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statement of intent at lufc: brian mcdermott sacked; and that was just the start

statement of intent at lufc: brian mcdermott sacked; and that was just the start

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8.14pm: At what must surely, nearly, almost be the end of a long day that Leeds fans have spent trying to follow the events at their club, manager Brian McDermott has been sacked.

…that’s how it started. McDermott’s sacking was the beginning of a chain of events that nobody could have predicted, and that hardly anyone could keep up with at the time. As news started coming in, I began to update what had been a fairly tightly written little report on McDermott being sacked that summed up the other main themes of the day; takeover confusion, bids for McCormack and the like. At first I put updates in relevant sections; by the end of the night, though, every section was relevant, and so what follows is not chronological, or thematic, and might not even make much sense any more. But it’s how it happened, and I’m taking it as proof that not of this, sadly, was a dream. Back to 8.14pm.

The question of who has sacked him remains unanswered, with no confirmation forthcoming from the club about an ownership situation that has reached new levels of confusion today.

There has been no statement from the club to say McDermott has been sacked, but McDermott has thanked fans tonight for their support. 

UPDATE 12.04am: Reporter Simon Austin has quotes from Cellino:

Cellino claims McDermott left "no option" but sack."told him I would be coming in&he would have chance to build something special" #lufc

— Simon Austin (@sport_simon) January 31, 2014

"In the end we didn’t have any choice-he did everything to get fired.He started argument with everyone&made it impossible." #cellino #lufc

— Simon Austin (@sport_simon) January 31, 2014

Cellino:"I don’t know Brian but he was talking with the papers, with everyone, which was not fair. He made it impossible."

— Simon Austin (@sport_simon) February 1, 2014

UPDATE 11.54pm: Swift bundle of news from TalkSPORT. David Haigh has quit, Paul Hunt has been sacked, and GFH could have lost the club between £12-15million over the last 14 months. Youngster Chris Dawson could be in the team tomorrow, and Leeds are believed to have signed Andrea Tabanelli, while a deal for Danilo Avelar is not thought to have been completed. Whoever they are. From Adam Pope of BBC Leeds on Haigh:

#lufc Club sources say David Haigh has just quit club in protest over GFH & Italians’ handling of Brian McDermott situation.

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) January 31, 2014

#lufc Haigh as I understand was very much part of plans going forward for Cellino & GFH. Complete shambles & deal still not confirmed.

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) January 31, 2014

And here’s Phil Hay about the new signing(s):

Signing is most likely Andrea Tabanelli, although no-one will confirm. Journos in Italy don’t think a deal for Danilo Avelar went through.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 31, 2014

Tabanelli is an attacking midfielder, 23 years old.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 31, 2014

Footage of Tabanelli scoring a goal as a substitute for Cesena at the start of November shows him scoring a header, and then celebrating by using his right shinpad as a pretend mobile phone.

UPDATE 8.45pm: The Telegraph have said McDermott was sacked by GFH Capital, for complaining about interference from Cellino and his rumoured managerial preference, Gianluca Festa:

Festa and other members of Cellino entourage were expected to attend the Ipswich game and watch from a corporate box, but they flew back to Italy after they were told Festa would not be allowed to watch from the dugout.

That is thought to have prompted McDermott to complain about the way his authority was being undermined and the club’s current owners GFH Capital dismissed him on Friday night.

UPDATE 9.02pm: Phil Hay of the YEP is reporting that Gianluca Festa will be taking charge:

Being told that Festa is taking charge of #lufc. Gibbs and Redfearn haven’t been sacked (yet). #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 31, 2014

He also added more details about who sacked McDermott:

How’s about this for decency? I gather that McDermott was informed of his sacking by a lawyer. Wasn’t even called by someone at the club.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 31, 2014

UPDATE 10.09pm: Photos from LUFCBobWilco on Twitter show Massimo Cellino in the East Stand foyer at Elland Road; Cellino tried to leave via the West Stand, but fans blocked the car park exit with a car:

UPDATE 10.54pm: WIth fans outside both exits, Cellino apparently refused to leave the stadium, and needed a police escort arrived to enable him to get away from the ground.

