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 rejected, 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 ship and cosied up to Massimo Cellino, wrangling himself a CEO position under the terms of Cellino’s takeover.

Meanwhile, Haigh’s former ally Andrew Flowers issued a winding-up petition against the club to recover money he’d lent the owners while seeking to takeover as part of Haigh’s consortium, the first real signs that all was not well at Elland Road.

Since then Haigh has continued to play multiple angles, holding court with former owner Ken Bates who it’s since been revealed had agreed to part-fund Haigh’s original consortium – something Haigh had previously denied.

The recorded phonecall with Massimo Cellino exposed David Haigh’s dwindling number of allies as the Italian accused Leeds United’s Managing Director of blackmail before calling him “dangerous, a f***ing devil” explaining that Haigh is working in cahoots with Ken Bates, further reinforcing speculation that Haigh’s plan was to buy the club out of admin should Cellino’s takeover fail (which would also explain why he cut ties with GFH Capital).

It’s clear that whoever ends up controlling Leeds United, David Haigh’s future at the club looks bleak. Enough bridges have been burnt with Together Leeds for them to dismiss him completely while Massimo Cellino seems in no mood to forgive and forget.

However unhinged Cellino appears to be, he’s the first person to pass through Elland Road in years whose number one concern seems to be the football. He demonstrated that by refusing to let Ross McCormack leave on transfer deadline day and by paying for McDermott to bring loan players in while his takeover hung in the balance.

I spoke to a lot of Cagliari fans when he first arrived on the scene and while some of them dislike the way he runs a football club, none of them deny he’s a football man first and foremost.

Perhaps that’s why his interviews resonate so much with supporters, because he has a deeper understanding of the football fan’s condition than any Bahraini banker can ever hope to achieve?

Putting aside the good guy/bad guy stuff that has long-since plagued any meaningful debate about whether Cellino is a man who’ll do right by Leeds United Football Club, in taking control from David Haigh and GFH Capital, it doesn’t matter whether Massimo Cellino’s appeal is successful or not. He’s already rescued us from the clutches of sinister bankers who care nothing for this club and it’s fans.

40 Responses

  1. Jonathan Davies

    Agreed. Marching On Together or ‘Insieme a marciare’ we’ll hopefully be saying soon

  2. Mersey-White

    And in doing so, he has caught us all by surprise and shown he is a canny devil, to Haigh’s f***ing devil

  3. Frostbittensock

    Cellino is the only one in a long time that has shown passionate about the club, put his money where his mouth is and his main focus seems to be making it a success.
    He’ll do for me.

  4. KeeeflyWhite

    “Bahraini Banker”? Is that Yorkshire rhyming slang? Like it.

  5. markman

    Haigh may be slippery ,however,he did inject money into the club.
    he said it was personal funds,if so he deserves some thanks.

  6. Dfooster

    Although it’s clear GFH have no money lets not forget they did rescue us from the clutches of the real evil within the club at the time ken bates. GFH are an investment bank and they made it pretty clear they were coming into Leeds to then look for additional investment.

    However the recent dealings with bates hasn’t done David haigh any favours and he has cosied up with whoever looks to be the one to come out smelling of roses to make sure he has a position within the club once the takeover dust settles.

    Think back to the good team we had under Grayson which needed a few additions and then how bates flogged the lot to Norwich, at least GFH have retained our better players. My biggest gripe with them is that they seem to go quiet when the going gets tough, you need owners who are not afraid to speak to the fans and make important decisions.

    This club has been playing too much cloak and daggers over the last 10 years we need transparency and a massive cash injection, I hope this QC makes the right decision for football because what’s been going on in the LUFC boardroom is far worse than one mans run in with tax on a yacht. Everyone needs to gain some perspective

  7. Bluesman

    It really is time to move on if Cellino gets us out of the clutches of GAFF and Bates. Cellino is obviously a good man. I think that he would be autocratic and act a little bizarrely at times, but just think about the fun. Loved his interview. We need someone who says it as it is and then does it! Hope he gets in!

    • Kev

      I totally agree, Cellino is an oddball, no doubting that, but what he does understand is the greatest teams have the most fanatical fanbase whose team is not just their hobby it’s in their blood and if it’s his dream is to be the man who puts us back where we belong, Mr Cellino I am right behind you!…football over history has been scattered with enigmatic and slightly unhinged characters, they are what makes the beautiful game great.

  8. whitesoldier

    Haigh will still be involved it was part of the deal for him to be CEO, and GFH will still own 25%, how does this rid us of them please explain?

    • TSS

      You can fire a CEO very easily. And he doesn’t work for GFH any more, nor will they own 25% (10% GFH, 15% Nooruddin)

      • whitesoldier

        So Cellino breaks the terms of the sale wouldn’t that make it illegal and GFH along with Haigh who will still be both in the same corner could scupper the deal?

