A chance to salvage the wreckage of our once great football club TSS October 30, 2015 Leeds United 72 Comments You shouldn’t expect much in the way of a balanced assessment of Leeds Fans CBS’s plans to purchase Leeds United at this time, partly because news that they (and by which, I mean WE!) agreed a deal in principle to buy the club from Massimo Cellino has only just been announced meaning all the finer details of how the dream of fan ownership will be realised aren’t really out there yet, but mostly… I’m just too damn excited to process it all. After so many years of mismanagement from shady owners with questionable motives, Leeds fans finally have an opportunity to salvage the wreckage of our once great football club and take responsibility for its restoration. The news of an ‘in principle’ takeover agreement between Cellino and Leeds Fans CBS came (as all news seemingly does nowadays) via a simple Tweet from Leeds Fans CBS. Leeds Fans Utd has today reached agreement in principle with Massimo Cellino to purchase a majority stake in Leeds United Football Club. — Leeds Fans Utd (@LeedsFansUtd) October 30, 2015 This won’t be easy. The funds required are massive and a football club owned by fans comes with challenges of its own. Our opposition aren’t going to go easy on us because we suddenly represent football at its purest – a club operated not for the benefit of shareholders or on the whims of a wealthy individual who wanted the ultimate toy, but for the sheer love of the sport and community it served to create. But if anyone understands the legacy of this club and the responsibility that comes with its ownership, if anyone understands the importance of our fans and the traditions we hold sacred, if anyone understands what ‘side before self’ really means and what’s expected of those who are chosen to serve us, it’s us. And why not us? God knows we’ve tried the alternative and look how that’s turned out! After a hellish decade jumping from one owner-created crisis to the next, we have an opportunity to take charge of the situation and effect our own fate. Time to stand up and be counted. Matthew Great article TSS, I look forward to seeing some normality and stability(At long last) come to Leeds United if this happens. It’ll be nice to also see a club that won’t sack a manager when he’s going through a bad period, without giving him the chance to turn things around. Any sane person knows it takes time to build a team, and swapping and changing managers every few months is counter productive to achieving success. And more than anything, it’ll be nice to see a manager who can actually get on with the job of managing and not having someone of questionable character interfering. mrbigwheels Fan ownership is up in the air with me until I can fully understand how it works and certainly with a Club the size and potential of Leeds. What I do feel I know is that a Club will not be fairly successful if an owner keeps employing very poor managers that have no particular chance and through those selections sackings are frequent and the only action that can be taken, perpetuating the circle of inevitable instability and failure in results. I scratch my head as to any manager Cellino has employed that is right for Leeds in the Championship. Any… Fan ownership would have to get this appointment alone… spot on for me, never mind who owns what… and that needs money, good money. Irving45 I’m with you on all his Managers pre-Evans, who does appear to have some of the requisite qualities. I’d like to hear from Massimo why he trusted the judgement on whoever presented him with Rosler and Milanic. I guess Massimo just lacks a stable equilibrium point and so swings from one pole to the other – which is why he needed Pearson. mrbigwheels I think you are entirely correct in your views Irving. I have some faith in Evans in these early days and also the benefit of seeing him in action at Stamford AFC in his time managing that Club. His passion and eye was in good evidence… then. He may well succeed ‘on the grass’ if allowed the season within the owners forthcoming ban… Scally Lad If the billions of pounds needed to purchase and SUSTAIN operations, buy ER and TA, pay the salaries for the players and a manager (I think Anxelloti is available, and Mourinho soon may be), as well as staff, provide the means and cash for the constant, season-long travel costs for the side, and meet all the credit demands, guarantees of increasing revenue, vast expenses for insurance, lawyers, accountants and other professionals which banks will demand … If all the ongoing provision of personnel and the billions to pull this massive scheme off – and keep it going – are in place, then who could be against it? “I’ll buy a new shirt and chip in,” I can hear supporters say… henrymouni I take it these fans have some rich people amongst them TSS? It sounds great. It seems to work in Germany. Just in time to give Steve Evans a chance to succeed maybe. Lets hope all the fans get behind this and look forward to better things. No more lies and broken promises. No more manic ravings and court cases! Leave the manager to run the team! Chris supporter for 54 