When Massimo Cellino completed his takeover of Leeds United, I wrote about how he should be judged on actions instead of words and promises, that no matter how successful or unsuccessful his efforts may be, our opinion of him should never be fixed. Never again should we operate on blind faith and give the benefit of doubt to our owners, but instead, we should exercise hyper-vigilance and remain ever-questioning of their actions.

It was something everyone seemed to agree with but at times, we’re pathetically easy to charm.

With each new era comes a new wave of blind faith supporters who’ll dismiss any questions of our owners failure to deliver on previously stated promises with a half-baked theory they’ve cooked up to protect their belief that we aren’t being strung along once again.

They’ll insist there’s a perfectly legitimate reason as to why our latest owner hasn’t delivered on a previously made promise, and perhaps there is? But when fans need to get creative and posit hypothetical explanations as to why a promise hasn’t been delivered, they’re filling an information deficit the owner has created.

Take Massimo Cellino’s promise to repurchase Elland Road as an example. Cellino made this promise to every journalist he spoke to, insisting that he’d head to the bank the day after he’d completed his takeover of the club and set in motion a funds transfer to repurchase the ground.

Now obviously, this hasn’t happened. You can be cynical and say it was an easy sound-bite to get fans onboard at a time when he was struggling to convince The Football League of his credibility, you could argue that he’s had bigger things to deal with, theorise on the possible contract stipulations that delay a repurchase, the list goes on and on. I’ve heard literally every possibility there is and ever will be so please save your breath, you’re missing the point if you think I want more theories.

The truth is, a lot of the theories are perfectly plausible, but none of them change the fact that a promise was made and they’ve come to be because it wasn’t delivered upon. If there’s a legitimate reason for why that is then great. But if there is, why haven’t we heard it?

It often feels as if one of the reasons we never get any answers is because our fans aren’t allowed to ask. Not without facing the wrath of the converted at least.

Whenever someone raises a genuine question they’re immediately bombarded by the blind faith fans who misinterpret a simple question as some sort of attack on their beloved new leader. They’ve made up their minds, those of you who wish to exercise common-sense and reserve judgement will be harassed until you join their cult and accept that EVERYTHING IS JUST FINE and you should STOP TRYING TO LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN.

And maybe everything is fine. But if everything is fine, then why can’t you ask your question without being shot down? Massimo Cellino made a promise which won him a lot of support, surely his failure to deliver on that makes us deserving of an explanation?

I do have some faith in Cellino turning our fortunes around (at least in the short to medium turn), but there is no man on earth who could take over this club and not be subjected to a similar degree of questioning. Well, maybe Lucas Radebe, but my point is; this isn’t personal. It’s ongoing diligence. Fans should be asking questions of our owners and should never stop asking questions of them. This remains our club, we’re only seeking reassurance that everything is above board.

Some of the major frustrations with GFH and Ken Bates included the PR offensives, lies and broken promises. Bates set up a radio station where he shamelessly dished out propaganda on a weekly basis to control his army of blind followers and keep those asking legitimate questions from getting any answers.

Now I’m not saying Massimo Cellino is anything like Ken Bates or GFH, I don’t think for one second that he is, but those of us yet to be converted to his cult of unquestioning followers won’t be encouraged by broken promises that aren’t followed up by an explanation because there’s simply no excuse to deny us one. It’d take him literally two minutes and he owes us that much after making promises to get us onside in the first place.

We’ve been through too much at this club for blind faith to be an option. We have to exercise vigilance, continue to question the actions of our owners and stop making excuses for them when they’re perfectly capable of spending two minutes of their lives providing us with one themselves.

The point to this entire article is not about whether Cellino is good or bad, nor is it really about the repurchase of Elland Road specifically. It’s meant to address the climate of extreme reactions from our fanbase who seem to think the only reason anyone would ask a question of our owner is if they’re trying to bring about his downfall.

It’s a ludicrously paranoid conclusion to draw, but it’s also dangerously counter-productive to an open and honest relationship between fans and our ownership. What harm do those of you needlessly inventing excuses for why Cellino is yet to repurchase Elland Road think asking a simple question can do? And why don’t you think we deserve an answer to it? It isn’t code for a hate mob to gather and hunt down Cellino’s taxi, we’re simply trying to cut through the nonsense and get some straight answers.