      • TSS

        Nah, there are no terms of any sale which gives someone a lifetime position as CEO. He’ll be able to fire him, even if it does cost him a few quid.

      • whitesoldier

        Ok more twists and turns personally hoping it will be just Cellino, I can’t understand why he would need Farnan and Together Leeds if he wins appeal!

      • TSS

        Nah, he doesn’t, but it softens the blow for the FL, adds the experience of people who’ve worked in football in England and lessens the financial burden on Cellino (which has already been substantial).

  9. Belle Deeming

    All this love for Cellino, and all on the back of a drunken, slanderous phone conversation. I sometimes think we Leeds fans deserve all we get, when that kind of performance makes us want to have this kind of witless twit as our owner. Make no mistake the only reason he is palling up with TL is to make sure he comes out of this whole mess smelling of roses; a mess that he has made a large contribution to. He couldn’t care less for LUFC, he cares only for himself and his ego. The Cagliari fans on the whole despise him and want him out of their club before he destroys it. Football man or no, they are desperate for him to go. Perhaps the writer could do a bit more research for his next article, and find out just why this is.

    • John Arber

      Perhaps you could back up your misguided rant with some factual evidence instead of your warped opinion.

      • PMH

        Be fair! There was no rant and nothing warped, just an opinion you don’t share. There is tons of evidence of Cellino’s poor judgement. He may be helping the team with cash now, but that doesn’t make him solid ownership material because he clearly is not that.

    • TSS

      The Cagliari fans want him out of their club now because of the Fiat 500 quote, the Italian press reports can tell you that much.

      I spoke to one of Cellino’s biggest critics at the very beginning and he said the majority of fans backed him, the recent protests are a result of them being stuck in limbo just like us and Cellino continuing to refer to them as a small club who’ll never amount to anything doesn’t tend to win many fans over.

      • Kimmykookoo

        And that he has ploughed 10 million into our club and not much into theirs.

      • maxwatson

        Also they thought they were going to get the PSG owners and couldn’t wait (don’t blame them). Cagliari fans I’ve spoken to say what we already know, bit of a character, knows his football, team has punched above its weight but without a change of ownership won’t ever challenge higher than this.

        My constant worry with Cellino is that the “bit of a character but he knows his football” is what we always heard about Ken Bates. If it weren’t for the Bates experience I’d be 100% supportive rather than around 75% (which is admittedly from the 0% I was at on Jan 31).

  10. Leeeeeeeds

    If appeal fails could Cellino get minority share, TL get majority with a deal where he buys majority in future?

    Either that or he would presumably be the money man helping TL.

  11. stelufc

    quote from the independent – “Together Leeds, which includes former Leeds director Adam Pearson, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, Red Strike marketing executive Frank Devoy and another unnamed member, had a bid to buy the club turned down by GFH Capital in November.”

    I’m still worried about this unnamed member. Supporting Leeds you come to expect the worst. Praying its not Master Bates.

  12. spellz

    I think every Leeds fans even the ones that are anti-Cellino want his takeover appeal to be successful, once again we are Leeds UNITED!!!!

    M.O.T As Always.

  13. Irving08

    I never thought he was unhinged, but then I know Italy, including Sardinia, pretty well. He’s the brightest spark we have had around Elland Road since the young Leslie Silver. As there were well founded reasons for not welcoming GFH from the outset, I am pleased some of us appear to have been vindicated there too. So here’s to a better future than we were facing two days ago.

    • mrbigwheels

      I’m going to wait for the FL to pronounce.
      Is he rescuing himself… I wonder?.

  14. Lee S.

    Cellino is the one we need. I have been massively sceptical of his intentions but the signs are good – ploughing millions in, ratting out Bates and showing some bloody passion. Something Mr McD needs to rediscover.

  15. PMH

    Cellino is the second coming, then? I think not. We are all keen to move forward and get the mess sorted out, but we have a lot of extremely wishful thinking going on. Our apparent new owner has no self-control, and an abysmal record of financial and people management. The entertainment value of his blunt honesty will wear thin very quickly. For example, through his idiotic interview he has embarrassed Ross Mc, the best player on the team, who is now more likely to abandon ship. Not a smart move and you can expect more because he just can’t help himself. This guy is a nightmare to work for. The best owners set up a stable system of management, hire steady people they stick with through the inevitable ups and downs of a season, and then step back and let the sports people run the show. Cellino is congenitally incapable of doing that. His bail out of Leeds is marginally better than administration and relegation. I hope I am wrong, (but I won’t be.)