years. But where’s the money going to come from to invest in the team. We need a serious investor with boat loads of money. We want Cellino gone but let’s be serious. TSS We’re living in a fantasy world if fans really believe a selfless billionaire is going to buy us out and restore former glories – we’ve been clinging on to that pipe dream for over a decade now. Every owner we’ve had is here to turn a profit, not to bankroll us and none of them have (at least not in many years anyway). Maybe they’ve invested a little short term (as fans can too) but the money rebalances eventually and they start sucking the club dry (as with Bates, as with GFH… and if anyone thinks Cellino will lose money in the end, they’re deluding themselves). Leeds United can sustain itself at a much higher level than the Championship, especially when ALL money generated funds the club and nothing else. The club doesn’t need stupid money, it generates money itself and produces great players, it just needs a singular vision, free from the greed and whims of owners, stability and patience. Chareose Also think how many shirts the fans will buy when they know the clubs run by their own fan base………..it will go through the roof, as will all the merchandise sales Irving45 I think impatience is an inescapable fact of life at Leeds. The problem with Massimo is not his impatience or lack of vision. but the absence of any checks on his decision-making. I don’t see many potential owners around with his intensity of ambition. Randhi Bollox you really think a set of self appointed, deluded “voice of the fans” can run a football club? where is the money coming from? will they buy back ER? TA? whats the business plan for a club that can just about break even? you think these morons are better than MC? Randy lerner is failing with aston villa, liverpool run by billionaires, chelsea run by a billionaire, wigan are league one and they were financed by a very rich man, boro with gibson. The list goes on and on. And yet you lot think a a group who meet in a pub for their meetings can save leeds. henrymouni I don’t think we know what is going on just yet Mr Bollox. I assume there are rich business men amongst them who have the knowledge to run the club? Time will tell. Never a dull moment at ER!! TSS There is, but that’s entirely beside the point. Leeds United run as a football club and not for the profit or on the whim of it’s owners can be self-sustaining and successful. We produce the players and we generate the revenue. Take Bates out of the equation (a man who was sucking us dry at that point) back when Simon Grayson was in charge and we’d probably have been back in the Prem years ago. Bates wasn’t mega rich, nor did he invest beyond the original takeover (he only ever profited) yet he almost fluked promotion while asset-stripping and building pointless vanity projects. warren I agree, with the best will in the world, you are deluded! Curtis Abbott It’s not rocket science, you appoint good businessmen with a knowledge of football. I don’t see how they could do worse than the clueless gfh or the petulant child cellino. Hell, all you have to do is not commit multiple crimes, make illegal payments, and treat your staff like shit and you’re several steps up from cellino. Ron I’m with you on this one. This all sounds beautiful, but unless we have someone extremely capable people running this ship I think fans should take a few breaths and appreciate the task at hand. We will need more money to make this club great than people are currently penciling in. We all want Leeds where it rightfully belongs, but it’s currently the Titanic smashed all over the sea floor. Let’s hope GFH leave the register also. mrbigwheels Yeah… ”In the morning I’m going to go to the bank and buy back ER”… TSS That’s the trouble here – taking Cellino at his word is never the wisest of moves, although I can’t see what’s in it for him at Leeds any more; the fans have turned (which, unlike Bates, bothers him), his family have done one and the club is on a downward trajectory he doesn’t seem able to stop. He’s totally unfit to be LUFC owner, but I do sympathise with the guy, the situation really does seem to be getting to him. Chareose yes there is always the possibility that hes after some sympathy and then the sale never happen, fans need to be resolute in demand that he sells up and takes mini me and terry George with him mrbigwheels Now that I will applaud… Was last nights call demanding enough?. Boycotts don’t particularly work. This guy is wily… Chareose boycotts do work, Bates would never have left if we hadn’t started to hurt him in the pocket Irving45 There is no justification for a boycott or any kind of demonstration. Cellino has his faults – who doesn’t ? – but malevolence and indifference to fans – are not among them. He wants the best for Leeds and, it appears, has spent a lot of money trying to dig us out of a deep hole, as well as obviously putting the hours in on the club’s behalf. He needs our help and support to help him find a way forward for both the club and a graceful exit, if that is now his intention. mrbigwheels Ok… but stay resolute… no hankies. Irving45 