Reports late this morning suggested that Massimo Cellino, owner of Serie A side Cagliari, was nearing a deal to buy 75% of United, after David Haigh and Andrew Flowers’ Sport Capital consortium’s bid collapsed.

Following McDermott’s sacking, Flowers’ company Enterprise Insurance announced they are withdrawing their sponsorship from the club in protest. 

According to Phil Hay on Twitter, "Enterprise taking legal advice about recovering their money. My understanding is that cash was paid up front to cover McCormack contract."

UPDATE 9.10pm: Flamingo Land, whose sponsorship supports the academy at Elland Road, have also withdrawn.

Another consortium, TogetherLeeds, led by Mike Farnan, publicly stated this afternoon that they have funds in place to complete a takeover, but are unable to get a response from Gulf Finance House; but by this evening, reports suggested Cellino would complete a deal by tomorrow afternoon.

That placed McDermott’s position in jeopardy, at the end of a week in which Cellino’s group had toured Thorp Arch, and requested that former Middlesbrough player Gianluca Festa sit alongside him in the dugout. Festa has managed in Serie C in Italy and been assistant at Cagliari, and is believed to be Cellino’s preferred replacement for McDermott.

Pressure on McDermott had existed before Cellino’s interest became public, though, with Gulf Finance House believed to have wanted to remove him from the job after the 6-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday. Leeds had lost five in a row before Tuesday night’s draw with Ipswich, and gone eight games without a win.

Despite that record, Leeds fans remained broadly supportive of his management of the club, and hoped that with proper backing in the transfer window he would reignite the play-off challenge that was looking likely at the end of November. 

The news of McDermott’s sacking, which broke with less than four hours of the transfer window left, has turned that broad support into indignation and anger at the treatment of the manager.

Brian McDermott had given his pre-match press conference as normal at Thorp Arch this afternoon, a session described by Phil Hay of the YEP as, “Really dignified … Says he’s focused on tomorrow’s game, privileged to manage #lufc and still under contract.” Phil also tweeted, “McDermott was asked if he thought tomorrow’s game might be his last. Said you never know in management but plans to ‘really enjoy it.’”

Other speculation this evening had been around the future of Ross McCormack, but the striker made a statement via Sky Sports that said, “I am really happy at Leeds and look forward to staying at the club. I’m club captain and I look forward to continue playing at the club under Brian McDermott for the rest of the season.”

Following McDermott’s sacking, McCormack took again to Sky Sports and said he was “gutted,” “lost for words,” and “can’t believe what’s happened. 

“I’m happy and content at the club, but a large part of that was Brian McDermott.”

The linking of McCormack’s future with Brian McDermott’s management throws the striker’s future into doubt, with just under three hours of the transfer window remaining, and a bid of £4m from Cardiff said to have already been refused today.

UPDATE 10.30pm: Ross McCormack has tweeted a message that indicates he’ll be lining up for Leeds against Huddersfield tomorrow:

Lets all be united tomorrow. An unreal atmosphere and 3 points and move this great club forward. See yous tomorrow!

— Ross McCormack (@Rossmccormack44) January 31, 2014

UPDATE 11.05pm: The transfer window has closed, but there’s still no clarity at Elland Road:

Transfer window closed. No idea if Leeds have signed anyone or sold anyone. Wouldn’t know who to phone at the moment.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 31, 2014

There’s not yet any confirmation of who will take charge of the team against Huddersfield at Elland Road on Saturday. Brian McDermott was said by Phil Hay to be “shocked and devasted” by the events of this week. Adam Pope tweeted later:

Brian McDermott has told me "I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart each & every #lufc fan for their support.You’ve been amazing"

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) January 31, 2014

At the time of writing (8.14pm), Leeds United have no manager, no main sponsor, no funds to pay Ross McCormack’s wages, and there is no indication of who is making decisions at the club.

UPDATE 10.04pm: More from Phil Hay; first that someone claiming to be Salah Nooruddin’s nephew emailed Leeds United Supporters’ Trust to ask if they wanted to buy shares in United; acting chief executive Paul Hunt has also been sacked.

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