Friday, May 23, 2014

Leeds United: Varney is relieved to be leaving United

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/5/14
by Phil Hay
Luke Varney has spoken of his relief after leaving Leeds United for Blackburn – and defended his decision to back out of United’s line-up when a move to Ewood Park first materialised in January.
The forward was released by Leeds last week, one of seven senior players whose deals will be allowed to expire this summer, and a permanent transfer to Blackburn is expected to be sealed when his contract at 
Elland Road ends on June 30.
Varney finished the recent Championship season on loan at Ewood Park having joined Rovers with a view to a full-time move in February but he admitted that he was unsure of United’s intentions for him until owner Massimo Cellino published a retained list seven days ago.
The 31-year-old was first offered a loan to Blackburn in the final week of the January transfer window but despite United managerBrian McDermott agreeing to sanction the deal, it failed to materialise immediately as Cellino’s sudden bid to take control of Leeds created a vacuum of authority at Elland Road on transfer deadline day.
Varney came in for criticism from McDermott after the Leeds boss revealed that Varney had asked not to play in a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on January 28 with his switch to Blackburn pending and apparently a formality.
The appearance would have been Varney’s second for Leeds in almost two months and the striker said: “To be fair, it was a bit of an awkward situation.
“I didn’t feel like I needed to ask (not to play) because I would have expected a manager to sort things out once he knew another club had come in for me and I wanted to move on.
“He wanted to play me in the Ipswich game but he didn’t need me in the 15 games before that. I didn’t do it to get back at him but it was in my best interests. I could have got injured.
“It’s one of those things, we had an adult conversation, and we both agreed to move on in our own ways. That happens in football. As an experienced player, I felt I deserved a bit of an explanation about why I’d stopped being played.”
Varney was not used by 
McDermott again and eventually completed a move to Blackburn when the emergency loan window opened in the second week of February.
Midfielder Paul Green had been in an identical position – set to move to Ipswich Town before the January deadline but forced to bide his time by Cellino’s attempted takeover. He also moved on belatedly the following month.
Varney – a £200,000 signing from Portsmouth by Neil Warnock in 2012 – will look back on his two years at Leeds as a period of his career which failed to catch fire.
He featured in much of Warnock’s only season as manager but never found his niche or his goalscoring touch. McDermott used him less frequently, though Varney began the 2013-14 season in his starting side after scoring a pre-season hat-trick away at Stevenage.
“I thought I had a decent start to the season and I wanted to stay in the side once I was coming round to talking about a new contract,” Varney said.
“But something wasn’t quite right and I was in a weird position. I obviously made the decision to move on and hopefully I can prosper now.
“With the manager at Leeds, it was probably what I wanted to do. With the new owner (Cellino), I wasn’t sure if there was maybe a chance of me going back to Leeds but when Blackburn made it clear I’d have a settled future there, it was something I wanted to do.”
Rovers manager Gary Bowyer played Varney regularly towards the end of the season, though Varney failed to score in 12 games and Rovers drifted away from the play-off positions in the closing stages, finished two points below sixth.
“The gaffer’s said it will be a clean slate for me next season and that’s what you want to hear,” Varney said.
“Every manager has a different approach and Brian did brilliantly at Reading. It’s not quite worked out for him at Leeds and it didn’t end there as well as I would have wanted but I’ve got no real regrets really.”

Leeds United: Haigh protests innocence after Dubai arrest

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/5/14
by Phil Hay
Former Leeds United managing director David Haigh has moved to protest his innocence following his arrest in Dubai on suspicion of financial irregularities.
A spokesman for Haigh said the 36-year-old was confident of being released without charge as he prepared to spend a fifth night in custody.
Haigh was detained by police in Dubai on Sunday and is expected to remain in jail for the rest of this week.
As reported by the YEP yesterday, his spokesman confirmed that Haigh had flown to the Middle East after being offered a job by Gulf Finance House, his former employer and the Bahrain bank which bought Leeds in 2012.
Haigh was arrested shortly after his arrival at GFH’s offices having been accused by the bank of financial irregularities of close to £4million.
Many of the accusations are believed to relate to GFH’s 14 months as owner of Leeds and its recent sale of the Championship club to Massimo Cellino.
A report in Gulf News quoted a lawyer from GFH as saying: “We lodged a lawsuit against the suspect for alleged embezzlement, swindling and breach of trust at Bur Dubai Police Station.
“Currently the suspect is in provisional detention and being questioned over primary charges of embezzling millions of dirhams.”
Haigh denies the claims against him and in a statement released tonight, a spokesman for him said: “David flew from London to Dubai following what he clearly understood to be the offer of a new job with GFH. He was then stunned to be arrested at GFH’s offices and to be taken into custody.
“Although he is horrified to find himself in this position, he is answering fully every allegation made against him in the knowledge that he is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.
“In co-operating fully with the Dubai authorities, for whom he has complete respect, David is clear that he has no case to answer.
“He has every confidence that the authorities will see clearly the motives which lie behind these allegations and will act accordingly in bringing no charges against him.
“In the meantime he would like to thank the many people who are supporting him.”
According to Gulf News, Haigh’s detention in Dubai has been extended to Sunday (May 25).
He was a leading figure behind GFH’s buy-out of Leeds in 2012, a deal done through the bank private equity arm GFH Capital.
Haigh became a club director shortly before that buy-out and was promoted to managing director at Elland Road in July 2013.
Haigh was also GFH Capital’s deputy chief executive but quit that role in February of this year ahead of Cellino’s takeover of Leeds. Cellino had initially agreed to appoint Haigh as United’s chief executive but Haigh resigned and quit the club last month after his relationship with the Italian businessman broke down.