Cellino’s ‘unfitness’ is adequate to LUFC: he is just us writ large. Chareose TSS I like many are with you but its at this point that all the sniffers and whiners appear to tell us what a load of waffle it is……………in life you have the Do’ers and the Whiners, evidence below and on other forums………. I always use what happened to Portsmouth AFC as a perfect example of this, I live near Portsmouth and know lots of its fans so I have a fair understanding of what they went through. In essence like our fans, they bickered and argued up until the point that club was about to be liquidated. I think it went down to a matter of 48 hours and then suddenly they all got behind the fan lead buy out that some positive bright spark had gone to the effort of setting up while all the other sods sat on their asses and sniffed at it Im hoping that in our case we wont have to see leeds going to the wall before people mobilize and from the sounds of it, it wont matter. Correspondance from Leeds Fans utd has always suggested that they are in contact with both prospective buyers and also millionaire Leeds fans that were sniffing around the idea of a fan lead buy out If this is happening its fantastic news and to have some fan respresentation on the board with be a breath of fresh air Many fans ask who will fund us ?? Well the club can fund itself, this isn’t Portsmouth AFC, this is Leeds United and has one of the biggest fan bases and merchandise sales in Europe, its perfectly capable of funding itself if its run properly . Arsenal are owned by a number of wealth individuals, not just ONE, if one of them makes a bad call the others can reign him in…………I hope this is where Leeds is headed Tim It’s all a load of complete naïve fairytale bollocks! This is Cellino just taking the heat off for a while. LUST make it sound like they represent all the supporters which they certainly don’t. Just where do they think the money to purchase and fund the cash flow is coming from, never mind buying the ground back?? Banks don’t fund hair brain schemes for businesses with no assets. Dream on and concentrate as Steve Evans says with what is happening on the grass! Chareose who said anything about Lust ??? You evidently know very little about it …………. David Lockwood Leeds would be a massive problem. There is all the inherited debt and court cases against the club, then there is the problem of financing the rent on ground etc, which runs for another ten years or buy back! We have a team in free fall. There are wealthy backers I am sure, and they may have the nouse to turn things around, particularly if they can avoid expensive litigation, but don’t look at the banks for finance. This us a big ask, but the people leading the buyout know best on whether it can be done. I am not anti Cellino, I just wish that he could have been more professional in his aporoach and brought in more support. I know that would be against his nature – sad though! henrymouni Hi David. A real surprise!! Massimo may be calling their bluff by offering ALL his shares. i would be surprised if there are massive debts, as even Mr Pearson said things were good. However we have heard that before. The cut backs and squad thinning and the loss of high wage earners must have helped a lot, plus the Ross & Sky money. Also the fact that we don’t own ER or TA will bring the price down nicely!. Along with Massimo doing ‘5 jobs at once’ for no pay! Speaking of Mr Pearson, if the Fans buyout could include someone like him, to also run the club it would be a big step forward. Also given a manager time and support with be a plus after 12 years of dictators. Interesting times – AGAIN!! MOT. David Lockwood Would love to see it come off. Money ruining English football need more fan ownership. Fingers crossed! Irving45 A certain sadness is in order: Cellino is not far from being the right owner for LUFC. I dislike the way people appear to be turning on him. It smacks of ‘the tyranny of the majority’. PMH Cellino (going?) gone is a big step forward. There are a lot of other steps needed though. We need a wealthy benefactor because fans don’t have enough cash, and shouldn’t be risking their mortgage money. Then we need sensible management top to bottom. Maybe Pearson can come back. One step at a time though. Scally Lad Even if all the millions of pounds are forthcoming from fans to buy the club, where are the millions coming from to sustain it? There’s rent on ER and TA to be paid, players’ and managers’ and staff salaries – to say nothing of lawyers, accountants, administrators, insurances, maintenance and so forth. Who will draw up the business plans? Who will present them to the banks, and what banks will underwrite them? On what security? … just a few of the thousands of questions we’ve got to confront if our owner walks away because we want now to be owners … henrymouni Yes we are a long way off SL. Sale agreed ‘in principle’ means that Massimo will sell to the fans, IF they/we can come up with the money. It is a big IF to purchase all his shares. It won’t be a quick purchase, but the Fans group must have confidence they can get the funds. Nothing is easy with us!!! Due