Cornishman David Haigh leads bid to take over Leeds United Football Club
A FORMER Cornishman reporter and Sancreed boy is tipped to become the next chairman of Leeds United Football Club.
David Haigh, who grew up in the small west Cornwall village, is fronting the bid for a Middle Eastern bank to take full control of the Championship side.
The 34-year-old is the chief executive of GFH Capital, which has been in talks with current chairman Ken Bates over a buy-out since June.
Mr Haigh, a former Cape Cornwall school pupil, joined The Cornishman's Down Your Way reporting team at the age of 13 – a job he continued to do for about seven years.
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In an exclusive interview with The Cornishman, he said the skills he learnt working for a local paper and growing up in a close-knit Cornish community are still useful – even for the multi-million pound deal he is working on with Leeds.
He said: "Being involved in things like that early on enabled me to see the real value is in the people and the fans because they are the ones that bring the money. without them you don't have anything."
Speaking from an office in London, where he was working on a five inch-thick share purchase agreement with the football club, Mr Haigh said he was keen to seal the deal.
"The fact we can bring money into England and invest in British jobs is fantastic," he said. "I am excited and passionate about it."
Mr Haigh said Dubai-based GFH Capital "will support the manager with the funds he needs to buy the players he wants to put the club back in the Premier League".
He added that he believed the club had a fantastic future and could be playing in the Premier League this year.
"It is referred to as the last sleeping giant and that is the best way to describe it. It is a Premier League club that for some reason is not in the Premier League," he said. "We need to wake the sleeping giant again."
Mr Haigh said that the company hoped to complete the deal within the next few weeks and that although he could not guarantee it would go through, everything looked good.
"We are working as hard as we can. We want to get it done as quickly as possible and we know the transfer window is coming up."
As a young boy, Mr Haigh wanted to be a journalist and it was this dream that led him to work for The Cornishman, as well as working as a programme assistant on BBC Radio Cornwall Sports Scene, Westcountry TV and on St Michael's Hospital radio.
He got The Cornishman job through persistence.
"The editor then was Richard Vanhinsbergh," he said. "I pestered him for a while before he started letting me write things and I became the youngest correspondent at the time."
So Mr Haigh spent his formative years attending parish council meetings, going to local events and tapping out thousands of words on his Canon Starwriter – all for two pence a line.
He had planned on following his dream at university and had been accepted on a course to study broadcast journalism but changed his mind at the last minute and went to study law.
Now he lives in Dubai, but hopes to be able to come home to live soon and plans to use his experiences in the middle east to invest in "bright young things" looking to start businesses.
Mr Haigh's parents still live in Sancreed, while his sister and her family live in Rosudgeon.
"Home is always Cornwall," he said.