billy bremner  statue at Elland Road (Large)We should have known better really. A seamless transition from GFH Capital to David Haigh et al’s Sports Capital was never all that likely, becauses things are rarely so simple for Leeds United.

Originally expected to be completed early this month, the takeover was initially delayed by Football League bureaucracy (or so we were led to believe, at least). But assurances were offered that the delay in proceedings would not inhibit Brian McDermott’s January transfer plans, the takeover was a mere formality and as such, funds were put in place by the new owners to ensure progress wasn’t held up while they crossed the t’s and dotted some i’s.

But as the days dragged on without confirmation of a completed deal and despite assurances from the powers-that-be, the alarm bells started ringing. When a planned £500,000 swoop for Ashley Barnes fell through because GFH had blocked the deal, despite Sports Capital fronting the cash, it became clear things weren’t quite as rosy as the club has led us to believe.

The last statement provided by those involved said things had taken longer than expected but both parties continued to work towards a successful completion “sooner rather than later.” There’s no indication as to what may be holding things up, but as the close of the January transfer window nears and the takeover continues to drag on, this all feels a little too familiar and has Leeds United fans understandably concerned.

Those concerns are compounded by reports of a rival bid from Massimo Cellino, owner of Italian side Cagliari, who has been linked with takeovers of other English clubs in the past. Cellino has twice been convicted of fraud, once for false accounting at Cagliari and a second charge for defrauding the EU of £7.5m. He’s also gone through 36 managers in the last two decades, none of which will appeal to a Leeds United who’ve had more than our fair share of dodgy owners and are desperately in need of stability.

But while the reports of Cellino’s interest aren’t particularly encouraging, they do make sense. A rival bid explains why the transfer for Ashley Barnes was blocked by GFH despite the money being provided by Sports Capital. It’s understood that David Haigh et al have been financing the club for some time now and this doesn’t seem to have caused any issues previously, so something has clearly changed over the last couple of weeks which has led to the precarious situation the club now finds itself in.

For Brian McDermott, this all must be incredibly frustrating. The Whites responded well to the 6-0 hammering at Hillsborough, losing 1-0 to Leicester City last time out but his Leeds United side made the league leaders look second best for much of the game and were desperately unlucky to lose. A couple more signings and Leeds United could still be genuine contenders for a play-off spot, but just like in the summer, Brian McDermott finds his hands tied by yet another Elland Road takeover drama.