I must confess at the outset that I have never written an article or indeed a blog before, nor have I ever been inclined to do so until recently. My sudden urge to put my two pennies worth down in writing was inspired by recent comments made by Shaun Harvey surrounding the Leeds United Ownership ‘saga’.

At a recent press-conference Mr Harvey reiterated that any element of dishonesty present in the written judgement of Massimo Cellino’s legal case would prompt the Football League to disqualify the aforementioned from being a Director of Leeds United Football Club and force him to sell his shares.

This brings me nicely to the Football Leagues Owners and Directors test; the test that Mr Harvey’s comments alluded to whilst breaching his own Football League Policy on ‘not commenting on individual cases’. More on Mr Harvey’s lack of professionalism later.

At this point I’d like to draw your attention to a quote:

“The Owners’ and Directors’ test is concerned with ensuring that Clubs are not managed or controlled by individuals who may present a risk to the Club’s position”

This is a direct quote from the Football League’s regulations. It forms the basic principle underlying the test that the Football League implements – to mitigate the risk to a club and to maintain the ‘reputation’ (please contain your laughter) of the game.

Not even the most cynical of fans could argue that this is a bad thing and of course football’s presiding organisations should be looking to protect their member clubs from unnecessary risk. This is precisely the reason why the Football League’s decision to implement the test in a given situation should always be measured against the principle of mitigating the risk to the club. After all what is the point in implementing a rule which fails to achieve its underlying purpose.

The Football League have the complete discretion over the application of the Owners and Directors Test and by reiterating their desire to disqualify Mr. Cellino, Mr Harvey is implying that this would be in the best interest of Leeds Untied Football club.

Really Mr Harvey?

In no uncertain terms, the removal of Massimo Cellino would be catastrophic and would leave the club’s finances in a perilous position – who would fund the club? The forced sale of his shares would create a ‘false’ market environment with every chancer circling the club like a pack of wild dogs, looking to make a quick buck and drive a hard bargain with a man who has no choice but to sell.

The financial uncertainty and organisational chaos off the pitch is likely to impact matters on it. Players wondering whom they are going to be playing for, who is going to pay their wages? It’s not a dramatic stretching of the imagination to foresee relegation being a real possibility under those circumstances, Administration? Liquidation?

How is any of this in the best interests of Leeds United? This is not scare mongering or fanciful analysis but the stark reality of what could happened should Cellino be disqualified. You would therefore be inclined to think that a rational minded Governing Body would not take such a decision lightly. After all, the entire test is designed to limit the risk to the club… isn’t it?

So what risk does Mr. Cellino pose to Leeds United?

This is a man with an undoubted chequered past. However it is notable that his previous misdemeanors took place in Italy. With the greatest of respect I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on convictions brought by a country where Silvio Berlusconi was Prime Minister. As far as politics and law are concerned some consider Italy outlaw country where some businessmen bend rules as far as they can. I don’t think for one minute that Cellino would be as stupid as to try and do anything below board in England.

Nobody is suggesting that Cellino doesn’t pose a risk to Leeds, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it. The man has successfully sustained Cagliari in Serie A for the majority of his stewardship and his recent efforts at Elland Road have seen him do more for the club than the previous two owners combined, paying off substantial debts, stabilizing the club and given us fresh hope with a new squad of players – hope that was destroyed by two previous, calamitous regimes.

The reality is that Cellinio’s previous exploits are no worse than that of others involved in football be they Russian Oligarchs, rapists, or convicted fraudsters. Being honest – how much integrity is there left to protect in Football when the International Governing Body are as corrupt as they come and where bribery forms a legitimate part of a World Cup bidding process.

How successfully has the Owners and Directors Test been in previous years? Coventry, Portsmouth, Blackburn, Leeds, Birmingham to name but a few are all clubs that have suffered at the hands of owners who shouldn’t have passed this test. Why is it only Leeds that gets targeted?