An open-dialogue between fans and the owner doesn’t start hate campaigns, nor will one broken promise without an explanation. But taking two minutes to respond to a broken promise fills an information void which otherwise leads to some degree of unrest (even if it is limited to fans bitching at each other online). Failure to do so sows seeds of mistrust, especially at Leeds United where many of us have suffered years of empty promises and have grown understandably suspicious of all who pass through this once great club.

63 Responses

  1. Leeds15

    Good article, agree 100%.
    I am behind Cellino after the dark days of Bates and GFH but he needs to give us an explanation to avoid falling into the same trap as the other clowns.

  2. Mick1998

    For gods sake man, just get to the point. Your blurb is all your interpretation. Very boring read. In summary Cellino hasn’t bought Elland Road as promised.

  3. belly desboro whites

    for gods sake,he,s not bought a coffee machine,he,s aquired a football club that needs a lot of sorting,and boy does it.Take a look at how long he,s been involved with cagliari,hardly jumps ship quick.Why oh why do so many lufc so called fans have to be pessimistic,maybe because for many years weve become cash cows for the likes of ridsdale,bates and even gfh,because trust me the latter were in it for money not for the love of lufc and paid folk like haigh a decent sum to say the opposite,mercenary style!What doesnt help is posts so full of negativity all the time,it doesnt help at all.

  4. Shaun Hornet Clifford

    Good write up and agree also. I’m willing to give Cellino a fair crack at the whip but do think he has been playing his PR very well since coming to ER. Saying the right things, buying beers for supporters in pubs etc.. Just by doing that he has the majority on his side already. Yes, things should be asked with our new ‘saviour’ and answers should be given and quickly unlike the old days of being treated like mushrooms.

  5. laterleeds

    I agree give Cellino a chance.How many people would go through what he has had to, then find out the financial state Leeds is in.He will have to spend lots of money with his only return to see Leeds back in the Premier League

  6. Paul Snowdon

    Completely agree. Anyone who thinks that asking reasonable questions about broken (election) promises constitutes any kind of witch hunt is failing to learn from history and dooming themselves to be governed by wolves. I support Cellino (for now) but he HAS broken a well publicised promise, and failing to provide an explanation for that just creates distrust and an information void that is quickly filled with unsubstantiated rumours.

  7. Tare

    TSS first you accuse and second you support? Well a meal for all parties eh????
    There is a logic here but it is a hard one major owner do like he is accustomed to.

    Mr.Cellino is my kind of Man (yes no misreading or spin doctor statements here) and supporting him in this huge task to get us up.


    • TSS

      I know your English is fairly weak but I never accused anyone of anything, and I always support the club. As for the owner, I support the club, not the owner. Cellino will have my approval while ever he does the right things by Leeds (which he has so far), but I’ll never stop asking questions – and anyone who does is being blinded by words.

      Stop supporting owners and start supporting the club. The owner, like the players and the manager are there to be questioned, they’re never worthy of unquestioning support. The club is what I support, not the individuals who pass through it – they have to earn my respect and work hard to maintain it.

  8. Northerners love gravy

    its early days, very early days in Cellino era. I think he will be good to his `promise` but at present its about being REALISTIC!
    We fans get very impatient and impatience will not help, let the man seperate the wheat from the chaf, this is a big club we follow and unfortunately it is in a rigt mess. Let`s give Cellino the time he should be afforded to get a handle on the situation at hand, our return to the premier league.

  9. Dean Walls

    He won’t buy the ground for a long time and may never buy thorp arch! Apart from the obvious benefits of owning both of these, his relationship with GFH has now changed ( since he made the promise I might add). They still own 25% so I would expect him to negotiate a deal to buy them out before he increases the net worth of the business by buying back ER & TA. I would have thought that this would have been quite obvious and the reasons for not making his thought process public seem even more obvious. I am sure when the time comes he will deliver on his promise but not for a long while yet so we need some patience people.

    • @neilvicks

      I agree, I think he wants shut off GFH before ER, TA or even promotion to avoid paying them a single penny more and you can’t blame him.