    • maxwatson

      Depends what you think of as “abysmal people management”. Normally in football, a player comes and says, I want to go, they go, despite having years left on their contract. Cellino in Italy sends them to the reserves as an example to the others, and sells them if and when he feels like it. I’d prefer that approach – it’s not the convention in football but I think it should be.

      If he brings in players of the quality of the ones who’ve been through Cagliari, keeps us in the top division, has a team that plays decent football, has the club pay its bills on time (which Cagliari has always done), great. Better that than anything in the last 10 years.

      If Farnan etc. bring some more conventional sports management context and keep the club media-friendly, even better. But I’d prefer to be sitting watching decent football in the Premier League, even if we had an owner who waved his hands around a lot.

      Still pessimistic he’s going to pass though, despite the late PR surge (ironically by a man who avoids interviews).

  16. Helen LUFC

    This is appalling. If this comes from real Leeds fans they should be ashamed of themselves.

    Not sure where the anti-McDermott rhetoric is coming from. It comes from social media sites, but it does not come from the ground. I was at the Millwall game – south stand got Brian to wave. So where is all the bad feeling towards the manager coming from? North stand we’re quiet as always these days, east stand don’t sing, west stand Jung their change…so where is the genuine McDermott out crowd? They don’t go to home matches, because the Elland road crowd sing his name. Social media is hounding a good man out of a difficult job!

    • TSS

      North Stand (where I sit) is very anti-McD. Has been for a long time. But there’s no chants because that’s the extreme measure and while most of us think he should be replaced, who would do it? Who would we be chanting to? The power vacuum above him is what has allowed McDermott to survive 4 months of horrendous football and dismal form, nothing else.

      In that time, he’s added players to his squad and we’ve somehow got worse. While I’m sympathetic towards the situation he’s in, these are highly paid professionals paid to kick a ball around. There are no acceptable excuses for not rallying together and putting in a performance. The Leeds I grew up watching fought harder than ever when their backs were to the wall, McDermott’s cowers and gives pathetic excuses.

      Fact is, we’re all in limbo, but McDermott is gone the second that situation changes so why waste our breath? If he can’t handle a little adversity, he’s at the wrong club.

      PS. That said, the people calling him in the middle of the night to abuse him are the worst kind of scum.

    • Irving08

      But is it always valid to infer how fans feel from the sounds coming from the stands ? Asking ‘Brian to give us a wave’ does not imply support; it may just be a desire to spread good naturedness around the ground. It is after all not pleasant to feel grumpy for 90 minutes. The support McDermott appeared to get at the Huddersfield game was as much an expression of anxiety about Mr Cellino and the way the club was being run as it was about him as a Manager. Also it only began to envelop the ground when we were 3-1 up in the second half. It was then a therapeutic release of tension, a kind of Mexican wave. From my perch high up in the North West section of the North Stand, I can assure you there has been growing concern about Brian’s work. We don’t shout things about the Manager; we reserve our voices for periodic or more usually over the past two season for spasmodic support of the team. Most of us want to enjoy our day/evening out at Elland; we are not after anyone’s blood, not McDermott’s, nor the players.

  17. Bedders16

    Hope Cellino is allowed to complete his takeover of Leeds United. He is a football man through and through and a character. 27 years with one club and for 20 of those seasons keeping them in the very competitive Serie A. I look at his legal problems this way: basically he failed to pay his road fund licence (albeit on a slightly bigger scale and involving water/boats not roads/cars). You wouldn’t ban a director from owning a business because he hasn’t paid his road tax would you?? Give the lad a chance!

  18. maxwatson

    I’m not a fan of Haigh* – I think part of his job was to stand up and handle communications during this whole crisis. He’s typically gone missing instead (and it hasn’t helped him any) and left McDermott to answer the awkward questions (and be accused by Cellino of being always on television – who else stepped up before this week?).

    But … as MD of the club he had a legal responsibility to try and sort out the funding mess. I assume he sat down with MC and GFH and said, if you don’t fund the club I have to send it into admin, hence the blackmail accusations. Remember all those small suppliers (like St. Johns Ambulance) who got pennies on the pound in the last administration? A director is meant to avoid building debts to suppliers if he/she knows a company is trading insolvently.

    I suspect much of what he’s doing he doesn’t have a choice in at the moment. Pity for him he hasn’t communicated better and more often, as he’s probably going to take more blame than he deserves.

    Personally I think the real villains here are GFH, who thought they would make a fast buck, and might still fumble their way into doing so, despite not having a scruple between the lot of them.

    * should also point out, and it’s a sign of the times at Leeds, that I’m not David Haigh!

    • TSS

      “should also point out, and it’s a sign of the times at Leeds, that I’m not David Haigh!”

      That’s exactly what Haigh would say… ;-)

      • TSS

        FFS, that’ll be the second time we’ve had the lawyers on us in the space of a week.

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