diligence- AGAIN!!! AAaagh!! henrymouni In my quest to I understand how LU fans buyout would work I submit this from “Leeds Fans United’s” Mike Thornton:- “I have been asked many times how I see fans getting control of the club through directors on the board and I’ve been clear in my answer (I hope) and this position hasn’t changed – I don’t see fans getting control in the boardroom! I don’t like dictatorships where the dictator only has eyes on his own agenda (be that dictator an owner or a fan group); I like strong people who take decisions after seeking advice and having informed debate with a wide range of interested parties and who then follow a plan that fits most well. Fans are a VIP (Very Interested Party) and need to have their representatives fully conversant of the facts both of the whole fan base and the club so they can enter a proper (and confidential) debate. By being board members fans representatives will be informed and able to contribute to the decision without being in 100% control. So this means I am in favour of fans getting real influence in the boardroom. This is a big difference to control and means that the majority owner may still have the final say in many matters but the fans’ voice will be heard around the boardroom table and the points we put forward must be discussed. If a decision is taken that the fans representatives do not like it must be explained to them in a way that does not alienate them. As I said in another blog, as minority shareholders fans will have legal recourse if the majority shareholder exercises unfair prejudice but that is a final action that would only be used when fair dialogue has broken down. Having fans on the board of a club through the legitimate means of buying shares is much more powerful than participating in a fans forum (as some people have advocated to me) since a fans forum tends to be run by club employees rather than directors and any outcome of a fans forum (or focus group) tends to be edited and simplified before it is presented later to the directors to consider. Whilst this may be a step forward for some clubs I much prefer the notion of fans speaking directly to other directors as equals and not as “customers”. So to summarise, I’m in favour of fans investing new equity into the club to a level of 10 to 25% of the shareholding, which leaves the possibility of another shareholder holding more than the magic 75%. The other shareholders in the club (currently controlled by Massimo Cellino and GFH but could in coming years be any new owner) have nothing to lose by having fans work with them and we can only bring benefits. Our season ticket sales, away support and shirt sales are just a few indicators of the level of investment fans are willing to make to support the team and help the players and coaches succeed on the pitch. I’m sure that fans are also willing to invest into the club to support the management and help them increase the chances of on-pitch success. These are my views and are not policy of Leeds Fans Utd but by being a member I’ve been able to make my views known to the Exec. Mike Thornton” It seems like any other takeover but the fans can buy 10/25% of the club, with another rich investor buying 75% plus. Presumably a real Leeds fan. The board will be run by professionals, who have invested heavily too?? The fans have little or no say in the running of the club (not a bad idea!!) in reality. So, if we have this rich investor, it could well be on?? Irving45 I’m with you on all of that, but we already have a rich investor, whose strengths and weaknesses we know, so why not go into alliance with him ? I would be happier with that than with an unknown quantity coming into the club. Massimo has the intensity and heart we need and, like us, us he craves the almost impossible, stability and success. The fans inside the boardroom can provide the checks and balances whose absence, in my judgement, is our single, biggest shortcoming. With Evans looking like the kind of man unafraid of making tough decisions, plus these latest initiatives, I can see a glimmer of light, henrymouni Hi Irv! I think the original plan was to work with Massimo, and buy 10% of the shares. Massimo seems to have offered them all 75%!!! He is upset by his own lack of success, but maybe he will have a change of mind?? If we could win the next two games, it would be a totally different picture. If Steve Evans can bring in the players he wants, and Massimo can stop interfering with team selection, who knows?? A big IF!!! PMH “If we can win the next two games???” There is no number of wins that would fix the basic problem of LUFC which is a stupid and not rich enough owner. Even if Leeds got promoted, by some miracle,Cellino would assuredly scuttle the ship. Premiership would only feed his already outsized ego. We need wise leadership and stability, not just money. Cellino is impetuous and impulsively makes foolish decisions. We need new ownership because he has proven that he doesn’t learn so is not going to change. henrymouni It is what we used to say about Bates, but could not dislodge him with a landmine!! As you know, I have been troubled by ‘Massimo the Merciless’ from