  10. henrymouni

    With the Bates despicable double takeover of LU, and the diabolical claims that he ‘saved our club’ – there are still fans who think he did – we will never believe anyone until they keep their promises – one by one.
    I feel that Massimo did ‘save our club’ REALLY!!
    We were close to another disaster!!
    That puts him head and shoulders above GFH & Bates.
    He said he would have to defer the purchase of ER until then end of the season.
    Let’s wait and see.
    Any owner would see the purchase of ER as a priority.
    I do not think we will have a lot to spend on players, however, so fans may be disappointed there.
    We can still assemble a good squad under the right manager to compete and play football.
    Conclusion :-
    If Massimo did ‘save our club’ then what more can we ask at this stage of proceedings?

  11. Bornawhite

    Cellini does not have to offer any explanation, anyone who really believed the PR about going down the bank and buying back the assets the next day needs a reality check. As do fans who say he is the saviour.
    Football is a cut throat business. The premier league is the prize for Cellino not Leeds. Like GFH he recognises the massive potential and dividend to his investment if we get promoted. Because of his previous experience he should make a far better fist of it.
    Remember he tried to buy West Ham first. If he had been successful he would have told them pretty much what he is telling us now. Judge him on his abilities within the football business world.
    I want to see good football and some success at ER. All this loyalty stuff is smoke and mirrors. Only the fans display loyalty and the odd player. The people at the top are in it for the money and the prestige. It’s a business folks and has been since the big money appeared.

  12. @neilvicks

    Yes he promised to buy back ER but to me what he has already done regarding HMRC, the first winding up petition, and player wages and the sacking of Beeston Dave, far outweighs this broken promise.

    And besides i’m sure he said he’d moved the deadline to by the end of the year. I’m not going on blind faith but he also doesn’t have to explain his every action as a business man, as long as he is doing right by the club in the meantime (see first para).

    • John

      It is slightly too simplistic to say that he doesn’t have to explain every action as a business man. I would say that there are some aspects of running a football where it is imperative that information is shared with fans. However, I do agree with you that regarding the re-purchase of ER, every step towards the end result does not need to be explained. Generally, there is too much expected of club owners by fans in disclosing commercially sensitive information.

  13. Neil Braham

    Has anybody asked Mr Cellino why he hasn’t yet bought back the ground? It was mentioned shortly after the balance sheet was published that the figures were worse than he expected and that was the reason, but I don’t think that came from him directly. I agree with Dean that it would be lining the pockets of GFH if he was to buy it before he’s got them right out of the picture.

    • Tare

      A lot of reasons here; interests regarding buy out + present owner value.
      So if some delay but no deliberate one.


  14. Chareose

    There is another point……… If he bought ER and TA wouldn’t the 20 odd million required be included in the FFP scenario, thereby limiting us in the transfer market in the summer????? Havent we already taken on too much debt and thereby face a transfer ban next January ??
    Could that be the problem ?
    We have hundreds of fans saying we need to spend 20 mill on players but those same fans need to bear in mind that there maybe restrictions on how much Cellino can invest into the club without breaking FFP rules …. Im no expert on it, perhaps someone could explain how it will work and if repurchase of ER and TA would come into that equation ?

  15. NottsWhite

    It is a point that a promise had been made but not yet delivered however I will give Cellino the benefit of doubt on the back of the mess he has had to deal with and the issues with selling his club in Italy. I don’t think millions will be spent on the team but the current budget will be better utilised through having a smaller but better quality squad. The requirement is to remove GFH before he purchases assets otherwise there 25% will increase in value and they will be more difficult to get did of.

  16. Scott Brook

    Hang on though? I don’t think you can buy something worth $20m on a Tuesday and own it on a Wednesday. Things don’t work like that. When Cellino said these things I’m 1000% sure we weren’t meant to take him literally. The way I understand it is that “he’s going to buy the ground back quickly.” Anyone that thinks a deal like this can be done in 24 hours is living in a dream land. That being said, I’d be disappointed if he didn’t own our ground come the start of next season.

