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leeds united latest: friday, i’m in love

leeds united latest: friday, i’m in love

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Can we stand another week of this at Leeds United? Toughen up; here’s Friday so far:

  • LUFC and Massimo Cellino have exchanged contracts today
  • Salah Nooruddin and David Haigh to continue in their jobs
  • Mike Farnan of the Together Leeds consortium tells BBC they still deserve to be heard
  • Andrea Tabanelli, we barely knew ye
  • Transfer of world’s most beautiful footballer to Leeds stopped by Football League
  • Football League also say they have yet to receive all the paperwork to approve Massimo Cellino
  • Cellino plans to fly to England from Miami on Wednesday
  • Doubts over whether Cellino has sold Cagliari, after all
  • Financial troubles at United revealed: suppliers gone unpaid since October
  • Work on 3G pitch needed for academy stopped due to payment problems
  • Cellino covered £140k payment due to Crewe for Luke Murphy

UPDATE 6.40pm: Mike Farnan has told BBC Leeds that, despite the deal announced today between Leeds United and Massimo Cellino, he still feels his Together Leeds consortium deserve to have their bid heard, and that he feels his group having growing support among the fans – and still have a chance of buying the club. "We’ve seen it before," he said. "In November we thought it was sold and it wasn’t. Until the ink is dry and football league approval is given it’s still not sold." He goes on to say that GFH "Have not been helpful from the start" and that he doesn’t understand why they haven’t given a proper hearing to the Together Leeds bid. "They’ve made life very difficult for us, for whatever reason that is, no one knows."

The full interview can be heard on the Audioboo player below.

listen to ‘EXCLUSIVE Leeds United latest: Mike Farnan from Together Leeds consortium vows "till the ink is dry, it’s still not sold"’ on Audioboo

Meanwhile Phil Hay has spoken to Salah Nooruddin for an interview that will be in the YEP tomorrow, in which Phil asks the United chairman – who is keeping his job under the new ownership structure – if he and the board should resign after a farcical week at Elland Road. "No," he replied. "We are not here to give up."

UPDATE 3.50pm: The sale of 75% of Leeds United to Massimo Cellino has been confirmed in a statement on the official website by Salah Nooruddin and Hisham Alrayes. Nooruddin says the deal has achieved the board’s aim of a creating a "long term ownership structure through partnership with sound and strategic investors"; Hisham Alrayes apologised for the week of speculation, saying:

Despite media and market speculation, we have refrained from making any official comment on this matter until this point when contracts have been exchanged. We understand that the speculation has been unsettling for the fans and, even though it was not of our making, we apologise to them for that. We are happy now to inform them of the accurate position with regard to the new ownership which will, we believe, enable the club to achieve promotion in the shortest realistic time possible.

Despite the apology, that Nooruddin and Haigh are to carry on at the club is the most surprising element of today’s news; it had felt like only a matter of time before this announcement was made, but given the chaos of the last week, and the news in the YEP this morning (see further below) that highlighted how dire the financial statement has become at Leeds under GFH, it was also assumed that GFH’s people would be removed from the club once the takeover was complete.

That completion remains, of course, subject to Football League approval, meaning that this saga is not quite over. Earlier today the Football League released a statement saying the approval process is on hold pending the arrival of more paperwork; see below for more details.

Phil Hay added more detail on the deal on Twitter:

Bit more info on this deal: break-up of shares will be Cellino 75%, GFH 10%, Nooruddin/IIB – 15%. #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 7, 2014

Money was paid by Cellino yesterday and as far as GFH is concerned, deal is done. Everyone seems confident about FL approval.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 7, 2014

UPDATE 2.45pm: Phil Hay of the YEP has tweeted that contracts have been exchanged for the purchase of 75% of Leeds United by Massimo Cellino, presumably still through the Eleonora Sports company. Hay has also confirmed that Salah Nooruddin will continue as chairman, and David Haigh will become CEO; Cellino has spoken in his interviews of becoming ‘president’ of the club. Football League approval will still be required; see further below for the Football League’s statement on that today.