the off, and he has done nothing to change that!! However we are stuck with him unless we can buy him out. Whatever happens we will have him for most of this season at least!! My main concern now is the team, and our slide to oblivion. Massimo has admitted that he has influenced Uwe team selections (he is sorry now, but he will keep doing it!). He never learns from his mistakes!! When Adam left my heart sank, and it is still below water!! By the time we get new ownership we will be in Div 1, without new blood. I suppose Mr Wootten replacing the skipper tomorrow night?? IF we can win the next game (or two) we are in BIG trouble!! I am not thinking about Massimo or the takeover just now!! Irving45 Wooton may well be a better bet than Bamba anyway. I never thought I’d say that ! Matthew Cellino needs to understand that running a football club isn’t entirely about him, him and him. Had he approached the club in a different way, he wouldn’t be hugely unpopular with the fans, and running up one court case after the other. Matthew He’s making it all about him, look at the statement on the club website. Cellino is not Leeds United, he will never be Leeds United no matter how much he believes he is. That statement from him, which people will no doubt read with the tune of the worlds tiniest violin playing, is something that should never appear on any clubs website. Irving45 But if it hadn’t been for him, we’d have been in administration again. He’s poured himself into the club – obviously more than is good either for us or him. But his failings are al too human, so I for one will cut him some slack on this one. It would have been more reasonable last Thursday to get onto the players, notably Bamba, who is supposed to be the captain, than onto Cellino. henrymouni My view exactly Irv. The majority of our squad have seen off 3 managers already and keep getting paid. Steve Evans said, after the Blackburn game, that the team ignored all the instructions they had been given by the coaching staff.The moment the game kicked off the game plan went out the window. The difference now is that the manager won’t stand for it!!! No favourites!! Redder’s always supported the players and look what they did to him!!! Massimo is moody and reckless but he does not play in the team!! Not yet anyway!!LOL PMH If the whole team ignores instructions what are you going to do? Bench them all? How about you talk to them and get them on board. henrymouni Or change them for players who will listen, and have the ability and strength of character to perform? Matthew Anyone can see this squad is lacking in depth in quite a few key areas. This has to come down to the recruitement policy of the current regime. We also have a goalkeeper that would make even the best defence in the world football nervous with his performances. It’s not about “listening” it’s about the squad needing as Evans puts it a good 5-6 additions. Anyone who thinks this squad can challenge for promotion hasn’t been to Elland Road lately lol. Matthew It would be naive to believe the off the field instability created by Cellino would have no affect on the squad on a whole. The man has driven the club into disarray countless times since he’s arrived. If you want promotion everyone has to pull in the same direction. At the moment you have Cellino, and then you have everyone else. Matthew Like for like, this is the same excuses you see for Cellino from some people on social media. There’s no evidence to suggest that the club would face oblivion without him, there’s also no way you can excuse what he’s done to the club because he’s “invested some money” which he will want back when he sells. He’s done too much wrong to the club as a whole and has dragged the name through the dirt. Also, another thing, the admistration excuse has been used by apologists to defend Ken Bates too. PMH Why would any of the players take notice of the coaches when they are only temps and all the real decisions are made by the owner anyway? Cellino has undermined all his coaches, and this is the direct consequence. It’s a total farce. But, Evans took this job and it is his responsibility to get the players on board and earn their trust. It is always the bad managers who blame their employees. henrymouni The employees were bad before Steve Evans arrived, and before Uwe arrived. Can you make poor players good enough??? mrbigwheels Was thinking earlier this morning Henry, exactly the same. Far too easy for players to perform to their mood and pick up the money and move on when they want to. I don’t know whether performance incentives are paid but last match most of them were worth no more than the minimum wage/hour… imo. Any skill they possess was lost in an imaginary fog… Heaven help us if we get a real one tonight… Matthew I couldn’t have said it better myself. Hopefully someone who will leave his employees alone to do their job aquires the club and some stability will return to Elland Road at long last. We need to pick a decent manager and stick with him through the good and bad times. The only way you’ll achieve promotion in this league is to progressively move forward. We haven’t done this. henrymouni