Leeds United suspends season ticket card payment sales

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/5/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United’s staff face another anxious wait for wages amid financial constraints which have forced the club to suspend season-ticket sales to fans using debit and credit cards.
The impact of a winding-up petition served on Leeds by Sport Capital grew more acute today as the club revealed money paid for tickets via debit and credit cards was being withheld by the company which manages their card facilities.
Season tickets for the 2014-15 term have been on sale for most of May and are still available to supporters paying by cash or cheque, and through the club’s interest-free finance scheme.
But the suspension of debit and credit card payments is the latest effect of Sport Capital’s bid to reclaim a loan of £950,000 from last November, a move which led United’s bank to freeze the club’s main account.
A statement from Leeds said: “Due to the winding-up petition issued by Sport Capital, the club’s merchant service provider is currently withholding season-ticket funds that have been paid to the club on either a credit or debit card. Against the club’s wishes, the funds are being held as a precaution and as a result the club may not receive them until the 2014-15 season is under way. Therefore, until further notice, the club will be removing the ability for supporters to pay for their season ticket using the credit or debit card option.”
Sport Capital - an offshore firm which has links to David Haigh, the former Leeds director who is currently under arrest in Dubai over allegations of financial irregularities - issued a statutory demand for Leeds to repay its £950,000 loan in the first week of April.
United failed to meet a fixed deadline and were served with a winding-up petition last month. The bank account was subsequently frozen and a payment of wages owed to the club’s casual staff was missed last week.
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, who has been fighting heavy losses and debts since buying the club more than six weeks ago, intends to fight Sporting Capital’s petition when it goes before a judge in London on June 9 but in the meantime United are have another bill looming with May’s wages for playing and general staff due to be paid on Friday, May 30.
The first-team squad and coaching team already agreed to delay half of their salaries for March when Cellino was fighting to complete his buy-out of Gulf Finance House.
Leeds stressed sales would continue to fans using other forms of payment and confirmed tickets already bought using cards would be valid.

Official club website: Leeds United 2014/15 season tickets card payments suspended 22/5/14
Due to the winding up petition issued by Sport Capital against Leeds United Football Club, the club’s merchant service provider is currently withholding Season Ticket funds that have been paid to the Club on either a credit or debit card.
Against the club’s wishes, the funds are being held as a precaution and as a result the club may not receive them until the 2014/15 season is under way.
Therefore, until further notice, the club will be removing the ability for supporters to pay for their Season Ticket using the credit or debit card option.
The five month interest free instalment plan provided by Zebra Finance is available for fans to spread the cost of their season ticket and the club is urging fans to use this option. You can also pay for your Season Ticket using cheque or cash.
Any Season Tickets already purchased by credit or debit card will be valid for the new season.
Season ticket renewal forms have now been dispatched to all existing season ticket holders. Online sales are currently suspended.

Leeds United: Key parties braced for showdown

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/5/14
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott and Leeds United’s players are to meet with Massimo Cellino on June 2 after the club’s owner reversed a previous instruction ordering them back to Elland Road next week.
Leeds have written to their coaching staff and playing squad telling them to be present at the stadium a week on Monday, lining up the first face-to-face conversation between Cellino and McDermott in over a month.
McDermott, whose future as manager is highly uncertain due to his distant and fractious relationship with Cellino, was originally told to report back with his players and staff on Wednesday of next week, 25 days after the end of the Championship season.
Cellino claimed that the 25-day gap between those dates would account for the squad’s entire holiday allowance but their return has been delayed with Cellino due to fly home to Miami after holding talks with prospective buyers of his Italian club Cagliari in the past few days.
The deals held by United’s professional players – standard contracts issued to footballers in the Premier League and Football League – entitle them to five weeks’ paid leave, at least three of which are allowed to be taken consecutively.
United’s coaching team originally arranged for the squad to begin pre-season training at Thorp Arch on July 3, though the players were issued with individual fitness programmes prior to the final game of the 2013-14 season against Derby County on May 3.
Cellino’s initial attempt to recall the playing staff to Elland Road on May 28 caused confusion among them and the players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, confirmed that it had been in touch with the squad to discuss the early return date.
Richard Jobson, one of the PFA’s assistant chief executives, told the YEP: “We’re aware of the situation and we’re dealing with it as best we can. We’re in touch with some of the players.”
Cellino has openly criticised McDermott for his recent absence from Leeds, and United’s owner and manager have been communicating only in written exchanges during the past fortnight.
McDermott is currently in the south of England after his mother was admitted to hospital with illness.
The 53-year-old has failed to secure the unequivocal backing of Cellino since the Italian bought Leeds on April 7 but he has two years on his contract at Elland Road and would cost around £1.5million to pay off.
Cellino has as yet made no move to sack him or replace him with another coach.
It is still not clear if the Italian businessman will ask United’s squad to begin training after their return on June 2, a month ahead of McDermott’s scheduled date for the start of pre-season.
United’s training ground at Thorp Arch is currently closed to save costs and asked what would happen after his meeting with McDermott and the players, Cellino said: “I don’t know, I work day-by-day. I have to see.
“I need everyone back here, the players, the manager. I need to speak to them. They are on holiday but we need to work for next season.”

