An­other UK soccer club eyed by Chi­nese

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By AN­DREW MOODY and rew­moody@chi­nadaily.

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 newown­ers.

Steve Tap­pin

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