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confusion part two at leeds united

confusion part two at leeds united


After the rapid descent into chaos of Friday night, news has kept coming from Elland Road in advance of the game against Huddersfield.

POST-MATCH, 6.50pm: Two more surprises from Leeds United this afternoon; first, an emphatic second half performance that gave Leeds a 5-1 victory over Huddersfield, and Ross McCormack – taunted by Town fans who reckoned "He Don’t Wanna Play" after this appearances on Sky Sports last night – a hat trick.

Second, just after the game had finished, a statement from the club claiming that "Brian McDermott remains our first team manager. He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested."

Phil Hay has information from the League Managers Association, and also questions how willing McDermott would be to carry on working on for either GFH or prospective new owner Massimo Cellino after the events of this week. What was made clear this afternoon was that Leeds fans want McDermott to stay, with songs in support of the ex/not-ex manager before and during the game, and at the full time whistle.

League Managers Association say McDermott was told he was sacked on Friday, told he wasn’t this morning. They’re "awaiting clarification".

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

I still think there’s serious doubt that a) McDermott would work for Cellino or b) McDermott would work for GFH again. This will run and run

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

Nigel Gibbs said after the match the performance has been for McDermott, and he had discussed the team with Brian before the match. Gibbs had only been told he was taking the team for the game at 12.15pm, through a phone call from David Haigh.

There was also an update on the status of acting-CEO Paul Hunt, who was sacked yesterday, got his job back today, and sent home before today’s game.

Later on, confirmation came from the Football League that they have contacted Cellino about his takeover:

Statement from the Football League says it has begun "preliminary conversations" with Cellino’s lawyers about his TO. #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

@Scoutsa @LeedsUtd1992 it’s a standard statement but the fact that it’s appeared so quickly means the FL knows its under scrutiny.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

PRE-MATCH, 2.05pm: Gulf Finance House have confirmed that they have agreed to sell 75% of the club to Massimo Cellino, amid reports that David Haigh has returned to the club and is attempting to reinstate Brian McDermott as manager; while acting CEO Paul Hunt also has his job back. 

The suggestion from both Phil Hay of the YEP and Adam Pope at BBC Leeds is that McDermott was sacked without Massimo Cellino being properly in charge; earlier in the day it was claimed the Leeds United board had not known McDermott was being fired.

David Haigh and GFH appear to be trying to reinstate a manager who was sacked by Cellino without the Italian having the proper authority; at the same time as GFH confirm via the club website that Cellino has taken over.

McDermott had been said to be attending today’s game, and was seen in a box in the East Stand; later Phil Hay tweeted that after taking legal advice, McDermott won’t be watching the game.

Gianluca Festa had been expected to take control of the team, assisted by Neil Redfearn; that has since changed first to McDermott’s assistant Nigel Gibbs, then later to Gibbs and Redfearn together, with Festa possibly not attending at all; finally to Festa attending, but not going in the dugout.

In the midst of it all, Leeds seem to have signed a player on loan; Andrea Tabanelli joining on loan from Cagliari, having been a Cagliari player for around a week.

Tabanelli is not in the team, though, which has been named as: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Murphy, Austin, Mowatt, Stewart, Kébé and McCormack; with Cairns, Peltier, Wootton, Poleon, Hunt, Brown and Tonge on the bench.

On Saturday lunchtime, Leeds United’s official website was finally updated with a statement from GFH confirming that:  

Following recent media reports and speculation, GFH Capital would like to confirm that it has agreed to sell a 75 per cent stake in the club to Eleonora Sport Ltd, a company owned by the Cellino family who have many years experience in football and who plan to invest substantially in the club including the re acquisition of Elland Road. Eleonora will be working on completing the required Football League approval.

The Cellino Family is a well known Italian sports family, who have owned Serie A side Cagliari since 1992. They come to English football with an ambition to support Leeds United financially to take it to the Premier League and a belief that the club can sustain top-flight status.