How much integrity does the Football League have? How fit for purpose are those that seem to be so incessant on protecting the virtues of football only when it concerns Leeds United.

They are a body made up of representatives of their member clubs. How can those with vested interest in their own clubs be trusted to remain impartial, unbiased and objective when it comes to deciding the fate of one of their direct competitors? Meanwhile the fans just have to sit back and watch aghast at whatever punishment their club is dealt.

What of the man in charge of this Governing Body, a man who is responsible for picking it’s battles who is free to apply the rules to whoever he likes, who’s power and decisions are totally unfettered?

This is a man who has been involved in numerous Football administrations – interestingly the Directors and Owners Test also disqualifies any Director who has been involved in two administrations post 2004. No wonder Mr Harvey jumped to the other side of the fence so quickly! Doesn’t say much for his competence does it.

This is a man described by Ofcom as a bully. He recently remarked that all Cellino has done is “bring in 15 players and stablise the clubs finances” What is wrong with that Shaun? Clearing up the mess you helped create – the startling audacity of such a comment is only matched by the fact that it was made by someone who is supposed to be an impartial arbiter and custodian of the League.

Not exactly the sort of character befitting the role of Chief Executive of the Football League is it.

Mr Harvey was responsible for brokering the very deal that sold us to GFH Capital, an investment bank he assured us that would take the club forward, yet nearly ran us into financial ruin. He passed the torch to David Haigh, a man who now sits in a Dubai prison cell accused of Money Laundering and Fraud? Where was the Football League then?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Under Ken Bates ‘non-ownership’ and Harvey’s complicit stewardship Leeds United was owned for 6 years by a faceless Shell Company in the Cayman Islands – a tax haven, or in layman terms a place where rich business men can strategically and legally/illegally (circumstances depending) place their assets in an attempt to reduce their tax bill; you know the thing Mr Harvey is so keen on pursuing with Mr Cellino!

His tenure was so dodgy that it even warranted special attention in a Government investigation into Football Ownership. Harvey swore on oath that neither he nor Ken Bates knew who owned the club.

The Individual in charge of the Football League and so willing to risk the future of Leeds Untied Football club couldn’t even name the owner of the very same club – let alone whether or not they were fit and proper! The mystery shell company shortly sold the company to Ken Bates not long after the investigation – shocking I know.

The hypocrisy and outrageous duplicity of Shaun Harvey would be laughable if the consequences for Leeds United Football club were not so dire. His actions during his career make Cellino’s pale into insignificance and yet he is the very man who sits proud on his moral high horse whilst waiving his banner of integrity in his crusade to preserve the good name of football, and of course the best interests of Leeds United.

Meanwhile the majority of the football world and the media sit idly by, concentrating on non-truths and portraying Cellinio as the pantomime villain.

The bleak reality of the situation is that disqualifying Cellino would breach the very principle of which the Owners and Directors test is supposed to protect – but what else would you expect from a biased governing body who are accountable to no one and who are led by an individual like Shaun Harvey.

To use Shaun Harveys own words, The ‘cloud hanging over Leeds United’ is just a small part of the storm that sits over football in general, a storm where the lightning seems to target my club, no our club, on a regular basis and a storm that is created by non-other than the very people who are there to protect our clubs interests.

In the event Cellino is found guilty of dishonesty perhaps he should just set up a faceless company in the Cayman Islands and plead ignorance – oh how fitting that would be.

Simon Picket

46 Responses

  1. Neil

    Well said, how Harvey has the brass neck to even offer his comments is beyond belief given his own financial meddlings / overseeing role whilst being the pet monkey of a Monaco tax exile. The football league’s corrupt.

      • Magnum990

        Well said…one thing that got pointed out by the FA scumbags is that Harvey was handed this post based on the fact that he had experienced so many administrations he really knew how to deal with those issues. Is that akin to saying that someone gets appointed as an executive of a bank because he went through 2-3 bankruptcies he really knows the ins and outs of them. Harvey didn’t gain the knowledge by studying it like say an Accountant would do, but he gained the knowledge by being part of the team that put those clubs thru administration. Or how about putting bank robbers in charge of the banks maybe another analogy. Should I go on…?

