Weds 30th. Cellino freezes season ticket prices and reduces prices for Kids. LEEDS United have frozen season-ticket prices for Massimo Cellino’s first campaign as owner – and introduced a new cut-price category for Under-11s.   The club announced today that renewal costs for the 2014-15 season would remained unchanged and sales will begin on Monday morning, 48 hours after United finish their Championship term at home to Derby County. Renewed tickets start from £398 for adults and £445 in Elland Road’s Kop but Leeds have attempted to harness younger supporters in the city by creating a £69 seat for Under-11s in the family area of the East Stand. The cost equates to £3 per home game and will remain static for late renewals and new applicants. United plan to begin accepting new applications from June 23, five days after the fixture list for the new Championship term is announced. Season ticket prices – for so long a contentious issue at Leeds – were reduced by Gulf Finance House ahead of last term. Cellino bought out the Bahraini bank four weeks ago.

Tues 29th. Humbled McCormack in team of year and Mowatt avoids surgery. PROLIFIC Leeds United marksman Ross McCormack admitted to being ‘humbled’ at recognition by his peers after being named in the PFA’s Championship Team of the Year. The 29-goal striker, who has one more opportunity this term to reach a seasonal milestone of 30 goals, in United’s final-day home clash with Derby County on Saturday, was honoured at a glittering awards ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The other forward named in the select PFA Championship line-up was Burnley hot-shot Danny Ings, with the side also including three representatives each from the promoted duo of Leicester City and Burnley. McCormack tweeted; “Thanks for all the messages. Really humbled to be in the team of the year.” Manager Brian McDermott added: “I’ve been proud of Ross this year. He is the captain – 29 goals overall this season is phenomenal.” Ex-Whites custodian Kasper Schmeichel was named as the goalkeeper in the Championship XI, with fellow Foxes team-mates Wes Morgan and Danny Drinkwater also earning a place. Burnley’s representatives were Kieran Trippier, Jason Shackell and Ings, with Derby midfield pair Will Hughes and Craig Bryson also chosen along with Ipswich’s Aaron Cresswell and Nottingham Forest’s Andy Reid. ALEX Mowatt has avoided surgery and should be fit for the start of Leeds United’s pre-season schedule after undergoing scans on the injury he suffered at Birmingham City on Saturday. The 19-year-old midfielder was given the all-clear following examinations of his knee on Monday and he is expected to be ready1514897825 to begin training with the rest of United’s squad when they report back for pre-season around the start of July. Mowatt was stretchered from the field in obvious pain towards the end of Saturday’s 3-1 win over Birmingham at St Andrews, jarring his knee in injury-time as Leeds closed out their last away game of the season. Manager Brian McDermott said after full-time that he hoped the youngster’s injury would not prove to be serious but Mowatt underwent scans 48 hours later to establish whether he would require an operation ahead of the summer. Speaking yesterday, McDermott said: “He’s fine and he won’t need an operation. “We’ve had him looked at but there’s nothing serious there. It’s a relief for everyone and for him most of all.” Mowatt featured as a second-half substitute at Birmingham, taking to the pitch moments before Matt Smith’s 58th-minute header inspired a third win from four games for Leeds. The England Under-19 international, who is in line to win the club’s young player-of-the-year award at their end-of-season-dinner this weekend, has been in and out of United’s side since January but he produced an impressive half-hour at St Andrews, helping to seal comfortable result. Mowatt will miss the last match of the term at home to Derby County but the positive prognosis on his knee alleviated fears that an innocuous injury would negatively affect his second year as a senior professional. The Doncaster-born youngster made his debut for Leeds last August and shone throughout the first half of the term, earning a new three-year  contract in December. He was called up by England’s Under-19s for the first time in October and made his debut against Turkey last month.

Mon 24th. Cellino offers McDermott new hope – Hay YEP. Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has offered Brian McDermott fresh hope of avoiding the sack by insisting the club’s manager was “my last problem” and denying that he had spoken to other coaches about taking the job at Elland Road.  Cellino said he and McDermott would “speak to each other, 100 per cent” in the days ahead and voiced sympathy for United’s boss, saying: “This situation would have been impossible for anyone, not just him.”  Previous comments from the Italian have given few hints of outright support for McDermott, and Cellino’s failure to meet with the 53-year-old last week – a meeting at which McDermott planned to discuss his retained list and summer transfer targets – cast further doubt on the likelihood of the ex-Reading manager remaining at Elland Road beyond the end of this season. McDermott has two years left on his contract with Leeds but is yet to receive Cellino’s backing or any firm assurances about his future. United have one game of the season remaining – at home to Derby County this weekend – after beating Birmingham City 3-1 on Saturday. Cellino missed the victory after flying to Sardinia to watch his Italian club Cagliari play Parma yesterday. Speaking to the YEP, Cellino said: “I’m going to talk to Brian. “We will speak to each other 100 per cent and I will speak to him honestly. There is so much going on at Leeds and already I’ve changed my mind 10 times about a lot of things. But let me tell you, the coach is my last problem here. “There are much bigger problems.” Asked if he had approached potential replacements for McDermott, Cellino said: “I haven’t talked to other coaches.” United have won three of their last four league games, the club’s best sequence of form since November. Cellino was conciliatory towards McDermott and directed criticism at Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini bank he bought out on April 7. “Brian’s a good man but they (GFH) took his soul and he’s unhappy,” Cellino said. “He had a dream, he had promises but then he came here and found a f****** nightmare. “Because of that, I don’t think he’s been able to be himself. He’s been someone else. “He started on the wrong foot, he was told a lot of bulls**t and the best coach in the world wouldn’t have done better. That is true. “He was a good coach at Reading and maybe he can be a good coach here. But he isn’t a manager.”

Mon 28th. Carbone is “installed to rebuild Academy” – Hay YEP. Massimo Cellino said he was giving Benito Carbone the chance to “help me rebuild the academy” at Leeds United as he moved to dampen speculation that the former Bradford City player is primed to replace manager Brian McDermott. Carbone has joined the youth team set-up at Thorp Arch after reaching an agreement which Cellino claimed would see the 42-year-old work without wages for at least six months. United’s Italian owner invited Carbone to England last week and Carbone visited United’s training ground on Thursday and Friday before travelling to Saturday’s Championship game between Leeds and Birmingham City at St Andrews. His appearance in Birmingham fuelled speculation that Cellino was lining up Carbone – to date a coach with limited experience in the Italian lower leagues – to take McDermott’s job but he will instead be involved in running an academy which Cellino said was “not giving us enough, or anything.” “Benito knows English football,” Cellino said. “He wants to be a coach in England so he came to me and we spoke about him coming here, coaching the Under-21s. I have known him since he was a boy. “The academy at Leeds, it costs us £2million a year and we don’t grow any players or not enough. It’s not giving us enough, or anything. Benito will help me to rebuild the academy, to make it good, to make it better.” United’s academy has a healthy reputation and was recently awarded category two status under the newly-implemented Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). The club’s Under-18s, coached by ex-Leeds captain Richard Naylor, won their division last season and development-squad manager Neil Redfearn has controlled the youth-team system to good effect since April 2012. Five members of McDermott’s 18-man squad at Birmingham were self-produced and development-squad player Lewis Cook was called up by England’s Under-17s for the forthcoming European Championships last week. Carbone’s arrival, however, will be the first of numerous changes as Cellino imposes himself on the club he bought from Gulf Finance House earlier this month. The ex-Bradford and Sheffield Wednesday player, who retired in 2010, has been coaching Italian side Saint Christophe Valle D’Aosta but is relocating to England on a deal which Cellino said would pay no money in the short term. “We are not a rich club,” Cellino said. “I have money but this club, it loses money. It’s like an ex-rich man but instead of eating cheese, it still eats caviar. “When I spoke to Benito, we didn’t worry about money. I’ll pay what it costs for him to live with me here and in six months, if we’re a rich club again, then we talk money. It doesn’t matter, it’s not a problem.” Cellino gave no indication of what impact Carbone’s appointment would have on Redfearn or other prominent members of United’s academy staff. McDermott, meanwhile, said he had spoken to Carbone on Friday, before United’s senior squad travelled to Birmingham, but had not been told about the Italian’s role at Thorp Arch. “I’ve no idea,” McDermott said. “I haven’t been told. “It’s not unsettling or frustrating. I met him on Friday and said hello to him. He was a really good player but I don’t know him. “Things like this happen at football clubs but the most important thing is Leeds United, not me personally. It’s the only agenda I’ve got.”

Sunday April 26th. McDermott’s future hangs in the balance – Sunday Express BRIAN MCDERMOTT’S job as Leeds manager is hanging in the balance – and his future is likely to depend on who takes over the club. Owners GFH are in discussions with two rival bidders wanting to seize control of the Elland Road outfit. One of the options is backed by controversial Italian businessman Massimo Cellino, who plans to sack McDermott and put ex-Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa in charge. Cellino is even thought to have wanted Festa in the dugout alongside McDermott during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich – an idea that was rejected on the day of the game. Festa is also understood to have turned up to a Leeds training session at the start of the week in a clear move to undermine McDermott. McDermott said: “This has been one of the most difficult periods I’ve had as a manager, especially the last few days. “Some of the stuff that’s gone on has not been pleasant and it doesn’t belong in football in my opinion”.

Sunday April 27th. Carbone to replace McDermott as manager –  According to reports, Benito Carbone will replace Brian McDermott as the manager of Leeds United, possibly before the end of the season. In what began as another campaign of promise for the long-suffering Elland Road faithful, it has transpired into one of the most worrying in recent times. Any chances of claiming a Championship playoff space have vanished as they plummet towards the wrong end of the division, their only saving grace that they have enough points to secure safety. Their cause was severely hindered by the prolonged ownership issue of the club, which was oCarbone at Brumnly resolved earlier this month when Massimo Cellino successful won his appeal against the Football League who had initially blocked his purchatimthumbse from previous owners Gulf Finance House. The Italian had wanted to dismiss McDermott in January, but it was thought he had since made peace and shown support for the former Reading boss. However, the Daily Mail now claim Cellino has lost all patience in the 53-year-old, and will sack him following the trip to Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon. It is being reported that the Leeds owner has already turned to Carbone, who has supposedly already held discussions with his compatriot at the club’s training ground in Wetherby. The 42-year-old is already well versed to life in England, having represented Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Bradford City, Derby County and Middlesbrough during his playing days. He is currently in charge of St Christophe in the fourth tier of Italian football and has also had coaching spells and Pavia and Varese, but he is a frequent visitor to this country where he is keen to return and forge a successful management career. If I was offered a Premier League job tomorrow, I would not be afraid,” Carbone told the Daily Mail earlier this year. “I would be ready for it. I have already managed in Italy’s lower divisions, and I recently turned down two offers from second-tier clubs there and one from the third. This is where my future is, in England. It is the place to be.” It now appears as Carbone’s chance to coach in England may come sooner than perhaps he expected, and despite their struggles over the past decade, the Leeds job remains one of the biggest in the country. As for McDermott, there is little doubt he will feel he has been dealt with unfairly, but in reality, the writing has been on the wall for some time. (See pic of Carbone close to Lorimer, Matteo, Haigh, Cellino Jnr. According to Phil Hay, Carbone approached him for job and his role will be with academy only. But who knows ?)

Saturday April 26th. BIRMINGHAM 1 (Macheda 83), UNITED 3 (Smith 58, Pugh 60, Caddis og 78).  United: Butland, Wootton, Lees, Pearce, Pugh (White 88), Murphy (Mowatt 57), Brown, Tonge, Austin, McCormack, Smith (Hunt 79). Subs. Cairns, ThompsTable45on, Stewart, Poleon. Referee: G Eltringham Booked: Pearce (Leeds). Att: 19,861 (2,958 Leeds) Report from Official website  United boss Brian McDermott made two changes to his side for the final away trip of the season. The changes saw Danny Pugh and Matt Smith come into the side in the place of the injured Stephen Warnock and Noel Hunt was named on the bench. The home side went into the game needing a win as the only thing separating them from the relegation zone was goal difference. The home crowd got behind their team and the first two chances of the match fell Birmingham’s way. On five minutes a Lee Novak shot had Jack Butland worried but the ball went wide of the mark. Then, moments later Tom Adeyemi broke forward from midfield but his strike sailed over the crossbar. The home side kept the pressure on United’s back line and following an uncleared corner at the midway point of the half Adeyemi had another sight at goal, but the midfielder blazed his effort over the bar from close range. Following the 30-minute mark United began to come into the game and enjoyed long spells of possession. United built through the midfield and striker Ross McCormack swung somLeeds fans as Romans at Brume nice crosses into the penalty area. But the chance of the half fell to Michael Tonge after good work from McCormack and Smith. McCormack played Tonge through but the midfielder’s shot was saved well by Darren Randolph. Although United finished the half as the better side it was Birmingham that had a great chance before the interval. Chris Burke was in space just inside the United box and the winger was only stopped thanks to a good block tackle from Jason Pearce. The start to the second half was something of a slow burner. United had the better of the play without really threatening Birmingham’s goal. But on 58 minutes United took the lead through Smith. Following his introducing to the game Alex Mowatt spread the play to Tonge, who crossed a brilliant ball for Smith to head United in front. Then, two minutes later United went further ahead through Pugh. The left sided wing-back capitalised on good build-up play and smashed the ball into the back of the net from inside Birmingham’s penalty area. United’s two goals in two minutes left the away side in full control of the game. The home side did very little to get back into the contest and found themselves three goals behind in the 78th minute. McCormack broke forward after he was played through on goal, and instead of shooting himself he went to set up Smith but Birmingham defender Paul Caddis turned the ball into his own net. Moments later Michael BroPughvBrumwn latched onto a loose ball and was in space in the home penalty area, and with Randolph rushing towards him he went for the chip but the ball went just over the bar. The home side managed to pull one back in the 83rd minute when Birmingham substitute Federico Macheda smashed the ball home to set up an interesting finale. The home side looked like a different team after Macheda’s strike but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation as United kept them at bay during the closing stages. The defeat left Birmingham in the bottom three at the close of play. The game ended on a sour note as young United midfielder Mowatt had to leave the field on a stretcher. The highest Leeds can now finish is 14th on a possible 59 points. Leeds finished last season in13th on 61 points.  Brian McDermott post match to Eddie Gray :”Alex Mowatt jarred his knee. He should be okay. The performance today was effective.It was a war of attrition in the first half. We got an awful lot of criticism for the performance against Notts Forest on Monday. I went straight home on Monday and watched the game back. We had 60 per cent possession but it wasn’t effective. Today it was. I thought Matt Smith up front caused them all sorts of problems. And once we got the second goal we really started to play. We have won three from our last four against teams who were absolutely fighting for their lives. We gave too many goals away  this season. If you stay in games you can win. It’s been a really eventful 45 games. I was really proud of the boys today. I hope they get credit. We haven’t won at Barnsley since  god knows when , we haven’t won at Birmingham since god knows when. We don’t give ourselves enough credit when we do win. It doesn’t pay to be negative. We have learned an awful lot this season. Lets enjoy that result. I hope our fans have a really good night in Leeds tonight. There have been mitigating factors”. Meanwhile, Leeds boss Brian McDermott claims he is not frustrated about stories of him losing his job and being replaced by former Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford and Aston Villa winger Benito Carbone. McDermott said: “I spoke to Bernie on Friday. He was a really good player but I do not know him. “These sort of things do not frustrate me or unsettle me. “The most important thing is Leeds United and what is best for this football club and what is best to take this club forward. That is the only agenda I’ve got. “The future is looking brighter as we have won three of our last four games. We were top five at one stage but we had a lot of things going on with the ownership, which was really difficult. “These are mitigating circumstances and not excuses. We are now as safe as houses in this league and looking to do well next season.”


Danny Pugh grabs Leeds 2nd


Wooton v Brum

Sat April 26th. Mac and Cellino to “meet” after Birmingham fixture –  Phil Hay Talks between Massimo Cellino & Brian McDermott about the future of Leeds United’s players and McDermott’s own position as manager have been delayed until after the club’s game against Birmingham City. Cellino and McDermott were scheduled to speak this week about the Italian’s plans for his first summer as owner of Leeds but they are now expected to meet before United’s final match of the Championship season, at home to Derby County next Saturday. Cellino, who completed his 75 per cent buy-out of Leeds almost a month ago, is back in England after spending time at his home in Miami, and staff at Elland Road are awaiting the first telling signs of change with a difficult season almost complete. Nine of United’s senior players are out of contract in July and young left-back Charlie Taylor, who is currently on loan at League Two side Fleetwood Town, is also near the end of his deal. McDermott said he was “certain” about which squad members should be released and which of those with longer contracts he would try to move on, but he is yet to speak to individual players directly and is still waiting for clarification from Cellino about his own job. The 53-year-old is 12 months into a three-year contract at Elland Road but Leeds have struggled during the second half of this term, and a prolonged patch of poor results could tempt Cellino into a change ahead of his first full season in charge. Sacking McDermott would cost United more than £1m and Cellino, who attempted to remove the ex-Reading boss from his post before his takeover was complete in January, has taken time to consider his options since sealing his buy-out of Gulf Finance House on April 7. McDermott, however, expects his future to become clear soon and is likely to discover Cellino’s intentions when they meet in person next week. Asked if discussions with Cellino had taken place, McDermott said: “Not yet. We’re just concentrating on this game (at Birmingham). “We’ll concentrate on everything else afterwards.” He admitted that he was still unsure of remaining as manager, saying: “That decision is going to be up to Massimo. All I’m doing is concentrating on this game and nothing else. Nothing else can detract from that. “It’s difficult and obviously (your future) does cross your mind. But that’s not in my hands really, that’s for someone else. It’ll happen sooner rather than later I’m sure. “There’s a massive amount of work to be done here, full stop. We’ve got to get going.” Cellino was quoted in a recent interview as saying he would consider himself a failure if he was unable to guide Leeds into the Premier League by the end of the 2015-16 season. “I think that’s realistic,” McDermott said. “There’s an awful lot to be done in the summer and an awful lot to be done next season but that’s realistic.” Despite the doubt surrounding him, McDermott hopes to finalise some of United’s pre-season programme before their final-day clash with Derby amid suggestions that Leeds will spend parts of the summer in Sardinia, the home of Cellino’s Italian club Cagliari. “We know what pre-season will look like, the schedule,” McDermott said. “What we don’t know is where we’re going to go, and we need to arrange games. That’s got to be done and it’ll probably be done next week.”

April 26th. Benito Carbone to take control of Thorp arch – Phil Hay Massimo Cellino is considering handing control of Leeds United’s academy to ex-Bradford City striker Benito Carbone in what would be a dramatic start to Cellino’s reign as ownerCarbone flew into England 3660057from Italy this week and made an initial visit to Thorp Arch on Thursday before returning to United’s training ground today. The 42-year-old’s sudden appearance fuelled speculation that he was in line to replace Brian McDermott as manager of Leeds but the YEP understands that Cellino is on the verge of naming Carbone as the club’s new head of youth development. United’s junior and development squads are currently run by Neil Redfearn, their ex-academy manager who moved into a dual role of development squad coach and first-team coach following McDermott’s arrival last April. Redfearn assumed control of the youth teams at Leeds from Chris Sulley in 2012 and the ex-Barnsley midfielder has been widely credited for the recent success of the academy and the rise of current first-team players Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt. The club’s Under-18s won their league title last season but Cellino looks set to overhaul the junior coaching structure at Thorp Arch as part of his wider plans for Leeds. The Italian, who officially bought 75 per cent of United from Gulf Finance House on April 7, is not thought to have finalised Carbone’s appointment but the retired forward is a leading candidate for an academy role and could take charge in the next fortnight. Carbone is best known in England for his spell at Sheffield Wednesday and his expensive transfer to Bradford City in 2000, a deal which contributed to Bradford’s subsequent financial implosion. He spent time on loan at Derby County and Middlesbrough before seeing out his playing career in Italy. Lower league coaching jobs followed his retirement in 2010, the most recent with Italian side Saint Christophe Valle D’Aosta. It is not clear what Carbone’s employment at Thorp Arch would mean for Redfearn, though Cellino is thought to hold a high opinion of the 48-year-old. McDermott’s future, meanwhile, remains unclear as he and Leeds prepare to complete the final two games of the Championship season. United play Birmingham City at St Andrews tomorrow ahead of a planned talks between Cellino and McDermott next week. A meeting between the pair, scheduled for this week, did not happen.