Since the agreement, Leeds United is in discussion with Elenora Sport Ltd. on a number of issues concerning the Club matters including the structure of the management of the first team.

Company information about Elenora Sport has been found by The Beaten Generation on Twitter, where Cellino’s co-director has also been identified:

Eleonora Sport Ltd incorporated 27th January, directors listed as Massimo Cellino and Daniel Arty. Who he? #lufc

— TBG (@TBG2005) February 1, 2014

Thanks all, seems Cellino’s co-director Daniel Arty is a Miami-based accountant. #lufc

— TBG (@TBG2005) February 1, 2014

Prior to this statement there had been no mention of the sackings of Brian McDermott and Paul Hunt, the withdrawal of sponsors Enterprise Insurance and Flamingo Land, the resignation of David Haigh, or an update on who actually owns the club.

The only change to the website has been the addition of Andrea Tabanelli to the squad list; the 23 year old midfielder seems to have signed on loan from Cagliari, the club he only joined last week from Cesena.

At 12.30pm Adam Pope of BBC Leeds tweeted that Paul Hunt, who had been acting chief executive until he was sacked on Friday night, has been reinstated; although with no clue about who has done the reinstatement. The YEP’s Phil Hay followed up with word that McDermott’s assistant Nigel Gibbs will be looking after the first team today, rather than Gianluca Festa and Neil Redfearn as had been expected. Around 1.30pm it was suggested Gibbs and Redfearn will be in charge, with Festa possibly not attending at all.

#lufc I am hearing that Acting CEO Paul Hunt may have been reinstated at the club having been sacked last night.

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) February 1, 2014

Talk that Paul Hunt has been reinstated as acting CEO. Also suggestions that Nigel Gibbs will now be taking the team today.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

Can confirm that Gibbs and Redfearn will be running the show on the touchline. Not clear if Festa is even coming today now. #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

Festa is indeed in the building. But won’t be in the dug-out.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

Both Festa and Tabanelli were in the East Stand Upper for the game, and Paul Kirby on Twitter got photos of both:

Gianluca Festa Andrea Tabanelli (L)

Almost simultaneously with GFH’s statement came news that efforts were being made to bring Brian McDermott back as manager: 

#lufc Am hearing that the club are trying to bring manager McDermott back after Italians sacked him last night.

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) February 1, 2014

That was swiftly followed by the news that David Haigh had returned after last night’s resignation, and that he and GFH are trying to bring McDermott back:

#lufc David Haigh now back at the club after stepping down last night. He and GFH trying to bring McDermott back.

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) February 1, 2014

As it stands, McDermott is due to attend today’s game and watch from a box in the East Stand. #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

As I said this morning, this sacking is technically illegal because it was done without the board’s say so – and before MC had bought club

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

This is ridiculous. After taking legal advice, I’m now told that Brian McDermott won’t be attending today.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 1, 2014

12.00pm: Who is making the decisions at Leeds remains unclear. Cellino’s true position had been called into question earlier in the morning with tweets from Phil Hay stating that nobody on the Leeds United board had known Brian McDermott was being sacked; and that despite apparently giving him total control already, GFH were still waiting for Cellino’s payment to clear, and that if the takeover is blocked by the Football League, the payment would turn into a loan – the rates of interest and repayment terms of which are not known. 

Andrew Flowers of the Sport Capital consortium, meanwhile, has instructed Timothy Dutton QC to prepare a legal challenge against Cellino’s takeover, that would only come into play if the purchase gets Football League approval.

In another twist, former right-back Gary Kelly told Sky Sports that he should be made manager, and that he could get the club into the play-offs. “The club needs someone who has the club, fans and city at heart,” said Kelly. "It deserves someone with that passion and desire to succeed to get back to being one of the biggest clubs in the country, exactly where the the fans, club and city belong. This season, looking at the current predicament, I am more than confident I can take them to the play-offs, given the right backing and support. I believe I have all the credentials to do this and more.”


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