  2. Tyler75

    Really good article. Harvey is hell bent on removing Cellino so that he can engineer the return of his puppet-master Bates and they can return to lining their pockets at our expense. If (and its a big ‘if’ ) Harvey gets his way – I for one will not set foot inside another football league ground. Fortunately we’ve got an owner with real balls and significantly more savvy (and better lawyers !) than the self-serving incompetents who run the football league. Mr Harvey, you are welcome at ER at any time to enjoy a full and frank exchange of opinions with us ‘morons’.

    • theseagullbus

      I’m not so sure about SHs intentions with regards to KWB.It could be that Bates has offered (or is about to offer) Max a route to shedding debt by having a pre-pack administration;just taking the 10 point hit and knocking GFH into the gutter. Harvey wouldnt be daft enough to say something the FL didnt agree with and I reckon they’re looking out for Mr Bates returning to the club in some capacity.
      It could be that despite the accusations/online protests that both SH and FL are only looking out for Leeds United,where it took us years to get past the last admin and then suffered even more financial woes since.
      Just saying btw and not necessarily supporting or attacking anyone (smiles)

  3. Ray

    Your analysis is spot on…could not agree more. It is selective decision making by Harvey (applied when it suits him and not applied when it does not suit him). Get off our backs Harvey, more positives have happened in Celinios short reign than ever occurred with you, Bates or GFH. You never were and never will be welcomed back at Elland Road

  4. Tare

    TSS your TW posts has been almost readable in Tw account, a role in gesture and arole in hole. Well some behaviour David in the true sense why not? But take it easy mate this LEEDS FOOTBALL CLUB WILL RISE AGAIN some sunny day but not with speculative BS with besserwisser attidude.

    But have a nice night ..

  5. Jamie

    What’s the bet the FL disqualifies Cellino, and the only buyer who comes forward for his shares is Ken Bates.

  6. Andy

    Well said! You have captured what most Leeds supporters feel and believe. I suspect the same is true with many supporter groups from other clubs. It will remain that way until the FL is held to account by the supporters they are supposed to serve… They are the clubs. They remain long after the charlatans have gone to count their ill gotten gains. Harvey is a parasite who has attached himself to our game and unfortunately, to our club. Surgery is required and hopefully, Cellino’s lawyers will help to facilitate that. He is not the sort of man who will take this lying down!

  7. gary

    I truly feel that SH thinks he is helping LUFC with his comments but how can one man be so deluded with such a chequered past. He obviously has designs on LUFC and some sneaky strategy to return to the club like a kinight in shinning armour and be the saviour.

  8. Ted Jarvis

    An excellent analysis of the situation. I cannot believe the audacity of Harvey, his thinly veiled contempt for Leeds is no surprise but what is most surprising is that he thought it appropriate to make these crass comments in public. I really hope Cellino drags the FL through every court available and that Harvey’s past dealings are dragged into the public’s glare fully. We all know Cellino is no angel but as you point out this ‘O&D’ test is designed to protect clubs not put their very existence in doubt. My only hope is that based on what I have read, the Italian judge may say in her written judgement that the conviction was ‘dolo eventuale’, in other words what was done could be seen as an ‘oversight’ rather than a deliberate act of dishonesty. Apparently the fine handed down was about 1/10th of the maximum and she also commented that the level of the fine was due to the ‘mitigating circumstances’.