April 25th. It’s stick or twist with McDermott – P Hay. Leeds United’s owner Massimo Cellino needs to decide whether to stand by Brian McDermott or put him out of his misery and bring his own man in.  You know that Brian McDermott is manager of Leeds United because he’s where the manager should be: sat behind a microphone or stood in front of the dug-out. The proof that he still has a job is the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Massimo Cellino has left him be, in a way which should prepare McDermott for the worst. Leeds have been Italian-owned for three weeks and Italian-funded for far longer than that, but for all of Cellino’s spectacular rhetoric, he says most about his manager by saying nothing. A colleague of McDermott’s, sacked by a different club a few years ago, said he knew his time was up when his chairman stopped making any effort to reassure him behind closed doors. In public, the party line was rigid and supportive but privately the man who mattered kept his distance. McDermott will relate to that. He has received what can only be described as deflated votes of confidence from Cellino – “He is our employee, we are paying him. Why should I get rid?” – but United’s owner is not breaking his back to seek McDermott out and lay his cards on the table. They arranged to meet this week but didn’t. They are due to meet next week and must. McDermott has dangled for long enough. Either cut the string or pull him up. There is nothing guarding the 53-year-old now, other than a contract which would cost Cellino more than £1m to pay up. There is little protection for anyone at Elland Road. Employees there expect a bloodbath over the next few weeks, the combined effect of a new broom and an abomination of a season, but in footballing terms the revolution starts with the manager. And it starts once Cellino decides if McDermott has any part in it.

The decision is more benign than it was when Cellino tried and failed to sack McDermott in January. This time he needn’t worry about supporters chasing his taxi in and out of Elland Road, or about his safety at the following home game. McDermott’s personal guard is diminished and less reactive than it was. His dismissal would cause disappointment with some but the mood won’t stretch to outrage. Drastic change is unavoidable at Leeds; people have come to accept that, whatever form it takes.

It could be argued that the constant frailty of McDermott’s position has radicalised some who previously resisted the idea of replacing him but really, he is a victim of performance. Lose games like Leeds do and play as Leeds play and the masses start to question what it is about a manager they like. McDermott has a decent streak about him, a decent man who exposes himself to a prying media with as much openess as you could ask for in the circumstances, but clubs don’t pay for decency. They pay for effective management and they pay for results. And these days, they deal ruthlessly with deficiency. When Soccernomics, the unique analysis of football and finance published in 2009, compared the performance of different coaches in England between 1974 and 2010 it did so with those who had worked in management for five seasons or more on the basis that in a shorter period “luck plays a big role.”

True or not, the attitude in English boardrooms has moved in the opposite direction; so far, in fact, that time, stability and continuity are managerial cliches. Virtually no coach experiences those things. They barely exist. All you find are differing levels of chaos in which managers survive for as long as they can. Even Manchester United have joined the party.

In parts of his dicey tenure at Old Trafford, David Moyes was let down by his club. But what killed him was the repetitive trend of players and tactics doing the same. McDermott has suffered that way since Christmas, which is why Cellino doubts his ability. It is also a reason for the Italian to gut United’s squad, safe in knowledge that players who failed Neil Warnock and are now failing McDermott cannot blame inaqeduate management. For them the truth lies closer to home, and their futures elsewhere.

Some close to McDermott feel he was weakened by Cellino’s attempt to sack him in January. McDermott himself has questioned whether his squad began to think that they were working under a soon-to-be-gone coach. The impact on McDermott’s authority is difficult to gauge but the statement issued by Paddy Kenny’s agents on Thursday raised a red flag, questioning the goalkeeper’s absence at a time when he is supposedly fit. It turns out that Kenny was taken ill this week but it is also true that he has been absent from United’s squad on days when he was available. That said, statements like Thursday’s rarely drip from an on-the-same-page club. More and more, the set-up at Leeds makes your ears prick. On Thursday, McDermott said that at Christmas he was confident of finishing inside the play-offs. But revisit his quotes after United’s defeat to Nottingham Forest on December 29 and he describes a top-six place as a “tall order” without serious investment in players. It makes you question how much confidence was ever there. Serious investment hasn’t occurred under him but most of his signings he made are struggling to blossom. If that comes down to luck then it is extremely bad luck.

Back in January, Cellino had a plan. On deadline day he wanted to sign as many as seven foreign players. Given that he intended to replace McDermott at the same time, it goes without saying that those transfers were arranged without his manager’s approval. Cellino is said to have changed tack since then. He is thought to favour a coach with experience of the English leagues and a transfer policy to match. But if January was typical of his ownership, what Leeds need is a manager who can adhere to and handle his strict control. He can delay no longer in announcing whether McDermott is that man

April 25th. Leeds is a “bloodbath”- Cellino  Leeds United manager Massimo Cellino has labelled the situation at Elland Road a “bloodbath” as the Italian begins attempts to return the club to the Premier League. Cellino completed his takeover in west Yorkshire in early April after winning an appeal against The Football League who had originally prohibited him from agreeing a deal with former owners Gulf Finance House Capital. After 10 years outside English football’s top flight and in several millions of pounds worth of debt, Cellino is hoping to return the club to the Premier League for the 2015/16 season but admits things at Leeds are worse than he feared. “At the age of 57 I’m putting myself back up for the challenge,” he said. “It’s a bloodbath, but I am targeting a return to the Premier League in two years.” Cellino financed the loan moves for Connor Wickham and Jack Butland earlier in the season however neither signing made a significantly impact on Leeds’ play-off hopes, with six defeats in the club’s last seven games ending their promotion campaign. Butland, 21, is in contention to travel to the 2014 World Cup as part of Roy Hodgson’s England squad this summer and after making 14 appearances while on loan from Stoke City the youngster admits he has learned plenty at Leeds. “We have been on a tough run and conceded a lot of goals,” said Butland. “So, it has been good to get a couple of clean sheets in the last two weeks. “We had been at a stage where every mistake we made ended up in a goal but, thankfully, things have come together a bit more in the last couple of weeks. “The spell has had a few ups and downs but what hasn’t changed is the experience I am getting of playing for a big club. “There is a lot of expectation that comes with playing in front of big crowds. Yes, it has been tough and we haven’t picked up enough points, but it has been something that has taught me a lot and it will help me moving forward.”

April 25th. McDermott at a loss to explain decline – Hay YEP. Brian McDermott has spoken of his bewilderment at Leeds United’s “alarming dip” this season, admitting he believed the club were headed for a top-six finish at Christmas. As he prepared for United’s final away game at Birmingham City tomorrow, McDermott lamented his side’s chronic loss of form and said he had “never seen anything like” their limp descent from fifth place in the Championship. Leeds were well placed to reach the play-offs at the turn of the year and sat eight points short of the Championship’s second automatic promotion spot on Christmas Day after two defeats from 10 games. But McDermott’s team will finish the season more than 40 points back from title-winners Leicester City and far adrift of the top six after a four-month spell in which the club suffered from a protracted change of ownership, a severe downturn in results and their worst league defeat for 55 years – a 6-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday. The dramatic collapse has threatened McDermott’s position as manager and his future could become clearer in the next seven days with the 53-year-old and club owner Massimo Cellino expected speak face-to-face before their season ends at Derby County next Saturday. Leeds play Birmingham City first, travelling to St Andrews tomorrow to meet a team on the brink of relegation, and McDermott cut a frustrated figure as he reflected on the events of a term which showed initial promise but leaves him fighting for his job. “It’s been an incredible season if you think about everything that’s gone on,” he said. “Look at where we were up to the Blackpool game away (on Boxing Day). “We drew 1-1 there and I thought ‘yeah, we’ll definitely get into the top six with this group.’ “But then we went to Nottingham Forest, got beat late on and went on a bad run of games. “For whatever reason, our form dipped alarmingly to the point where you’re starting to look the other way. “I can only say that now because we’ve got enough points to be safe. “It was an alarming dip. “To be absolutely honest, I’ve never seen anything like it – from where we were to where we are now. “But you have to learn from that and you have to take positives from the season.” McDermott pointed to striker Ross McCormack’s 29-goal haul and Matt Smith’s return of 11 in his first season in the Championship as encouraging aspects of a disappointing term at Elland Road. Asked why United’s form had suffered such a severe downturn – characterised by a run of eight defeats from nine games in March and April – McDermott said: “You can talk about the uncertainty of the ownership as much as you like and people will just say that’s just an excuse. “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but it didn’t help at certain points. “We also lost confidence at times but the only important thing now is to talk about the future and stability and get a squad together who you can compete.” McDermott said repeated performances as weak and ineffective as yesterday’s meant the loss to Forest was “no accident”, saying: “That sums up the last three months – not the season because we started the season well and we were fifth at Christmas, but that sums up the last three months. “We gave a couple of goals away early on and were chasing the game. We had a lot of possession but didn’t hurt them and that needs to be addressed in the summer. “We need to plan for players, the squad and how we’re going to do things. We need to definitely look at players coming in and we’ve got changes to make to the squad, there’s no doubt about that. We need to address things. “We’ve got a list of targets and we need to do deals.” : “It keeps happening and because it keeps happening, it isn’t right. “It’s happened too many times and if it keeps happening, you’ve got to change things.”

Monday April 21st. UNITED 0, FOREST 2 (Derbyshire 2, 16). United: Butland, Wootton, Lees, Pearce, Warnock (Pugh 71), Brown, Tonge (Mowatt 72), Austin, Murphy, Hunt (Smith 60), McCormack. Subs. Cairns, White, Stewart, Poleon. Referee: I Williamson. Booked: Lees (Leeds), Mackie (Forest). Att: 20,517. United manager Brian McDermott recalled fit again Rudy Austin into his starting line-up for the Easter Monday clash with Play-Off chasing Nottingham Forest. Austin replaced the injured Marius Zaliukas and a further change from Saturday’s victory at Barnsley saw Noel Hunt come into the side in the place of Matt Smith. The visitors made a perfect start to the game when they took the lead inside the opening two minutes. Stephen McLaughlin latched onto a loose ball in the midfield and sent a perfect defence-splitting pass through for Matt Derbyshire, who slotted the ball into the back of the net. The away side continued their good start to the game and threatened Jack Butland’s goal on 10 minutes. Jamie Mackie was the provider when he crossed for Ben Osborn, but Butland was equal to his headed effort and held the ball well. Moments later United put together some fast, first time passing to allow Michael Tonge space to run into. The midfielder broke forward after a good lay-off from Austin but his strike on goal went wide of the mark. But on 16 minutes the away side went further ahead. Mackie was involved in the attack again and it was his pass that led to Derbyshire having a sight on goal. The Forest forward capitalised on a United mistake at the back and rounded Butland to roll the ball into an empty net. With the half-hour mark approaching United began to grow into the game and enjoyed long spells of possession. United mounted a half chance when a blocked Ross McCormack shot led to Austin crossing from the left. His low drive was almost met by Hunt but the keeper dived on the ball. Before the half was up Hunt threatened again when he got his body in front of the away defender but Dorus De Vries grabbed the ball before the striker’s out-stretched leg could get the all important touch. Moments later McCormack struck a great free-kick from the edge of the box but his effort went just wide. United started well after the interval with both Stephen Warnock and Austin having shots from good attacking positions blocked by the away defence. With 10 minutes of the second period gone United were handed a free-kick around 25-yards out when Jonathan Greening felled Hunt. McCormack took the resulting free-kick and it took a fantastic save from De Vries to deny the Scot. Moments later a Hunt knock down from a Butland punt up field set up McCormack who was breaking forward. The ball just wouldn’t sit up right for the striker and his shot went over the bar. Following the attack the United boss made his first change when Hunt was replaced by Smith. United were the side asking all the questions in the second half but after a clever corner set-play the away side could have gone three goals ahead. The ball was played across United’s goal but no Forest players gambled and the chance went by. A quick United attack moments later led to Tonge having a strike at goal from inside the penalty area but with the midfielder off-balance he put the ball over the crossbar. United continued to dominate the possession as the game headed towards its conclusion. United substitute Smith went close twice before the original 90 was over, once with a shot and then a header that went wide. The fourth official’s board showed five minutes would be added at the end of the game. Jason Pearce and Smith went close with headers in added time but Derbyshire’s double in the first half proved to be enough for the visitors to take all three points.

Sat April 19th. Leeds preparing for summer clear out – Phil Hay YEP Phil Hay assesses the situation at Elland Road as he looks at which players are likely to depart at the end of the Championship season. Saturday’s win over Blackpool was the end of Leeds United’s season in a competitive sense. The play-offs long gone, relegation is no longer a problem either – unless Millwall can conjure a 10-point swing and negate a pitiful goal difference in the space of four games.

The implausible mathematics have given Leeds and their new owner the strange luxury of planning ahead without overlooking more immediate priorities. Brian McDermott could find that the surgery performed by Massimo Cellino cuts as deeply as him and his coaching staff this summer but United’s playing squad is a more complex puzzle for the Italian.

McDermott will plan to publish his retained list in the next fortnight, releasing up to nine senior professionals at the end of their contracts, but comprehensive changes to the squad at Elland Road will require more effort. Cellino’s insistence that Leeds, as a group of players, are better than their results will not stop a concerted attempt to restructure the dressing room before the start of next season.

The club have a wage bill of around £20m and the vast majority of the players who have appeared regularly this season are under contract until 2015 and beyond. Those who stand to become free agents in July include Danny Pugh, Michael Brown, El-Hadji Diouf and Jamie Ashdown. Most of the rest are so peripheral that McDermott dispatched them on loan weeks ago – Paul Green, Luke Varney, Gboly Ariyibi and Adam Drury.

United’s manager will also lose loanees Jack Butland and Jimmy Kebe, though there were suggestions prior to Cellino’s takeover that a permanent deal for Butland would be possible once the Italian completed his buy-out. Stoke City paid around £3m for Butland at the start of 2013. But the core of Leeds’ squad, no fewer than 12 members of it, have deals until the end of the 2014-15 season. Six of them played against Blackpool on Saturday.

There are some on that mass who McDermott would choose to keep and potentially offer extended contracts. Matt Smith has scored 11 goals in his first year in the Championship but is tied to United for another 12 months. Rudy Austin, whose has appeared 40 times since August, is also a year away from running out of contract. Others like David Norris, who was injured for much of this season but has not played in a single league game, can expect to be made available as Leeds try to clear out Thorp Arch.

In an interview with the YEP last week, Cellino appeared to imply that he was minded to give the players at Leeds the benefit of the doubt created by their mid-table position in the league.

We have players who can win,” he said.“They have to show me now what we’re going to do next year. I want them to show me that they’re real players. But I believe that they can be good.

“Don’t forget with players, if they don’t like to win, if they don’t care about winning, they won’t ever win. They can be the best in the world and they won’t ever win. But someone else is watching the games now. I’m watching.”

The assumption with Cellino is that his vision for United will involve an influx of transfers from abroad, and several from Italy. The 57-year-old wanted to make as many as seven signings on the day of the January transfer deadline but amid unprecedented chaos at Elland Road, he failed to finalise any of them.

At the time, Italian media reported that Danilo Avelar, a Brazilian midfielder, was set to join Leeds from Cellino’s Italian club Cagliari but the paperwork was unfinished as the 11pm deadline passed. Cellino thought he had pushed through a loan deal for Andrea Tabanelli and the 24-year-old travelled to England from Sardinia, only to spend several days holed up in a hotel while the Football League considered whether his transfer had been properly completed. The governing body refused to sanction the move. The link between Leeds and Avelar resurfaced last weekend, with Avelar admitting that he “had my suitcase ready” to come to Elland Road in January. Speaking after a 1-1 draw between Cagliari and Sussulo, Avelar was quoted as saying: “Was I close to Leeds in January? That’s true, I had my suitcase ready but I’m happy to still be here (at Cagliari) and to be able to help the team to escape (relegation).” Cellino flew back to his home in Miami after United’s win over Blackpool but he was at Elland Road for four days last week. He and McDermott spoke for a few hours on Thursday and Cellino spent time with Luke Dowling, United’s chief scout in waiting, to discuss the current squad and recruitment in the summer.

Leeds tried to appoint Dowling officially almost a year ago but his employment was delayed by the negotiation of a severance from his previous role at Blackburn. Sources at Elland Road say an ongoing legal dispute with Gwyn Williams, United’s former technical director, further complicated their plan to bring Dowling on board.

Dowling has remained close to Leeds in the meantime, however, and Cellino gave him a vote of confidence, saying: “He’ll be close to me. We talk the same language, soccer language. What we need now is organisation because we’ve got next season to think about. We’ve got pre-season, season tickets, players. Everything has to be done and that’s the work we have – after the emergencies.” United dealt with two emergencies last week by settling a tax bill and paying wages deferred by their playing staff at the end of March. Rent for Elland Road and Thorp Arch – due quarterly – was also paid late but paid nonetheless.

Funding from Eleonora Sport, the company behind Cellino’s 75 per cent takeover of Leeds, has lifted some of the immediate pressure on the club, though United face other heavy costs. David Haigh, who last week resigned as United managing director, has more than £1.5m invested in Leeds. The money was understood to be due for repayment within 21 days of Cellino formally completing his takeover. 
His buy-out went through on April 8. Cellino, the owner and president of Cagliari since 1992, said: “We have things besides money. It’s not just money. We’re bringing much more than that here. My experience and skills – I will bring them here.”

Leeds United players out of contract:

2014 – Jamie Ashdown, Alex Cairns, Danny Pugh, Adam Drury, Michael Brown, El-Hadji Diouf, Paul Green, Gboly Ariyibi, Luke Varney.

2015 – Paddy Kenny, Aidan White, Stephen Warnock, Lee Peltier, Zac Thompson, Marius Zaliukas, Rodolph Austin, Michael Tonge, David Norris, Noel Hunt, Matt Smith, Dominic Poleon.

2016 – Tom Lees, Jason Pearce, Scott Wootton, Steve Morison, Sam Byram, Luke Murphy, Chris Dawson.

2017 – Ross McCormack, Alex Mowatt, Cameron Stewart.


Derbyshire – easiest brace he will ever score

Sat April 19th. Ross ends Oakwell hodoo. BARNSLEY 0, UNITED 1 (McCormack 16). United: Butland, Lees, Zaliukas (Hunt 60), Pearce, Wootton, Warnock, Murphy, Tonge, Brown, McCormack, Smith (White 82). Subs. Cairns, Pugh, Mowatt, Austin, Poleon. Referee: D Webb.Booked: Etuhu (Barnsley), Brown, Murphy (Leeds). Att: 15,190 (4,141 Leeds)  From Official website United boss Brian McDermott named an unchanged side for the short trip to Oakwell. The only change to the matchday squad saw the inclusion of Rudy Austin on the United bench after the midfeidler recovered from an ankle injury. Both sides started the game with wayward strikes at goal but the first real opportunity of the match fell to United. United worked the ball well from a throw-in and Michael Tonge had space to cross. The ball was met by Matt Smith but the striker’s header was saved well by Luke Steele. Moments later United worked another good opening and Luke Murphy headed for goal after a clever cross from Ross McCormack, but the midfielder’s header was crowded out and blocked. United’s early pressure paid off in the 16th minute when McCormack showed great class to give the away side the lead. Smith flicked on a header and McCormack controlled the ball beautifully, chipped it over the defender’s head and finished fantastically for his 28th league goal of the season. The game descended into something of a stop-start affair.  Barnsley huffed and puffed, but United worked hard getting men behind the ball and looked fairly comfortable with the lead. The home side had a couple of half chances before the interval but Tomasz Cywka blazed one over the crossbar and send another effort wide of the mark.Barnsley dominated much of the play during the early stages of the second period without really offering anything going forward. United’s players stuck to their tasks and kept the home side at bay. The United boss moved to make a change on the hour-mark and introduced Noel Hunt, the switch saw Hunt move up front and the side play four at the back. Moments later United had two good opportunities for a second. First McCormack struck one just over the bar, then he turned provider but Smith couldn’t make the telling touch in the Barnsley penalty area. The home side created their first real opportunity of the half with 20 minutes of the game remaining. Dale Jennings got his head onto a cross in United’s box but his effort didn’t trouble Jack Butland. Chances were few and far between in the second half at Oakwell and when the home side created an opening Liam Lawrence but his effort high and wide of Butland’s goal. The home side looked to push forward in the final minutes of the match but United kept the ball in advance positions of the field to put a dent in their survival hopes. The win was United’s first at Oakwell since 1997 when Derek Lilley got the winner. Remember him ? McDermott said: “I think it was well deserved.  “I think the game was separated by a bit of real quality. Ross’ first touch was fabulous and then a great finish.  “He’s a match winner and those players are very, very important. He took the one chance that made the difference. He’s right up there as a finisher.  “After that, I thought we deserved to win the game. They were tough conditions – it was really windy and the pitch was a bit bobbly at times.  “We have kept two clean sheets in two games and we’re delighted with that.  “There are a lot of things that have gone on in the last three months. We needed the stability and the ownership is sorted out now.  “I never worry a about my own future. I’m doing the best I possibly can and I’ve done the best I possibly can in the last year that I’ve been at Leeds.  “I might look back on this last three months and think that I’ve done well to dig in there because I’ve certainly had to do that.
“There’s definitely a different air around the place and we can look forward now, which is the important thing.”


Macca nets again v Barnsley

Sat April 19th.  Phil Hay – Story of Leeds season. Season 13-14: It is not the latest super group, but a collection of characters who have made this season jaw-dropping even by Leeds United’s standards. 