  17. Bluesman

    Give the bloke a chance for God’s sake. Cellino has told you that Leeds is a bloodbath. It is much worse than he expected. Cellino is the owner, but he has to work through the issues and discuss with GAF. Cellino is shrewd where money us concerned and he will not continue to rent if it is cheaper to buy. Thst is one of the reasons he is rich. He has a whole host of problems to deal with still the present snd he has said he will but ER thus year. Now let’s get on snd support him because if there is one thing thst he most definately is not, it is a bullshhtr.

  18. spellz

    Well he has broken his promise and us fans deserve an explanation, in his quite frank interview he also mentioned how we have been constantly been managed by bloodsuckers and “f****ng devils” and people trying to just use our club as a business venture and basically no heart or passion which he fells he has in abundance, well if this is the case Massimo stick to your statement and re-purchase the ground.

    • henrymouni

      He was a Thorpe Arch meeting with Massimo.
      Suggestion was that he would be in charge of the Youth set up?

      • spellz

        Ah ok that makes sense, journalism eh they like to make something out of nothing.

    • TSS

      Fairly certain he’s here to work at academy (for now at least), think the press have just put two and two together and drawn the conclusion which will sell the most papers/generate the most hits.

  19. Tommyboy

    Does anyone know who owns ER? A number of reports have suggested ” a Manchester based businessman” And why did Ken Bates spend money on upgrading the ground and the building of executive boxes when the club didn’t own it? Start putting two and two together and what do you get…….?

  20. Matthew

    I see nothing wrong with people asking questions, keep asking them, never stop asking them. If they’re relevant and need answering, go for it. It’s not being negative, not at all.

  21. Bill Wright

    I trust/support Cellino to do the right thing for Leeds ! he has a lot of crap to sort out first , a Manager to appoint, a team to purchase , and a lot of debt to get under control , bloody hell give a the man a few months before you cast doubt ,

  22. Irving08

    Cellino’s ‘promise’ was made before he knew the extent of our financial problems. I see very little that is calculating or cynical in him, so I see no reason to doubt that he will, when the finances are right, buy back our ground. There is also a part of me that disbelieves outrage when it comes to so-called ‘broken promises’. Though if such outrage does sometimes seem feigned, that is because I don’t pay much attention to such promises in the first place. There are other and better ways of judging character. And isn’t there something a bit child-like in hanging onto ‘promises’ anyway ?

    • TSS

      I don’t think people should be outraged, I just think we should hold our owners to a higher standard. I don’t even mind that he failed to deliver on a promise, but as I said above, if there is a perfectly legitimate reason (as you suggest), then he only benefits from sharing that with fans. It quashes any doubts.

      As an aside – he knew the financial situation at Leeds when he made the promise. He’d been paying our bills for months and spoke at length about the mess we were in. Anyone who thinks he bought this club not knowing what he’d have to deal with is being a bit silly, you don’t become as rich as Cellino by having the wool pulled over your eyes.

      • Irving08

        We probably know more about the goings on in our football clubs today than we ever have done but it doesn’t seem to have made us more trusting. The same probably goes for other areas of life. The more we know the less we seem to trust. So I have made a decision to trust Cellino. I won’t be hanging on every word he says and I shan’t hold him to everything he does say. I will judge him by what we see on the football field (though I shall also take a look at the annual accounts).

      • henrymouni

        It does not matter whether we feel we trust him now.
        It is too early in his ownership.
        He will earn our trust if he clears out the deadwood, and builds a winning, entertaining squad.
        ER & TA are bonuses if/when they are repurchased, but the team is all that really matters just now.
        I think /hope Massimo will want promotion next year!
        Exciting times Irv!

      • Irving08

        For starter, I’d be happy just having some good footballers to watch, players who you know can do things with the ball that one could do never do oneself, no matter how many hours you put in at the park or the playing field. I also want to watch players whom one feels could go places rather then ones who never quite made it never will. However I could also live and even take delight in a ruthlessly pragmatic team as well, managed by someone who knows how to organise a defence and stop the other team scoring. What I do find hard to live with is the thought of another season with Brian McDermoot in charge. On trust, I think it is not really something that is earned – it is something one gives unconditionally, like love.

