant decisions in the Premier League.

Wenger's call comes after a week of high-profile mistakes by match officials which saw two offside goals awarded to Chelsea against Wigan last Saturday and Manchester United deprived of a clear handball penalty against the Latics on Wednesday.

The Arsenal boss believes it is time football's administrators fast-tracked video assistance for beleaguered referees.

Scroll down for video
Call for help: Arsene Wenger says referees should have the benefit of technology

Call for help: Arsene Wenger says referees should have the benefit of technology

Wenger said: 'Last weekend was a very, very bad weekend. The football authorities on a global scale have to sit together and see how we can improve.

'There are some immediate decisions to make but as well it is time for us to help the referees. To all be united and have a less conservative approach and finally opt for video.

'Video will help the referees, not question their authority. It will give them more credit, more authority and less mistakes. (We need) instant video replays on the demand of the referee.'

Wenger denies it would slow down the game, which has been a main concern of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Wenger said: 'It would not stop the game. It would sometimes give a bigger flow to the game. Why Because if I am a linesman and an offside decision is a 50-50 I'm tempted to stop the game.

Lucky: Chelsea's Juan Mata (right) scored from an offside position against Wigan

Lucky: Chelsea's Juan Mata (right) scored from an offside position against Wigan

'If I know I have a video behind me I am tempted to let it go if I'm convinced it is a real 50-50 and you could improve the flow of the game and check after.

'Football is the first sport in the world today but we have to accept we have the most conservative approach to the game than any other sport. It can be a strength but on the refereeing side I think it is a weakness.'

Wenger believes there should be a much larger pool of referees available for Premier League duty.

He added: 'I don't think referees are bad. I just think the game is so quick. It is impossible for a human being to see everything no matter how good you are.

Two bad: Branislav Ivanovic was also offside when he scored against Wigan

Two bad: Branislav Ivanovic was also offside when he scored against Wigan

'Out of 100 situations (with instant videos) you would be less wrong than you would be today because you would have help.'

Arsenal play Wigan on Monday and full-back Kieran Gibbs and forward Gervinho could be available after recovering from groin and ankle injuries respectively. Laurent Koscielny is suspended.

Wenger was guarded on whether Jack Wilshere, who is recovering from a serious ankle injury, would play any part in the rest of the season.

'He is making slow progress,' Wenger said. 'We will have to monitor the situation. The next three weeks would be decisive. I will not take any risk with him.'

Meanwhile, Wenger has challenged former Arsenal defender Sol Campbell to put his money where his mouth is.

Campbell has queried Arsenal's ambition and urged them to sign proven quality if they are to challenge for trophies next season.

'You've got to ask yourself, where are Arsenal going Do they want to actually win anything' he told BBC Sport.

'You can have players for the future but it is about getting players who can make a difference now. You've got to push the boat out, swallow your pride and pay a little bit more, put a bit more on the table and get the players in.'

Wenger said: 'Sol Campbell has a lot of money. His gifts are welcome. If he gives us money I will spend it. The best way to give advice is to show example.'

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Nike unveil NFL uniforms: Seattle Seahawks get complete makeover

Evolution not revolution for Nike's new NFL uniforms… unless you're a Seahawk

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 8 April 2012

The NFL and Nike launched their five-year partnership in New York this week, unveiling lighter, tighter and stronger uniforms for all 32 franchises.

In line with the NFL’s traditionally conservative nature, the Oregon-based sports equipment manufacturer engineered from the inside-out, with a focus on innovation and performance.

And in the main, the groundbreaking aesthetic redesigns seen in college football were not on show at the glittering Brooklyn bow.

Grand designs: Nike unveiled their new uniforms for the 2012 NFL season at a football-themed fashion show in Brooklyn

Grand designs: Nike unveiled their new uniforms for the 2012 NFL season at a football-themed fashion show in Brooklyn

Indeed, five teams – the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and the Oakland Raiders – declined Nike’s invitation of a radical overhaul.

But in poker terms the Seattle Seahawks went all-in, pushing for a head-to-toe revamp. The move is unique in a league that only allows changes once every five years, and other teams are tipped to follow their lead.

‘The Seahawks have crazy uniforms,’ purred Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.

‘Hopefully Green Bay decides to switch it up and go with the look of 2012. If you look good, you play good. If you play good, you get paid good. The Seahawks have the best uniform out there right now.’

All eyes on me: Todd van Horne (left), Nike's global creative director, and Kam Chancellor at the launch

New look: Todd van Horne (left), Nike's global creative director, and Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor at the launch

Moving away from the traditional royal blue to a darker shade, the uniform also features new-look helmets, the addition of neon green and a ‘feather pattern graphic’ as a nod to the Native American heritage of the Pacific Northwest.

With 12 feathers on both pants and jerseys and the No 12 sewn in to the jersey in homage to Seattle fans – the 12th man.

On his first visit to New York, birthday boy Kam Chancellor was the first to model the new duds.

‘This uniform is especially made for the 12th man, thinking all about the fans. All the players really liked them,’ the 24-year-old safety said. ‘These uniforms are lighter. The shoes. The socks. I can reach above my head without a problem, too.’