Elland Road Lifebelt Award – Ross McCormack

How heavily have Leeds United leant on their Glaswegian striker this season? Well, here’s a stat. Between their victory at Bolton on September 14 and their defeat of Blackpool last weekend, the club did not win a single game in which McCormack failed to score. That’s seven months and 37 matches back-to-back. And they tell you it’s a team game.

Director of Football Award – Hisham Alrayes

For his letter to Brian McDermott in January, informing United’s manager that all line-ups, formations and tactics must be approved by Alrayes and United chairman Salah Nooruddin 24 hours before kick-off. You can picture the two of them sat in Manama, sipping coffee, rejecting the diamond midfield and arguing over Aidan White’s best position. Football men, those boys from Bahrain.

Welcome to Yorkshire Award – Jack Butland

An England goalkeeper who came to Leeds with one eye on the World Cup in Brazil. “The summer is obviously a massive target and I’d love to be able to go,” he said. His experience since then? Twenty four goals conceded in 12 games, including five against Bolton and four against Reading and Bournemouth. There will be other World Cups.

Sacking of the Year – Ken Bates

Like a bolt of lightening on a sunny day. At least with Brian McDermott’s ham-fisted ‘dismissal’, you could see it coming a mile off. But Bates – United’s ex-owner and chairman – was dispatched late one Friday evening in July with no more than a cursory online statement. He’d been president at Elland Road for just 26 days.

Lawsuit of the Year – Leeds United FC v Ken Bates

The inevitable result of Bates’ unceremonious overthrow. Leeds (or Gulf Finance House) allege among other things that Bates breached his contract by renewing a private jet contract, claimed expenses he wasn’t entitled to and took money from the club’s safe and shop. Bates denies all claims against him and is counter-suing for wrongful dismissal and compensation of up to £750,000. Coming to a courtroom near you soon.

Cuckoo’s Nest Award – Gianluca Festa

An ally of Massimo Cellino’s who tried to secure a seat on the bench for Leeds’ 1-1 draw with Ipswich on January 28. That invasion of McDermott’s personal space failed but three days later Festa was lined up to take charge of the first team as Massimo moved to replace McDermott with his own man. Riots ensued, Cellino backed down and Festa watched a 5-1 win over Huddersfield from the East Stand. He has barely been seen since.

Board Member of the Year –Salah Nooruddin

AKA Santa Claus. United’s chairman has been absent from Elland Road since Christmas but give him his due: he knows where to put his foot. His tweet after a 2-0 defeat to Millwall in September, criticising the result while taking a veiled dig at McDermott, was a cracker, and his premature text message to Cellino on January 31 – informing the Italian that the club was his – sparked the madness of transfer deadline day. The spiteful reaction to Nooruddin’s tweet on April 6, congratulating “Massimio” on his completed takeover, should tell him that his days here are numbered.

Best use of Twitter – Ryan Hall

It’s going some to outdo David Haigh’s 131,000 followers (twice the number who follow @LUFC) or Salem Patel’s smiley face but Hall’s decision in October to tell the world that he would sit around and take his money at Leeds reminded you of that old equation: footballers on Twitter equals water plus burning fat. Young Ryan has had further scrapes since then, but the less said about the recent twitterings of his ex-partner the better.

Document of the Year –Project Athena

A dossier complied on Gulf Finance House’s behalf which was designed to smear, criticise and discredit Cellino. It did precisely that. So GFH sold 75 per cent of Leeds to him anyway. “How much? Deal.”

Best Racial Stereotype – GFH

A few months ago the bank informed McDermott that he should seek signings from the top European leagues, “and Brazilians.” Pele, Romario, Kleberson, Roque Junior. They’re onto something here.

Best Transfer Target – Ashley Barnes

The story sounds apocryphal but we’re assured that it’s true. As McDermott fought to sign Barnes from Brighton in January and GFH resisted, a message came back from the bank pointing out that Barnes had a lower rating on Football Manager than Luke Varney and was therefore a dubious target. Why waste money on a scouting network when you can download software for £15? Barnes has cried himself to sleep ever since. He’ll have to slum it in the Premier League next season.

Media Breakthrough Act –White Leeds Radio

A recently-launched pirate station which initially sounded like a parody. Stretches of silence were interspersed with calls to random takeaways as listeners killed time by using the station’s message board to exchange abuse. Then, on March 29, the presenter landed Ken Bates live. The following night, he broadcast a spectacular ‘interview’ with Cellino who proceeded to wash his dirty linen in public. Neither man knew he was being recorded and the lawyers were not amused as the audio went global. But Cellino quickly relented. “Maybe it wasn’t so wrong,” he said. “That was me.” Every ******* ounce of him.

Hand of Friendship Award – Massimo Cellino

David Haigh, poised to become United CEO: “I spent a lot of time with Massimo and realised he was someone I could work with.” Cellino a month later, informing Haigh of a change of plan: “You’re fired. David has to go. I’ve had too much of him.” Haigh resigned last week and is seeking repayment of a £1.7m loan from the club.

Weds 16th of April.  Busy Cellino in pledge to Leeds and Cagliari – Phil Hay YEP. Cellino said he could “run Cagliari from here and do what needs to be done” at Elland Road as a group of unnamed American investors attempt to follow up his takeover of Leeds by buying him out of Cagliari. The 57-year-old businessman finalised his purchase of a majority stake in United last Tuesday but he retains control of Serie A side Cagliari – a team he bought back in 1992 – and is still to agree terms with the interested US consortium. The prospective investors, none of whom have been identified, want to secure control of Cagliari and reach a deal which gives them a mandate to completely rebuild the club’s Stadio Sant’Elia ground. Cagliari’s stadium has grown increasingly derelict over the years and is currently able to hold a capacity crowd of just 5,000. The group bidding to take charge of the club are unlikely to do so unless they secure permission to construct a new arena on the same site. Cellino is committed to selling Cagliari with Leeds now under his control, conceding last week that he could not run both clubs in the long-term, but he said his Sardinian team would be looked after until a takeover went through and insisted that work involved in cutting his ties with Cagliari would not affect his input at Elland Road. “At Cagliari I have to find buyers and when you try to find buyers, you don’t waste the club,” Cellino said. “I still have to look after the club. It’s good and organised and it stays like that. “I can run Cagliari from here for now and do what needs to be done (at Leeds). At Leeds I have to build a new organisation and it can’t wait. I must engage myself.” Luca Silvestrone, a spokesman for the American group discussing the sale of Cagliari, has described the negotiations as “delicate” but he said on Sunday that if discussions went well, “by the end of the season there will be a change of ownership between us and Massimo Cellino.” The Italian season finishes on Sunday, May 18, two weeks after the Championship term ends. Cellino has not said whether money raised from any sale of Cagliari would be directed towards his new investment at Elland Road but he made a significant financial outlay during his first week as owner of Leeds, addressing a late tax bill and overdue wages and meeting the rent payments for Elland Road and Thorp Arch.

Weds 16th of April 2014. Fans are banking on Cellino to drag Leeds back from the abyss – YEP NOTHING out of the ordinary happened at Leeds United yesterday. Or the day before, for that matter.  Usually, this would not be considered worthy of mention in The Yorkshire Post, even in the quietest of weeks never mind one that has seen a club from the county reach its first FA Cup final just as a pivotal Easter football programme homes into view. But this is Leeds United, a club that since the turn of the year has been beyond parody. To recap, Elland Road has seen a little bit of everything since bidding farewell to 2013 with United looking, as laughable as it seems now, a decent bet for a play-off place. Court cases, police investigations, failed takeovers, judicial appeals, wage deferrals and the ‘is he-isn’t he sacked?’ farce involving Brian McDermott on transfer deadline day are just some of the ‘delights’ that an increasingly bewildered band of supporters have had to digest. Throw in some truly shocking football on the pitch and the first quarter or so of 2014 has been one that no one of a Leeds persuasion will surely recall with anything but a shudder.

But what now?

The past 48 hours may have been uncharacteristically quiet in LS11, but that is not to say nothing is happening. For a start, Massimo Cellino’s new regime continue to pick their way through the shell of a club left behind after 15 ruinous months under GFH Capital. Last week saw the taxman paid, along with a playing squad that was still owed 35 per cent of March’s wages. It is also understood the quarterly rent bill for both Elland Road and the club’s Thorp Arch training ground was late, but has since been settled. Further liabilities will follow, with the seven-figure sum owed to David Haigh, who quit last week as managing director, understood to be requiring repayment by the end of the month. Invoices that have been sat in the in-tray for several weeks will also have to be waded through as Cellino and his inner circle try to get United back on an even keel. As important as the finances are, though, they are far from the only area that needs immediate attention. Just who, for instance, is going to run the club on a day-to-day basis? Cellino, from both his deeds in charge of Cagliari and his public utterances so far in England, is clearly someone who leads from the front. But the 57-year-old Italian, after his first week at the helm, is now back in Miami and United need a safe pair of hands on the ground at Elland Road. Ken Bates may have run Leeds from Monaco, but he could not have done that for eight and a half years without Shaun Harvey attending to the day-to-day problems that inevitably arise for a business with an annual turnover approaching £30m. Cellino needs the same, as events last week surrounding Bradford City’s attempts to extend Adam Drury’s loan stay proved. The Bantams tried, in vain, for several days to get a decision out of Elland Road before, with just a couple of hours to go before the deadline to extend the left-back’s time at Valley Parade was due to expire, a breakthrough was made. In terms of the chaos that has engulfed Leeds in recent months, on the surface this seems a minor point. But, if United are to function once again as a football club, it is surely imperative that employees – be they the ticket office, the commercial department or the football staff at Thorp Arch – have someone to go to for an instant decision. The smart money seems to be on Daniel Arty, a director of Eleonora Sport and a trusted confidant of Cellino, filling that role, but clarification would help both staff and supporters. The same goes for the manager’s position. Is McDermott the best man, in Cellino’s mind, to lead United next season? If so, fine. Let him get on with what is surely going to be a major overhaul of a squad that, with a couple of notable exceptions, is achingly short of quality and will have nine members out of contract in June. But if not – and with Leeds having all but assured safety by reaching 50 points – then surely a decision would be better made sooner rather than later. Cellino has made all the right public noises so far. His views on how United have been, for want of a better word, ‘run’ have certainly struck a chord with supporters. This much was evident last Wednesday, his first day in Yorkshire since buying a majority stake. Twitter was full of Cellino images, invariably doing the Leeds ‘salute’ with his other arm around a supporter as he, first, enjoyed a pint in the pub that sits across from Elland Road and then enjoyed a stroll round the city centre during the evening. It was a similar story a couple of hours after Leeds had beaten Blackpool on Saturday, his every stride across the main concourse of Leeds railway station being interrupted by fans desperate for a photo with the new man. For Cellino, such a welcome was an inkling as to the gratitude fans feel over him sinking millions into United to drag the club back from the abyss. Spark a true revival, however, and the Italian will surely never have to buy a drink again in his adopted city.

Tues April 15th. Cellino in Leeds plans exit strategy from Cagliari  MASSIMO Massimo Cellino has promised that he will not see Cagliari “go to waste” or allow his focus on Leeds United to be diluted while he works towards the sale of his Italian clubCellino said he could “run Cagliari from here and do what needs to be done” at Elland Road as a group of unnamed American investors attempt to follow up his takeover of Leeds by buying him out of Cagliari. The 57-year-old businessman finalised his purchase of a majority stake in United last Tuesday but he retains control of Serie A side Cagliari – a team he bought back in 1992 –  and is still to agree terms with the interested US consortium. The prospective investors, none of whom have been identified, want to secure control of Cagliari and reach a deal which gives them a mandate to completely rebuild the club’s Stadio Sant’Elia ground. Cagliari’s stadium has grown increasingly derelict over the years and is currently able to hold a capacity crowd of just 5,000. The group bidding to take charge of the club are unlikely to do so unless they secure permission to construct a new arena on the same site. Cellino is committed to selling Cagliari with Leeds now under his control, conceding last week that he could not run both clubs in the long-term, but he said his Sardinian team would be looked after until a takeover went through and insisted that work involved in cutting his ties with Cagliari would not affect his input at Elland Road. “At Cagliari I have to find buyers and when you try to find buyers, you don’t waste the club,” Cellino said. “I still have to look after the club. It’s good and organised and it stays like that. “I can run Cagliari from here for now and do what needs to be done (at Leeds). At Leeds I have to build a new organisation and it can’t wait. I must engage myself.” Luca Silvestrone, a spokesman for the American group discussing the sale of Cagliari, has described the negotiations as “delicate” but he said on Sunday that if discussions went well, “by the end of the season there will be a change of ownership between us and Massimo Cellino.” The Italian season finishes on Sunday, May 18, two weeks after the Championship term ends. Cellino has not said whether money raised from any sale of Cagliari would be directed towards his new investment at Elland Road but he made a significant financial outlay during his first week as owner of Leeds, addressing a late tax bill and overdue wages and meeting the rent payments for Elland Road and Thorp Arch.

Monday 14th. McDermott hoping to stay – Sky Sports. Leeds boss Brian McDermott has called on new owner Massimo Cellino to give him the opportunity to lead the club back into the Premier League. Cellino’s protracted takeover of the Elland Road outfit was finally given the approval of the Football League last week after they accepted the verdict of an independent QC to overturn their initial rejection. The uncertainty over the ownership of the West Yorkshire side has coincided with a miserable run of form which has seen them lose eight of their last 10 games to ramp up the pressure on McDermott. But the former Reading boss, who was sacked in January by a lawyer – believed to be acting on Cellino’s instruction – before he was then reinstated a day later, saw his side defeat Blackpool 2-0 at home on Saturday. “I’ve won this league. I’ve won it in a stable environment. You’re not talking about a manager who hasn’t.” And with the club now on a more stable footing, after a spell where the management and players did not receive theiCellinodelightr full wages, McDermott believes he is the right man to take them forward under Cellino. “He’s his own man,” McDermott told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “He’ll do what he thinks is right, and rightly so. He’s the owner of the club. “But I’ve won this league. I’ve won it in a stable environment. You’re not talking about a manager who hasn’t. “I’ve also been in a play-off final and I had a 50 per cent win ratio in this league (with Reading) so I know what’s required. “I haven’t got that at Leeds but it’s where we have to get to. Given an opportunity, I feel so strongly that I can do it.” McDermott insists he never considered turning his back on Leeds in January, when he was axed and then almost immediately reinstated in the early stages of Cellino’s bid to take control. “I could have walked away in January but the thought never even entered my head,” he said. “I’ve been to some tough places but it never entered my head. “It’s got nothing to do with money. I’m manager of Leeds United. Why would I want to leave or even consider leaving a job like that? “Where am I going to go from Leeds United if I walk away? That’s the thing. It means too much to me.”

Monday 14th George Dyer’s excellent summary of Leeds financial resutls. Leeds United – 2012/13 Results – Time for the Italian Job? George Dyer of the Ups and Down blog looks at the 2012-13 accounts and kindly lets us reproduce his analysis. For a better version of this article with graphs and things go to 

Leeds is potentially a Ferrari, now it’s a Cinquecento. I want to transform Leeds from Highway to Hell to Stairway to Heaven” – Massimo Cellino

The 31st of March has sadly become a pivotal date in the calendars of most Leeds fans, as we await with trepidation the latest financial results. 31st March 2014 (or 8th April by the time Companies House got the accounts uploaded) proved to be no exception.

The period covered by the 2012/13 accounts cover the final 6 months of the Bates era, and the first 6 months of GFH taking the helm. To refresh the memories of Leeds fans, this was the season where the “Bates Out” campaign really took hold, with average attendances dropping from 23,369 to 21,572 (-7.7%). This led to a drop in match day and other commercial revenue of 12% over the year, a clear indication that fans boycotting Elland Road had a significant impact on the finances. Whilst a drop of 12% in revenue might be a challenge for any business, for a club which had spent a significant amount of time hugging the line between profitability and loss, it became a death grip.

2012/13 saw an overall drop in gross profit of 13%, however also an increase in administration costs of 16%. This had a “double whammy” impact of tripling operating losses from £4.2m to ca. £12.4m. This was partially mitigated by income generated through player sales of £3.9m (predominantly in relation to the sale of Snodgrass). Since 2008, Leeds had managed to cling onto profitability based on player sales. 2012/13 was the first year where this strategy didn’t work as losses started to spiral.

A further indication of the engulfing financial crisis facing Leeds during 2012/13 was the spike in borrowing costs, which increased from zero to £1.3m during the year. This would indicate (and as we knew at the time) that the club was having to borrow increasingly in order to cover its over heads. Financial obligations increased 50% over the year to a total of £34.4m, predominantly due to loans of £15.2m owed to “related parties”, which relates to £11.3m owed to Brendale Holdings Ltd (a GFH subsidiary) and the remainder owed to other “related parties”. £800,000 of the interest paid is in relation to the redemption premium of preference shares owned by Lutonville Holdings as well as a £100,000 administration fee. Lutonville Holdings is a company connected to Outro and by virtue, Ken Bates.

The net conclusion of all this was a net loss of £9.9m. However once you strip out discontinued operations (c. £650k relating to the discontinuation of Yorkshire Radio) and player trading (“one-off” items which aren’t indicative of the true ongoing operating position) you get to a net loss of £11.4m which is a more accurate reflection of the true financial position of the club. This was a substantial increase from the net loss of ca. £540k in 2011/12 and significantly in excess of the limit under the financial fair play regime which will come into force next season which allows losses of £3m and a further equity injection of £5m (a total of £8m).

Where do we go from here? Leeds in perspective vs. other Championship clubs, and the task ahead for Cellino

The publication of the accounts was followed swiftly by the publication by Swiss Ramble of the statistics of the other Championship clubs, which can be found on Twitter by following @swissramble or online at

The 2012/13 results show that Leeds generated the second highest Championship revenue overall. Once you strip out parachute payments, Leeds were actually highest by some considerable margin, with the next highest being Brighton, some 20% behind. It is worth reflecting that this was in a season where Elland Road was dealing with average attendances of 21,572, the lowest average attendance since 2006-07 when we were relegated from the Championship.

With a club generating this much revenue, even in a bad year, why is the club making such substantial losses? The highest cost item for a football club is invariably the wage bill. On an absolute basis, Leeds has the 11th highest wage bill in the Championship, with the highest being Bolton, followed closely by Blackburn Rovers, Cardiff City and Wolves, a legacy of relegation from the Premiership. This is a resolutely mid-table budget which looks to in contrast to the aspirations of a club who should be fighting for promotion. What is quite interesting is that Leeds are also behind the likes of Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Middlesborough, whilst only being slightly ahead of Crystal Palace and Bristol City, all this for a club generating revenue twice as high as these clubs.

Now it is perfectly reasonable that these other clubs may be taking considerable risks with their finances, something which Leeds are not willing to do, and for the likes of Middlesborough, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City the losses are higher, but not to the extent we would expect for clubs operating higher wage bills with lower commercial revenue (somewhere in the region of £5m higher losses for clubs with a turnover ca. £10-15m lower). In addition, Birmingham and Crystal Palace actually had lower losses or even a profit in Crystal Palace’s case.

This is further underpinned by the wage to turnover ratio, a key metric for the health of most football clubs. Based on this metric, Leeds have the third lowest wage to turnover ratio within the Championship at around 68%. This is well within sustainable levels, and is of a comparable level to that of Watford, Derby County, Peterborough and Blackpool. Therein lies one of the key issues with Leeds United. How can a club with the highest turnovers in the Championship, operating with a wage budget of that of a mid-table Championship club, still be generating such significant losses? The key element is the “other costs” of the club. Leeds have the highest amount of “other costs” in comparison to other Championship clubs, and almost double in comparison to clubs such as Cardiff City and Leicester City. The growth in this cost element has been phenomenal since 2008.

Leeds’ accounts are notoriously opaque as to what these “Other Costs” are. For the purposes of this exercise I suggest stripping out an amount for rent which I have assumed has grown from £2m in 2008 at 3% p.a. This should make it easier to identify in terms of the split of costs and in absolute amounts. The question on the lips of all Leeds fans should be, what are these costs, and why have they increased by 210% since 2008, vastly outstripping the growth in wages or turnover? Ultimately, we don’t know. Press speculation has suggested “exorbitant” legal costs being charged to the club, alongside items such as private jet contracts. It remains to be seen what else could be included in there but what this does suggest is that Leeds has been run with an approach to executive expenditure more akin to that of a FTSE 100 company with a £1bn turnover, than that of a Championship club with a turnover of £30m. It is therefore important for the club to sort this element out, which will rapidly feed through to an improvement in the profitability of the football club.

Cellino therefore faces quite a challenge to improve the profitability of the club. In my view this requires the following steps:

1) Buyback Elland Road and Thorpe Arch: The sales of Elland Road and Thorpe Arch in 2004 were a necessary evil in order to ensure the survival of the football club at that time. A decade later, and after every owner or potential owner having promised to buy them back, we are still paying an exorbitant level of rent. To improve the profitability of the club, it is crucial that Cellino becomes the first owner to fulfil this promise.

