The man behind the plan for recovery at Leeds United

Salah Nooruddin has long had links with English football.

Leeds chairman Salah Nooruddin.
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Salah Nooruddin is a Bahraini businessman who, along with his wife, owns Envest Limited, which in turn owns a little more than 10 per cent of Leeds United. On July 1, 2013, he was appointed to replace the departing president Ken Bates as club chairman.

Nooruddin is a banker by trade, however has followed football from a young age, supporting the Manama-based Al Ahli Club as well as the Bahrain national team. He has two sons, Khalid (18) and Bilal (16), who support Manchester United and Chelsea (and now, also, Leeds).

The first game he attended in England was at Stamford Bridge nine years ago and he has also taken his sons on a guided tour of Old Trafford.

"The atmosphere of an English football match is something that everyone wants to experience," he says. "The last match I attended was England versus the Republic of Ireland; the atmosphere was incredible."

Nooruddin's first encounter with Leeds United came in the late 1960s while visiting his brother, who was studying in England. "From time to time, there would be football on the television," he says. "

I was very, very small, but I remember watching a game at my brother's house and one of the teams was Leeds." He recently told England's Daily Express that his parents were fans of Leeds United.

It is his intention to stock Leeds shirts in the shopping malls of Bahrain and is convinced there is already a market there, courtesy of the club's history, and sees scope for large-scale growth.

"Leeds have a reputation and support in Bahrain, people really follow them here," he says. "That generation from the 1960s and 1970s have passed that support on to us.

"Leeds were relegated just before the mass globalisation of English football and, resultantly, the new generation have been following the so-called iconic teams of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea. So while the new generation might not be so familiar with Leeds United, the older generation are. We can build on that."

It was reported erroneously that Leeds supporters refer to Nooruddin as Mr Noodles.

"I have never been called this except one time on Wikipedia," he says, laughing. "It makes life easier when it comes to them trying to pronounce my name."

(His name is pronounced Salah Noo-roo-deen.)

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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