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Leeds in defence of their owners.

THE chief executive of Leeds United has told MPs he has no knowledge of the people behind the "mysterious trust" that owns the club - and that chairman Ken Bates does not know either.

Leeds' ownership structure came under the microscope at the culture, media and sport select committee's inquiry into football governance at a hearing at Burnley FC yesterday.

The club's chief executive Shaun Harvey said Leeds is owned by a holding company called FSF, based in the West Indies island of Nevis and owned by three discretionary trusts. The trustees have appointed two men, Patrick Murrin and Peter Boatman, to run the club and they had asked Bates to be chairman.

Harvey told the committee: "I don't know who the beneficiaries of this discretionary trust are, no."

Asked if Bates knew, he replied: "Not to my knowledge."

He added: "There is no individual owner, that's the nature of discretionary trusts - it's a perfectly legal and much-used ownership structure in many different industries, not just football."

One MP, Damian Collins, queried whether that was a healthy state of affairs.

He said: "With a club like Leeds United the majority shareholding is owned by a mysterious trust and we don't know who the investors are and I think that is a legitimate concern."

Harvey defended the structure and said the club had recovered from the financial problems inherited from the Peter Ridsdale era.

He added: "The football club has no debt. There's no indication that there's any desire from the discretionary trusts to move away from the investment.

"I am convinced now that the light at the end of the Elland Road tunnel is the way out rather than the train coming in the opposite direction.

"We have gone from a very low point and are ascending a ladder of success though we've not achieved anything yet, there are still nine games to go this season.

"The reality is that it is the board of directors who are responsible for the running of the football club not shareholders."

Harvey said he saw no reason why the club would face any difficulty in satisfying the Premier League over their ownership if Leeds achieve promotion from the Championship.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 16, 2011
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