Flowers pulls out of race for ownership of Leeds United TSS February 5, 2014 Leeds United 46 Comments Andrew Flowers has tonight dropped out of the race to buy Leeds United Football Club, clearing the way for Massimo Cellino to complete his takeover. The move comes following a (hastily edited) statement on the club’s official website last night condemned the actions of Flowers for launching a winding-up petition against the club for unpaid debts his company – and the club’s main sponsor, Enterprise Insurance – are owed. Leeds United insist they’ve met every repayment date for the money Flowers borrowed them which added to suggestions that the winding-up petition was nothing more than a stalling tactic designed to give the newly formed consortium, of which Flowers was a key member, the necessary time and leverage to get their offer heard. The winding-up petition succeeded insofar as it got GFH Capital to the table with Flowers’ consortium, but talks appear to have broken down last night just hours before the club published their statement. There is some speculation that Mike Farnan and the remaining members of the consortium will continue to pursue their interest in Leeds United Football Club, but if Football League approval is given to Massimo Cellino, the race for control of the club looks to be over. A statement issued by Andrew Flowers tonight reads; I entered discussions in good faith to buy this club for the simple reason that I am a lifelong supporter and sincerely believed that I could make a real contribution towards the goal of promotion to the Premier League and at the same time provide the stability and sound financial governance the club desperately needs. However, the emergence of Mr Cellino’s bid, and the nature of the transaction, seems to have crystallised the attitudes of both GFH and the Leeds United board, enabling them to dispose of the club with no consideration for its ultimate security and wellbeing. In effect, it is a ‘fire sale’ transaction which is not in the interests of Leeds United, its players, staff or loyal supporters. Both myself and my company, Enterprise Insurance, have been enormous financial supporters of the club for the last few years and while we may understand the commercial expediency which leads the owners to accept the superficially attractive Cellino offer, we remain firmly convinced this deal will not give the club the stability or investor commitment it badly needs. Despite our serious misgivings, we wish the team, the manager and fans well for the future and I remain a very enthusiastic Leeds supporter. I have no other comment to make at this time about outstanding financial and legal issues between us and the current owners. Valewhite R.I.P Leeds United……… time to find a new hobby footsoretiredandweary Leeds United is not and never should be described as hobby. It is a noble cause to be supported across generations. mrbigwheels This is going to be very interesting… who mentioned ‘roller coaster’?. Fred Get the Italian in, at least he is ambitious! brockie If colinio pulls out now were in such big trouble fingers crossed he is still interested after all the bad press Whiteknight No fear there are still 15-20,000 idiots who will still pay up and take whatever crap dished up as they know no other life, this is the attraction for Bates and the Eyetie. and who the hell is “colinio” Italian version of Colin I suppose. mrbigwheels Is Farnon and Co still into this?. oma lufc and he calls his self a fan (don” think so) mot leeds leeds leeds norbertt It seems that Flowers interest was other than for the best of the club and fans if he is so easily put off by the takeover bid by cellino he is not a true Leeds fan good riddens English policeman “Good riddens” Same school as oma I guess… English policeman “and he calls his self a fan” (don” think so) Fuck me! How this site has descended into daily star territory Between the Line Star readers don’t care who owns their club as long as they’ve big tits Helen LUFC Brian McDermott will get the sack if Cellino deal gets approval, can’t imagine he could work under the scrutiny of Festa learning his trade? That means the loss of Ross McCormack in the summer, too. Can’t imagine him staying if McDermott is shown the door. Cellino sounds like a Ken Bates type, selling and reaping the rewards. I would be tempted to say that he must know what he’s doing, but after the tenures of Bates and GFH it would be hard to say any of them have the interests of the club and fans at heart. What I don’t understand is that if GFH and Bates couldn’t make a proper go of Leeds what has Cellino seen that is any different? Dfooster Leeds has massive potential but it’s been owned in the last 10 years by people with little amounts of liquid cash and it’s been run as a going concern for all that time. Cellino has enough money to sort out our