2) Reduction in overheads: Leeds are the biggest club in the Championship in terms of turnover, and have one of the lowest wage to turnover ratios in the division. Based on this, it is clear that it isn’t the wage bill which is a drag on the club’s profitability. In fact it is the other costs related to the club which are acting as a millstone around it’s neck. It is of the utmost importance that Cellino gets to grips with the profligacy of previous regimes and cuts this back. I would argue that on a wage to turnover basis, with a club aiming to achieve promotion to the Premier League, the club actually should be showing more ambition, especially given we would expect the turnover to increase over this season (given the average attendance has increased by ca. 25% since these accounts). A well run club should be able to run at a wage to turnover ratio of 70-75%, and I see no reason why Leeds shouldn’t have that as a medium term goal.

3) Boost turnover: The era of Financial Fair Play will over the medium term, mean that clubs with the biggest turnovers and who are run sustainably, will achieve promotion. Leeds, as the biggest club on a turnover basis by a substantial element should effectively use this to “bully” the other teams in the division. To my mind this doesn’t mean increasing ticket prices, Leeds fans already pay some of the highest prices in the football leagues, but instead it requires the club to maintain the likes of “Leeds for Less”, one of the few positives from the GFH era, which helped to provide a boost to attendance, likely increased expenditure on club merchandise, re-engaged the club with the city after Ken Bates, and introduced a new generation to Leeds.

Subject to getting points 1 & 2 sorted, this to my mind, requires boosting attendances up towards 29,000, which was our attendance in the first year in the Championship. At these levels, and with some resolution to the above points, we should start to be generating some reasonable profits which will undoubtedly feedback through to squad investment and allow us to compete effectively for the best players.

4) Squad investment: The immediate output of this needs to be a restructure of the squad over the summer. In order to maintain or increase attendances, Cellino needs to create optimism and boost the performance on the pitch. This will require investment and expenditure on good quality signings. Leeds have had a long history of not investing effectively on the pitch, relying on free signings, older players, and a number of loan signings. Increased squad investment doesn’t necessarily need to result in an increase in the overall wage bill, but certainly a reallocation of resources and a better use of the budget. Cellino and the football management team need to start creating a sustainable squad base for next season, and then a medium term plan for investment. This requires stability and continuity at the heart of the club’s hierarchy.

Now I’m driving the bus. Now the bus is ours and we have to run the bus.”

GFH inherited a rudderless oil tanker, which this blogger said at the time would require substantial time to turn around and get back on the right track. As has become apparent over the past few weeks, the oil tanker is not only rudderless, but also listing heavily to one side. In order for Cellino to turn Leeds into a success, it will require a substantial amount of investment, but also time. We have effectively lost a season under the mis-management of GFH and it is up to Cellino to plan ahead, not only for next season but also over a medium term (3 years in my view) horizon. In the short term this will require investment in the playing squad and in meeting our operational losses, as well as a period of stability off the pitch.

Over the longer term, it will require some expert management, with Cellino bringing his financial management skills from Cagliari (a small but financially well-run club) to Leeds. The excess of previous regimes needs to be pruned, and it is only at that juncture that Leeds will have the sustainable platform to grow and challenge for promotion. The good news for Cellino? He has inherited one of the largest and most passionate fan bases in the UK. This will ultimately lead to the financial success of the club provided it is nurtured and grown effectively over the coming seasons. This will require more than going for a pint down the Old Peacock with the fans, and time will tell as to whether Cellino has the aptitude and patience to make this work.

“Marciare su insieme?” Time will tell as to whether this will truly be the case and Leeds will finally make the long overdue journey back to our rightful home.

George Dyer – @ole1985 on Twitter

Sun 13th. Leeds embracing continental model in dangerous flirtation by Dion Fanning Sunday Independent - During Leeds United‘s golden era of cheap credit and expensive footballers, I interviewed David O’Leary as he received a massage from the club masseur. There were more grandiose moments in the rise and fall of the modern Leeds United – Seth Johnson‘s wages, Peter Ridsdale’s goldfish – but, in its own small way, this captured the ‘Impossible Is Nothing’ age. Leeds United were going to do things differently. This was time management. Leeds were in a hurry and if O’Leary could be interviewed while being massaged, it freed him up for the important stuff. O’Leary, it must be said, was always generous with his time. He would often agree to meet at short notice and if that meant that the journalist would have to interview him while he was getting a rubdown then the journalist would happily sit in the corner and perch his dictaphone on the massage table and act like everything was normal. In those days, Leeds United seemed capable of anything so it felt only right that I would listen to a manager explain his big idea while he was dressed only in a towel, as if to emphasise that you had never seen anything like Leeds United before. Of course, anything was possible but not as O’Leary had imagined it. His dynamic team reached the semi-final of the Champions League but didn’t qualify for the following season’s competition. The next summer, O’Leary was gone; the summer after that Peter Reid was paid a bonus of half a million for avoiding relegation. At the time, Ridsdale’s successor Prof John McKenzie said Leeds was “like an oil tanker that was heading straight for the rocks. The trouble with oil tankers is they’re two miles long and they don’t turn around in two minutes.”  This is one cumbersome oil tanker. For a while, it seemed important to acknowledge the contrast from where Leeds were and where they had been. Those milestones would be flagged, with people noting that Leeds were top of the Premier League, say, five years ago or getting ready for a Champions League semi-final. Now it is ten years since they were preparing for relegation from the Premier League and an unremittingly glum future. Brian McDermott has survived a year at Leeds United, the eighth manager the club has had in the 21 years since O’Leary left. There are plenty of Leeds fans who could take issue with aspects of his management but few men have had to manage in his circumstances. Leeds don’t do expectation any more even if Massimo Cellino arrived making sweet sounds, once he had finally been allowed to take over the club. “In the current absence of detailed reasons for the conviction from the Sardinian Court and having taken into account the principles of Italian law, an independent QC reached a different conclusion,” the Football League said last week as they accepted a reversal of their original decision to block the deal. “On this basis, Massimo Cellino is cleared to be a director of Leeds United,” the Football League statement declared and it was hard not to feel underwhelmed. Anyway, Cellino should fit right in. At Cagliari, he has employed 36 managers in 22 years so he might be baffled when people object to his form of chaos theory when there are so many others to choose from. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence that Premier League clubs have become less reluctant to fire managers at the same time as they adopt what must be referred to as the continental model. Everybody knows the latest figures, the numbers grossly inflated by Arsene Wenger‘s stretch at Arsenal which show that, without Wenger, the average Premier League manager is in a job long enough to introduce himself to everybody in the front office before it’s time to bid a tearful farewell to everyone in the front office, with his getting-to-know-you address doubling up as his farewell speech as well.

West Brom are a club which has successfully implemented the continental model and they have gone through four coaches in three years and they may need another one in the summer. Tottenham Hotspur, too, have flirted with a sporting director over many years but it has done little to change their permanent position. From the club’s point of view there is some sense to this model. Managers don’t come in and clear out all the old players and bring in their own choices. They don’t have time for that. Instead they must work with the players they have and these players are likely to know the club better than any manager, meaning they are more powerful and ensuring that the manager who does want to change things is weaker and therefore more vulnerable. So it goes.

There is a logic to the idea of a sporting director bringing in players but it is not a flawless system. Most clubs that operate it are no nearer success than clubs that allow one man all the power, however briefly. Most clubs in Europe struggle as most clubs in the Premier League do, suggesting that whatever the system, humans will always do what they can to bring their own ego and influence, for better and for worse. Usually for worse.

Cellino, naturally, has big plans. He promised Leeds United fans that they would not be bored while he was around and they might have been tempted to remember that the man who suffers is never bored. Cellino looks like he won’t want to be bored himself. He promised that he would get to know McDermott and insisted that the evening when McDermott was sacked earlier in the season was a “bad, bad thing”. He was “drunk and depressed” the time he got on the phone to a Leeds fan and made several scathing comments, but none of that matters now. He is promising the Premier League by 2016 and he wants to transform Leeds United from “Highway to Hell to Stairway to Heaven”. That could mean anything. It’s business as usual.

Sunday 13th of April. Arabian Business – Gulf owners planned to flip Leeds Utd “like an off-plan apartment”.  The controversial buyers of Leeds United planned to flip the soccer club “like an off-plan apartment”, according to a source close to the deal. Leeds United was taken over by GFH Capital in November 2012 in a deal reported to be worth over $50m. But insiders close to the take-over have told Arabian Business that not only was the purchase price “around the $30m (£18m) mark”, but the intention had been to offload it “almost immediately.” “That was the plan. They were actually cold-calling potential buyers just as the deal to buy it was done. They saw Leeds rather like an off-plan apartment that you can buy and flip the next day for a tidy profit,” says a source. The takeover deal by GFH Capital – a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House – was officially announced on November 21, 2012. At the time, David Haigh, deputy CEO of GFH Capital, said: “After a long process of negotiations, spanning Leeds, London, Monaco, Dubai and Bahrain, it gives us great pride today, to have completed the deal for Leeds United. We have today injected further funds into the club and now we look to the future and start the exciting journey to take Leeds United FC back into a prime position in English football once again.” However, in the 2012 accounts for Gulf Finance House, the company revealed it had booked a $10.39m plus profit on the deal – helping Gulf Finance House swing into a profit of $10.03m for the year. The company said in its 2012 accounts: “The acquisition of LCHL resulted in a bargain purchase and the Group has recognised negative goodwill of US$10,369 thousand which is included in the income statement under ‘Gain on acquisition of assets held-for-sale’. The bargain purchase was due to pressure on the sellers to exit their holdings due to change in their business plans.” The annual report also stated: “This has truly been a remarkable year for GFH. The bank has returned to its profitable ways, successfully executed its restructuring plans, and continued to deliver unique investment opportunities that serve as a testimony to the Bank’s dedication in creating value to its shareholders and investors.” Last August, in an interview with Arabian Business, Haigh, by then appointed managing director of Leeds United, said: “People ask ‘why Leeds?’ And the short answer is because it’s Leeds United, full stop. Leeds is very special. It’s got a phenomenal history and we want to bring back those glory days. It’s got global reach on a par with top Premier League clubs, and it’s a fantastic investment opportunity in a sector which could gain the interest of new investors, as well as being good fun.” IFansn fact, plans to offload the club were already underway. In March 2013 GFH Capital sold a 10 percent stake to Bahrain’s International Investment Bank (IIB) for an undisclosed amount. On Friday, GFH completed a deal to sell a 75 percent stake to Italian tycoon Massimo Cellino, whose family own Eleonara Sport Ltd. In an emailed statement on Sunday, GFH Capital SEO Jinesh Patel hit back at the suggestion the company had been trying to flip the club. He said: “We have been highly selective in the approaches we have considered for ownership in the club. We have not only had approaches from the UK-based groups, which have been widely reported on, we have also had several serious approaches from very wealthy individuals and organisations from the Gulf, Europe and Asia. “Our decision to move forward with Eleonora Sports was a result of the commitment they have shown to the club from the outset and their willingness to run Leeds United as a long term proposition. Retaining a 25 percent stake, GFH-Capital also remains a committed investor and will continue to work closely with Eleonora Sports to ensure a prosperous future for the Club and this partnership.” On the issue of seeking to bring in additional investors and the bank’s efforts to make a profit from this investment, Jinesh told Arabian Business: “GFH-Capital is an investment bank and the acquisition of Leeds, as with any investment, was undertaken with the intent to create value and realise profits for the bank and our shareholders. Likewise, with any acquisition, we invite key clients to participate, whereby early on IIB and Salah Nooruddin, investors long known to us, acquired shares alongside us. “These transactions were in fact profitable for the bank, as partners were invited to participate at a premium. We are proud of the partnerships we have created at the Club level, including most recently the addition of Eleonora Sports and Mr. Massimo Cellino, who has extensive experience and an owner of the Serie A Cagliari football club for more than 20 years.” Asked whether the purchase price had been $30m, Jinesh said: “The amount invested in the club was in excess of $50m, whereby GFH-Capital had to clear significant liabilities which were built in the club.” Following the deal, Haigh resigned as managing director of the club, saying in a statement: “I had to deal with and manage what can only be described as the crazy situation of very limited support from those who should have supported the club and the management, whilst at the same time having little or no decision-making ability. On occasions this resulted in my paying club running expenses on my personal cards and last-minute dashes to wire personal money to the club to pay the HMRC.”


Sat 12th. Win over Tangerines. UNITED 2 (Murphy 21, 73), BLACKPOOL 0. United: Butland, Lees, Zaliukas (White 81), Pearce, Wootton, Warnock, Murphy, Brown, Tonge, Smith (Hunt 65), McCormack. Subs. Cairns, Pugh, Mowatt, Stewart, Poleon. andin. Referee: D Coote Booked: Halliday (Blackpool). Att: 23,416 (official website) Saturday’s visit of Blackpool marked one year in the managerial seat for Brian McDermott and the United boss made three changes to his side that suffered defeat at Watford in midweek. Marius Zaliukas, Luke Murphy and Matt Smith all came into the starting line-up. Saturday’s game kicked off at 3.07pm as all English football paid its respects to the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. United started the game well and enjoyed long spells of possession in the opening 10 minutes. It was United who asked the early questions and the recalled Murphy opened up the Blackpool defence with a piercing run, only for a last-ditch tackle from Craig Cathcart to prevent the midfielder striking for goal. United kept pilling the pressure on the Murphyandtmatesaway side and they rewarded for their efforts in the 21st minute. United broke forward at pace and Ross McCormack picked out the onrushing Murphy with a perfectly wieghted pass into his path. Murphy controlled the ball, cleverly turned the covering defender and calmly slotted it into the back of the net. Murphy’s goal clearly lifted the confidence of the United players who were playing some fantastic passing football. United opened up the away defence once again when Murphy played in Scott Wootton down the right, whose cross was met by McCormack but the striker’s header went wide of the mark. Blackpool gave United a warning sign just after the half hour mark when they hit on the counter-attack. Tony McMahon produced a sweet cross which was met by Neal Bishop but his header flew just over the crossbar. Bishop’s half-chance spurred on the away side who finished the half strongly. David Goodwillie had a good chance but United blocked his advances and the striker also went close with a shot from a tight angle. Before the break United had a good opportunity to double the lead with a free-kick right on the edge of the box. Michael Tonge’s strike was saved by Matthew Gilks and the keeper showed bravery to dive at the feet of the United attackers to collect the rebound. Blackpool went close to levelling the contest in the first minute after the interval. Goodwillie had space to run into down the left, he crossed for Chris Basham but the midfielder’s effort went of Jack Butland’s post. United’s first chance of the half came after 10 minutes when McCormack controlled and held the ball superbly to set up Stephen Warnock on the edge of the box. Warnock’s first time strike went just over the bar. The game saw a scramble in the Blackpool penalty area with 20 minutes remaining, which United had a few bites at. McCormack’s frLUKE MURPHY CELEBRATES SCORING LEEDS FIRST GOALee-kick led to Wootton connecting with the ball and Gilks could only clear as far as Jason Pearce, but the defender’s strike was blocked. Moments later United got the second of the afternoon and it was Murphy with his second of the game. Tom Lees played a long ball forward which was flicked on by United substitute Noel Hunt and Murphy, who showed great stamina and pace to latch onto the ball, chipped the onrushing Gilks. A much deserved double for the midfielder after an impressive display throughout the afternoon. The home crowd were roaring after Murphy’s second and United almost got a third just minutes later. Murphy played a fantastic through-ball for McCormack but Gilks made himself look big and denied the striker. Butland was called into action twice in the dying miinutes, once to tip over his crossbar and he came off his line well to cut out a dangerous looking cross. They proved to be the away side’s final opportunities and United ran out comfortable winners to end a run of five games without a win.The win was a great relief. It was a big result for us,” McDermott said. “We are on 50 points and that should be enough, but you can’t think like that. I can only think about our next match at Barnsley. Brian McDermott : “Thank God we have got Massimo Cellino in charge because I didn’t know where this club was going. The fans gave him a really good reception and I am delighted for him. We’ve all got paid and this club feels like a different, more secure place now.” (Re his future)I could have walked away from here in January-February but it never even  entered my head, and there have been some tough times. “I don`t want to  talk about money but it has nothing to do with money, it is the fact we have  fantastic supporters and I am manager of Leeds United – Why would I want or even  consider leaving a job like Leeds United?”Where would I go from Leeds  United if I walked away? It means so much to me.” (Re Murphy) “Luke’s two finishes were excellent and he could have scored before our first goal. You need the right mentality to play at this ground,” McDermott said. “Luke scored a lot of goals for Crewe. He was there from about 12 years of age, playing with the same players while coming through the ranks. Then he came to a massive club like Leeds and it can take time for players to adapt.” McDermott is confident Leeds will not have to worry about relegation now, and he was delighted to see the dawning of a new era at Elland Road under the guidance of Italian Cellino, after a long period of uncertainly over the club’s ownership. “The win was a great relief. It was a big result for us,” McDermott said. “We are on 50 points and that should be enough, but you can’t think like that. I can only think about our next match at Barnsley”. Assistant Blackpool manager Malky Thomson said: “We are disappointed that we came away with no points at all, but the level of endeavour from the boys was great. “We still have a lot of self-belief and we have to carry that on against Burnley. Our player-manager Barry Ferguson is totally self-motivated. Barry has the bottle to go out and play when the pressure is on. He will have no sad faces around the place and he was massive for us today. “Unfortunately, Luke Murphy is not bad either, is he! “Leeds managed to take their chances and we didn’t. That was probably the only difference. I can guarantee the players at Blackpool are utterly professional in their outlook. We haven’t set ourselves a points target. We are fully focused on getting the right result from our next game against Burnley.”