  23. Van White

    I think the playing staff and relieving us of some of the debt GFBates saddled us with is more important than buying back ER & TA. At least next season we won’t have the 3.5 mil from the ticketus loan hanging over us. We know now that when Cellino took over HMR had a winding up order in place for 9 days, nobody knew of that god knows what else is hanging over us ? But now we have an owner who has the funds to take us forward, and that we should be thankful for!

  24. Helen LUFC

    Anyone ever asked themselves why an Italian, living in America, would desire Leeds Utd, a loss making business to the tune of a million a month, is really involved at our club? People in the stands come from the area, they sound like there from yorkshire and they know the previous long term failings of the club. Chatting around the people at games they don’t take Leeds seriously, no real lees fan actually does. There’s no point. The real Leeds fans are now consigned to enjoyable memories, which are precious, but the future holds nothing, and we need to get over the past. I loved seeing Strachan, macallister and Speed passing the ball in a match in front of where I sat in the lowfields rd end years ago refusing to pass to Carl Shutt, as they knew he wasn’t in their league. Strachan sums up the end of the eighties, sterile, dead and crap, and then amazingly there was a turn around. This isn’t happening under Cellino. He has none of the love for the area that helped Wilko, he isn’t bill Fotherby, Leslie silver. He couldn’t care less for the fans. Our future is with McDermott. I for one have a lot of time for a man that has stuck by us throughout an awful time in his private life. He hasn’t walked away, and we as LUFC fans need to remember this, and not blame him for the rubbish he’s had to look at face to face in the dressing room. Cellino will replace Brian, with an Italian. That will be the end of Leeds Utd we know as our West Yorkshire club.

    • Matthew

      In answer to your first question, potential. Get the club back into the premier league and the clubs revenue would increase by several times and the value of the club too. If he buys back the ground and TA in time and we get promotion, he could easily sell the club for 100 million.

    • Irving08

      I never got the feeling that Wilko loved the area; in fact, he always struck me as a bit supercilious or, at any rate patronising, with his talk of Saturday for the average fan being a break from the factory. Personally I prefer Len Shackleton’s ‘working man’s ballet’ view of football. Cellino is also a bit of a romantic and – like many incomers before him – will quickly fall in love with Leeds. As for McDermott, any residual sympathy I had for him, has drained away by his treatment over the past few matches of Aidy White. Picking Pugh, who is out or contract this summer, over White, was insulting and possibly foolish as well. As for ‘the real Leeds fans’ you write about, especially if they are from Yorkshire, don’t take too much notice of them. They just like to pretend they have no hope. They are a hard lot to please anyway.

  25. Matthew

    More than anything I’m looking forward to the end of the season. Let’s get this season over with and see what happens.

  26. Ropey Wyla

    Broken promises will be forgotten if he breaks the bank to get us an actual team of players but I obviously hope he comes good on his original promise, albeit belatedly

    • Chareose

      he wont be able to break the bank………….. FFP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! F……F……P

      • TSS

        LOL, you’re right of course, but having a second club in Cagliari could help him totally circumvent that if he wanted to. What do you mean Danny Pugh’s not worth £10m? Cagliari thought he was…

      • Chareose

        Yes he will have to be very clever but I don’t think Cagliari fans will be too pleased about buying Danny Pugh (lol) and then there are the Yank buyers……… wont they have a say?
        To be fair the players we are linked with at Cagliari don’t appear to be full first teamers so it may not be a big problem.

  27. Alan

    Give him a chance, I’ve been trying to buy a proxy flat since December and it’s still dragging on, I would think buying back ER and TA would be a tad more complicated. If he gets this done before Xmas then what’s the problem, the guy has been in control for a month or so. I think there are more urgent issues that require funds and time at the mo (the team). Feel free to re-issue this article in December if we’re mid table (again) and he has not bought the ground back.

    • TSS

      There’s a difference between you buying a flat and Leeds buying a ground they already use and have a contract to repurchase, but the fact you came up with that comparison suggests you’re missing the point anyway – if there’s a perfectly valid explanation, he can take two minutes out of his day to provide it. He made the promise to every journalist to get fans on side, it’s the least we should expect. No one should have to make up these excuses for them.

