Brian McDermottJust when you think things can’t get any stranger at Elland Road, Brian McDermott returns to training this morning as if the events of Friday night simply didn’t happen.

David Haigh, who resigned following McDermott’s dismissal on Friday, was back in place the following morning and has spent the last couple of days trying to fix the damage caused by Cellino’s premature culling.

That Cellino’s takeover hadn’t completed and his lawyer didn’t have the power to dismiss Brian McDermott and the club CEO Paul Hunt is largely beside the point. Someone at Elland Road had convinced Cellino he had the authority to act, McDermott was issued with written notice of his dismissal and if this whole thing had ended up in court (which sooner or later, it probably will) an embarrassed Leeds United Football Club would have struggled to come out of the hearing unscathed.

Backtracking more astonishing than when Nick Clegg shafted the students has been the story of the last 48 hours as Cellino points fingers at the club’s owners and tries to insist he never planned to replace Brian McDermott, this despite attempts to place Gianluca Festa on the bench for the league game against Ipswich Town.

Festa was originally expected to take charge of the club’s 5-1 win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday, but as the fall-out from ‘TOMAggedon*’ continued, fans gathered outside Elland Road’s East Stand to protest against the Italian and someone at the club saw sense to place Nigel Gibbs in charge of the first team instead.

Cellino meanwhile now claims Festa was only brought in to act as a translator and he had no plans to replace Brian McDermott upon completing his takeover, but his words aren’t likely to convince anyone. Who exactly was the Italian required to translate for when Leeds United took on Ipswich Town with a team and bench full of English-speaking players? Who was he there to translate for when twice interfering with training sessions before McDermott’s dismissal? And why was Festa sat in the stands scribbling notes on pictures of the first team as Leeds tore Huddersfield apart on Saturday?

Maybe he’d been struggling with the pronunciation of ‘Lees’ and they were just flashcards…?

Whatever the truth of the matter is, there’s no doubt in my mind that certain individuals from GFH played a significant part in the whole saga. Someone, somewhere led Cellino to believe he had the power to act.

Cellino claims it was GFH who wanted Brian McDermott to be fired but were too cowardly to do so themselves and for me, it’s telling how quiet Salah Nooruddin (the club’s chairman) and Hisham Alrayes (Managing Director of GFH Capital) have been throughout all this drama.

Meanwhile, the current status of Paul Hunt is still unclear. Hunt, appointed Managing Director of Leeds United Football Club back when it seemed as if someone knew what they were doing, was fired for protesting Brian McDermott’s dismissal on Friday night by the same lawyer who sacked McDermott.

By Saturday morning, Hunt was back at the club, but by the time we kicked off against Huddersfield Town, news that he’d been sent home had spread. Hunt was the only ‘football man’ in a high-level position at a club otherwise run by Bahraini bankers, so his presence was somewhat reassuring to those of us who questioned whether GFH Capital had the necessary experience and personnel to successfully manage Leeds United Football Club.

In other news today, the two rival consortia vying for control of Leeds United appear to have team up. Andrew Flowers says the new consortium will submit a bid matching the offer GFH accepted from Cellino tomorrow.

*TOMAgeddon – TOMA is a term coined by Leeds United fans on the popular messageboard WACCOE. The word is an abbreviation of the phrase ‘take over, my arse!” which expresses the fans disbelief at any news of a pending takeover of the club. The phrase was a common response to rumours of takeovers throughout the Ken Bates era and the term TOMA is now used widely among Leeds United fans to describe any takeover process.

Brian McDermott is due to give a press conference at 13:15 today, The Scratching Shed will be covering this event by liveblog. 

16 Responses

  1. tim campbell

    On a side note is this new italian loan signing any good apparantly hes already been loaned out a few times

    • Tim

      It will be a severe test for the FL that’s for sure. If they don’t we need a new deal settled very quickly. Haigh buggered this up with a two month exclusivity period followed by then not coming up with the cash.

      • markman

        dont think Haigh was 100% to blame his statement implied that someone
        in his consortium failed to deliver.

        If they allow Cellina in they may as well allow charles manson in if he were to win the lottery.

      • Irving08

        The FL will not want to se another administration debacle at Leeds. That is bound to count in the final reckoning.
        A mega-consortium sounds an absolute nightmare.