Sat 12th of April 2014. Hays and Cellino interview. United owner Massimo Cellino continues his frank appraisal of the club in the second part of his exclusive interview with Phil Hay. There are two types of managers, Howard Wilkinson once said. Those who’ve been sacked and those who’ll be sacked in the future. It takes 11 months on average for a manager in England to bite the dust so perhaps Massimo Cellino has come to the right place. His culling of coaches at Cagliari is a notorious trademark and he was at it again this week, firing Diego Lopez after Cagliari lost at home to Roma. There was sympathy in a severance statement which said the sacking was “extremely painful” and described Lopez as “a professional man” but he has gone – the 36th coach dismissed by Cellino in 22 years. Lopez was lucky to survive in February when to all intents and purposes he was on his way out. Cagliari’s players complained, the sand shifted behind the scenes and when the music stopped, Cellino sacked assistant Ivo Pulga instead, accusing him of disloyalty. Pulga is back at Cagliari now, named as Lopez’s replacement. Is English football ready for this? And is English football any better? The cuts are usually cleaner here but Leeds United, Cellino’s new project, have no track record for managerial survival. “The coach gets a chance because he has a job,” Cellino says. “If I give the coach a job, he has a chance with me. If he doesn’t do it then what? What should I do? Come on!” Brian McDermott can relate to Lopez and the experience of being sacked, backed and then threatened again. United’s manager is into the fifth day of Cellino’s rule but has coped with three months of observation from the Italian. Cellino says McDermott will stay as manager until the end of the season but McDermott is not so sure. “That’s not a question for me,” he said on Thursday. Cellino doesn’t speak about managers. As of Tuesday, there is one manager at Elland Road – him. For now, McDermott is his coach. “I manage the club,” Cellino says. “That is my responsibility. What I need is a coach, a great coach. That’s clear. “I was raised as a manager, not as a bulls**t president who puts his tie on, eats some roast beef and f***s off home. I look after everything.” He runs his fingers along the steel girder above the doors to the Harewood Suite in Elland Road’s East Stand. It’s filthy, though you hardly notice until he unsettles the dust. “Who cleans this? No-one. What are you doing here? I don’t work this way and everybody has to be like me. Everybody. “In Italy we have coaches. You can call them what you like – the manager, the king, the queen. But the coach is part of the team. Like the gardener. If we want the pitch higher, the gardener better make the grass grow. The coach makes the team play.” McDermott is not adverse to the idea of being a cog in the machine or of having the change to devote himself to coaching, away from the machinations of a loco club. But can he and Cellino work together and does Cellino really want him? “He’s our employee,” Cellino says. “We’re paying him so why not? Why should I get rid? “Ask him if he wants to work with me. He will tell you. But he also has to start letting me see what we’re going to do. And me, I’m watching. “I have to look after the club. He has a contract, I have no contract. He has to respond with results and work. If not, I’m here. “I think Brian is a good coach but not a good manager. That’s my point of view. He likes to coach but he doesn’t like to manage. So we can work together. He has to manage the soul, the mentality of the players, the belief and behaviour. But not the wages, the economics. Economics don’t belong to the coach.” There are cultural boundaries between Italian and English football which Cellino will attempt to break in time: the way clubs are run, the way new signings are chosen and handled. Luke Dowling, the chief scout who McDermott never officially appointed, was with him at Elland Road on Wednesday and Together Leeds, the consortium who tried to buy Leeds in November, have been touting the idea of working in partnership with Cellino, providing a “local stake and local understanding.” The consortium’s frontman, Mike Farnan, said they wanted to “help accommodate both cultures and combine them” – in other words, help Cellino along the straight and narrow. Cellino has not spoken to them directly. Historically he has never shared authority, though he talked of delegating some responsibility at Leeds. “Do we need anything else? I don’t think we do,” he says. “The Together group, they want to help us – well, there are season tickets, boxes. “That’s the way to help us. Advertise things. That’s what I want. “This club should not be begging money. One million pounds more? Stop with that. But I know that maybe I take too much responsibility sometimes. “Maybe I look arrogant because the pressure is too much. I hope to get people here to share a bit of responsibility, to share in winning games and maybe some profit. I don’t want to share in losing games. That’s s**t.” Leeds did a lot of that in the time it took Cellino to buy-out Gulf Finance House. Tuesday’s defeat to Watford, a game he watched, was insipid and badly lacking in effort. “No more of that,” Cellino says. “The players, they have to play. They have to try. I want to see them laughing and winning. Be positive. “They don’t have to waste time worrying about me. I can recognise a good, honest player and I recognise one who is not. I don’t give a damn about what managers or coaches tell me – I tell you, I know. I don’t resign, I don’t give up like other people do. The players are better than this, much better.” It’s a surprising comment, altogether unexpected. The prevailing view is that Cellino and whichever coach is beneath him will butcher United’s squad in the summer. Twenty Championship defeats are no protection for anyone but Cellino is defensive of the squad, unwilling to berate them. “People say these are rubbish players who have no skills,” he says. “How the hell can they not have skills when this club was in fifth position three months ago? “Three months ago they were a good team. Now they are a s**t team. So I ask myself why? Who runs this club? The managers at all levels, they’ve done a terrible job. For me it’s not the fault of the players. “I know teams. They should play better when they’re not getting paid or when the club is going bankrupt because they try to save their own ass. “That team out there, it’s not being made responsible. I don’t think we’ve given them the right responsibility or the right consideration. “Whoever tells them they are bad players tells a lie. They are better than they look, believe me. But they don’t believe in themselves anymore. “They’ve been sent to work in the s**t too much. When I’m here, everyone should look at the players at Leeds as the best in the world because they are our players. Our players! That’s my rule.” Cellino wanted to sack McDermott on that crazy, punch-drunk Friday in January. He admits that openly. “When I came for Leeds, they were sixth in the Championship. I wanted to buy five or six players with my money, not with Leeds’ money. “I was changing the coach but they (GFH) wouldn’t let me change the coach – they take my money but they won’t let me change the coach or bring in my players. Now I’m here, involved with a club who are shaming themselves. (GFH) ran the club with my money and in the worst way. But that is the past. The future is this – who are the guys who want to stay and who are the guys who want to go? I’ll work it out.” According to Cellino, GFH tried to initiate season ticket sales in February but were stopped by him. “Back then, you couldn’t say I was here 100 per cent, you couldn’t say we were in the Championship 100 per cent,” he says. “I don’t want to steal money for the fans. Now we know so the season tickets will start.” He says that in several of his years as president of Cagliari he decided not to bother with season tickets. Why not? “Because I was p****d off with the fans or I wasn’t sure of my engagement with them. So I say ‘no season tickets. You pay three times more.’” Surely that upset them? “Yes but sometimes if we don’t win, if the team play bad, I give them back their money. I’m a player, a man who likes to play. We have fun.” Before I leave, he has a look at a copy of the Yorkshire Evening Post. There’s a picture of him on the front page, his face raised to the sky and his hands together beneath the headline ‘The answer to our prayers?’ Not all of the newspaper’s coverage of him has been so positive, as he probably knows. “When I make mistakes, when I do things wrong, you write s**t about me,” he says. “If it’s true, if it’s your opinion, I respect you more if you write s**t. Don’t kiss my ass.” It sounds like advice for the press. It’s really a message for the club. Do your jobs and do them well.

Sat 12th. Crazy Cellino might just be the man to clear up the mess at Elland Road – Phil Hay YEP A few days ago, West Yorkshire Police made a visit to Elland Road to investigate allegations from Leeds United’s new owner that surveillance equipment had been illegally installed in executive areas of the stadium. At the time of writing there were no arrests and no charges but Leeds are starting to exhaust the meaning of weird. They are the one club in England for whom manufactured gossip isn’t necessary. It’s all there, floating beneath the surface. Massimo Cellino scratched the surface on Wednesday and was reminded of two curses: a tax bill which incurred a winding-up petition from the Revenue and wages which were overdue by almost a fortnight. The red he finds at Elland Road isn’t in the carpet, though the carpets are soaking up blood already. If, as Cellino says, he “respects money, not just mine”, the carnage on his hands should appal him.When I interviewed Cellino the day after his takeover of Leeds went through, the unpaid tax and the wage deferral among United’s playing staff seemed to have changed his perspective. Last Saturday he said he would buy back Elland Road before this week was out. He predicts now that Leeds will repurchase the ground for £15m by the end of the year. Ambition doused with realism equals a cute shift of the goalposts but impulsive by nature, Cellino would help his own cause by giving himself a reasonable chance. The inbox at Leeds was littered with problems when he showed up for work on Wednesday – PAYE, delayed salaries and annual accounts showing large losses and even bigger debts. Season ticket renewals are not yet arranged and Cellino is under pressure to take a view on his manager and the playing squad he acquired from GFH. It did not become clear until yesterday morning that in addition to United’s day-to-day worries, the police had been asked to sniff around Elland Road’s inner sanctum too. Cellino talked about “f****** problems” and the energy he would need to solve them. He has more than a few; too many to make ownership of the stadium an overnight transaction. The accounts published by Leeds on Tuesday laid bare the state of Cellino’s inheritance and vindicated many assumptions about the nuts and bolts of Gulf Finance House’s management. The bank inherited a mess and is passing on a shambles, though it has enough neck to hang around and retain a minority stake. You could hear the sighs of relief from Bahrain as the pieces fell into place last weekend. Cellino’s successful appeal against the Football League must have felt like Christmas. Leeds lost £9.5m in the 2012-13 financial year as GFH channelled in more than £13m. The bank blethers about supporting and funding the club but those were loans not gifts and Cellino is liable for paying them back. The ambiguous thing about the latest accounts is that they go no further than last June. They don’t come close to revealing how the land at Elland Road lies here and now. But 2012-13 was a bad year in more respects than finance. The club chewed through another manager and finished 13th in the Championship with badly reduced attendances. The transition of power from Ken Bates to GFH was slow and unsettling. The 2012-13 accounts state that Bates took no payment as a director, though a company connected to him – Lutonville Holdings – cashed in preference shares to the tune of £4m, but other directors were rewarded handsomely: £753,938 in total across the rest of the board and £265,449 received by the highest earner. That same person amassed a bonus of £440,000 in the space of 12 months. That’s a salary more than £700,000 in all. Who pocketed it and what was the bonus for? We ought to be told. It smacks of a culture of excess in the midst of a culture of failure. Leeds moved from a profit of £300,000 in 2012 to a loss of almost £10million a year later. In that same period, the cash paid to directors doubled and the best paid among them received a rise of £40,000. There was an equally big leap in the players’ wage bill which translated into very little. “You can see what’s been happening here,” Cellino said. “It’s been done by people who knew they weren’t staying. And now I have to clean up the s**t.” He says he has the shoes for it and he definitely has the energy. You sit beside a whirling dervish when you share a room with Cellino. His wealth? It’s a mystery. But he had enough to get rid of the taxman by mid-afternoon on Wednesday and enough to pay well over the odds to GFH for a 75 per cent stake. His cash aside, a rifle through the paperwork at Elland Road will tell him that Leeds can help themselves by spending the money they have properly.In Italy they say Cellino is crazy. To take this club on, you need to be. When day one involves spy cameras and winding-up petitions, the scale of the commitment is hard to play down. It’s a brave man who gets himself involved here.

Friday 11th of April 2014. Haigh gone. David Haigh has today quit as managing director of Leeds United. The 35-year-old resigned with immediate effect this afternoon, three days after the takeover of Leeds by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino. Haigh, who helped to push through Gulf Finance House’s purchase of Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012, was due to become chief executive under Cellino for the rest of the season. But divisions between the two led to a threat from Cellino to sack him last weekend and Haigh has confirmed that he is leaving Elland Road. In a statement, Haigh said: “Owing to various statements made by and on behalf of the new majority owners of Leeds United FC, I am left with no alternative than to resign as Managing Director of the club. “This is a matter of particular regret to me since I was the person who first introduced Eleonora Sport to the club’s owners. I also gave them my full and constant support in the Football League’s lengthy approval process. “I am not yet, due to confidentiality obligations, in a position fully to respond to various statements which have been made about me over recent months. As soon as I am I will address the various issues – obviously a great deal has happened these past two years. “As is well known by those in or close to the club, my unstinting support of Leeds United throughout my time at the club has extended to loaning the club money to ensure that tax, players and staff were paid and to underpin its continuing viability – Loans which to this day remain in the club. “I also searched endlessly for suitable investors, whilst at the same time not taking any payment that was due. In addition to all this I had to deal with and manage what can only be described as the crazy situation of very limited support from those who should have supported the club and the management, whilst at the same time having little or no decision making ability. On occasions this resulted in my paying club running expenses on my personal cards and last minute dashes to wire personal money to the club to pay the HMRC. “Notwithstanding, I did everything which was in my very limited power to take the club forward, to engage with the fans and the community and to keep the promises which were made to its great fans. “I very much hope that the new owners will do the same and will deliver on the many promises and contractual commitments they have made to Leeds United, the players, the manager, the staff and fans and will run the club in the manner of the fit and proper owners they have been judged to be. “I have arranged for Sport Capital to convert some of the loans made to the club into shares and once complete, those shares will be given to the fans, so it truly will be the fans’ club. “Leeds is a fantastic club in a fantastic city and I wish Elenora Sports, Brian McDermott, The players, staff and fans all the very best for the future.”

Friday 11th. Criminal investigation at Elland Road. A criminal investigation has been launched at Leeds United – after new owner Massimo Cellino discovered spy cameras at Elland Road. The Yorkshire Evening Post understands police were called on Wednesday after the Italian ordered his team to conduct a security sweep of the ground. In the latest shock development in the dramatic takeover saga, cameras were discovered in the boardroom and toilets. That was not enough to prompt a criminal investigation. But it is understood inquiries began into alleged theft over claims thousands of pounds in club funds had been used to pay for the kit.West Yorkshire Police have given limited details, but have confirmed that they are carrying out inquiries following a complaint this week. Head of crime for Leeds, Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs, said:We can confirm that police are investigating an allegation of theft relating to Leeds United Football Club following a report made by the club made on April 9. “Enquiries are at an early stage and we are not in a position to give any further information about the nature of the allegation.” No arrests have been made and the club has not yet commented on the investigation. It is not known who had the cameras fitted. Cellino took over on Tuesday after his £35million deal to buy 75 per cent of Leeds from Bahrain bankers GFH was approved last Saturday. A spokesman for GFH refused to comment.

Thursday 10th of April. Football League gives Cellino green light. THE Football League has accepted an independent QC’s decision to allow Massimo Cellino to take over Leeds and given him the green light to become a director at Elland Road.  The league’s governing body originally blocked the deal after deeming the Italian businessman to have failed their owners’ and directors’ test, but that was overturned on appeal last Saturday. The Football League then considered appealing that ruling, but after a board meeting on Thursday it was decided not to stand in Cellino’s way. A spokesman said: “At its meeting in London today, the board of directors of the Football League considered the outcome of the recent appeal by Massimo Cellino under the owners’ and directors’ test. In making its original decision, the board took the view that Mr Cellino’s recent conviction in Sardinia was for an act that ‘would reasonably be considered to be dishonest’ and that he was therefore subject to a disqualifying condition. “In the current absence of detailed reasons for the conviction from the Sardinian Court and having taken into account the principles of Italian law, an independent QC reached a different conclusion. On this basis, Massimo Cellino is cleared to be a director of Leeds United.”Cellino’s task of transforming the fortunes of Leeds was brought into sharp focus on Tuesday when the club revealed losses of £9.5million for the 2012-13 financial year. The accounts confirmed the 57-year-old has inherited debts of more than £22million. Cellino also confirmed he will keep Brian McDermott until the end of the season before deciding further on his position as manager of the Sky Bet Championship team.  McDermott said, “I have had three really difficult months. I am in a good place now the ownerships resolved.  “I am not in a good place as far as the results are concerned but I am in a good place because I know the club is in safe hands.” Since his takeover, Cellino has gone on record as saying he will not be sacking McDermott for a second time this season but McDermott will need to turn around the clubs fortunes if he is to stay at the helm considering Cellino`s record in Italy. Cellino sacked his 36th manager in 22-years as owner of Italian Serie A side Cagliari just last weekend and with Leeds current form seeing them win just one, drawing one and losing ten of their last twelve games, it may only be a temporary stay of execution.

Thurs 10th. League ponders next move – Hay YEP. Disappointed’ Football League is conspicuous by its lack of reaction after Massimo Cellino’s appeal. Phil Hay reports. Massimo Cellino has opened himself up to the world since outwitting the Football League and laying his hands on Leeds United, but silence emits from the governing body. The Football League was spectacularly beaten by Cellino last weekend, losing a case it expected to win and failing to demonstrate that his conduct fell below the standard set for owners of English clubs. In a statement on Saturday, the League said it was “disappointed” by the view of an independent QC that Cellino should not be barred from buying 75 per cent of Leeds on the basis of a conviction for tax evasion imposed on him in Sardinia last month. It promised to “consider the findings of the hearing”, a comment which indicated that the League might yet attempt to contest the judgement against it. The League’s next move should become clearer after a meeting today of its eight-man board, the panel originally responsible for deciding on March 24 that Cellino should be disqualified from owning Leeds. That ruling was overturned on appeal by Tim Kerr QC five days ago and Cellino believes the League has no current justification for fighting the outcome or seeking a review. His legal team moved at haste after Kerr’s decision in their favour, convening a board meeting of LUFC Holding Limited – the firm in the Cayman Islands used by Gulf Finance House to buy Leeds in 2012 – on Monday night and appointing Cellino to it. The Italian’s UK company, Eleonora Sport, immediately acquired a 75 per cent stake in United and the takeover was formally announced by Cellino’s lawyers, Mishcon de Reya, on Tuesday afternoon. Mishcon de Reya argues that the takeover was effectively approved by the Football League from the moment Kerr ruled against the governing body on Saturday afternoon. They see no call for further discussions about the validity of his buy-out at today’s board meeting, and Cellino’s reign at Elland Road has been in full swing since he flew to England from Italy on Monday.

In the short term, legal analysts say the League has few grounds on which to challenge Kerr’s decision. The QC chaired the appeal on behalf of the Football League’s Professional Conduct Committee, meaning his ruling was effectively a ruling from the Football League itself – despite the organisation declaring itself “disappointed” with the result. The League had the right of appointing two independent representatives to the panel alongside Kerr but chose not to, leaving the QC to consider the arguments alone. In his judgement he criticised an attempt by the Football League’s legal representative to call into question the impartiality of Professor Stefano Maffei, an expert in Italian law. While Kerr said comments made by Maffei on Twitter were “inappropriate, unwise and undiplomatic”, he dismissed suggestions that a tweet using the expression ‘forza Leeds’ “(called) into question his impartiality or independence.” The Football League, however, is more likely to revisit Cellino’s status as fit and proper when further evidence arises from the tax evasion case which led the League to disqualify him in the first place. Cellino was found guilty of failing to pay import duty on a luxury yacht he bought in 2010 and was fined around £500,000 by a Sardinian judge last month, a conviction he has since appealed against. The judge who ruled against him on March 18, Dr Sandra Lepore, had 90 days to provide full written reasons for her decision and could take until June to do so. In the absence of that document, Kerr concluded that while Cellino had received a conviction under Italian law – a fact his legal team disputed – there was no evidence to prove that his offence was dishonest and in breach of Football League rules. Lepore’s written verdict could yet change that and invite the League to reapply its Owners and Directors Test. Cellino’s lawyers are said to be relaxed about the possibility, in part because Dr Lepore did not debate Cellino’s honesty during last month’s case. The maximum fine for his offence is some four million euros, and the lower limit 700,000 euros. Cellino was fined 600,000 euros, an anomaly which one legal analyst described as a “classic example of the Italian justice system.” Where Leeds are concerned, the 57-year-old is not waiting for the tax evasion case to develop further. His takeover was officially completed 48 hours ago and the deferred wages owed to United’s playing staff should be transferred before the close of business today. No less urgent was the payment of an overdue tax bill which HMRC has been chasing. Cellino has also made moves to organise a five-man club CellinoHeavens CellinoandMcDboard on which Eleonora will outnumber GFH three to two. Sources close to him, meanwhile, expect an agreement to be reached which will see United managing director David Haigh sever all ties with the club in the near future. Haigh negotiated the role of chief executive when Cellino agreed terms with GFH in January and, with Cellino in charge, is contracted to that job until the end of the season. But an attempt was made by the Italian’s lawyers to oust Haigh on Monday and, having missed Saturday’s match away to Wigan Athletic, he did not attend Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Watford. First-team manager Brian McDermott remains in his job despite that result, though he was plainly aware of the threat to him after a performance he described as “nonsense”. Cellino, who was in the stands for the first time in over a month, watched Leeds collapse without a fight at Vicarage Road, leaving McDermott at increasing risk of the sack. The United boss is still expected to be in charge for Saturday’s meeting with Blackpool but he said: “We’ve been doing this too much. I’ve got to get 11 characters out on the pitch at Elland Road on Saturday, players who’ve got the bottle to play. “I’m under pressure because of our results but what I’m pleased about is that the ownership situation is sorted out. We really don’t need to speak about that anymore. We can talk about football and nothing else.”

Thurs 10th. Cellino pays taxman. Massimo Cellino has moved to kill off a winding-up petition served on Leeds United by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs as work begins on the financial mess at Elland Road. The Yorkshire Evening Post has learned that HMRC issued the petition against Leeds on April 1 after the club failed to meet a tax bill of more than £500,000 last month. United were due to pay the revenue’s charges before March 31 but missed the deadline, prompting HMRC to launch legal proceedings. Cellino, however, is understood to have paid the six-figure sum in full today. Leeds, who are losing close to £1m a month and recorded large debts in their latest accounts, have already faced down one winding-up petition since the turn of the year, repaying a loan of £1.5m called in by shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance. Money invested in the club by Cellino, United’s new owner, allowed United to settle that dispute, and rapid settlement of HMRC’s bill was a pressing priority after his takeover of Leeds was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon. The 57-year-old is funding operations at Elland Road again having refused to offer further cash advances while he fought to overturn a Football League ruling banning him from buying the club. Alongside the tax bill, Cellino is expected to pay wages deferred by United’s playing staff in the next 24 hours. Manager Brian McDermott, his coaching team and senior players have received only 65 per cent of their salaries for March after agreeing to delay some of the money owed to them until after Cellino’s appeal against the Football League. The Italian won his battle to buy a 75 per cent stake in Leeds last Saturday and his lawyers announced the completion of his takeover a few hours before Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Watford. He made his first appearance at Elland Road as owner yesterday afternoon. HMRC’s winding-up petition, however, highlights the scale of the task taken on by Cellino, whose deal to buy out Gulf Finance House will ultimately cost him £35m. United were rumoured to be close to administration before his takeover went through, a suggestion GFH consistently denied, but Cellino is confident of stabilising club accounts which this week showed a £9.5m loss for the 2012-13 financial year. The financial situation at Leeds has worsened since then. Speaking on Tuesday, Cellino, who made his fortune in Italy’s agricultural market, said: “I will never let Leeds go into administration. None of my companies have ever gone into administration and none of them ever will.” HMRC, which fought a bitter battle with Leeds during the club’s administration in the summer of 2007, refused to discuss the situation at Elland Road. A spokesperson said: “HMRC do not comment on the affairs of individual companies.”