Interesting conundrum Matthew. Professionals in the game (including our Eddie) say that a player plays for himself and his family first. When he steps over the white line, he is thinking of his own performance, and also the teams. His good performances get him a new contract or a move to a ‘better’ team, and a bigger contract. If he plays badly he is dropped and sold and may have to take a wage cut. Although he is in a team, his own interests should/does come first. Also when you step onto the pitch you already know how to pass, shoot, tackle, THINK, give 100%, irrespective of the coach or tactics. “Off field activities are not on his mind when playing.” Eddie. Matthew You would also have to consider that most teams aren’t swapping and changing managers every few months. Do you honestly believe that the Massimo Cellino way of hiring and firing managers at the rate he has done could make any team consistantly perform? henrymouni in the second half, we could not score. We still looked dodgy at the back, and Bolton have massive debts (£183 million) and have a weak squad, but they were comfortable against us. So, not withstanding Massimo’s antics, the squad is not good enough even to survive in this league. Irving45 Cellino has made some bad managerial appointments pre-Evans, that’s for sure, with the possible exception of Redfearn. The evidence for his making ‘the real decisions’ on team selection is mixed; that his impatience (and ours) makes life difficult for them cannot be denied. The players too need more calm around them, but I see no reason to absolve them of responsibility for last Thursday’s abject first half display, and Bamba’s tantrum, in particular. They mrbigwheels This evenings match will give us a real picture of the defence without Bamba and perhaps place Wootton in his true position. Bamba for me is not a complete player and certainly am not impressed with his Captaincy… mrbigwheels As the days roll since MC’s announcement…. What is this Club going to cost a potential purchaser, as it sits today?. mrbigwheels Cellini backs out…… You could make it up as you go along. He does. henrymouni It’s probably because we won last night Mr B? This is the latest in a long list of stupid things that he has done. Not surprised though!!!! Irving56 Why stupid ? henrymouni Misguided? ill-considered? ill-judged? injudicious? Irving45 Perhaps both parties have made ill-judged moves. The fans group plainly could not buyb out Cellino without both bank loans and a number of wealthy individuals. While Cellino should have considered their limitations before leading them down this path. henrymouni It is so hard to know what is really going on Irv. Par for the course for us!! Irving45 There is a pro-Massimo petition awaiting your signature Henri. If only to show the self-appointed spokespersons for Leeds fans such as LUST (and the news hungry Radio Leeds crew)) that they don’t speak for everyone I urge you to sign it. henrymouni Ooooh! Nooooooooooo!! it is hard to think of what Massimo has done right, since he arrived. Irving45 He’s returned warmth to the club after the long winter of Bates; he is reported to have cut a lot of unnecessary expenditure; he has held on to our better players (and at least got good money for McCormack) as well as getting rid of a lot of dead souls; he has brought in a number of decent players (relatively few duds); he has acted decisively when things were failing – and may at last have found the right Manager for the club. henrymouni He seems to court disaster Irv. I’m sure his heart is in there right place but his mind is not – always. He needs good advisers around him. For all his wheeling & dealing our squad is no better. If Steve Evans wants 5/6 better players, and he does need them, it says it all. Great result against Cardiff but it had 0 – 0 written all over it. We rely on wonder goals and penalties to get anything from a game. Cardiff had 60% of possession. Irving45 I am quite impressed by his mind Henri; it is his mood swings that cause the problem. Overall I think our squad is better than two years ago or at any rate has the potential to be with the right Manager. I am sure Cellino will listen carefully to Evan’s requests. On goals I agree: McCormack has not been adequately replaced. Still it’s nice to have a player or two who can score goals to remember. Cardiff were a good side; the fact that we held them at bay without a lot of difficulty impressed me. Irving56 But didn’t alarm bells start ringing when they started publicly calling for the likes of Russell Crowe ‘to come on board’ ? They did for me and it’s what tirggered off the above thoughts. Irving56 Just logged on to share some thoughts on possible downsides of fan ownership only to see Massimo has backed out; but I thought I’d share them anyway. Presently we all feel entitled to have our say and even to feel like we are owners (albeit in a way I can’t exactly specify). But we may feel differently when we will be divided into different de jure categories of fan, shareowning and non-shareowning, with a potential further subdivision of ‘high net worth’ owners (with egos to match possibly). Last night felt good !