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pressure mounts on gfh as leeds united takeover picture changes

pressure mounts on gfh as leeds united takeover picture changes


Artwork by Joe Gamble

Leeds United’s takeover has gone through another line-up change, this time of the Aidy White on the right wing variety.

A statement from Mike Farnan tonight has revealed that his TogetherLeeds consortium are now in talks with Massimo Cellino about buying the club together.

The unlikely alliance puts more pressure on owners Gulf Finance House and managing director David Haigh, both of whom were the focus of the fans’ anger during last night’s 1–0 defeat to Charlton.

Around the same time as the statement from TogetherLeeds, Cellino was live on Sky Sports News, where he said that he was talking to Farnan’s group “to save Leeds United” and again forcibly denied any wrongdoing in Yachtgate.

The statement from Mike Farnan reads:

Massimo Cellino and Eleonora Sport Limited have been and continue to be in discussions with Mike Farnan and TogetherLeeds regarding strategy, partnership and cooperation. The talks have been very constructive.

Everyone should be excited by these discussions as they are in the best interests of all parties including the Football League, Leeds United, its players and staff and, most importantly, its loyal and enduring fans.

Phil Hay has tweeted that discussions between Cellino and TogetherLeeds, which also includes Welcome to Yorkshire’s Gary Verity, Red Strike Marketing’s Frank Devoy and Hull FC’s Adam Pearson, have been ongoing for the last 48 hours, and that they acknowledge that if Cellino’s appeal to the Football League fails then they won’t be able to buy the club together; that has since been contradicted by Adam Pope’s interview with Mike Farnan on Radio Leeds (on Audioboo here), with Adam tweeting:

#lufc TogetherLeeds say they will work with Cellino & Eleonora Sport whether his appeal v Football League is successful or not.

— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) April 2, 2014

Phil Hay added:

Farnan says: "(Cellino’s) impressed me with his passion. We think we can work together. We both feel that this is for the good of #lufc."

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) April 2, 2014

Farnan: "Obviously we’ve got the appeal decision coming up so we’ll have to see how that goes." #lufc

— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) April 2, 2014

UPDATE 8pm: more tweets from Phil Hay have shed more light on the plans. If Massimo Cellino’s appeal is rejected by the Football League this week, it seems that he still has the right under the contract to sell the 75% he would have bought on to someone else – in this case, TogetherLeeds. This would be the second bizarre contractual obligation to have emerged from this deal; first the claims from GFH that Cellino agreed to fund the club for six months whether approved or not, and now that GFH have apparently agreed to let Cellino sell the right to a majority share in the club to whoever he likes.

Another risk factor is the relationship between the children of the main players, who in one of the strangest of many strange moments in this takeover had a spat on social media, after Cellino’s son Ercole – who is in line for a job at Elland Road under his father’s regime – posted the comments ‘You make puke’ and ‘Cringe – ugly’ on Instagram photos of Mike Farnan’s daughter Poppy.

TogetherLeeds/Eleonora Sport is not the first super-consortium to have tried to take Leeds over during the last few months; TogetherLeeds briefly combined with David Haigh and Andrew Flowers’ Sport Capital bid in an attempt to block Cellino’s takeover.

Leaving aside the prospect of their offspring pulling each others hair over internet cattiness, the new Super-Consortium II will still have to find a way of dealing with Gulf Finance House, whose deal with Cellino was to leave GFH with 25% of the club, while Phil Hay reports that: “As far as Farnan’s concerned, a deal between Together Leeds and Cellino would not involve GFH at all.”

The latest from that current board is that former GFH-C employee and curent Leeds United managing director threatened legal action against a blogger today over his reporting of Cellino’s leaked phone call at the weekend, while rumours around Leeds have suggested a Malaysian consortium were being courted by GFH as an alternative buyer to Cellino, which would add yet another complication to a takeover that is already more than complicated enough.

Three things haven’t changed, however: everyone still awaits the outcome of Cellino’s appeal to the Football League; Leeds United’s annual accounts, which were due on March 31st, still haven’t appeared on the Companies House website; and Leeds still lost 1–0 to Charlton last night in yet another dismal game at Elland Road.

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