      And this isn’t me getting on his back or failing to give him a chance, it’s pointing out how ridiculous it is that no one can ask a question of our owners without fans interpreting it as a witch-hunt and throwing a tantrum, it’s desperately unhealthy.

  28. Bluesman

    I don’t know why some of you are on Massimo’s back already. He has just fxxxx saved us from administration snd he is working hard to solve all of our financial snd management problems. He is not a fool. Some of you are trying to piss him off before he has even started. Start building bridged snd supporting him. OK, don’t have blind trust, but give him chance. And, why can’t he love Leeds? You don’t have to live in Beeston to be a fan. Just think how long it would take you from now just to sell and buy another house and move in. Then you will start to appreciate the suze of the problem in turning Leeds round (not over like bates and GAF).

  29. oldschoolbaby

    I`m in agreement with this piece`s sentiment but a bit more cautious on the detail. If I had bought a football ground for a knockdown price and was receiving a healthy rent then, regardless of any repurchase agreement, I would be dragging my feet..
    Moths won`t be finding sanctuary in Cellino`s chequebook at the moment. He deserves a period of grace

  30. Dave Robinson

    I want to see him buy back ER, but I’m not going to worry too much about this particular statement not coming through yet, as I don’t know enough to judge. Sounds like there’s a lot in the background going on and there may be NDAs that we don’t know about that are tying his hands.

    The longer the process takes, the more questions I’m going to have, but I’m not going to dig too far into worrying about transparency until the season ends.

  31. Adam

    Regarding FFP, the cost of clubs investing in infrastructure and development, for example building a new stadium or stand are not included in the calculations, so surely this exemption would also apply to buying back your stadium?

    It would seem very strange (though that’s never stopped UEFA in the past) to penalise a club for making what would be in the long term, a financially prudent move.

  32. Crofty

    I think you lot are looking at this all wrong he made that promise but went back on it once he became aware of Leeds finances his promise on elland road was 2014 as I can tell its only April so judge him next January!!! The main problem right now is that Leeds are loosing money and financial position was worse then he imagined he needs to get this sorted before he makes any major financial commitments if by January next year we don’t own er then I will criticise him until then he should have every Leeds fans support

  33. PMH

    Yes, Cellino has to prove himself. No way am I giving a man with his record blind faith. For those who believe that he has a deep seated love for Leeds and the football club all I can say is “get yourself into rehab!” He wants the fame and glory of the premiership, and that is all. And that is fine with me.

    • Rod

      Yes, but isn’t it a bit like falling in love with a beautiful girl. It takes time and then when he is ready will find that deep seated love.

      Glory will take a long time, but the main thing for me is that we are all excited again. For me he could be the new God at our club. It was only a few weeks ago it looked like disaster again.

      In MC we trust…….we have to!

      • henrymouni

        Massimo has a busy few weeks.
        As usual, there are loads of rumours but no solid info’.
        He must sort out a new manager.
        A pre-season tour.
        New players.
        It would be nice to get some of the good players we are ‘linked with’ for once.
        It is all about the team!
        The rest is secondary.
        Interesting times. AGAIN!

        This is for Rod!

  34. lufcboy

    Fuck me – give the bloke a chance – he hasn’t even been the owner for a month yet. He’s got shit loads to do – sack the manager, root out the Elland Road spy, buy Thorpe Arch and Elland Road get at least 10 new players etc etc etc

  35. jck1979

    I think cellino will buy er as soon as he had sold calgari and sorted the shit that Bates and gfh have left. I think he will sort it for us to get back in premiership but were we stay there not up and down come on lads it’s not gunna happen overnight you buy a house and it takes months before you move in and start outing wooodchip up ha ha lets just get behind the team and manager like we do every week mot forever

  36. Old jake

    If Leeds fans didn’t have blind faith no one would have gone to the games for a long time now. There’s a bit too much premature angst here imo. It’s obvious Cellino has been sold a bit of a pup,so let’s wait and see. For the first time I can remember someone is putting his hand deep in his own pocket for Leeds, and that means he’s going to want it all to work. He won’t be able to walk away like Ridsdale and leave others to pay the bill, clean up the crap etc..


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