Leeds United: David Haigh in police custody in Dubai

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/5/14
by Phil Hay
Former Leeds United managing director David Haigh is in police custody in Dubai after being arrested over alleged financial irregularities relating to the ownership and sale of the club by Gulf Finance House.
Haigh, 36, has spent the past three nights in jail after being detained on Sunday morning.
He is understood to have flown to Dubai - the base of GFH’s private-equity arm, GFH Capital - after being offered a new job by the Bahraini bank.
Haigh, who denies all claims against him, was detained by police shortly after arriving at the offices of GFH.
A friend of Haigh’s, who asked not to be named, told the YEP: “David has done nothing wrong or illegal. He’s appalled to find himself in this position.
“However, a someone who knows Dubai well and respects its institutions, he’s confident that the authorities will see these allegations for what they really are and clear him of any wrong-doing.”
Many of the allegations against Haigh relate to GFH’s time as owner of Leeds and the recent sale of the Championship side to Italian Massimo Cellino.
Haigh, who was until recently employed as deputy chief executive of GFH Capital, was one of the men behind GFH’s purchase of Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012.
He became a club director the previous month and took up the job of managing director at Elland Road in July 2013.
He resigned from his job at GFH Capital in February of this year with Italian businessman Cellino closing in on a 75 per cent takeover of United and was due to become Leeds’ chief executive when the Italian businessman’s takeover went through in April.
But his relationship with Cellino deteriorated rapidly and he resigned from his position as managing director, quitting the club within a week of Cellino finalising his takeover on April 7.
Speaking after his resignation, Haigh aimed criticism at both GFH and Cellino, saying: “I had to deal with and manage what can only be described as the crazy situation of very limited support from those who should have supported the club and the management, whilst at the same time having little or no decision-making ability.”
Haigh recently stated on Twitter that he planned to stages a series of media interviews to give his version of GFH’s turbulent spell as owner at Elland Road.
He was also involved in a winding-up petition served on Leeds last month by Sport Capital - a company with close links to Haigh - over a loan of £950,000.
Cellion and United are contesting the petition, which will be heard by a judge in London on June 9.
A statement from GFH Capital said: “GFH Capital understands that a former employee has been arrested in Dubai and charged on suspicion of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering while he was employed at the bank.
“We are unable to provide any further details at this stage while the case is being considered by the authorities.”
Sources close to Haigh have since told the YEP that Haigh has not been formally charged with any offence and is continuing to be questioned about the allegations.

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino insists he is taking tough decisions for the good of the club

Sky Sports 21/5/14
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino insists he is taking tough decisions for the good of the club following his recent takeover.
Cellino has embarked on an extensive cost-cutting exercise at Elland Road in preparation for next season.
His company Eleonora Sports completed its takeover April 7 and is now considering the future of the club's costly Thorp Arch training complex.
United's accounts for 2012-13, published last month, showed a loss of £9.5m for the year, and Cellino has revealed daily running costs were over £100,000 with the club understood to be losing £1m a month.
"Sometimes, if you want to make something important, if you take the easy way, the downhill way you will get somewhere," the Italian said in his first interview with the club's TV channel.
"It seems good and faster, but it won't be important. But if you take the hard way, the uphill way, it's going to be hard, but when you get there you will get something very important and very big.
"I choose the uphill way because I'm a little strange. I'm not normal. I always look for trouble. I'm a trouble-maker like I was when I was a kid and I've not changed, unfortunately.
"I must apologise for that publicly, because I know that I'm a trouble-maker. But I'm a trouble-maker in a good way. I ask the people to excuse me for that and try to understand me.
"Everything I do, I do in good faith."
The Italian took the decision to close Thorp Arch during the summer in a bid to save money and has since hinted the club may seek an alternative solution to returning to their long-standing training base.
"At this stage I don't know what we will do," Cellino said in the Yorkshire Post. "I cannot say 'yes, we will stay at the training ground' because that is not certain. But I can't say 'no we won't' either. I must look at it and decide.
"I need to think about at the money and say 'can we afford the training ground?' If we can then we go back. If we can't afford it then we can't keep on using it. It costs about £2.5m and it's too expensive.
"I will speak to the landlord to see if we can save some money because if we can't afford the training ground, we have a problem and we can't use it. We can use it at the right price."

Leeds United: Thorp Arch - State of the art facility but a luxury Whites cannot afford

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/5/14
by Phil Hay
The 25-year lease imposed on Thorp Arch when Leeds United sold their training ground in 2004 was long and binding for the simple reason that the club did not envisage a time when they would want to leave the property.
Visualised by Howard Wilkinson and opened in its present form after the completion of the main building in 2002, Thorp Arch has long been United’s proudest asset – even in the years after the plush, sweeping complex near Wetherby was used by a former board to bring in an urgent sum of cash.
At a stroke, the sale of the training ground to Jacob Adler, a Manchester property developer, 10 years ago raised £4.2m and guaranteed Leeds both a buy-back provision and permission to rent the facility until 2029. After less than two months as United’s owner, Massimo Cellino cannot even say if Thorp Arch will be used by the club next season.
A fortnight ago, the Italian businessman closed the training ground as part of a substantial money-saving exercise at Leeds, leaving the bare minimum of staff to tend to the many pitches there. The idea was to reopen Thorp Arch before pre-season training began but Cellino and United are heading for a stand-off with landlord Barnaway, the firm used by Adler to purchase Thorp Arch in 2004.
Cellino says the annual cost of using Thorp Arch is somewhere in the region of £2.5m. The rent of the complex costs £600,000 a year and increases by three per cent every October. It is not known whether Leeds have the right to break their lease.
“The club have been there paying rent for 10 years,” Cellino said. “If we are there for another 10 or 15 years, we’ll have paid someone £20m to use the training ground.
“It’s too much money, this club cannot afford it. This club loses money every month. I need to think about what happens next because we cannot pay more than we can afford to pay.”
Thorp Arch is the location of United’s successful category two-academy, and the closure of the complex caught the attention of the Football League.
The governing body planned to send officials to Leeds this week to investigate whether shutting Thorp Arch might breach the standards set for category two academies and threaten Leeds’ annual central payment of £490,000. Benito Carbone, United’s new consultant on first-team and academy matters, stressed in an interview last weekend that Cellino was anxious to protect the current status of United’s youth-development scheme.
Leeds, nonetheless, have considered the possibility of leaving Thorp Arch before. Around the time when the club allowed a £6m buy-back clause on their training ground to elapse, their then technical director Gwyn Williams is said to have examined the option of vacating Thorp Arch and using different facilities. Leeds Metropolitan University was one of the alternatives considered.
Cellino believes that other locations could be viable. The University of Leeds is served by Sports Park Weetwood. “The universities and colleges, they have football fields,” he said. “My feeling about Thorp Arch is that it’s too expensive and too far away from Leeds. But I’m not saying we’ll leave. I’m saying that at the moment I can’t say yes or no to the question.
“Over the summer, there’s no-one there and money gets wasted. The air conditioning, the swimming pool – it all costs money but no-one is using it. It’s like an amusement park. An empty one.”
Thorp Arch received fleeting care and attention after its sale to Adler but an overhaul of the training ground was instigated by manager Brian McDermott last summer, costing Leeds a reported £250,000.
The main changes included the extension of the sprinkler system and the installation of barriers around the main pitches. The inside of the barn at Thorp Arch was reorganised and the media room on the first floor of the building underwent redecoration.
Speaking last summer, McDermott said: “It just seems like a good idea to have everything up to the required standard. It’s not all there.”
Prior to his takeover of Leeds on April 7, Cellino spoke openly about his plans to buy back Elland Road stadium and Thorp Arch.
Elland Road is protected by a buy-back clause and would cost £15m. Cellino’s most recent timescale was repurchase of the ground by 2015. The buy-back clause applied to Thorp Arch when Gerald Krasner’s board sold it was shorter and ran for only five years to 2009. In sale negotiations, Barnaway would now be free to name its price.
Cellino in any case is not free to buy either property on a whim. The share purchase agreement reached between his Eleonora Sport company and Gulf Finance House when he bought Leeds from the Bahraini bank requires the approval of 85 per cent of shareholders before United acquire significant “material assets”, a clause which includes the stadium but excludes players.
Cellino and Eleonora Sport hold a 75 per cent stake. The remaining 25 per cent of shares are owned by GFH and its associates: Bahrain’s International Investment Bank (IIB) and Salah Nooruddin, United’s chairman and a GFH shareholder.
A decision to buy Elland Road or Thorp Arch could also be taken by a majority of directors but only so long as that majority includes one of the two board members appointed by GFH. In effect, Cellino would need the bank’s tacit support before bringing the properties back under United’s control.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Leeds target ex-Real Madrid star