Weds 9th of April 2014. The Scratching Shed- Bates sucked us dry, GFH ripped off the flesh, Cellino will bring the club back to life, feed the beast and take us to the promised land.  Leeds: Cellino Loves This Club, Our Fans & Will Deliver What We Crave  Yesterday, the first official day of Massimo Cellino’s reign at


It started with disgust as the full extend of the rape & pillage committed by Bates & GFH as the accounts were published and forensically examined. There is more smoke & mirrors in them than an old fashioned funfair, between them, GFH & Bates manipulated, massaged & cheated, they put the gerry into gerrymandering. s arse under Bates and killed it stone dead, good job fellas! 2013/14 numbers will be disastrous, the only good thing is that Haigh & GFH will be long gone. Cellino, the master of understatement said Bates, GFH & Haigh are guilty men who treated a great institution with contempt for their own profit and even failed to sell to a buyer approved by the evil manipulator. An old bearded man was seen in the Beeston area chasing a hefty young man with Hollywood teeth screaming 


Massimo Cellino. Yesterday was the most significant in our recent history, the start of a new, crazy, charismatic, crotch grabbing, Cellino inspired cornucopia of a future with an Italian flavour. Bates sucked us dry, GFH ripped off the flesh, Cellino will bring the club back to life, feed the beast and take us to the promised land. He must see Leeds like a young Gina Lollobrigida: beautiful, with massive potential despite the huge investment needed & debt mountain. He saw our history and potential Cellino fell in love with the sleeping giant, he despises GFH. .


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Bitter disappointment

The team, demotivated, poorly managed, disspirited, rag tag, clueless didn’t turn up last night to perform in front of 2,000 fans who sold out the away end and made all the noise. McDermott did a sterling job of proving himself to Cellino, a f***ing masterclass in cluelessness. Eddie Gray, a football purist was sad to say at half time that the only chance we had was to bring on the big fella and fight for the scraps, f*** me, those are Warnockesque tactics. He was aghast at the pathetic lack of cohesion, effort or clue on the pitch, at two nil down he said “If Watford stepped up the pace they’d murder us” They did, and scored the third. Phil Hay tweeted “You don’t deserve the wages” coming from the away end. This is truly a team without a cause. The players should be embarrassed & ashamed, what a disgrace, clear em all out, apart from McCormack, nobody else in the squad looks fit to wear the shirt. The manager looks a broken man, this job is too big for him and the players are too small for the club. Worse than under Warnock, that is a damning indictment on McDermott & the players, 63 goals conceded, only 3 worse defensively, 14 points in 66, 5 games left, McDermott wants characters, he should start by looking in the f***ing mirror.


Cellino was straight out of the ground at full-time & off back up the motorway to Leeds. Work starts tomorrow….” We need a top quality manager/coach, big money for big results, time to fight our way out of the rut, we need to break the cycle of mediocrity, the club has not had a proper manager for too long, radical change will bring radical improvement, it is the only way. Imagine if we had a manager like Brian McDermott at Leeds Rhinos, a tough, professional, motivator, successful, who can design and execute a plan, we can dare to dream. Cellino seems hell bent on going solo, Farnan looks a bit daft after last week’s media push, we need a massive revenue boost which he or a similar group can deliver, maximising sponsorship is crucial to complying with FFP, we must substantially increase commercial revenue. Together Leeds offers great experience, they look an ideal partner, what the relationship would be is Cellino’s call. Whatever happens a strong, experienced commercial arm of the business, delivering big numbers must be an integral part of the masterplan. Cellino is in love with the club, our tradition our army of fans and our potential, his ego & vision will deliver what we crave, it’s sure to be emotional! Cellino loves the idea of fulfilling a dream to make a club succeed with a big fan base and a good stadium, which he couldn’t do in Italy, Leeds United is the biggest team in the Championship by a country mile and one of the top half dozen in the country with the right investment.

Adam Pope said: “Spent 1 hour with Massimo Cellino. Charismatic, sharp, witty & has a clear idea on what’s required to make Leeds successful. He’s a player.” The link to the interview is here.

Cellino feels he was invited to a party and when he turned up, pressie & card in hand, he wasn’t welcomed, that pissed him off, now watch out anyone who stands in his way. He will be very hands on in every aspect of the business. It’s going to be messy, there is a huge amount of work to do but Leeds United will be the winner and emerge on a sound footing with a proper owner. He wants to get to the Premiership for the 2015/2016 season. Cellino is looking long term, he needs his vision and very deep pockets, it’s going to exciting, nerve racking, scary and ultimately successful, resulting in Leeds United back at the top table of the Premiership.

Marching on together into a brave new future: marciare insieme in un nuovo coraggioso futuro

Tues 8th of April. WATFORD 3 (Abdi 9, Anya 32, Deeney 66), UNITED 0. . United: Butland, Wootton, Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Mowatt (Stewart 46), Brown, Tonge, Hunt (Smith 67), Poleon, McCormack (White 82). Subs. Cairns, Zaliukas, Pugh, Murphy. Referee: G Ward Booked: Cassetti (Watford), Wootton, Hunt (Leeds). Att: 16,212 (1,789 Leeds) Report from LUFC website  United manager Brian McDermott made two changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Watford. Alex Mowatt came in for the injured Sam Byram and Dominic Poleon was handed his first league start since Sheffield Wednesday at home on August 11, Matt Smith was placed on the bench. The home side started the brighter and threatened early on through Davide Faraoni. The midfielder found himself in space in the United box and it took a great block by Stephen Warnock to stop his strike on goal. Moments later Jason Pearce denied Akechi Anya with a great tackle on the edge of the box. Watford dominated the early stages and were in front in the ninth minute when Almen Abdi headed the ball home from an Anya cross. United enjoyed good spells of possession after going behind without really penetrating Watford’s backline. The home side were using their pace in the attacking areas to constantly look dangerous going forward. United’s first chance of the game came on the half hour mark when Ross McCormack shot from distance. The United striker spotted the home keeper off his line and went for a speculative chip but Manuel Almunia backtracked fast enough to collect the ball. Moments later the home side doubled the advantage. Anya turned from provider into goalscorer when he headed Watford’s second of the game after he connected with a cross from the right hand side of the penalty area. United came out firing in the second half and a half-chance fell Noel Hunt’s way but the striker’s shot hit the side netting. Half time substitute Cameron Stewart also shot for goal in the opening minutes but his effort went over the bar. A lively opening to the second half continued when the home side came close to a spectacular third goal. Daniel Tozser tried his luck from distance and his attempt went the wrong side of the upright. Moments later Stewart once again created the space to strike but his effort was straight into the arms of Almunia. The home side added a third goal in the 66th minute when Troy Deeney battled his way through the United defence and smashed the ball into the roof of Jack Butland’s net. In the closing stages of the game Poleon used his pace and strength to break free from his defender and it took a good save from Almunia to deny the striker. Moments later Butland made a great save to thwart Deeney after Anya counter-attacked and slipped him in with just the keeper to beat. McDermott said: “They had two attacks and scored two goals, we just gave them two goals. We’ve been doing it too much. Second half we came out, 2-0 down, we started better and gave them another goal. Instead of just clearing our lines we gave them another goal, it’s not good. I’ve got to get 11 characters out on that pitch at Elland Road on Saturday that have got the bottle to play and that’s the most important thing because we need to get a result.” The Leeds boss was asked later if Watford deserved credit for their performance. McDermott stressed that he was facing the press to talk about his own team but continued: “I thought Watford played well. They’ve got a decent team, they’ve got good energy, they hit us on the break. They didn’t really come out, they just hit us on the break twice and scored two goals and then obviously scored the third but they didn’t have loads of chances but they took them. Of course the opposition deserve praise, they won the game.” McDermott, whose assistant is Hornets legend Nigel Gibbs, admitted he had “no idea” whether he would continue as manager, explaining: “Obviously it’s the owner’s prerogative to do whatever the owner wants to do. I’m not in a strong position now because of the results that we’ve had over a period of time. What I am pleased about is the ownership thing is sorted out and we don’t have to talk about that no more, we can talk about football and nothing else.”However, the former Reading boss stressed that he wanted to continue, adding: “We’ve got to try and get a result on Saturday. It’s hurting, it really is hurting at the moment but I’ve done it before, I know it’s doable, I know I can do it again. It’s churlish to say it now after we’ve seen that run of results but we need to get a result on Saturday, that’s all we can do.”

Tues 8th of April . Cellino takes control of Leeds. Massimo Cellino has officially completed his takeover of Leeds United, the Italian businessman’s lawyers have confirmed. Cellino’s company Eleonora Sport Limited has completed its purchase of 75 per cent of the club’s shares and the 57-year-old has taken his place on the board of directors. “Massimo Cellino has now been appointed a director of LUFC Holdings & ESL has completed its purchase of 75 per cent of the shares of LUFC Holdings,” Cellino’s legal representatives Mishcon de Reya tweeted. Cellino is hoping the Football League will ratify his takeover at a board meeting on Thursday after winning his appeal against its decision to block his takeover. The Italian’s task of transforming the fortunes of Leeds was brought into sharp focus on Tuesday when the club revealed losses of £9.5million for the 2012-13 financial year. The 57-year-old has inherited debts of more than £22million, the accounts confirm. “We’re not in the hospital, we can survive,” Cellino told BBC Radio Leeds. “It (the club) is a little bit ill.” The Football League’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations allow a maximum loss of £8million this season and a January transfer embargo looms for clubs that fail to comply. Under the terms of Cellino’s deal to buy 75 per cent of the club’s shares from previous owner Gulf Finance House Capital, those debts will increase to around £24million. Since Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital bought Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012, the club has made considerable losses. Attendances have fallen by nearly eight per cent, gate receipts are down £2million and turnover has fallen from £31.8million to £28.5million. The club’s accounts for the previous financial year showed a profit of £317,000 with an operating loss of £3.3million. The latest figures show an operating loss of £11.6million, softened by incoming transfer fees of £2million. A rival consortium to Cellino’s company Eleonora Sport – Yorkshire-based Together Leeds – had been hoping to resume talks this week on a joint venture. That consortium is headed by former Manchester United director Mike Farnan and also includes ex-Leeds commercial director Adam Pearson and Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, Cellino said he will talk to Together Leeds, but insists for now he does not want to enter into a partnership. “I’m driving the bus,” Cellino said. “I have no plans for any other investors, I will tell them no now. “I want the fans close to the club, we don’t need anyone else.“I think that I am the one. My dream, it is for the fans of Leeds, is to get out of this problem. “I want the fans to become owners of the club again because who owns the club? It’s the fans. “We are just temporarily here. I’m here to clean up and let the fans feel as though they own the club.” Cellino said he needed to learn more about English football and confirmed he will give manager Brian McDermott until the end of the season before deciding further on his position. “I don’t understand much,” Cellino added. “I don’t know English football as well as I know Italian football. “They are a lot different and so although it’s still one ball and 22 players on the field, I have to learn. “Before I tell you something I have to see, to watch more. “I don’t want to say stupid things. But I think I’ll learn it very fast. “I can tell you that Leeds’ players’ skills are not better than the other players. “Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. There is no big difference to one team to the other in the Championship.” Cellino, who said he will have failed if Leeds are not in the Premier League in two years, has been reported to have tried to sack managing director David Haigh. Under the terms of the deal Cellino’s company, Eleonora Sport, agreed with previous owner Gulf Finance house Capital on February 7, Haigh was set to become chief executive. But Cellino revealed in an interview on Sunday that he planned to sack Haigh, 35, a former employee of the previous owner who became managing director last summer when former chief executive Shaun Harvey left the club.

Tues Aptil 8th. Cagliari is a  “Fiat but Leeds is a bigger car” Massimo Cellino has apologised for comparing Cagliari to a Fiat but stated that he sees Leeds United as his chance ‘to drive a bigger car’. Cellino owns Cagliari and is also on the verge of a takeover at Elland Road after a successful appeal against a Football League ruling. However, some of his recent comments have upset Cagliari, and club captain Daniele Conti criticised Cellino over the weekend for suggesting that ‘being with certain sides it is like driving a Ferrari, while here it is like driving an economy car’. Cagliari fans have staged protests as they seek clarity over his intentions, and Cellino is sorry to have caused any offence as he remains committed to the club. But he is excited about the potential at Leeds as he embarks on his latest project, having promised to lead the Championship club back into the Premier League by 2016. I was ready to step aside for the good of Cagliari,” he is quoted as telling told L’Unione Sarda. “I was almost sold to the Arabs. In the meantime, I envisaged an opportunity to buy Leeds. “Now with Leeds I have the chance to drive a bigger car in relation to its potential, a stadium with 35,000 fans and a downhill road.” “And since I cannot retire to fishing, I have tried to see where I can go in my professionalism. “I gave the example of the Fiat 500, with the engine souped up, unable to compete in a race with Milan, Inter, Juve, with low resources and limited economic opportunities. Always at full speed though. For this reason, sooner or later it is forced to slow down. “Now with Leeds, I have the chance to drive a bigger car in relation to its potential, a stadium with 35,000 fans and a downhill road. A challenge. To understand that I can go beyond the bounds of Cagliari and from Cagliari. But of course I did not want to disrespect anyone, if anything I am the one that has been questioned as a driver.”Interest from an American consortium? I do not know them, I read that the mayor is meeting to talk about the stadium, but I have only met once an Italian representative. “To tell the truth, for more than a month I have been considering nothing because at this time the only goal is to bring the boat to port and not put anything at risk. “I gave my life to Cagliari and I am continuing to give it, otherwise I would not be back to stay close to the team and I would not have my responsibilities in changing the coach.” Diego Lopez became the 36th manager to be fired by Cellino in his 22-year reign at Cagliari over the weekend, with former assistant Ivo Pulga appointed in his place. And Cellino explained: “I did not share in the choices Lopez made for a long time. This is pretty much an admission of guilt. I was wrong to entrust him with the team, it was a risky choice. “He was no longer doing work dedicated to the interests of the whole of the club and the growth of the team. “He no longer had the attitude of someone needing to mature, improve and question themselves. Too many injustices then. There was little loyalty in making his selections.”

 Tues 8th April. Haigh is a dead man walking. Leeds United managing director David Haigh remained in his job today, despite an attempt by Massimo Cellino to remove him from the club. Lawyers for Eleonora Sport, the company which Cellino is using to buy Leeds from Gulf Finance House, made moves to unseat Haigh during a meeting of the board of United’s holding company last night. The contract between Cellino and GFH states that Haigh will become chief executive when the Italian completes his buy-out – a takeover which should go through this week – but Haigh looks increasingly unlikely to survive the change of ownership. Cellino admitted in an interview on Sunday that he planned to sack Haigh once his 75 per cent purchase of Leeds was complete and he is on the verge of taking control at Elland Road after winning an appeal against a Football League decision to reject his buy-out last weekend. Haigh’s position is understood to have been discussed yesterday during a meeting of the board of LUFC Holding Limited, the company which owns Leeds on behalf of GFH. Cellino’s legal representatives indicated his intention to relieve the 35-year-old of his duties at Leeds. But a spokesman for HaighHaigh said: “As far as David is concerned, he remains managing director of Leeds United and is also aware that under the contract signed between Eleonora and GFH Capital, his position will be that of CEO once the deal takes effect.” Haigh was one of the men behind GFH’s takeover of Leeds in December 2012 and he became managing director in the summer of 2013 after former chief executive Shaun Harvey left the club. He mounted his own bid to buy United as part of the Sport Capital consortium before Christmas but that deal with GFH collapsed after months of negotiations, bringing Cellino to the table in January. Haigh has come in for heavy criticism from United’s supporters in the past few weeks, with chants against him heard during recent defeats to Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic. Speaking The Sun newspaper, Cellino said: “David has to go. I have had too much of him.” Tues 8th of April. Leeds post significant losses. Leeds United lost almost £10m in the 2012-13 financial year, the club’s accounts revealed today. United posted an overall loss of £9.5m during a 12-month period which exposes the severity of the financial situation at Elland Road. That bottom-line figure – recorded midway through Gulf Finance House’s first year as owner of Leeds and six months after the sale of the club by ex-chairman Ken Bates – was a huge fall from a profit of £317,000 in 2011-12. Turnover at Leeds dropped from £31.8m to £28.5m, with gate receipts down by £2m and attendances reduced by almost eight per cent. The club’s operating loss ran to a total of £11.6m but incoming transfer fees of £2m helped to ease the overall figure. United’s operating loss in 2011-12 was £3.3m. More significantly, Leeds built up huge debts during the period between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. Close to £11.3m was loaned to the club by Brendale Holdings Limited, a Dubai-based company which is controlled by GFH. The total amount owed to creditors at the end of June 2013 stands at more than £22m, underlining the situation Massimo Cellino stands to inherit at Elland Road. The Italian is set to complete his 75 per cent buy-out of GFH this week and his deal with the Bahraini bank – agreed in January of this year – committed him to servicing around £24m of debt. United’s position has weakened further since the middle of 2013, however, and Cellino faces a pressing fight to bring finances at Elland Road under control and ensure that United abide by the Football League’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. FFP rules allow a maximum loss of £8m for the current season and failure to comply with that limit could lead to a transfer embargo next January. United’s accounts also contain other intriguing points. Money paid to club directors in 2012-13 totalled around £750,000, an increase from £312,000 the previous year. The accounts state that Bates did not take any fee but the highest-paid director received a salary of £265,449 and a bonus for the year of a staggering £440,000. The accounts also confirm that between March 2013 and the end of the 2012-13 financial year, Leeds effectively had no majority shareholder. They note that Gulf Finance House sold more than 50% of their interest to various parties and so at the balance sheet date there was no controlling party.” GFH subsequently bought back equity in December 2013, taking its stake to 85 per cent ahead of the sale of Leeds to Cellino. The Football League is not thought to have been notified of those transactions at the time, and the apparent sale of shares in Leeds was raised by the governing body during Cellino’s protracted battle to buy the club from GFH. Meanwhile, in November 2013, Sport Capital – the consortium who attempted to buy United from GFH before Christmas – made loans of £950,000 and £825,000 in the space of seven days, increasing the club’s liabilities further. Mon 7th. Cellino ; “No more excuses”- Sky Sports Leeds United’s prospective new owner Massimo Cellino has told Brian McDermott there can be no more excuses for the club’s form. Leeds have lost seven of their last eight matches as the saga over the Italian businessman’s proposed takeover has unfolded, a saga which means the players have still not been paid their March wages in full. McDermott – sacked on Cellino’s say-so at the start of LorimerandCoFebruary only to be reinstated – has repeatedly cited the uncertainty over the club’s future as a mitigating factor in results. But the Football League could ratify the change of ownership at a board meeting on Thursday after its initial decision to block the takeover McDermottandteamwas overturned by an independent QC. And, speaking to Sky Sports News’ Bryan Swanson, Cellino said the way is now clear for McDermott to prove he has what it takes to manage the club. Asked whether McDermott would remain in charge he said: “Why should I fire him to waste money? I think he has to show that he’s a good manager. “I’ve heard he had a lot of problems with the team, with the market, but now we solve the problems.“We’re going to pay the wages, he’s got a chairman – Massimo Cellino representing an Italian company. It’s not a ghost bank or a ghost company in Saudi Arabia or wherever else. So that’s it. “I heard before every game how ‘we’ve got a problem, there’s no company, we don’t have a chairman…’ Okay, let’s play now, let’s see tomorrow, let’s start a new game. “I hope that Brian is going to do his job good. I’m going to give him (sic) if it’s good for the team.” Pressed on whether the players would now receive the outstanding balance on their wages he said: “I think the players will be paid, but I think it’s more important to pay the employees than the players sometimes. “But I don’t think it’s a big problem.”

 Mon 7th. ITV news – FL to make up mind on Thursday. The Football League must decide whether to officially ratify the takeover of Leeds by Massimo Cellino at a board meeting on Thursday as questions remain over how long the Italian businessman will remain in control at Elland Road. Cellino is due to arrive in England from Sardinia on Monday to assume his role as president of the Yorkshire club after an independent lawyer overturned the Football League’s decision to bar him from becoming an owner. The League had blocked Cellino’s takeover on March 24, ruling the 57-year-old’s conviction of tax evasion in a Sardinia court on March 18 disqualified him under its owners and directors test. Cellino secured an unexpected victory against that decision on Saturday following a successful appeal. Following six-hour deliberations at an appeal hearing last Monday, Tim Kerr QC initially reserved judgement and then announced he had overturned the League’s decision after Leeds’ defeat in the Saturday lunch-time kick-off at Wigan. Kerr’s ruling ended a two-month wait for Cellino, whose company Eleonora Sport exchanged contracts with previous Leeds owner Gulf Finance House Capital to buy 75 per cent of the club’s shares on February 7. Cellino, clear to complete his takeover, said he will now set about transforming Leeds into a Premier League force, but the saga has not yet run its course. The Italian’s disqualification under the League’s owners and directors test related to the non-payment of import duties on his yacht, Nelie. He pleaded not guilty, but was convicted in a Sardinian court, fined of 600,000 euros (£500,800) and had the boat confiscated. The League argued this could be considered dishonest under its owners and directors test, which bars any person from becoming owner or a director of a football club if they have “unspent convictions for offences of dishonesty”. Cellino’s lawyers said he was appealing against the Sardinia court’s conviction and his legal team at the League hearing argued the agricultural entrepreneur had not yet been convicted due to the procedural nature of Italian law. Kerr disagreed and ruled Cellino had been convicted, but because the judge in Sardinia, Dr Sandra Lepore, had not yet given her written reasons for the conviction, the independent QC could not rule that he had acted dishonestly. This specific offence of tax evasion, Kerr said, can involve dishonesty, or in Italian law a person can be convicted of failing to pay the tax without having done so dishonestly. But should Dr Lepore’s report confirm that Cellino did act dishonestly when avoiding import duties, then the Italian would then be disqualified under the League’s owners and directors test. If the reasoned ruling of the court in Cagliari discloses that the conduct of Mr Cellino was such that it would reasonably be considered to be dishonest, he would become subject to a Disqualifying Condition. But that is not a matter that is before me,” said Kerr. Dr Lepore’s report outlining her reasons are due by mid-June, within 90 days of Cellino’s conviction. The League must therefore decide at its meeting on Thursday whether it can give Cellino the go-ahead in the knowledge it could be forced to disqualify him later this summer. In the meantime, Cellino will plough on regardless. He will resolve the coaching staff and players’ wage issue – they deferred 50 per cent of their March salary – pay off other debts and said he intends to buy back the Elland Road stadium and the training complex at Thorp Arch. He said on Sunday that manager Brian McDermott’s squad needs a complete overhaul, that managing director David Haigh will be sacked – he was to become chief executive under Cellino – and that he would meet with rival consortium, Together Leeds, to discuss a proposed joint venture. There is no doubt Cellino, who has owned Cagliari for 22 years, has the required know-how and resources to restore Leeds to the Premier League. Whether he gets the time to put his plans in place rests with a judge in Sardinia, whose report on his tax evasion case could yet decide his fate.