money issues AND invest heavily in the squad. Plus I seriously doubt that he is here to strip the club of its assets as some people seem to think. Why would you spend £25m on a club to then make £9 million off selling byram and McCormack and watch the club slide down the championship. It makes no sense whatsoever but people who were bitten by bates are assuming it’s the same thing all over again when in fact if you look at his time in Italy the evidence clearly points the other way. Helen LUFC Would be nice to think we have an owner who would invest money into the first team. I remember Leslie Silver going on a spending spree backing Wilko and that was a great time. I wonder if part of buying a business like Leeds these days is to show potential new owners the future of the club by showing them the up and coming players in the youth team and telling them that that lad over there will be worth millions next year, just look at Howson, etc. I think if you took the good work of the younger members of the club away then potential new owners would look at where there financial future really lied. Bates must have had a lot of advice on how he could make money on up and coming players, took a gamble and they turn into millions for him. Cellino must be thinking how do I get money out of all this. Ev Lesley silver didn’t choose what players to sign….he let Howard Wilkinson do it……..just a slight difference in approach Irving08 That’s true. Silver didn’t spend a lot of his money either – a million pound loan to the club to buy Strachan being the biggest outlay.The big difference betwen now and then though is the amount of money in the game – it is one of the reasons why owners generally are unwilling to let Managers have a free rein over player recrutiment etc. TSS “Cellino has enough money to sort out our money issues AND invest heavily in the squad” He certainly seems to have the cash, but I just don’t understand why people are jumping to the assumption he’ll be throwing mountains of it around, he’s made a net profit from transfers at Cagliari over the years, he doesn’t throw money away, he didn’t become rich filling football’s money pit with even more cash. “Why would you spend £25m on a club to then make £9 million off selling byram and McCormack” He wouldn’t, he doesn’t sell players that cheaply. But you have to question how long players like Byram and McCormack will want to stick around with a revolving door of coaches and Cellino acting as de facto manager. That should be people’s primary concern – not the money, the fraud charges or his crazy antics, but the football. He seems to interfere with it way too much for my liking, it’s basically what happens when someone obsessed with Football Manager has the wealth to play for real. It terrifies me. And while I know you didn’t do this, I really wish people would stop comparing Serie A with the Prem. Outside the top handful of teams in Serie A, it’s a dreadfully poor league that’s nowhere near as difficult to stay in as the Premiership, nor does it compete in the same realms of finance (only the top two teams in Spain really come close). Fact is, Cellino is basically nailed-on as new owner now so we’re going to have to give him a chance and hope our worst fears aren’t realised, but in the meantime, all this guesswork is getting us nowhere. The only evidence on which anyone can base an opinion is Cagliari and even then, you could spin it whichever way you like, but no one can dispute he’s made a net gain from transfers – it’s simple maths. Andy Nevill at the end of the day , no matter who buys the club , they will want to see money comeing in straight away , which means the instant selling of our star players , unless you are roman abramovich , and you throw in vast amounts of money because you can afford to do so . Dermot Mc Neill The loyal lufc fans are once again in the mushroom system. The board of lufc keep us in the dark, and feed us a load S—e next day. Happy days. Paul ‘Dorian Gray’ Reaney This Flowers bloke seems to be a total bell-end. Andy West so are people that make insulting judgements about people when they know sod all about whats really been going on Matthew Just imagine if we get a good run of wins together, enough to secure a playoff spot and this guys winding up petition costs us points. Flowers popularity will plummet to Ken Bates level. norbertt He’s not that far already TSS Any takeover would factor in the repayment of debt so he’d have no basis on which to continue his winding-up petition. He knew that all along. But that was never the point, he used it as a stalling tactic to get GFH to the table (which worked). He hasn’t even advertised it in the London newspaper where these things have to be published so other creditors can stake their claim, so it’s not even official yet. People have panicked and totally misinterpreted the