Football Direct News 20/5/14
Leeds United are lining up an offer for Reading utility man Royston Drenthe, football] direct news understands.
A source close to Elland Road told FDN new owner Massimo Cellino is anxious to invest in the playing squad and is aware that changes are needed if they are to launch a serious bid for promotion back to the top flight.
Leeds missed out on a play-off spot last term after a torrid run of form following the turn of the year, and the second half of the campaign was overshadowed by Cellino’s long-running pursuit of the Championship club.
The club insider revealed former Everton and Real Madrid man Drenthe, who is capable of operating at left-back or further forward on the flank, has been identified as a priority acquisition for the summer transfer window.
The 27-year-old, who started his professional career with Feyenoord in his homeland after coming through the academy, went on to spend five years at the Bernabeu and was relatively successful during his temporary stint with the Toffees.
He joined Reading from Russian club Alania in the summer of 2013 and has 12 months remaining on his contract with the Royals, who also failed to gain promotion last season.

Claudio Ranieri in running to be next Leeds manager

Football League World 20/5/14
Former AS Monaco manager Claudio Ranieri has appeared as a shock contender to become Leeds United’s next manager according to the Daily Express.
Despite leading Monaco to promotion and then 2nd place in Ligue 1 in France in consecutive seasons, the 62-year-old was relieved of his duties earlier today. Now, according to the Daily Express, he could be in the running to take over at the Yorkshire club.
The relationship between new owner Massimo Cellino and current manager Brian McDermott has been almost non-existent since the end of the season and a new manager is a real possibility before the start of the new campaign.
Ranieri has managed in England once before. He was manager at Chelsea for years between 2000 and 2004 and was nicknamed ‘The Tinkerman’ during his time there. The Italian has had a long managerial career which has seen him take charge of sides such as Inter Milan, Roma, Juventus and Valencia.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes lead the betting on Ranieri, with Leeds being 2nd favourites at 10/1 to be the Italians next job. AC Milan are the favourites at 8/1.

Young defender Charlie Taylor commits his future to Leeds United 20/5/14
Young defender Charlie Taylor has committed his future to the club after he signed a new three year contract at United.
The 20-year-old full back as enjoyed loan spells at Bradford City, York City, Inverness CT and most recently at Fleetwood Town.
Making 41 appearances this season for Fleetwood Town the defender has helped the League Two side to the Play-Off Final, which takes place on Monday May 26.
Charlie has caught the eye this season while on loan at Graham Alexander’s side and has been rewarded with a new contract at Elland Road.
Taylor has four United appearances to his name after graduating from the Academy at Thorp Arch, all of which came in the 2011/12 season, and the youngster has been on the winning side on all four occasions.

Massimo Cellino reveals Leeds do NOT need to sell Ross McCormack

Express 20/5/14
LEEDS owner Massimo Cellino admits he won't look to sell important first-team players in the summer transfer window.
By: David Wright
The Championship outfit's top goalscorer Ross McCormack has been constantly been linked with a move away from Elland Road, with West Ham and Sunderland keen admirers.
But Cellino has eased any worries of the fans by claiming he has no intention of making Leeds - a team known for integrating young players into the first-team - a selling club.
The Italian businessman was forced to do so as chairman of Serie A side Cagliari, but wants to see Leeds grow.
"I came here with a big dream, to find if I am good at running a club," Cellino said.
"I spent the last 23 years [at Cagliari] buyingbeautiful players for £1m. I saw them grow and then they have to leave. Every time you have to start again because the club doesn't grow like the players.
"If I can do the same thing here at Leeds, the club can grow like the player, so we don't have to sell - we can keep them."

Cagliari Striker Victor Ibarbo Addresses Leeds United Transfer Talk

Inside Futbol 20/5/14
Cagliari striker Victor Ibarbo has appeared to rule out any chance of heading to Leeds this summer, despite continued chatter he could be shipped to Elland Road.
Ibarbo is thought to have been identified as a possible addition to the Leeds squad given that Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino also now owns 75 per cent of the English club.
Cellino may sell Cagliari in the coming days, however he met with Cagliari sporting director Nicola Salerno just days ago, hinting at continued discussions over the club's players.
Ibarbo though, while being very much open to an adventure in England, is struggling to become excited about Leeds, who play in the country's second tier, the Championship.
"I am very happy at Cagliari, it is a very pleasant city", the Colombia international told El Tiempo, when asked about talk linking him with Leeds.
"English football is very interesting, but not the second division.
"Here I play in a competitive league", Ibarbo added.
Leeds' chances of signing the highly-rated striker appear slim, given not just the player's apparent reluctance to up sticks for Elland Road, but also in light of concrete interest from Juventus.
A positive World Cup from Ibarbo is also expected to increase competition for his signature.