  9. DeedaLUFC

    “who would fund the club? The forced sale of his shares would create a ‘false’ market environment with every chancer circling the club like a pack of wild dogs, looking to make a quick buck and drive a hard bargain with a man who has no choice but to sell”.
    Hmmmm, Shaun Harveys buddy Uncle Ken maybe… a man who still has an unhealthy fascination with the club, so much so he tried to weasel his way back as part of Haigh’s failed consortium and has moved into offices across from Elland Road like some kind of geriatic stalker. But of course Shaun Harvey doing his bit to facilitate this would be purely coincidental…

  10. Italiano Presidente

    Fantastic rant and stupendously accurate and aware. The only slight criticism that I would have is that it portrays the slime ball Harvey in a better light than I believe he deserves! Cellino is ten times the man that Bates or Harvey could ever be. There is no financial risk what-so-ever with Cellino. He has balanced the books, sorted out bad debt,,put Leeds on a firm financial footing and settled outstanding legal claims. The club is better run now than at any time that Harvey was greedily leeching on us! But, this is not about risk. It is about jealousy and fear that under Cellino Leeds will regian its stature amongst the elite. It is Harvey’s attempt to disrupt the progress that is being made. A vile and wicked attempt to shame Cellino. Harvey, crawl back under your stone. You are nothing to Leeds United. Cellino, if you are reading this then I hope that your lawyers take on Harvey and ruin the man, not that there us much of a man left!

  11. Tare

    Analysis well this approach for FL MD well this former postman like in cartoons as postman shaun 2 well no surrenders here..

    Boys are boys whatever they representing here…


    • Patrick Hogan

      Evening Tare. Glad you’re still posting and supporting. Let’s hope for 3 points at Brum tomorrow; and I hope you’re able to watch it. MOT

  12. chicagowhite

    Good piece but you forgot the 3 football administration the tireless Mr Harvey has presided over in his rise from postman to office boy at the FL, let’s also not forget his duplicity or ignorance with regard to LUFC mysterious ownership situation during his time at LUFC.

    Also while acting as Chief exec of the FL why was he courting potential owners in the far east for LUFC this has never been explained by him or the FL and how that is not a conflict of interest in anyone’s book is beyond me.

    • JCharlestheman

      Absolutely! How can he possibly be in such a position is beyond me, definitely conflict of interest always has been and always will be, the online petition will reach 100,000 very soon, just wait! How anyone in life can be so hellbent on making it his life’s whole purpose in life,to TRY and destroy our beloved club is beyond me Wouldn’t like to be him when MC returns, bet he’s got some skeletons he wants to bring out!!!!!!

  13. John Brown

    To borrow a phrase from George Galloway, to be lectured on honesty by Shaun Harvey is like being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He was Ken Bates bagman for f*ck sake!

  14. John Brown

    Shaun Harvey is like a grotesque Dickens villain. He’s a little f*&cking weasel!

  15. Thommohawk

    This man (Shaun Harvey) shouldn’t even have a job in football let alone blag the position he has got where he gets to abuse his power and rain down the almighty on LUFC and Cellino for the very same thing he himself was guilty of.

    How many times have you seen it where someone gains power of any kind and waves the book for minor offences that they themselves have been far more guilty of…. That and absolute power corrupts absolutely – 99.99% of the time regardless of the individual.

  16. Richard Wakeman

    I would like to extend my thanks for such a measured report on the ongoing and somewhat drawn out saga that is Leeds United Football Club. As a life long fan I have like many who take an interest in all things LUFC look forward to a time when the articles we read are of a footballing nature.

    Everything Shaun Harvey ever does seems to resonate like the sound of a waiting viper ready to strike at the very heart of our beloved club, imvho I believe he should apply a common sense approach to our situation, and less time planning our total extinction (not before he can plan getting rich at our expense). As a custodian of the league association he is the yard stick which all follow (a yard stick I would beat him with).

    Shaun Harvey leave our club and your comments to yourselve, Cellino is by far the best and only viable option leeds fans need and should want….Cellino + Leeds = common sense and a brighter future

    Leeds + Bates/ Harvey = quick profit and Leeds demise

  17. Dermot Henley

    Better piece than anything written by the so called journalist. Cellino should hire a private investigator to check out Mr harvey.

