Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 5th February 2014
In what could be deemed a spot of vengeance, Leeds United Football Club find themselves facing a winding-up petition from one of their key sponsors just days after the petitioner’s managing director failed in his attempt to take over the club through a consortium.
The Championship side was served the petition by Enterprise Insurance – a key sponsor emblazoned across the club’s shirts – on January 29 following Sport Capital consortium’s rejected bid to acquire the club from Gulf Finance House.
The plot thickens with the information that Andrew Flowers, MD of Enterprise Insurance and avid Leeds United supporter, was a major part of the Sport Capital takeover bid which fell through after failing to come to an agreement with GFH last week. It is thought the winding-up petition was served within 24 hours of the deal collapsing.
Just weeks earlier, Mr Flowers had said:
“As a lifelong Leeds United fan and as a businessman, I can assure other fans that while the process is being finalised, we have been working hard to ensure that our due diligence was completed as quickly as possible and that there are funds in place ahead of completion to support the manager during the opening weeks of the January transfer window."
However, following the breakdown in talks last week, Sport Capital managing director David Haigh intimated that members within his consortium had talked the talk but ultimately failed to walk the walk.
"As fans know, we signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital at the end of last year," Mr Haigh said.
“Sadly, some of the consortium's backers ultimately didn't feel able to deliver the backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward."
The petition could be seen as a delaying tactic by Mr Flower - whose company loaned Leeds United £1.7m in 2012 – and is now battling against Italian businessman Massimo Cellino with whom GFH has reached an agreement in principle to sell a 75% stake in the club.
GFH are legally obliged to answer the winding-up petition in the High Court in March but have already stated their defence in no uncertain terms through the club website.
"The winding up petition issued by Enterprise Insurance, a sponsor whose managing director, Andrew Flowers, claims to support the club, is misconceived and an abuse of legal process. It is being vigorously contested by the club's lawyers and there are no valid grounds to issue the petition.
"Under the ownership of GFH Capital Leeds United has always met its financial obligations, and it will continue to do so."
In recent years, football clubs and winding-up petitions have been no stranger to each other. Between 2009 and 2011, HM Revenue & Customs issued 25 petitions to wind up Football League clubs for unpaid tax with a number of repeat offenders. In 2013, Scottish giants Rangers were ultimately wound up and in recent months, longstanding clubs Hereford United and Kettering Town have faced winding-up orders from HMRC.
You can view our designated winding-up petition page for more information on this process.
*Leeds United Football Club badge image used in accordance with Wikipedia Fair Use policy.