Let's make something important - Massimo Cellino speaks about his time at United so far 20/5/14
Club President Massimo Cellino has spoken about wanting to make something “important and big” at Leeds United in his first interview with LUTV.
Eleonora Sport completed their majority shareholding acquisition in early April and the new club President has admitted he may have to do things the hard way to achieve success.
“Always, if you want to make something important and you take the easy way or the downhill way you will get somewhere,” said the President. “It seems good and faster but it won’t be important.
“But if you take the hard way, the uphill way you will get something very important and very big.
“I am studying Leeds and I am studying English football. I respect that I don’t know everything about English football. I have to listen and I have to learn. I have to learn fast but I will say that I am a fast learner.
“I have been running and rushing around and I haven’t stopped thinking. But in the last two or three days I have started to see that there is a little bit of light at the end of tunnel.
“Until a week ago I was going in one direction then the other and it was driving me crazy.
“But since last week I know where the line is so we have to keep going the distance and we’ll get there.”

Leeds United: Cellino and sons named club directors

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/5/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino and his sons, Edoardo and Ercole, have been named as directors of the Elland Road club.
The three Cellino family members join a six-man United board which also includes chairman Salah Nooruddin, Salem Patel and Daniel Arty.
Arty’s appointment as a director was confirmed last week, little over a month after he and Cellino pushed through a 75 per cent buy-out of Leeds from Gulf Finance House (GFH) through their UK company, Eleonora Sport Limited.
Patel - one of the architects of GFH’s takeover of United in 2012 - has been a board member for around 18 months, and Nooruddin became club chairman last summer.
Under the terms of Cellino’s recent buy-out of Leeds, Nooruddin is to stay as chairman until the end of next season. Neither he nor Patel have been seen as Elland Road for several months.

Sky Bet Championship: Massimo Cellino hoping Leeds United grow under his leadership

Sky Sports 20/5/14
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino hopes to be able to grow the club with shrewd dealings in the transfer market.
Cellino comes to England with a good record of buying players as chairman of Serie A side Cagliari, but he claims he was unable to build the Sardinian club as he was always being forced to sell once they had been developed.
He is hopeful that will not be the case at Elland Road, where the Italian has the ultimate aim of making it to the Premier League.
"I came here with a big dream, to find if I am good at running a club," Cellino told Sky Sports.
"I ran Cagliari for 23 years but it is a small club and they didn't let me grow.
"I spent the last 23 years buying beautiful players for £1m. I saw them grow and then they have to leave. Every time you have to start again because the club doesn't grow like the players.
"If I can do the same thing here at Leeds, the club can grow like the player, so we don't have to sell - we can keep them."
Cellino appears to be on the verge of selling his interest in Cagliari with two sets of investors interested, including one group from the United States.
But the money he receives for the sale will not necessarily all go into his new venture, as Cellino told the Yorkshire Evening Post on Monday: "It won't make Leeds easier. It just means that in my mind I have only Leeds to think about. I can deal only with the problems I have here. That would be good.
"If I had £1bn, if I was the richest man in the world, I would do exactly the same with Leeds as I'm doing now. This club has to stop wasting money and stop looking for money from other people.
"It needs to pay for itself, not be paid for by Massimo Cellino or people with oil or Russian businessmen. Cagliari makes no difference to what I'm doing now or in the future."