    • Conceived-a-White

      Or even a ‘horse’s head’ in his bed! (Figuratively speaking horse lovers everywhere). Harvey must think he is untouchable.

  18. Rebel White

    Top marks Simon for an excellent article. You summarise the ridiculous situation Leeds United finds itself in with great clarity. It’s such a joke to have our existence threatened by such an insipid twisted cartoon style baddie, who unfortunately is in a seriously powerful position. There is much to be gained for the football league and the other clubs in keeping Leeds United down and damaged without adding the ulterior personal motives of Harvey and his dubious buddies.
    The pressure and glare of publicity is one of our few weapons. People like Harvey crave respectability as much as power and he won’t achieve this with the C.V. that he has. Your article needs a wider audience but many of the mainstream media just want to run with the stereotype of Leeds serving their punishment for having the cheek to threaten the top. It was the same through the seventies.
    Again, for a first article, well done and keep it up. We need people of your ability to keep beating the drum!

  19. JDC

    The very best analysis of the situation at LS11 … very well done and please ensure that a copy is sent to Massimo’s lawyers, who are, I’m certain, fully aware of the poisonous, corrupt little cretin that is Shaun Harvey. My major concern around the current situation is that MC becomes disillusioned about his purchase and decides to turn his back on the club … please, please Massimo, stay and fight the poison dwarf, do not walk away.

  20. Chareose

    Great article Simon……you need to do more. Perhaps you could explain the status quo to Moscow White at “The City Talks” ………..he seems confused
    Ignoring Shaun Harvey for a second as you mentioned the other intrinsic problem with the Football League is that by their very nature they have absolutely no interest in protecting football clubs……
    As leeds fans we know all about this paradox from our administrations….. When the topic of a League Club in administration comes up at the Football League they ask that clubs Competitors to vote on it…….Ofcourse how are they going to vote ?? The fact that’s it COOL to hate Leeds United will never do us any favours anyway. Then you throw in the natural competiveness of the other clubs voting……… The result ?? “MAXIMUM POINTS DEDUCTION” EVERY TIME…………. the same happened to Portsmouth and others…. The people who mismanaged these clubs walk away and often manage other clubs again but the FANS of the club that the Football League persecute have to pick up the pieces when they have done absolutely nothing wrong…..
    Clubs are not businesses , they are communities and in an age were community is dying we should be doing everything we can to protect them…………
    Like you say the fit and proper owners test should be about how the club is being run and on that Front Cellino would get a Gold Start and top marks because he has reduced our debts, stabilized the club, reduced our overheads and brought in better players who are young and therefore are worth money as an asset.

  21. Gaz Lamb

    You are exactly right in what you say Mr Harvey needs to crawl back under the rock from which he came from! So f(#k off Shaun Harvey ! So lets support the boys & what Mr Cellino is doing for Leeds United & the fans. WE ARE LEEDS

  22. Rambo

    Brilliant article – all Leeds fans and other decent folk, send this to anyone you have ever met !

  23. LUFC 442

    Excellent article fella. The double standards on display from Harvey and the FL defies belief. I almost feel sorry for Penfold. He is quite obviously a sad, bitter, little man…

  24. Chris farnhill

    Brilliant article. Thank you for taking the time to write it. Please forward a copy to Cellino and his Lawyers!

  25. Scud68

    Nice one. It would be great if certain members of the media would read it, then they could stop using the phrase ‘crisis club Leeds’ and start using the phrase ‘crisis organisation -the FL’

  26. Meltham White

    Brilliant article ! Harvey is no different to Cellino – how can he be a “judge”?!? At least we know Cellino is the owner not a Carribean shell company (Bates?)
    Makes you sick.

  27. bruce

    What can I say. Absolutely brilliant. Every football fan in Britain should read this and put aside petty differences. This is about our game, our heritage and when you put this along side FIFA you see precisely just how much the whole organisation stinks from top to bottom. Parasites and hypocrites.

