Leeds United takeover saga drags on TSS February 27, 2014 Leeds United 10 Comments The slowest takeover approval in Football League history continues to drag on for Leeds United as Massimo Cellino gets to grips with his new surroundings and sanctions the loan signings of two quality players in Jack Butland and Connor Wickham. Butland has already featured for The Whites, putting in an impressive display against Middlesbrough last weekend which helped to secure Leeds’ first clean-sheet in two months. Connor Wickham meanwhile is a near certainty to start alongside Ross McCormack for the early kick-off at Loftus Road on Saturday forming one of the deadliest looking strikeforces in the Championship. But while the club has received a substantial boost on the field, uncertainty surrounding Cellino’s takeover continues to distract from the main event. Football League approval is effectively a self-certification process, little more than a box-ticking exercise which determines whether you qualify for ownership of a football club, yet Cellino et al really seem to be struggling with it. This all leaves a level of uncertainty which would be distracting to any football club. While I’m 99.9% certain the Football League have no grounds on which they can fail Cellino, there’s always that slim possibility everything will fall through leaving us with questions about the health of the club’s finances going forwards. The Italian is already paying our wage bill via loans to GFH, he’s also cleared the debt to Enterprise Insurance and presumably sanctioned the signings of Butland and Wickham. That’s a hefty seven-figure sum which makes no odds if he does complete his takeover, but would have to be repaid if he doesn’t. It shouldn’t come to that, of course, but while ever Football League confirmation drags on, that nagging doubt is still in the back of everyone’s mind. It’s incredibly naïve of anyone to think cash will solve all our problems and we should just welcome Cellino with open arms because he appears to have plenty of it, but the grim reality of modern football is that club’s without cash don’t get very far. The incredible levels of loyalty Leeds United fans continue to demonstrate means there’ll always be a future for the club, but our future will be a bleaker one without generous investment. Think of it like gambling, you can play free poker and enjoy it in much the same way as you run a football club on the cheap, but neither provide much entertainment. We need someone like Cellino to come in and up the ante, place his chips and bet on a brighter future. And fans know this, it’s why the delay in Football League approval continues to frustrate us all. The trouble Cellino appears to be having is with the paperwork required and while progress has been made on this front, the Football League took the unusual step of issuing a statement to update fans on the current situation. In the statement, the FL revealed that they’re still waiting for further documentation to be provided before they can proceed. Said statement has since been removed from the Football League website (though you can see a copy of it here), which was an unusual and utterly pointless move from whoever made the decision to remove it as the statement had already been copied by every major news outlet, spreading across the internet like wildfire. Nevertheless, the statement served its presumed purpose – to get fans and media attention off the Football League, and put it back on Massimo Cellino and GFH, who the FL insist are the ones holding up proceedings by failing to provide the paperwork they’ve requested in a timely manner. More cynical fans may suggest that the Football League are deliberately stalling the process to try and find an out, which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility, but the Football League’s Owners & Directors test is a cowardly exercise which aims to remove them from any real decision-making process. The most obvious reason for a hold-up and additional paperwork requests is the way in which Cellino plans to structure the club, placing 75% into a holding company called Eleonora Sports, the controlling interests of which will be split between himself and the rest of his family. This would presumably mean that each individual with an ownership share of the club has to meet the guidelines before the takeover can be ratified, meaning the process is more complicated than if one individual bought the club outright. Until Cellino, GFH and their lawyers can provide the paperwork which allows the Football League to tick all their boxes, it’s impossible to say when this saga will finally come to an end and Leeds United fans can focus solely on the football.