Leeds United: Charlie Taylor is looking to kick on with Whites

Yorkshire Post 20/5/14
Rising talent: Charlie Taylor is hoping to be the latest player to graduate from United’s academy into the first team. Leon Wobschall reports.
IT will not be until tea-time on Bank Holiday Monday that the team Charlie Taylor has played for this season will be able to bracket their 2013-14 campaign as either a success or, ultimately, a failure.
But the young Leeds United defender is crystal clear on one thing. That his own footballing schooling this term has brought on his own career leaps and bounds, regardless of what happens for him and his Fleetwood Town colleagues against Burton Albion in Monday’s League Two play-off final at Wembley Stadium.
While Taylor’s United team-mates are busy soaking up the sun on some foreign beach with their footballing commitments being completed earlier this month, the 20-year-old left-back has pressing work business to attend to – and he couldn’t be happier.
The holidays can wait. After all, it’s not every day that a young professional plotting out a path in the game potentially gets the chance to play in a promotion showpiece at the home of football.
The game against the Brewers in six days time will comfortably be the biggest of Taylor’s embryonic career, with booking a place at Wembley after a semi-final win over his hometown club York already ranking near the top of his experiences so far in the game.
Taylor and his Fleetwood muckers joyously celebrated reaching the final on Friday night on the pitch with ecstatic home fans after a 0-0 second-leg draw at what was a tense Highbury Stadium, with the Cod Army going through 1-0 on aggregate after 180 minutes of play-off football.
An occasion to savour for Taylor, but also to consider just how his own career has come a long way since he linked up with the Lancastrians in mid October.
Away from Elland Road he may have been, but Taylor’s form has been monitored and if he gets the benefit of a fair wind, he intends to be pushing for a first-team spot on the left-hand side of defence back at parent club Leeds in 2014-15.
United have already shown they think highly of him, with the full-back to sign a new deal later this week and eager for the next phase of his development at Elland Road.
In terms of examples to follow, Taylor has one in front of him, namely centre-half Tom Lees, who hasn’t looked back since propelling himself into the first team in the autumn of 2011 on the back of a promotion season at Bury in 2010-11 – after being a loan regular at Accrington the previous year.
Taylor told the YEP: “Tom had two years out on loan and came back and has done brilliantly and cemented his place at centre-back and that’s what I want to do next year.
“This loan has been brilliant and I have enjoyed every bit of it. I feel it has improved me so much as a player and a person.
“I just feel as if I have come on so much this season and I am looking forward to going back to Leeds and kicking on in pre-season next year.
“Playing ‘men’s football’ every week has brought me on. People don’t realise, but League Two is a tough, physical league and so much better than just playing in the under-21s and reserves at Leeds.
“My one-on-one defending and fitness has come on as well. I get up and down the pitch a lot more and physically and as a person, I am controlling games more than I was really.”
Taylor’s credentials were certainly tested in two encounters with York, where he spent a brief loan spell in the autumn of 2012, more especially in the definitive encounter on the Fylde coast.
Holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg at Bootham Crescent, Fleetwood had to deal with sustained pressure from the Minstermen in the second meeting and were handed several scares before the final whistle; the game ending up deadlocked at 0-0.
It was a severe test for Taylor, who has started 31 league games for Fleetwood in 2013-14 – only four others have lined up in more – but he wasn’t found wanting.
A number of his mates among the 1,000-strong York contingent in the away end may have been willing on the Minstermen to triumph, but with that prospect over, expect them to be firmly in Taylor’s corner in the final.
Taylor, brought up in Tadcaster, said: “I live in York and a lot of my mates were in the York end and it was good to prove some of them wrong and get the win.
“There was a bit on Twitter and I have had a few texts and it was great to knock them out and go through. They will be a few wanting tickets now for Wembley!
“I can’t wait and there should be a coachload going down from ‘Tad’ and it should be a great occasion and hopefully we will go down and win.
“Playing at Wembley would be up there with making my debut for Leeds and playing for England at Under-19 level in a tournament in France.
“The last 10 minutes was a bit nervy, but we got there and the feeling at the end was great. It was a great experience really.
“They threw their keeper up at the end and we had an empty net twice to score and we couldn’t finish them off. Credit to them, they kept coming at us, but we held on strong.
“From where they were at Christmas, it was an unbelievable achievement to get from where they were into the play-offs.”
Taylor was watched on Friday evening by Leeds first-team coach Neil Redfearn and if he requires a glowing reference for further proof of the defender’s progression, he could do worse than speak to Fleetwood manager Graham Alexander.
His move to bring in Taylor, who previously had loan spells with Inverness, York and Bradford, has proved rewarding for all concerned and he is confident he has a “bright future” in the game.
Alexander said: “Charlie has done great. He came into the team in the early part of the season when we had a couple of injuries and we threw him straight into the team.
“He’s very highly thought of at Leeds. He had a little bit of a dip halfway through, but he’s a young lad who is playing week-in, week-out in highly competitive games and he’s come back strongly. He’s a very good player with a bright future.
“I think all players come on when they play week-in, week out. I think Leeds have got high hopes for him and we’ve really enjoyed his time here.
“He’s added to the quality of the group and the lads love him and hopefully he can do it in one more game for us.”

This lack of respect from Leeds - axed Ashdown

Yorkshire Post 20/5/14
JAMIE ASHDOWN has hit out at Leeds United after finding out on Twitter that he had been released by the club, who he claims showed him a lack of respect.
Unlike six other senior players who were informed by letter on Friday that they would not be offered fresh terms when their contracts expire next month, the goalkeeper did not receive official communication until the following day.
The 33-year-old, whose second season at Elland Road was a write-off due to a problematic toe injury, was not expecting to be offered a new deal, but the manner of his exit has left him with a sour taste in his mouth.
He feels it is be illustrative of the sense of disjointedness at the club, with United’s retained list compiled without the input of manager Brian McDermott, whose relationship with owner Massimo Cellino is looking increasingly strained.
Ashdown, who joined the club in the summer of 2012 on a free transfer from Portsmouth, said: “It would have been nice for someone to tell me what was going on. I was expecting to get released and there’s no bitterness or anything like that, but it was the way it was done.
“A bit of respect is all you need. Every player wants that, no matter what contribution they have made to the club. You want to be treated similar.
“I got a letter a day after everyone else and that was my only gripe.
“It’s just one of things with everything that is going on at the club. No-one seems to know what is going on.
“There’s bigger things to worry about and in life, there’s a lot going on. I just think these things need to aired out, so it doesn’t happen again.
“These things need to be done by phone call, to be honest. Just so you get a response back and then you receive a letter obviously.
“There’s nothing worse than going out like that.
“All you can do is wait and obviously I was waiting for a phone call from someone.
“I’ve no problem with the decision. I’ve had an awful year and from their point of view, it’s probably the right thing to do.
“I was annoyed myself with not breaking in and feel as if I should have been playing. Hopefully, I can make it up next season.”
Ashdown has described the goings-on at Elland Road this calendar year as representing a ‘crazy time’ and the Reading-born custodian admits that the sense of turmoil in the second half of the season left him fearing the club might be relegated at one stage.
Being on the sidelines due to injury compounded his sense of frustration and while his footballing future lies away from Leeds, he is keeping his fingers crossed that the club can find some harmony and stability soon.
He said: “At one time, I was surprised we didn’t go down, with what was going on and the communication between everyone and when the manager was sacked and then reinstated. It was a bit of a crazy time.
“For the lads, it was such a long season. But they stuck at it and they did themselves well, although it wasn’t a great season from a big club’s point of view.
“It was quite tight at one point. It was a blessing that Cellino took over, but at the same time, there’s parts of the job he’s got to do and communication is part of that.*
“They were a good set of lads (at Leeds) and there was not really a bad one in there. No-one would walk out actually; although there was one, but I can’t mention him.
“I just think everyone was unsettled and it was difficult to pick anyone up there. For six weeks, everyone was hoping for it (the season) to end, but for me, I was just hoping it would start again.
“All I had to do was get my injury sorted and try to help. I wanted to concentrate on what I wanted to do and get fit.
“But that’s football and you move on. I hope the club can move on, improve and they can get the money sorted. Players come and go, but the fans don’t.”
Meanwhile, young defender Charlie Taylor, currently on loan at Fleetwood is expected to sign a new deal this week.
On his new deal, Taylor, who has met with United’s new football consultant Benito Carbone said: “I am delighted. It took a bit of time to sort out, but finally I have got it sorted. I should be signing it this week and I am just looking forward to going back there and kicking on.
“They send a lot of clips back (to Leeds) and I think Benito Carbone was watching on TV on Friday.
“I have spoken to him and really enjoyed the meeting and am looking forward to going back to Leeds.
“I think Brian came to watch me at Chesterfield away and there’s been Leeds scouts at Fleetwood and the club are keeping up with how I am doing.”