Under lights: Athletes sport the Nike Elite 51 Uniform

Under lights: Athletes sport the Nike Elite 51 Uniform

The deal is the first time Nike have exclusive rights to all teams, marking the conclusion of the NFL’s previous 10-year agreement with Reebok.

It is estimated the adidas AG-owned brand will lose between $200-250million-a-year, and the move came as a relief to some.

‘It’s long overdue,’ said Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin. ‘A lot of players weren’t satisfied.’

Nike’s decision to focus on performance for the Elite 51 range went down well with athletes, who praised the lower weight – which Nike CEO Mark Parker estimated between 20-30 per cent – greater flexibility and breathability.

The centre of attention: Super Bowl winner Victor Cruz was mobbed by local and international media in New York

The centre of attention: Super Bowl winner Victor Cruz was mobbed by local and international media in New York

Victor Cruz of the New York Giants said the apparel would help make him tougher to tackle. ‘That's the biggest thing for me: making sure that I'm sleek and I'm fast and I can't be grabbed or held.’

Harvin was on the same page. ‘The collar has Nylon in it and that for me is one of the big things. It kind of keeps it from sticking out or flapping over. That’s how I was being tackled a lot last year, so defenders won’t be able to snag it no more. ‘

‘The socks are way better,’ he continued. ‘They won’t slide down. They’re more comfortable.’
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hailed the lightweight new material, saying: ‘It is not the old mesh, it breathes really well.’

‘Usually it takes time to break in pants and they seem like they’re pretty flexible,’ said Wes Welker of the New England Patriots.

A new era: The swoosh replaces Reebok's logo on the new NFL uniforms

A new era: The swoosh replaces Reebok's logo on the new NFL uniforms

Meanwhile, Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby praised the 22 per cent cooler base layer.

‘The ventilation alone is going to be huge in South Florida with the humidity and the heat, so the form fitting pants give us a lot of range in motion and makes plays around our body with the jersey. It’s perfect.’

The new ‘logo lock up ‘gloves are said to improve grip, while colour-coordinated shoes – for players who opt to wear them – are available for the first time.

‘The shoes are super light,’ Dansby added. ‘And these are size 16. These are the lightest cleats I ever put my feet in. It’s awesome.’

soc it

soc it

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added his praise, 'I love them,' he said. ‘I love them, first, because it starts with the performance part of them. Talking to the players, they don't want to take them off. They love 'em.’

While Nike are unable to perform another wholesale makeover until 2017, Goodell said teams are likely to push the boundaries: ‘What we tried to do is innovate. Even if the look doesn’t change, there’s innovation. You saw it with the Seahawks: there will be more to come.’

Individual quirks specific to franchises are included in the current range. The Panthers have the words ‘Keep Pounding’ stitched on their collars as tribute to the late linebacker and coach Sam Mills, who lost his battle with cancer in 2005. And the Chicago Bears have enlarged GSH initials on their jerseys to honour founder George S Halas.

Glove story: Athletes will now be able to wear the Nike Vapor Jet 2.0 Glove featuring an interlocking team logo on the palms

Glove story: Athletes will now be able to wear the Nike Vapor Jet 2.0 Glove featuring an interlocking team logo on the palms

‘Our brief was to provide players with everything they need and nothing more. We blended cutting edge technology and fabrications with more than 40 years of knowledge, craft and insight into the game,’ said Nike’s Design Director for Football, Todd van Horne. ‘We worked closely with the teams, listening to their needs and delivering the best options to serve those athletes.’

Kris Aman, vice president and general manager of men's athletic training at Nike, added: ‘The energy you feel in here is all about a celebration. This is just the beginning,’ Aman said. ‘People in the NFL and people here at Nike are fans. We are here showing our passion for the game.’

Jerseys are available from April 26, the first day of the upcoming season’s draft weekend. Nike replica jerseys will be on sale for $99, while the limited edition jersey – featuring Flywire technology and ventilation areas – is priced at $135. The elite version, which adds water-repelling fabric, will be on the market for $250.

Michael Dobson injured for Hull KR

Dobson adds to Hull's injury woes after suffering shoulder knock at Wakefield

Crocked: Hull KR's Michael Dobson

Crocked: Hull KR's Michael Dobson

Hull KR will be without acting captain Michael Dobson for a month with a shoulder injury.

The Australian scrum-half sustained the injury in Sunday's 22-10 Stobart Super League win at Wakefield, joining his half-back partner Blake Green and newly-appointed captain Ben Galea on the sidelines.

The loss of their influential playmaker and goalkicker is a blow for the Robins but cushioned by news that the injury is not as serious as first feared.

'His injury requires nothing more than conservative management and it looks likely that he'll only miss the next month of football, which is positive news for us,' said coach Craig Sandercock.

'Being without Michael makes life tough for us, especially with the other injuries that we have.

'But I've always said that these kind of problems present opportunities for others and we'll just get on with the job.'

It means Sandercock will have to find a new scrum-half as well as a new captain for his side's first home game of the season against St Helens at Craven Park on Sunday.

Scott Murrell deputised at scrum-half in Dobson's absence last season but he has been helping to fill the void created by the loss of Green to a blood clot in his calf.