Mon 7th McDermott relieved takeover saga is resolved. Leeds United boss Brian McDermott says he is relieved the club’s recent off field troubles are close to being resolved. Brian McDermott says he is relieved the club’s situation is close to being resolved . McDermott said:Do I have a sense of relief? Absolutely. I know what the blueprint for success is. We haven’t got it at the moment but with financial clout we can get it.” The United manager praised the club’s likely new owner, Massimo Cellino, but did not confirm his own position. “He’ll have a plan and he’ll want to do what is right for Leeds United. we have both got the ambition and the same aim for the club. “He understands the game and wants a fresh challenge. This is a big challenge for him. I hope he becomes one of the best owners in our history. “There will be changes and we will see what happens. It’s a fantastic club. While I am manager I will never waiver. My highlights so far are just being Leeds United manager”. Asked if tomorrow’s game against Watford could be his last in charge, McDermott said simply: “If it is, let’s hope we win.” Despite the uncertainty and recent form seeing the team fall away from the Championship Play-off spots, the former Reading boss is still confident he is the right man to return the club to the Premier League. “I have never had a run of results like this in my life. I know I can achieve promotion from this league because I have. With the support of the owner it’s doable.” McDermott did confirm wages were still owed but says he is just glad progress has been made. We’re still owed 35% but I’m sure that’ll be sorted. I’ll just wait now, I’m not going to second guess anything anymore. “Thank God I don’t have to speculate anymore. The proof of the pudding will come in time. I for one on Saturday after the game had a feeling that I don’t have to talk about this anymore.” Cellino’s takeover is likely to be completed this week after his appeal against a Football League decision banning him from owning the club was overturned. Speculation now amounts that Watford will be McDermott’s last game in charge with Paulo Di Cannio and Gianfranco  Zola’s names being prominently mentioned in dispatches. The Daily Star also reported that the players are unhappy with the new owner leaking their wages to the media. They may get used to it because this guy won’t take any prisoners. Mon 7th of April Foxes can provide promotion blueprint by Eddie Gray YEP I DON’T think anybody knew what was going to happen with Massimo Cellino’s appeal. I didn’t have a clue and I don’t think anybody else did. But it’s been resolved in his favour and hopefully the club can move upwards and onwards now. There’s no doubt the club needs an injection of money for various reasons and there’s no way that crowds alone can sustain a top football club now. Other outside influences and finances keep a football club going and that’s why the past owners were trying to sell the club, because it was costing too much money for them. The club has been bleeding money but the new owner has said that if he gets control that one of the first things he is going to do is buy the ground back so we’ll just wait and see if that materialises. Hopefully it will and then we can move on. He’s got to look at the future of the club and how it’s structured, from the first team right down. And hopefully we can get the quality of players in that can mount a serious challenge next season as you’ve got to admit that we were not good enough this season, that’s the be all and end all. But now Brian McDermott has got a chance to sit down with the new owner to discuss his plans for the future. Between them they can hopefully put the club in the right direction and hopefully get to a position next year where we are challenging for a place in the Premier League. In terms of how much money it would take to get us promoted, I don’t think you would be spending vast sums of money on players. You’ll not be able to spend vast sums of money on players anyway because the better players will want to play in the Premier League. You’ve got to get players that are capable of getting you out of the Championship and that might be young hungry players; and I don’t mean too young – players that have a bit of experience that are 25, 26 and have played around and know what the game is all about. But I get the impression from Mr Cellino that he won’t rest until he has got the team into the Premier League. He is passionate about things – there’s no doubt about that – and I think his passion can hopefully spur us on. He realises that the club have got a passionate fan base and he is passionate about football so he will want to bring the fans success – there’s no doubt about that. In terms of Brian’s future, I would hope that he would get the opportunity as he’s done it at Reading. But obviously the new owner runs the football club and he will do things how he sees fit. I just hope that him and Brian can come to an agreement and that Brian gets the opportunity. Yes, you’ve got to be honest and say that results have not been good but the circumstances for Brian have not been good either. It’s up to the new owner to decide but Brian has got a success rate of getting clubs out of the Championship and into the Premier League. And I don’t think it does any football club any good to keep chopping and changing managers all the time, especially if you want to be successful. You look at the team that has just got promoted – Leicester – and they’ll have been disappointed the last few seasons that they never went up with the investment that went into the football club. But eventually their patience has paid off and now they are in the Premier League. We obviously lost 1-0 at Wigan on Saturday but I thought we did quite well and we deserved a point but we didn’t create enough. But I don’t think we will get drawn into the relegation battle as there’s too many teams in between us and the bottom three to think about falling into there. That will not happen because all these teams are not going to be winning games. Looking at the whole picture now, everybody knows that the club needed stability and an injection of cash. And you don’t want to hear about the club deferring people’s wages and talk of administration. But hopefully all that will disappear now and we can get a bit of stability back at the football club. You just hope that cloud that has been hanging over Elland Road has been lifted. Let’s hope the boys can finish the season and get a few good results, starting at Watford on Tuesday night. Mon April 7th Al” Cellino flies in after sacking his 37th manager to take control of United.- From Various  New Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino is arriving in England having sacked another manager. Cellino, the current owner of Italian Serie A side Cagliari, has sacked their manager Diego Lopez after their 3-1 defeat to Roma on Sunday. The sacking of Lopez is the 37th manager he has sacked at Cagliari in 22-years and he is expected to arrive in England today to begin his role as club president after winning his appeal to take control of the club over the weekend. The eccentric Italian has already said that he will be firing the clubs Managing Director David Haigh and having already sacked Brian McDermott once, it looks like he could be next on his hit list. McDermott watched on at the weekend as Leeds lost for a seventh time in eight games and having been sacked on the final day of the January transfer window before being reinstated, the chances of the former Reading boss being in charge of the game at Watford on Tuesday night are already looking slim. It is sure to be an interesting first week in charge for Cellino who is also looking to buy back the Elland Road ground and training facility. The Football League will now consider the findings of the hearing.” In his ruling, QC Tim  Kerr wrote: “I am satisfied on the evidence that the conviction was not for a “dishonest act”. “Mr Cellino’s appeal accordingly succeeds. He is not, at present, subject to a disqualifying condition and is not disqualified from holding office or acting as a club director at a club.”  For his part, McDermott is keen to work with United’s new owner. He said: “I welcome the stability of a man who has got clout and I have spoken to him on a number of occasions. “For me, the most important thing is not the position of the manager or any individual player. It is Leeds United Football Club going forward. “When I am not manager, I will come back and support Leeds United. Because it is a fantastic club. I am a Leeds fan now. “I can work with Massimo. We will just wait and see what happens. It is the prerogative of any owner in any situation to choose the manager he wants to work with and I understand that.”  McDermott was famously sacked by Cellino on January 31 only to be reinstated two days later when GFH said the Italian had over-stepped the mark due to him not owning the club at the time. Since then, the pair have spoken several times and McDermott added: “From what I know, he is a leader. He has owned another club for 22 years. From what I know and what I can gather, he has got clout – financial clout. That is something we haven’t had for many, many years here.” Sun April 6th Welcome to The Cellino – The Scratching Shed - The Football League’s rejection of Massimo Cellino’s takeover was overturned by an independent QC yesterday making the Italian the new owner of Leeds United Football Club.It’s been a long and frustrating wait for everyone involved, contracts with GFH Capital were exchanged back in January but Cellino’s legal troubles led to a lengthy vetting process before The Football League made a decision. During that time, The Whites’ league form has been disastrous as financial uncertainty and fears of administration slowly took hold. Leeds now appear to be in a far more stable position however, at least in a financial sense. In an interview with The Sun, Leeds’ new owner said he’ll arrive in England on Monday, pay the remaining 35% of the players wages and expects to repurchase Elland Road and the club’s Thorp Arch training facilities within a week. Looking further ahead, the Italian says he’ll bring Premier League football back to Elland Road by 2016 and that fans can look forward to a flurry of new signings this summer. As is usually the case with new regimes, there’s bound to be a shake-up at Elland Road. A statement published on the club’s official site contained some flattering comments from David Haigh who it states will become the club’s CEO. Cellino has other ideas however, telling The Sun “I have had too much of him” and that he’ll be fired. Brian McDermott’s future is in doubt too. Despite a hugely improved performance at The DW Stadium yesterday, his side still lost 1-0 to Wigan Athletic, a fourth consecutive defeat for The Whites extending a dismal run of form which has seen Leeds win only 3 times in their last 19 outings, slipping from a play-off position at Christmas to 16th following yesterday’s defeat. Cellino sacked McDermott back in January after Salah Nooruddin led him to believe his takeover had already completed. He was quickly reinstated however as it became clear Cellino needed approval from The Football League before he had authority to act. Another point raised in The Sun interview was a deal struck with Together Leeds, the consortium of local businessmen headed by Mike Farnan who were rivals to Cellino’s takeover. The two parties came together recently in an attempt to put their differences aside and Cellino says he still plans to sit down with Together Leeds and discuss options following his approval. Promises to bring a new era of success to Elland Road is something we’ve heard too many times before. The repurchase of Elland Road and Thorp Arch is a good start for Cellino, but we’ll have to wait and see how his ownership plays out long-term, judging him based on actions instead of hopes and expectations. There’s no denying we’re owned by a passionate man with decades of experience in football, but we shouldn’t ignore his flaws. Cellino’s personality is at best, unpredictable, at worst, dangerously unstable. His legal troubles don’t concern me too much (find me a squeaky-clean millionaire businessman and I’ll eat his hat) but the press will use them as a stick to constantly beat the club with. The potential is there for Leeds United to be the sideshow attraction to Cellino’s antics and while he may bring a greater degree of financial stability than we’ve grown accustomed to, that could come at the cost of stability elsewhere. Ultimately, there’s no telling how this will all play out. Many of us got a little carried away when GFH rode into town, relieved that the Ken Bates years were over, allowing ourselves to be blinded by their charm and PR offensive. After so many years of doom and gloom, we all want to believe that this time is different, that Massimo Cellino will be the man who finally restores Leeds United to the lofty heights of yesteryear. And maybe he will, but if there’s one thing we should take from the last decade, it’s a lesson in caution. This club has had a lot of false starts.


Let’s hope his actions agree with the caption

Sunday 6th of April 2014 Cellino’s Leeds United by GC.    Tim Kerr QC  wasn’t one of our signings but he may just be pivotal in the club’s future. The Football league meet this Thursday to decide what to do regarding the right honourable QC’s decision. They seem shocked that he has reversed their decision. A yacht will not after all sink Leeds United.  In real terms they have no choice but to rubber stamp Massimo Cellino’s approval. There are owners of football clubs that have already been approved by the FL  serving jail time already. Before that Ken Bates for eight years raped our club of every asset worth keeping from players to future ticket sales, and tried to kid us that he was doing us a favour through his ridiculous programme notes. GFH were no better. The only Arab bank with no money was long the joke and Leeds United were forever the laughing stock. Managers were promised war chests but wages were left unpaid and it soon became clear that these people who embraced Twitter with good news couldn’t be found on Jan 31st when news on manager sackings and players sales were flooding Sky. Haigh and Noordduin would sell their souls to the devil for directorships of Leeds United under the new regime and assume that that they have key roles in the revamped Cellino Leeds United. The wily Italian comes across as his own man. I suspect that both High and Noordduin will be somewhat disappointed. The fans will be happy with talk of buying back Eland Road and Thorp Arch, but a lot happier still with the arrival of the international players (he talks of)  as signings and not journey men as we have so often seen in the past. I suspect we will see a change of manager which is his right for the investment that he is putting in. It will be thrilling to see players arrive early in the Summer for a change. I suspect also that we will be scratching our heads at some of his decisions. He is Italian, unpredictable and emotional after all.  Leicester, Forest, Brighton and Watford to name but four clubs have had significant investment over the past few years. Leeds United dwarf these clubs in size, support and attraction. Cellino knows that. He talks of promotion by 2015/16 and I know some  are disappointed by this but this guy will be wanting instant success and won’t want to spend a second too many in the Championship. We still need to get another three or four points this season which we will get. It was interesting to note that Mike Farnan (of Together Leeds consortium) tweeted (leaked) after  the final whistle at Wigan his congratulations to Cellino’s Eleanor Sport. The reason the decision was kept until after the match was in fear of a negative decision there may have been trouble by the 4,000 travelling Leeds fans. At last we are in a position to talk positive about our club. Now for the romantic in me. Under Bates and an under funded Simon Grayson this League One side beat Man United at Old Trafford just over four years ago : Ankergren, Crowe, Hughes,  Kisnorbo, Naylor, Howson, Doyle,  Kilkenny, Johnson, Beckford, Becchio,  Sub: Snodgrass. All gone, including four in the Premiership. Now for a new beginning where we don’t have to sell our best players, where we can compete with the  top clubs in the division (okay not the parachute payments from clubs coming down ) and also have a saw where the top players in the Championship go. That’s all we ask. Sunday 6th of April 2014 International Business Times - Massimo Cellino will move forward with his takeover or Leeds after the Italian businessman won an appeal against the Football League barring him from taking ownership of the Championship club. The Football League ruled that Cellino was in breach of the Owners and Directors Test as he tried to make a bid to buy 75% stake in the club from current owner Gulf Finance House (GFH). But this weekend an independent judge ruled that he is in fact fit and proper to take over the former Premier League giants. Cellino’s lawyers released a statement saying: “The Independent Chairman of the Football League’s Professional Conduct Committee has today released a decision that Mr Massimo Cellino is not subject to a Disqualifying Condition, overturning the Board of the Football League’s earlier decision. “Mr Cellino is therefore now entitled to become a director and owner of Leeds United Football Club.”  Cellino was found guilty last month of not paying import tax on a yacht in Italy. The Cagliari owner is appealing the decision and while the ruling put his takeover of Leeds in doubt, it was only momentary. His lawyers put forward the successful argument that because of the appeal Cellino is technically not guilty under Italian law. In a country where appeals can take years to be heard this will likely buy him enough time to Cellina2establish himself at the helm of Elland Rd despite the Football Leagues’ objections. The League claimed they were ‘disappointed’ in the independent QC’s decision and now Cellino will be free to move forward with his ambitious takeover which reportedly includes plans to take Leeds back to the Premier League in 2016 and buy back Elland Rd. He said of the news: “It is an honour for me to come to England – and in particular Leeds – where the sense of justice has been demonstrated. “Now it is my responsibility to follow my commitment up with deeds.” Cellino also revealed some big plans for Leeds in the coming years, telling the Sun on Sunday: “I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep and I admit it will be difficult to get promotion next season. But in 2015-16 we will earn our way back to the Premier League, which is where Leeds belong. “A lot of work needs to be done on the squad. We need new players. In the summer, we will buy some players. I want to focus on English and international players.” He also added: “Next week I will go to the bank and buy back Elland Road and Thorp Arch. And on Monday I will pay all the wages.” The future of Leeds could certainly be very different under Cellino if he comes through with some of his promises for the club, and the Italian will likely be looking at the future of manager Brian McDermott as one of his first matters of business when he completes his takeover. Cellino tried to fire McDermott in February when he first made a bid to buy the stake in Leeds, but GFH confirmed that he was still the manager on the same weekend. In a recent interview with fan-led radio station White Leeds Radio the incoming owner was highly critical of the manager’s recent performances and with ambitious plans to spend money on new players in the summer it would appear that McDermott’s future is elsewhere. Cellino also revealed that he would be firing managing director David Haigh from the club. Sunday April 6th. The Independent. The Football League could clear the Italian businessman Massimo Cellino to take over Leeds United this week after Cellino’s successful appeal against being barred, then disqualify him within three months if a Sardinian court says Cellino was dishonest when found guilty of tax evasion. That possibility has been opened up by the judgment of a QC, Tim Kerr, who allowed Cellino’s appeal after the League barred the Italian from buying Leeds due to his conviction in Cagliari on 18 March. Kerr did not consider the facts behind Cellino’s conviction at all, but decided the league was wrong to decide the Italian had acted dishonestly, before seeing the written judgment of the Cagliari court. Those written reasons are due by mid-June, within 90 days of the March 18 conviction. This specific offence of tax evasion, Kerr concluded, can involve dishonesty, or in Italian law a person can be convicted of failing to pay the tax without having done so dishonestly. The League’s rules, identical to those of the Premier League, in its “owners and directors test,” formerly the “fit and proper person test,” bar any person from taking over or being a director of a football club if they have “unspent convictions for offences of dishonesty.” The league’s rulebook defines that as “any act which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.” The league board decided on 24 March that Cellino’s tax evasion could be considered dishonest. Cellino, who had pleaded not guilty to the charge, was found guilty of illegally evading €388,500 (£321,000) import duty on his yacht, the Nelie, which was ordered by the judge to be confiscated and a €600,000 fine to be paid. Prosecutor, Andrea Massidda had argued Cellino deliberately sought to evade the import duty by setting up a US company, Freetime Miami, to own the boat. The league, which had observers in court and took advice on Italian law, barred Cellino from the £11m takeover of Leeds (plus £23m to pay off debts), which he has agreed with the club’s current owners, Gulf Finance House of Bahrain. Cellino’s lawyers, a QC and junior barrister instructed by solicitors Mishcon de Reya, then appealed, arguing that the decision of the Cagliari court did not in fact amount to a conviction, given the way Italian law works, but Kerr rejected that argument. On the question of dishonesty, Kerr’s judgment ruled that while Cellino had indeed been convicted of the offence, Kerr could not yet be clear that what Cellino did involved dishonesty. The league said it was “disappointed” with the decision, and when its board meets on Thursday, it must decide if it should allow Cellino’s takeover to proceed, even though the written reasons of the Cagliari judge, Dr Sandra Lepore, could by June find he was guilty of dishonesty. Leeds, who have plummeted in the Championship table and lost 1-0 to Wigan Athletic on Saturday, are in financial disarray. GFH argue Cellino remains bound to fund the club; he has refused unless his appeal is approved. Sat 5th of April. Cellino wins appeal -Phil Hay YEP. Massimo Cellino will complete his takeover of Leeds United after a stunning victory over the Football League. The Italian businessman has won his appeal against a bid by the Football League to bar him from buying the Elland Road club. Cellino, who has been waiting since January to seal his takeover, successfully argued that a conviction for tax evasion in Italy did not breach the Football League’s Owners and Directors Test Under the terms of his deal, the 57-year-old will secure a 75 per cent stake from current club owner Gulf Finance House. Speaking after today’s 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic, manager Brian McDermott – who was still to learn the outcome of the appeal – said: “I welcome stability from a man who’s got clout. “I’ve spoken to (Cellino) on a number of occasions and the most important thing here is not the position of the manager or any individual player, it’s the future of the football club.” In a statement, Cellino’s lawyers, Mishcon de Reya, said; “The Independent Chairman of the Football League’s Professional Conduct Committee has today released a decision that Mr Massimo Cellino is not subject to a Disqualifying Condition, overturning the Board of the Football League’s earlier decision. “Mr Cellino is therefore now entitled to become a director and owner of Leeds United Football Club.” A Football League spokesman said: “We are disappointed at the outcome of the appeal hearing, however we would like to thank the independent QC for his diligence in reviewing this decision. “This was never about individual personalities, but instead was a matter in which we were obliged to uphold the integrity of our regulations having considered the issue in detail with our advisors. “It was always an extremely complex matter in which a different interpretation of a judgment made under Italian law could lead to an entirely different outcome in the context of our regulations. Ultimately this has proven to be the case. “The independent QC has concluded that Mr. Cellino’s recent conviction in the Sardinian Court did not involve conduct that would ‘reasonably be considered to be dishonest’ based on information available to him at the current time. “The Football League will now consider the findings of the hearing.” Sat 5th of April. Cellino wins appeal – Official website  Massimo Cellino has been granted approval to complete the purchase of a majority stake in Leeds United. The approval, which came via appeal after being initially turned down by the Football League, will see Eleonora Sport take a 75% stakeholding in the club while former majority shareholders GFH Capital and investors will retain 25%. Completion of the acquisition will see Massimo Cellino take up the position as President of Leeds United, and he will head up a new-look board. The club’s managing director David Haigh will become Chief Executive Officer, and he paid tribute to all parties involved in the deal. Haigh said: “This is a significant day in the history of Leeds United. Since GFH Capital took over the club in December 2012, the stated aim has always been to introduce strategic investors to ensure a sustainable future for the club. “I have met with many potential investors and worked closely with them, and I realised very quickly that Massimo is someone who has the attributes to take this club forward. He has a proven track record in Italy, and I believe the introduction of Eleonora Sport, coupled with Massimo’s drive and determination, will be key to a successful and sustainable future for this great football club. “I’d like to thank the Football League, GFH Capital, and of course, Massimo and Eleonora Sport for all their hard work over the past few weeks in ensuring that this deal was able to progress.”  Sat April 5th. WIGAN 1 (Waghorn 33), UNITED 0.  United: Butland, Wootton, Lees, Pearce, Byram, Warnock, Brown, Tonge, McCormack, Smith, Hunt (Poleon 69). Subs. Cairns, Zaliukas, Pugh, Murphy, Mowatt, Stewart. Referee: N Swarbrick Booked: Perch, Gomez (Wigan), Wootton, Brown (Leeds). Att: 16,443 (3,404 Leeds)  From Official website United boss Brian McDermott made two changes to his side for the trip to Wigan. The changes saw Michael Brown and Noel Hunt come in from the start in the place of Aidy White and Alex Mowatt. Wigan were the form team going into the lunchtime kick off but in the early stages it was United that set the tempo. A nice passing move led to the first opportunity of game when Sam Byram crossed for Stephen Warnock. The defender struck the cross first time but his strike didn’t trouble the Wigan keeper. In the 14th minute of the game both sets of supporters joined together for a minute’s applause as it was 14 years ago that two United fans lost their lives in Istanbul. United continued to put the Play-Off contenders under pressure and more good passing led to Ross McCormack being on the attack. It looked as though McCormack was going to create the space to strike for goal but he was denied by a great tackle by James McArthur. Moments later the home side had their first sight at goal when Jordi Gomez struck from distance. Jack Butland appeared to have his effort covered as the ball went wide of the mark. The deadlock was broken in the 33rd minute when McArthur picked up the ball on the sideline and drove at the United defence. McArthur was tackled but the loose ball fell at the feet of Martyn Waghorn whose first time strike beat Butland. The home side had a good opportunity early in the second half. James Perch latched onto the ball on the edge of the box and shot for goal but Stephen Warnock blocked his effort. United’s first meaningful chance of the half came after 10 minutes when Matt Smith rose well but his headed effort went over the crossbar. Shortly after the hour mark Tonge struck from distance but his deflected shot bounced into the arms of Ali Al-Habsi. Moments later Wigan substitute James McClean tricked his way into space. The winger shot for goal but Butland wasn’t troubled by his strike with it being straight at him. With 15 minutes of the game remaining United substitute Dominic Poleon was causing the home defence problems with his pace and Ivan Ramis brought the forward down. McCormack took the resulting free-kick and found Tom Lees at the back post but the defender’s header went over the bar. United came close to drawing level with five minutes left when Smith played through McCormack. The Scot still had a lot to do with defenders in front of him, he went for a chipped effort and had the keeper beaten but the ball went just wide. Moments later Jason Pearce headed just over the bar when he connected with a corner. The final minutes of the game were open as Wigan looked to finish the match off and United went in search of an equaliser. United pushed until the final whistle but Waghorn’s first half strike settled the contest. McDermott : “We deserved at least a point. They had one shot in the first half and scored. ‘There was no lack of effort, desire, passion. ‘We tried to get back into the game after we went 1-0 down – I didn’t think we deserved to be 1-0 down.”Fri Apr 4th. When Leeds cut our bonus – Danny Mills YEP When players and managers sit down to discuss contracts, one of the first things they speak about is an exit clause. Or to put it another way, how much they’ll be paid when they eave. Football’s weird like that. It must be the only job in the world where you think about losing a job before you’ve actually taken it. But the McDermottLUTVindustry is so cut-throat that you’re taught to negotiate for as much security as possible. One way or another, Brian McDermott will get a pay-off when he leaves Leeds United. It probably wouldn’t need him to be sacked either. The way he was treated in January, he’d have a strong case for compensation even if he quit and walked away tomorrow. Money won’t be a reason why he’s fighting on at Leeds. What I see in McDermott is a proud man who rates his ability as a coach and a manager and thinks deep down that maybe, just maybe, this can work out. He’s taken a lot of criticism in a season which is becoming a complete nightmare but I find his attitude pretty admirable. At times like this, walking away is definitely the easy option. Yes, you lose your job and you lose all chance of turning things around but it’s got to be preferable to standing alone on the touchline watching your team lose and hearing moaning and abuse around you. You don’t enjoy football when your back’s to the wall. He’s almost in a situation where if someone tapped him on the shoulder and said ‘thanks Brian but enough’s enough’ he’d feel a bit of relief. But he still believes his long-term ambitions at Leeds aren’t lost. The mess he’s in is ridiculous. Everything is a problem. You might not think the wage deferral agreed by the players last week was a big deal, or you might not care, but I know exactly what that will be doing to the squad. It’ll be upsetting people and dividing people; it’ll be causing distrust with the club and, potentially, distance between the players and the manager too. This isn’t a time when anyone feels like doing favours for anyone else. It sounds ridiculous now but back when I was at Leeds we had a dispute with the club over a bonus which was due to be paid if we won the Premier League. One day the board decided to renege on that. Now this might seem petty and I appreciate how well paid we all were but the squad were furious. We basically threatened to go on strike as far as we could – to do everything we were contracted to do but nothing more. No media work, no commercial work, nothing. Wage deferrals are quite similar scenarios. You’re being asked to help out by putting money aside but you’re not really sure if that helps deserved or if it’s going to be reciprocated. Just to be clear, it’s not a matter of whether or not you want to assist the club and the supporters. That goes without saying. But at certain times, what you’re really being asked to do is give a hand to a board or a set of owners who are making a meal of things. So the dressing room asks ‘why should we?’ That goes for lads who’ve come through the system as much as anyone else. At the end of the day you all look out for number one. I find it amazing – truly amazing – that neither Gulf Finance House nor the club has said anything about the wage deferral since it was agreed last week. You’d think it had never happened. In my opinion, someone like David Haigh should be coming out to explain what’s happening, what’s been negotiated and to address the million and one issues at Elland Road. It would help as well if someone would say something about McDermott’s position. At the moment, he’s the only one answering any questions. When I hear people calling for him to go right here and right now, I think of Nottingham Forest. They had Billy Davies there, a cantankerous individual, and he was doing pretty well until recently. Forest then sacked him, Neil Warnock turned them down and now they’ve no idea what to do. They’re on the verge of the play-offs and they can’t persuade anyone to take the job. To my mind, they’re talking to Stuart Pearce purely because he’s a Forest legend. I don’t think his record in management is very good and I’d see him as a risky choice. At the moment, would I have any faith in Leeds to sack McDermott and make a change for the better? Absolutely not. Until they have a new owner in place and secure, focusing on the manager’s job is pointless. Whether you rate him or not, no other coach worth his salt would take this mess on. Friday April 4th. Delay in appeal announcement. A DECISION on Massimo Cellino’s appeal against an attempt by Football League to bar him from buying Leeds United has been delayed, the Yorkshire Post understands. Cellino, the club and the Football League were prepared for a 6pm announcement today from Tim Kerr, the independent QC judging Cellino’s appeal. All parties were informed yesterday afternoon that Cellino would receive a verdict from Kerr this evening but sources have said that the deadline has now been moved back. None of those involved in the appeal would comment on why the case had been delayed. Cellino’s challenge was considered by Kerr during a six-hour hearing in London on Monday but the QC reserved judgement while he considered the evidence. The Football League announced a fortnight ago that Cellino had failed its Owners and Directors Test on the grounds of a conviction for tax evasion imposed on him in Sardinia last month. Cellino, who agreed a £25m buy-out of Leeds owner Gulf Finance House at the end of January, is fighting to overturn that verdict and force through his takeover. Friday April 4th. Should McDermott go or stay by Pete Sebine ? As you know I go to all the home games. This is my view. What would we achieve by getting rid of him? Who would we want to replace him  or want to come to us with the shambles that is LUFC at the moment? He has players at the club he does not want and no one does either. He was not allowed to sign his first choice players. Yes he has made mistakes but it was only when the chaos behind the scenes really got mental that the results and performances collapsed big style. We have seen it first hand what happens when things go wrong at board level so like Brum, Blackburn, Wolves, Pompey etc. Even really good managers suffer but given a level playing field (sorry about the pun) and time I think BM would do the job he was hired to do. PS Cellino’s call was entertaining but was it helpful?? Pete