Leeds slap huge seven-figure price tag on Ross McCormack

Here is the City 19/5/14
Stephen Pickering
Leeds United will look to be well paid if they are to split from top goalscorer Ross McCormack this summer with the Daily Mail reporting an asking price of £8 million. Malaga, West Ham United and Leicester City all said to be interested.
Championship 2013/2014 Golden Boot winner Ross McCormack has been the subject of heavy speculation in the past few weeks with a number of clubs rumoured to be looking at him.
2012/2013 Champions League semi-finalists Malaga are said to be the most interested in the player's signature; however, they could have to fork out up to £8 million to get their man this summer, according to the Daily Mail.
The price-tag is likely to be somewhat over-exaggerated, as is the case with most selling clubs, but whoever tries to sign him will undoubtedly have a fight on their hands.
Last season, the Scottish international was undoubtedly one of the best players in the division, scoring an incredible 29 goals in all competitions. He was also named in various publications as one of top five players in the Championship last season.
The loss of McCormack would be a huge blow to the Yorkshire club as they look to assemble a squad capable of promotion next season. Nevertheless, amidst of all the cost cutting going on at Elland Road, which has already seen a significant number of support staff sacked, the status of their star striker will be a constant worry for Leeds United fans this summer. He is a player that is likely to attract interest from some of the top league's in the world.
The 27-year-old, however, does seem to remain focused on the challenge ahead at the club and as club captain, he has set a wonderful example for his fellow players to follow in recent months.

Cellino - Cagliari sale won’t affect Leeds

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/5/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino is to hold talks with former Inter director Tommaso Giulini tomorrow during a meeting which he hopes will close a deal to sell his Italian club Cagliari.
Cellino has two offers on the table for Cagliari - the Serie A side he bought in 1992 - after a group of US investors followed up news of a bid from Giulini by tabling an offer worth a reported £65m today.
But Cellino, who is juggling two professional clubs after buying a 75 per cent stake in Leeds on April 7, said tonight that the planned sale of Cagliari would make no difference to his strategy at Elland Road, saying he would “do the same as I’m doing now” if a deal came off.
Cellino has spent his first month-and-a-half at Leeds dealing with a long list of bills and debts and working to reduce the costs of a Championship club who are losing more than £1m a month.
The 57-year-old temporarily closed the club’s training ground at Thorp Arch a fortnight ago and began a formal process of redundancies among general staff last week.
The income he stands to earn by selling Cagliari was seen as a source of money to invest in United, but Cellino told the YEP: “It won’t make Leeds easier. It just means that in my mind I have only Leeds to think about. I can deal only with the problems I have here. That would be good.
“If I had £1bn, if I was the richest man in the world, I would do exactly the same with Leeds as I’m doing now. This club has to stop wasting money and stop looking for money from other people.
“It needs to pay for itself, not be paid for by Massimo Cellino or people with oil or Russian businessmen. Cagliari makes no difference to what I’m doing now or in the future.”
Cellino claimed to have been in discussions with Giulini - the managing director of Sardinian-based chemical company Fluorsid - for the past three months, though news of Giulini’s interest in Cagliari became public for the first time over the weekend.
The US bid - fronted by entrepreneur Luca Silvestrone - has been been known about for many weeks, and Cellino said the contrasting secrecy surrounding Giulini made him believe that the ex-Inter director’s offer was “more tangible, more concrete.”
But he stressed the importance of a quick deal, saying the need to begin planning for next season at Cagliari was putting pressure on takeover negotiations.
Giulini is travelling to England for more advanced talks with Cellino tomorrow.
“I have to close the deal,” Cellino said. “I can’t wait for days or weeks because there is so much to do at Cagliari, too much with players, the coach, everything.
“With Giulini, I’ve spoken to him for three months and he never said anything about it. That makes me think he is more tangible, more concrete. He is serious about getting it done.
“With the Americans, I thought it was all bulls**t. But apparently they are serious too. So we will see.”
Cellino has been owner and president of Cagliari for the past 22 years.
The club finished 15th in the Serie A after their last game of the 2013-14 season ended in a 3-0 defeat to Juventus on Sunday.

The future is bright: Benito Carbone on his role at Leeds United 19/5/14
Last week Benito Carbone joined the club as a consultant to deal with technical and football operations, and the former midfielder is keen to take his chance.
Benito will mainly deal with the Academy and the former Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City man admits that the club has some good footballers in its ranks.
“Mr Cellino has given me a big chance to work for a big club like Leeds United,” said Benito. “Leeds is still a big club and everybody knows that.
“My position is to work with the Academy and the structure of the Academy. Mr Cellino wants to do the best for the Academy. And I want to do what is best for the Academy.
“In the last four weeks I have watched the Academy teams three or four times and I’ll be honest, we have some really good players here.
“We want to bring as many Academy players into the first team as possible. Maybe in three or four years there will be five or six players playing in the first team.
“I think everybody will like that, I think that the fans will like that. We need to do well at Academy level and then in the future there will be a lot of players in the first team.”
Benito will cover all football matters and says that everyone involved with the club needs to create “a family” and move in the same direction.
“We have a good side, we have good players and we have a good manager,” added Carbone. “But we need to do better next season.
“At the moment we don’t want to say that we are going to win this or win that, we have to promise the fans that we are going to do our best.
“It is very important to build a family at the club. Everybody needs to think in the same way. Everyone at the club from the manager, the coaches, the players and the fans, we must build the family.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Can See Land, But I Can’t Help Being Troublemaker – Leeds Owner Massimo Cellino

