Leo FC withdraw from the National League

Leo FC have become the latest side to withdraw from the Gibraltar National League, after a rumoured potential investment from a former UKIP politician, who owns English side Kings Lynn Town, was confirmed to have been rejected by the Integrity Unit of the GFA, who were not satisfied “that the Club’s acquisition was in the best interests of Gibraltarian football as a whole.”

Photo © William Gracia

The club, who were rumoured to be in talks to be bought out by Stephen Cleeve, who currently owns the English non-league side Kings Lynn Town, have chosen, it is believed voluntarily, to withdraw after the deal was blocked by the GFA.

It now means that the Gibraltar National League is down to 13 teams, less than 24 hours after the season started – Leo being the third team this week to withdraw. The team, who finished 6th in the Second Division last season, have been in existence under a few names since 2004. The club had signed a number of players this summer, but had reportedly seen some of these players leave days or weeks later, which officials at Leo apparently believed due to financial and not playing reasons on the part of the players.

In a statement, the Gibraltar FA comment that: “The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) regrets to inform football fans that a third club, Leo FC, has today opted to withdraw from the Gibraltar National League.

The Club have informed the GFA that the decision to withdraw has been taken as a result of the GFA’s rejection of a potential takeover of the Club by an investor based outside Gibraltar.

The GFA confirms that its Integrity Unit has indeed recently rejected a potential takeover by a new investor. As with all such cases, the GFA carries out a series of integrity checks on the potential owner, including checks with the support of UEFA. Those checks have failed to give the GFA the necessary satisfaction that the Club’s acquisition was in the best interests of Gibraltarian football as a whole. The proposed acquisition was therefore rejected.

Leo FC’s decision to subsequently withdraw from the Gibraltar National League means that there are now thirteen Clubs in the league. Matches this week, with the obvious exception of the match involving Leo FC scheduled for Saturday, will continue as normal.