  2. Tim

    Listening to Salem Patel being interviewed by Adam Pope I got the feeling he was being evasive about the dismissal when he started talking about recent poor results!
    The Football League are meeting this pm and have a tricky decision to make. Meanwhile have the other potential buyers got the financial clout and is there time to get all of this settled before financial meltdown yet again at ER? Bearing in mind the club has a reported circa15m hole in cashflow and has borrowed 6m from the Haigh lot and still having difficulties meeting creditor payments of which you can be sure HMRC will be a major one, then a lot of funding needs to be in place on top of a cut price share purchase. I think GFH are desperate to sell and raise funds even at a loss as their business is struggling. Lets hope and prey for a satisfactory conclusion as we can still make a success of this season. The second half on Saturday shows we can play some football and Murphy getting further forward made a big difference.

      • mrbigwheels

        Doubt Brian will be in place that long. Cellino in his passionate english may well be being very truthful in his statement… the present owners were not brave enough to sack the manager… The Arabs have dirty palms and perhaps left David out of it all, then let Cellino do the nasty. They win either way…. for the moment.

  3. PMH

    The controlling factor here is Cellino’s brain, an organ which might be hard to locate. Doesn’t he have lawyers to tell him where he stands? How can he think he has sacking power before the deal is finalized and approved by the league? Does he have any idea of the scale of the PR disaster he has just engineered? If he wanted to buy Leeds his best option would be softly, softly. A very low key approach reassuring that stability would continue with new money for signings. That would have been hard to argue. Instead, he comes in like a bull in a china shop. Now he is trying to glue bits together and it won’t work. I just hope he can read enough English to understand what a debacle he has created, with a huge hit to his business reputation. I’m not betting on it.

  4. mrbigwheels

    Am very grateful for the balanced update TSS, thank you.

    Look forward to your press conference coverage… Today will be a day of ‘true colours’. These Arabs are just clueless without a football heart. Trust them at great distance will be my mantra… The confusion of who works for who, who is GFH or who is GFH-C is their total get out of jail card at the moment. Some knives need to be drawn here, imo.

  5. leedsthruandthru

    The new consortium may well wait for the outcome of the FL decision on Cellino before making their joint bid. If Cellino is deemed unfit by the FL then GFH will be desperate to sell and will likely take a reduced offer from the only remaining bidders. Personally unless they have a billionaire arab backer Id rather have Cellino.

  6. oldschoolbably

    Football is, sadly, an amoral shitpit. That`s why I`m prouder than ever to be a Leeds fan, as we`ve demonstrated again how we still value honesty, integrity, decency and good grace – the defining characteristics of Brian McDermott.
    That said the football world is what it is. To be fair to GFH the clue is in the name. They are a finance house and never really tried that hard to pretend they were anything else.
    Money = power just as much as it = money. Hundreds of words have been devoted to Cellino`s misdemeanours. There is limited information on the true depth of his pockets. If they`re deep enough he`ll circumnavigate FL rules and buy the club. A Sardinian leg to the rollercoaster ride is, at the very least, on the way home From Bahrain.

    • Irving08

      I agree OS.
      And whatever else it has done, this succession struggle has injected new energy into the club.

      • sydney whites

        GFH clearly don’t have the appetite for risk to take th club forward and either got in over thier heads or were speculators. But who do we turn to. I’m nervous about consortiums; they consist of individuals who don’t have the funds individually to make a go of it – the appetite to throw money at Leeds will quickly wane. It all about money and if Cellino has the money (big if) then give him a go. Certainly appears to be a dearth of billionaire Yorkshiremen prepared to put their fortunes on the line.

  7. Between the Lines

    What I find sad there are still some misguided supporters that still want McD out. To them I ask, can you name one manager that has been successful at a club that hasn’t had at least one of the following.

    1. Time to build a squad
    2. Money to buy a squad
    3. A decent squad to start with

    McD certainly hasn’t had time and only limited money (you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear) and most of the people that have been criticising Mac have also been criticising the players.

    There are also some (again I say misguided supporters) that want Cellino to take over because has money.

    I’ll tell why he shouldn’t take over, for the some of the reasons people wanted Bates out.

    Like Bates He won’t listen to the supporters, he’s proved that already and say what you like about GFH, they have listened to the supporters on many issues.

    Like Bates, Cellino seems to like court cases.

    Unlike Bates however, he may put some money into the club, (rather than take it out) but he will constantly be interfering with team, buying the players he wants, (he’s proved that too) and probably selecting the team, sacking the coach when it fails which probably accounts for the number of coaches he’s had at Cagliari and the success (or lack of it) he has had.

    I truly hope GFH consider any offers, and hope other consortiums offer a fair price to ensure a deal goes through.

    Finally I hope the FA grow some sphericals when looking at the fit and proper issue


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