Nooruddin – No good for our club

Friday April 4th. GFH in “amazing” attack on Whites boss – Hay YEP.  The Yorkshire Evening Post can today expose a bizarre series of threats and demands made by Gulf Finance House to Leeds United manager Brian McDermott as the club’s season began to falter in January. A letter sent to McDermott by GFH chief executive Hisham Alrayes – a copy of which has been shown to the YEP – attacked United’s results and performances and told McDermott to comply with a number of orders including: The submission of a report explaining the club’s form and “technical shortfalls” between a 3-0 win at Doncaster Rovers on December 14 and a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City on January 18. A demand that McDermott allow Alrayes and Leeds chairman Salah Nooruddin to approve his “strategy, list of players and squad formation” for every game, at least 24 hours before kick-off. A written analysis outlining “technical assessment, performance of players and forward planning for discussion with the board” after each of United’s fixtures. The memo was drawn up by Alrayes in the days after Leeds lost 6-0 at Sheffield Wednesday on January 11, the club’s heaviest league defeat for more than 50 years. The scathing document said Leeds had been “humiliated live on television against a local rival” and talked of the “dissatisfaction” felt by GFH and United’s board “on the way the team has been managed and the surprising results in the past seven games”. Alrayes said the club’s form “cannot be excused” and called for “immediate improvement” in a veiled threat to McDermott’s job as manager. Alrayes – a senior official at GFH, the Bahraini investment bank which has owned Leeds since December 2012, and a board member at Elland Road until last September – is thought to have pushed for McDermott’s sacking during a phone call to Leeds managing director David Haigh midway through the game at Hillsborough. That game followed a bitter dispute over the proposed move of striker Ashley Barnes from Brighton & Hove Albion to Leeds, a transfer which GFH refused to finance. The following week, McDermott was served with a letter in which Alrayes said that “whilst we continue to support you further if positives results and performance of the team is turnaround (sic), we expect you to take the points raised in this memo seriously.” The memo included a paragraph saying:For each game now onward, you will be required to submit a report on strategy to be undertaken, list of players and squad formation a (minimum) of 24 hours prior to the game for group CEO and chairman’s approval.” The insistence that McDermott send teamsheets and tactics to Bahrain ahead of United’s league fixtures and the demand for detailed post-match reports was implemented for only a short period of time, but McDermott is known to have dealt with a catalogue of interference from GFH. The YEP has been told that last weekend, prior to United’s derby against Doncaster Rovers, the club’s owner attempted to stop him from speaking to the media after taking issue with comments made by McDermott about the club’s problems and the attempted takeover of Leeds by Massimo Cellino. The 52-year-old has received written warnings following recent interviews. The instruction to halt McDermott’s press conferences was ignored by Haigh, United’s MD and the only board member regularly present at Elland Road. Nooruddin has not attended a game since before Christmas and Salem Patel, United’s third and final director, was last in Leeds around two months ago. Alrayes came to London last week in the midst of a fight to pay the club’s wage bill for March but did not travel to Yorkshire or take in the clash with Doncaster. GFH was asked for comment last night but did not respond. United’s season has deteriorated badly since the turn of the year, with an under-pressure McDermott struggling for results and frustrated by events off the field, including an aborted attempt to dismiss him on January 31. At his press conference yesterday, he revealed how he had taken abusive phone calls from the club’s supporters this week as tension rose on the back of Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Charlton Athletic, Leeds’ 18th defeat of the Championship term. The former Reading boss also spoke again of the need for an end to Cellino’s long-running battle to buy United. The Italian, who appealed against a Football League ruling barring him from taking charge of Leeds, expects to hear the outcome of his appeal around 6pm today. McDermott said: “All I know is that there’s an appeal and there will be a result. “That’s the only fact I have.”


Farnan link up


Cellino and Together Leeds to link up

Friday April 4 Together Leeds provide fallback position for Cellino Together Leeds might well be Massimo Cellino’s insurance policy; the plan B for a man who will need a fallback if the walls come down around his bid to buy Leeds United. Together Leeds might well be Massimo Cellino’s insurance policy; the plan B for a man who will need a fallback if the walls come down around his bid to buy Leeds United. Two months ago the Italian’s takeover was staunchly opposed by Together Leeds, a group who claimed their proposal and money offered United more security than Cellino could give them, but on Monday they resolved to approach him and ask if a joint partnership at Elland Road would suit the best interests of everyone. Mike Farnan, the man fronting Together Leeds and the face of the consortium since they bid for United back in November, believes representatives of Cellino are receptive to the idea of working together. That claim contradicts the impression of Cellino as a lone, singular operator – the man in charge of Cagliari since 1992 – but negotiations with Together Leeds have given him options: a prospective partner if his takeover proceeds and a group to sell shares to if his takeover doesn’t. The share purchase agreement for a 75 per cent stake in Leeds – signed by Cellino and Gulf Finance House in January – makes it clear that Cellino and his company, Eleonora Sport, has control of that equity, despite the fact that his buy-out has been rejected by the Football League and is now subject to an independent appeal. The 57-year-old paid £6m to seal his deal with GFH two months ago and is due to complete payment to GFH in December of this year. He agreed to take on and manage substantial amounts of short-term and long-term debt, amounting to more than £20m. At the time, he and GFH also put in place two surprising clauses – the first stating that Eleonora Sport would effectively bankroll United’s operations for six months from the end of January and the second giving Cellino the right to decide who his 75 per cent stake should be sold to in the event that his own takeover fell through. That clause is understood to remain active until the end of this month and gives Together Leeds an avenue to exploit. Together Leeds have tried and failed over several months to establish constructive talks with GFH about the sale a majority stake to them. GFH resisted those advances having rejecting a bid from Together Leeds in November, and appeals to Hisham Alrayes – the Bahraini bank’s chief executive – for dialogue two weeks ago came to nothing. GFH is committed to Cellino’s takeover and holds the view that Together Leeds lack the money to match his terms. Behind Farnan, Together Leeds have a number of representatives including Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity – a man who Farnan sees as United’s next chairman – and ex-Hull City chairman Adam Pearson. Frank Devoy, a close associate of Farnan’s, led the approach to Cellino’s camp on Monday. Farnan, who is yet to reveal exactly where the consortium’s funding is coming from, says Cellino is interested in working alongside them. “We’re open to different options and that’s one of them,” he said.They’ve been receptive to it. It’s very possible.” Under the terms of Cellino’s buy-out, GFH is due to retain 10.46 per cent of shares in Leeds. Bahrain’s International Investment Bank (IIB) and Envest Ltd – the firm owned by United chairman Salah Nooruddin – will keep more than seven per cent each. Friday April 4th. McDermott confirms wage payment – YEP. Leeds United manager Brian McDermott has confirmed his coaching staff and players have received another chunk of their deferred wages from owner Gulf Finance House Capital. Non-playing staff at Elland Road received their March wages in full last week, but McDermott’s backroom staff and playing squad agreed to defer 50 per cent of their monthly salary due to a row between GFH Capital and prospective owner Massimo Cellino over who is responsible for funding the club. “I haven’t had a chance to speak to the players, but I’ve just been told that we get another percentage of our wages today,” McDermott told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Wigan Athletic. Cellino is currently awaiting the outcome of his appeal against the Football League’s decision to block his £25million takeover. The appeal was heard on Monday by an independent judge who is expected to reach his decision by the end of the week. The League is arguing that Cellino’s conviction for tax evasion in a Sardinia court earlier this month disqualifies him from taking control of Leeds under its ‘owners and directors test’. Cellino has appealed against that conviction and his legal experts claim the Italian businessman is considered innocent until that appeal process has been concluded. McDermott added of the wage payment: It won’t be all of it, but another percentage (has been paid) and that’s just been fed through to me now. “I think (Leeds managing director) David Haigh will come up and have that conversation with them (the players), probably tomorrow. “All I can do is put that out there now. David came in the dressing room the other day and explained the situation to the players and I’m sure he’ll come up and do the same thing tomorrow.” McDermott, 52, also revealed he had received abusive phone calls from fans following Tuesday night’s home defeat to Charlton, while Haigh had also been verbally attacked. The Whites have lost five of their last six home games and have won only three league matches since December. GFH Capital exchanged contracts with Cellino’s company, Eleonora Sport, to sell the Cagliari owner 75 per cent of the club’s shares on February 7 and the chaos that has ensued has clearly affected the club’s on-field performances. I know David has been attacked and I got some phone calls the other night,” McDermott added. “They were late at night, very late at night, which is not right, whatever anyone would say it’s just not the right thing. “I’m digging in. I’ve got a lot of resilience and you need it at a time like this. I’m definitely digging in. “We all have to. It will change. You sit in that dressing room the other night and think (the players) think this is permanent, but it’s definitely not, it’s temporary. “It will change and soon we will have some clarity at this football club.” THE power to block corrupt or untrustworthy people taking over clubs will be given to the Football Association rather than the leagues under a new private member’s bill presented to the House of Commons today. Damian Collins, an MP who sits on Parliament’s culture, media and sport committee, has presented a bill which says the FA should have the power to block ownership rather than the Premier League and Football League. The issue of the owners’ and directors’ test is in the spotlight with Italian businessman Massimo Cellino having appealed against a decision by the Football League to disqualify him from owning Leeds due to a conviction for a tax offence last month. There has also been controversy over Carson Yeung, who last month was given a six-year prison sentence in Hong Kong for money-laundering, in that he had been convicted of two other criminal offences – in 2004 and 2010 – in the past decade yet was permitted by the Premier League to take over Birmingham in 2009 and remain chairman by the Football League in 2010. Collins’ bill also seeks to outlaw the ‘football creditors rule’, which gives preferential treatment for clubs and players to be paid first before any other creditors including the taxman when a club goes into administration. Collins told Press Association Sport: “The bill gives the power to the FA to use their discretion on the owners’ and directors’ test. As the governing body, the FA should have that role to make those judgements. I think it is better for the governing body to make those decisions rather than the leagues, as the clubs have commercial relationships with the leagues.” Collins also believes that there should be some offences, such as criminal convictions relating to fraud, which should permanently bar a person from owning a club. At the moment, if those convictions become ‘spent’ after a number of years, the person would not be disqualified from club ownership. “That would give football more power to turn away owners they didn’t want,” added Collins. Thursday 3rd of April Cellino rescus Leeds from clutches pf evil – The Scratching Shed

Whether successful in his appeal or not, Massimo Cellino’s move to team up with Together Leeds ensures he’ll have the final say and ownership of Leeds United won’t return to GFH Capital. With disturbing speculation of an administration plan which would allow a David Haigh consortium to take control of Leeds United should Cellino’s appeal fail, the Italian moved to deny them the chance of destroying a football club by bringing Together Leeds into the equation and guaranteeing them a sale with or without him. It’s understood that if Cellino’s appeal is successful, the Italian will team up with Together Leeds to complete the 75% purchase of Leeds United he’s already exchanged contracts for. The finer details of this plan, such as share percentages for example, haven’t been disclosed but between the two parties there’s plenty of experience and money for them to take the club forward. Cellino hasn’t stopped there however. If Elland Roadrejected, a clause in the contracts exchanged with GFH Capital states that he can sell the 75% on to whoever he likes. By sitting down with Together Leeds, something GFH Capital refused to do themselves, Cellino has orchestrated a situation which removes all power from the club’s current owners, allowing Together Leeds to takeover the club (without having to deal with GFH) if the Italian fails his appeal. The biggest loser here would appear to be David Haigh who seems to have played so many sides against each other throughout this process, he’s now become the greater evil who unites them all. It was Haigh who originally brought Cellino to the club, attempting to make him part of the consortium he was heading up. When that fell apart, some members of the consortium teamed up with Mike Farnan’s Together Leeds while Haigh jumped s