winding-up petition, he never had any intention of taking this to court. Irving08 All the same, it was a desperate measure, which won’t have done a lot for his reputation. A little humilityin his statement would not have gone amiss. He can express misgivings without seeming so damned certain that he is right. It does not bode well for our future having a disgruntled group of well-connected people apparently ready to say ‘we told you so’ whenever anything goes wrong. TSS I think GFH has created a lot of the bad blood here by playing both sides against each other, I mean, they owe considerable sums to both parties which is bound to create some tension. I also think they’ve screwed a lot of people around when someone else came in with more cash, stalling them ’til exclusivity ended so they could worm their way out of original agreement (just a thought). As for Flowers’ certainty, is he really any different from the rest of us? We all have vested interests in the outcome of this takeover and it’s an incredibly divisive matter which seems to be bringing out the worst in everyone. There was a small percentage of us who felt exactly the same about Bates when he first arrived and it was never about “I told you so” when our worst fears were realised, we were just glad to have the rest on-board and pulling in the same direction. I feel as strongly about Cellino as I did about Bates, I don’t see how football can ever be the main priority under the conditions he seems to create, but I desperately want to be proven wrong because we all want what’s best for LUFC. It’s not about who was wrong and who was right, it’s about moving in the right direction for once and hopefully managing to do so together. As such, I’ll give Cellino every chance when he does takeover, but we have to all be more vigilant than we were when Bates arrived because another 8 years as a divided Leeds United fanbase doesn’t bear thinking about. Irving08 I agree about GFH but – as with you and Bates – a minority of us (albeit probably a larger one) were sceptical about them all along. As for Flower’s ‘tactic’, I suppose there is a difference between his threatened ‘petition’ and the analagous tactic used by Bates during administration – is there ? And of course we must be vigilant about Cellino, albeit with an ‘open mind’. New West Stand anybody ?! TSS Bates admin tactics were fraud. I’m still stunned he managed to get away with retaining ownership of this football club after that stunt. He should have been imprisoned for defrauding various businesses and the taxpayer. Flowers was just throwing a spanner in the works to slow Cellino’s unopposed takeover and get GFH to the table, it worked well. Dirty tactics, perhaps, but it’s hardly surprising he had to resort to such measures considering the club he was attempting to buy – are things ever straightforward with Leeds? Tare I refuse to judge any person like Cellino family. They have now possibility to win the hearts of LUFC fans and I expect some major marketing moves before next season starts. Tare Helen LUFC Doubt they’ll be serenading us with bunches of red flowers and copies of Renee and Renato records before matches, but you never know, I suppose. robtori76 You stopped commenting on Yep mate …..pity if so …you made more sense than most of the others !!! Bye bye Flowers Dodgy insurance salesman withdraws from bidding….. Between the Lines Oh, to go back to the days when players wages had a ceiling, when money did’t rule the game, people were in it for the good of their team, when managers were given time to build a team, when there was no transfer windows, players didn’t dive or feign injury. Back to the days when there was no twitter, facebook or blogging and at the start of the season no one had any idea who was going to win the league, when a first division sided fielded their strongest team in the FA Cup, When the FA Cup and League cup were called the FA Cup and League Cup. Back when supporters could sing with using bad language and referees were told they needed glasses. Any one who’s never seen those days have never lived. The good old days Exactly…. Bring back Brian Clough! oldschoolbaby I`m no expert in cultural issues and diplomacy but I know Arabs don`t like to lose face. Mr Flowers was dead in the water as soon as he made less than complimentary, public comment about GFH I don`t know much about insurance either but at least he`s got off his arse and did o.k for himself. I`m kind of saddened there isn`t a self made Leeds fan in a position to take over the club Ev agree, I hold no bad feelings towards Flowers barneywhite flowers is behaving like a spoiled child with this winding up nonsense – He lives on the rock which is no better than uncle Ken in Monaco in my opinion. Goof riddance Ev So anyone living in gibralter is a bad person ??? I think Flowers has tried his best to buy the