scales of costs at leeds united revealed to lustBack
Leeds United Supporters’ Trust have met with the club’s new owner Massimo Cellino, to discuss the state of the club and the role of the Trust in its future.
In a statement sent to shareholders and members today, LUST said that Chair Gary Cooper, with board members Chris Coleman and Paul Keat, met Massimo Cellino at Elland Road, where the club president “pulled no punches” about the financial problems at the club.
Cellino said that he had taken on huge debts from the Gulf Finance House Capital era, as well as operating costs of more than £100,000 a day.
He also revealed that season ticket sales for the upcoming season had been mortgaged before Cellino took over, but that he has settled this loan; part of the club’s financial difficulties in the last two seasons have been attributed to the loans taken out against season ticket sales by Ken Bates.
UPDATE 4.20pm: A GFH spokesman has responded to Cellino’s claims about mortgaging season tickets, saying: "It’s untrue that season ticket money for 2014-15 was mortgaged before Cellino’s takeover."
Cellino told the LUST representatives that he has plans to restructure the club from all angles, and that he was committed to improving the club’s performance while investing sensibly to improve the quality of the squad.
Addressing the role of LUST, Cellino said that he has considered involving the fans in a repurchase of Elland Road, something the LUST board hope to discuss again with him in the coming months. The statement adds that, “Mr Cellino asked nothing more than for us to trust him and for us to be honest with him with our members views. Gary Cooper assured him of our continuing honesty and asked for the same in return.”
The statement goes on to address some of the criticism LUST faced for publicly engaging with the club’s owners during the ownership of GFH-C, emphasising that the legal constitution that governs the Trust’s goals requires that LUST seek ownership of shares in the club, and where that is not possible, to “to seek dialogue with the football club, with a view to establishing some form of fan representation.”
In essence that means that as a Supporters’ Trust LUST has a duty to try to maintain a dialogue with the owners of Leeds United, whoever they are, and to communicate the fans’ views and the owners’ responses.
The statement continues: "These aims are in place to try and make owners answerable to fans, and they will always be pursued even if it subsequently becomes apparent that the club’s owners have mismanaged the club or have been less than truthful in what they have told us. The goal is a degree of accountability.
“As is always the case, we hope our members will draw their own conclusions from the information presented and will continue to play their part in the dialogue we have established with Mr. Cellino.”
The value of dialogue between LUST and the club’s owners can be seen in the information Massimo Cellino has shared with them to be communicated to the fans; the news that season ticket money had been mortgaged by the previous owners and that the club is spending £100,000 every day sheds a new light on the situation at the club.
It also raises further questions about the continuing lack of a meeting between Cellino and Brian McDermott, as the changes required at the club to adapt to the financial challenges it faces are bound to impact on the playing side, and the role of the manager ought to be vital in both cost-cutting and in the investment Cellino intends to make to improve the quality of the squad.
Leeds are currently operating under the shadow of a winding-up petition from former managing director David Haigh, whose case for the repayment of almost £1m is due to be heard in court on June 9th.
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