  28. Helen LUFC

    Simon Picket, what can I say? Great article, to the point, direct and well presented. Cellno is a convicted criminal? True? He’s not interested in Leeds? True. Cellino has not improved Leeds Utd? True. Could it have been any worse? Shaun Harvey is doing his job? True. Can we compare Cellino to other fl club oners? No. Why? Because they’re not stupid, like Leeds Utd. Will Cellino leave LUFC soon? Definitely.

    • Inchy

      Helen, are you Moorehouse off the YEP forum in disguise? You must be on Bates / SH payroll judging by the amount of utter rubbish you write on here. Shaun Harvey is doing his job?! What, trying to oust MC so Bates can buy us on the cheap and line his pockets again? Get a grip.

  29. spellz

    Great first article Simon, now to the point get this slimeball the axing from his position he deserves, when he first got the job as technical director us Leeds fans were like woahhhh…..Harvey, are you sure? as the loyal but blinded fans we are, we wish him luck even know he has been there through every chairman that has fucked us and took our money.
    Now this prick thinks the only person who has come in to Leeds and actually so far looks to be stabilizing the club is a liabilty to us, how the fuck can you draw to that conclusion? and how do you go about acting like you were not part of our previous miserable years when you yourself said you did not even know who owned the club, Harvey seriously FUCK you, you have the integrity of someone turning against thier own country and planting a bomb.
    I thought Cellino had passed his fit and proper test also? so why oh why every time does Leeds have to go through this victimisation? we are always singled out and eventually shot down, just like when we got that deduction in League 1 every chairman agreed to it, so everyone against Leeds United football club including someone like Harvey who got away with murder in his tenure………..big middle finger up to you.

  30. Andy Walsh

    Its strange how Mr Harvey was quick to jump on LUFCs owner MC about ANY ELEMENT OF DISHONESTY yet failed to even mention BARCLAYS BANK interest rate shambles, even though BARCLAYS BANK sponsor the premier league. So the money Barclays pay the football league is infact dishonest as they obtined it under false prentences (hence the out of court settlements)
    Be nice to get a reply from Mr Harvey on this matter, or any press official to his thought on the matter ;)

  31. Nick Ryle

    This is an excellent summary of our current predicament with Harvey. Its not clear to me what his agenda is, but its definitely not helpful or constructive as far as Leeds is concerned. One can only assume that its driven by his ongoing relationship with Bates and the latters continuing desire to damage Leeds from the sidelines. I can only agree with pretty much all the comments on here that Harvey’s part in the Bates years should not only disqualify him from involvement with any football club ever again, but should absolutely ensure that he has nothing to do with footballs governance. The fact that the opposite is true is an utter disgrace and probably the worst example of the sickness and cancer that sadly sits at the heart of football.

    One day, the full story of the Bates era at LUFC will be told, and I’m convinced that it will reveal an appalling picture of greed, bullying, fraud, deceit and total incompetence. Much of it is known, but there is more to come out. Harvey was integral to all of it. He needs to be exposed. We need a real supporter in the media to get to work on this and its about time David Conn re-visited the whole sorry saga.

  32. stefleeds

    Excellent article, great read and I wholeheartedly agree with your point on Shaun Harvey and also we should give MC time to prove he does want to take the club forward, on the evidence so far this seems to be the case…

  33. Enrico Ferrante

    Wonderful and Trustfull article!!!
    I didn’t like the phrases of Mister Harvey???perhaps, is he still tryiing to deal Leeds United again…? Perhaps, is he trying to advantage some “friendly” investitors…? I would prefer thousands and thousands of times Massimo Cellino who knows very well as to run a football club.
    For sure, Massimo Cellino will do every single day his best for Leeds United.

  34. Paul Fowler

    Interesting to read your views on Shaun Harvey, having just read his thoughts on the EFL Checktrade Cup, which would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact he is the chairman of the EFL. Seems he’s not really changed in the intervening years. You article is very good, thanks.


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