club, hes funded us and sponsored us for years. Now he wants his money back after being messed around. Maybe he didnt have enough money to do it, is that a reason to persecute him ? Or the fact that he wants it back now ? talk about narrow minded and ungrateful….. Irving08 It is kind of sad, I agree, but at least the Sardinian qualifies under one of those headings, and in the ‘real economy’ as well. After last Saturday I bet he’s a fan too. But I do hope he refrains from making too many Kop-directed gestures (he wouldn’t be Italian if he didn’t make some). Hmm wonder what they will make of him in the West Stand ?! Mersey-White What do we know of Sport Capital – Haigh: well-meaning tory, football novice, naive. Flowers: made a loan payment, now wants it back. Would loan have been given if he didn’t have designs of taking over? Is the reason for Enterprise sponsoring us an excuse for Flowers to have greater involvement? I ask because it appears they (he) was happy to sponsor while there was a possibility he would get greater control. Now he can’t have that control he rescinds the sponsorship. Terry Riley: little-known ex night club owner from Liverpool, known in local media for less savoury activities involving rival gangs. All three: introduced – so we were led to believe – massimo cellino to the negotiating table. Ouch TSS Flowers – Sponsored us while Bates was here, I think he’s genuinely annoyed by how GFH have handled the matter and shares the same concerns as many fans when it comes to Cellino. Riley – Funny none of us have really bothered to mention him too much, any other week he’d have been a big talking point I imagine. Mersey-White Presumably the loan (£1.5m-£6m depending on who you follow on Twitter) was made AFTER the agreement to sell to the consortium? Don’t see how Flowers would have made it before the deal was agreed otherwise it could be argued that was part of sponsorship goodwill and conceivably nothing has changed on that front. We know deep down Cellino will be Bates MkII. But while there is no guarantee he will spend, really, other than getting this deal over the line, there was no guarantee Sports Capital would/could spend either. Pots & kettles So… Spurred on by The Guardian & other media outlets the term “convicted Italian fraudster” suddenly becomes a key part of put vocabulary. Then GHF become “yet to be convicted Arab fraudsters” for running the club into debt that no one knew about whilst playing prospective owners off against each other. Sports Capital fraudulently bid for the club with money they don’t have. Flowers fraudulently threatens a winding up order on the club. There’s a mysterious 23 year old Italian out on the training pitch, who no one knows, that is wondering like the rest of us just what the hell is going on??? Just another week at Elland Rd, nothing unusual. TSS I don’t think the Italian is even training with us, he hasn’t had clearance from FL as far as I know so he can’t at the minute. Mick444 Cellino has kept Cagliari in the top flight for many years and that with the smallest of fan base imaginable – even when they managed to play home games on their own city! No wonder he had to buy and sell players to keep the business going. Cellino also attempted to purchase the Bubble Blowers for a 100m so I doubt 25m is going to be a problem. If Leeds can get to the Premiership Cellino can count on forty thousand every second week not four thousand as at Cagliari. The alternative consortium has a few wealthy businessmen but not enough to wipe off running cost debts, buy back the ground and training facility and fund much needed player investment. Cellino can do that if he is really keen to reinvent Leeds United. Thanks to the Risdale Dream Leeds has missed out on the Sky billions so the Consortium needs to have wealth not good intentions and business know how. At least it now appears Flowers and Haigh will not be part of any Consortium successful takeover – thank goodness – because neither have covered themselves in glory over the past week or so. Which leads Leeds to Cellino. I appreciate all the TSS comments – always sound advise. But if Leeds is ever to get back to the big table the club needs a massive infusion of funding. It appears Cellino is our only choice and providing he does the right financial investment in Leeds I for one will put up with his shenanigans. BMD might be a casualty – and that will hurt the majority of us but if it means Leeds United are finally able to fight on a level financial field then we have NO CHOICE. Risdale, Glasner, Bates, GFH will hopefully be a distant memory as Cellino leads us out of the financial wilderness. I might live in hope but anything is better than the yearly threat of administration and the heartache of watching the departure of Milner, Lennon, Delph, Howsen, Snodgrass, Byram and Mowatt. MOT and live in hope!