Strongly suggested to me that #lufc and Cellino were planning to exchange contracts today. Have asked for confirmation.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 7, 2014

In fact, role that back. CONFIRMED: #lufc and Massimo Cellino have exchanged contracts for the sale of 75 per cent of shares.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 7, 2014

Can also confirm that if the deal goes through, Nooruddin will stay as chairman and Haigh will be CEO. #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 7, 2014

Something has changed in the past few days. Original plan was for Chris Farnell to be CEO under Cellino. Now looks like Haigh’s job.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 7, 2014

EARLIER: Andrea Tabanelli was the only player to arrive at Leeds on transfer deadline day, but the most perfect human specimen in history will be returning to Cagliari – or Cesena, it’s not clear which club actually holds the reigns on this passionate half-man half-tiger – without kicking a ball for Leeds. The Football League say, ‘Leeds United have been informed that the Football League has refused the registration of Andrea Tabanelli as the transfer did not comply with League regulations," and league officials are rumoured (by me) to be refusing to look at a photo of his achingly gorgeous head for fear that their hearts will melt and they’ll change their minds.

The League are also taking a hard line on Massimo Cellino, saying in a statement that he has yet to provide all the paperwork they need to progress his application for approval as owner of United, and as such, "The matter cannot be progressed further until the required information is forthcoming."

Nonetheless Cellino is scheduled to return to England from Miami on Wednesday, expecting a hearing from the FL, although Phil Hay of the YEP tweeted:

@Afurrowedbrow he thinks he’s meeting the FL on Wednesday. The FL might think differently if they don’t have the docs.

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 7, 2014

Via Cellino’s English journalist of choice Simon Austin, the BBC’s Adam Pope reports that the sale of Cagliari to Qatar’s Al-Thani family, which Cellino confirmed in an emotional text message on Thursday, looks to have fallen through. This tweet from Italy might be one of the best of the saga so far:

Il Cagliari a al-thani è una bufala cosmica

— ivan paone (@ivanpaone) February 6, 2014

…because Google translates it as: "The Cagliari to Al-Thani is a cosmic hoax."

Adam also has comments from Austin on how he thinks the Italian might run Leeds United:

#lufc @simon_austin says Cellino:"…is a wealthy guy but he is not an (Roman) Abramovich. I don’t think he’ll throw huge money at #lufc "

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) February 7, 2014

#lufc @simon_austin on Cellino at Cagliari: " He’s brought a lot of players through the academy and he’s run the club very well."

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) February 7, 2014

#lufc @simon_austin on Cellino at Cagliari:" He’s been ambitious in wanting to get a better stadium & that is ultimately why he is leaving."

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) February 7, 2014

That follows from Cellino’s interview in the YEP – covered here – in which he said that on Thursday he would be, "Going to the bank and I will buy our stadium."

This morning in The Square Ball Week I wrote about Leeds fans could do with being careful with how they take Cellino’s promises, and whether they outweigh the gutsy actions of Brian McDermott next weekend; you can read that by clicking here.

The overnight news from Phil Hay shed some light on the financial situation at Leeds United under GFH, where disagreements over payments have caused work to stop on provision of a 3G all-weather pitch that is crucial to attaining category two status for the Thorp Arch academy.

Some of the club’s suppliers say they have not been paid since October, and have been told they won’t be paid until the takeover is completed. One told the YEP: "If I ran my business the way Leeds United run theirs I wouldn’t be able to get suppliers to even talk to me let alone provide products or services. But then football’s a funny business."

Leeds United are currently facing a winding up petition filed by Andrew Flowers, who appeared to drop out of the race to buy the club with an angry statement on Wednesday night that described the deal with Cellino as, "a ‘fire sale’ transaction which is not in the interests of Leeds United, its players, staff or loyal supporters." 

At The Square Ball’s blog, Amitai Winehouse adds that a £140k payment due to Crewe as part of the Luke Murphy transfer was paid by Cellino

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