Inside Futbol 19/5/14
New Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has admitted that he is a "troublemaker" but insists all that he does is in good faith, while he believes progress is being made at Elland Road under his leadership.
Cellino is closing on selling his other club in football, Serie A side Cagliari, as he seeks to focus on Leeds and put into place his plan to lead the Yorkshire giants to promotion to the Premier League within the next two years.
The Italian has had to grapple with financial issues at Elland Road, with the club believed to be losing close to £1m per month.
However, Cellino has cut an optimistic figure and feels he can see a route out of Leeds' troubles, with the Italian businessman comparing the situation with a sailor at sea looking for land.
"The last two to three days I start to see a little bit of light", he told LUTV.
"It's like when you're sailing in the sea and you don't know where you're going. Until one week ago I was going in one direction and another. I was getting crazy and then last week I knew that the land is there, and I have to keep the duration and we'll get there."
Cellino then explained the path he chooses may be tough, but will ultimately be in the club's long-term interests. The Italian also asked for forgiveness in advance for any mistakes he may make, dubbing himself a "troublemaker".
"Don't misunderstand me, I'm talking about the way that we have to take.
"If you go the easy way, the downhill way, you get somewhere that seems good, but is not important. When you go the [other] way it's going to be hard, but when you get there you get something very important, and something very big.
"I choose the uphill way because I'm stange and not normal. I'm always looking for trouble, I'm a troublemaker.
"I'm always looking for trouble like when I was a kid and I've not changed unfortunately. Sorry for that, I must apologise publicly because I know that I'm a troublemaker, but I'm a troublemaker in a good way.
"That's my character. I ask that people excuse me for that, try to understand me; everything I do, I do in good faith."

Massimo Cellino: Leeds owner 'close' to selling Cagliari

BBC 19/5/14
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino says he hopes to sell Italian club Cagliari to former Inter Milan director Tommaso Giulini for a reported £40m this week.
Cellino has been in charge of the Serie A side since 1992, but has been looking to sell since taking control of Leeds.
"I am too busy cleaning up the mess at Leeds. I cannot have two clubs," Cellino told BBC Radio Leeds.
Cellino said he is meeting with 37-year-old Giulini this week and hopes to conclude a deal by Wednesday.
Italian businessman Cellino, 57, completed his takeover of the Yorkshire club last month after winning an appeal against the Football League's decision to block the move.
He was disqualified from owning the Championship side after failing the Football League's owners' and directors' test, but an independent QC overturned the decision.
Cellino recently said the club, which loses more than £1m per month, was spending £100,000 per day on operating costs. The latest accounts showed Leeds made an operating loss of almost £10m for the year up to June 2013.
He recently told BBC Radio Leeds it was impossible for him to run both clubs: "I have to choose one to save. I choose Leeds."
Cagliari, who have been in the Italian top flight since 2004, finished 15th last season.
Giulini, 37, has close links to the Moratti family who owned Inter Milanuntil selling their majority stake last year.

Leeds Owner Massimo Cellino Moving Towards €50m Cagliari Sale to Former Inter Board Member

Inside Futbol 18/5/14
Massimo Cellino is edging towards completing the sale of Cagliari and could sign the papers to do just that in Leeds over the coming days.
While an American investment group has been consistently pushing to take over the Serie A club, even planning to build a new stadium by 2017 and holding talks with Cellino's representatives and the city's mayor, they look poised to miss out.
According to Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport, Cellino has been holding talks for the last three months with Tommaso Giulini, a board member at Inter until last year and whose family have a number of business interests in Sardinia.
Cellino, who himself recently acquired 75 per cent of English Championship club Leeds United, is now believed to be close to signing on the dotted line.
Giulini's offer for Cagliari is thought to be around the €50m mark.
It remains to be see how Cellino's departure could affect plans to move a number of players from Cagliari to Leeds, with several stars having been linked with heading to Elland Road.
What is clear however is that Cellino is keen to focus on Leeds as he seeks to make good on his pledge to lead the club to the Premier League within two years.

Massimo Cellino recruits forensic accountants to get to the bottom of Leeds' financial chaos

Mail 18/5/14
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has hired a team of forensic accountants to investigate the financial chaos at Elland Road after specialist advisors told him the finances ‘were the worst mess they’ve ever seen at a football club’.
The club’s Thorp Arch training ground has been shut for the summer to save money, dozens of redundancies are expected to cut costs and some staff were not paid last week because the club bank account has been frozen.
That action was taken after a winding-up petition was served on Leeds by Sport Capital, a company owned by former managing director David Haigh, over an unpaid debt.

Leeds United: Brian McDermott and players are ordered – by letter – to return on May 28

Yorkshire Evening Post 17/5/14
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott has been formally ordered to report back to Leeds United with his coaching staff and first-team squad on May 28 in another letter from owner Massimo Cellino.
A second written message from Cellino to McDermott said he expected United’s playing staff to be present at Elland Road at 10am a week on Wednesday – more than a month before the squad intend to return for the start of pre-season training.
A simmering dispute between United’s president and manager has grown more bitter in the past week following an exchange of letters between the pair.
McDermott, who has not spoken to Cellino directly since the end of the Championship season, was contacted by Leeds’ Italian owner around 10 days ago, asking him to explain his absence from Elland Road and to provide details of his plans for pre-season and the senior squad.
A reply from McDermott is understood to have prompted a further letter from Cellino towards the end of this week, telling United’s boss that he had taken holiday without authorisation and should be back in Leeds no later than May 28. It also stressed the scale of the work ahead of them this summer.
Sources close to McDermott spoken to by the Yorkshire Evening Post have denied that he is away on holiday, saying McDermott travelled back to his home in the south of England after his mother was admitted to hospital.
They also claimed that the 53-year-old has spent the past fortnight contacting agents about potential summer signings and discussing possible pre-season friendlies. They rejected allegations from Cellino that McDermott had been uncontactable since leaving his home in Harrogate shortly after the last game of the term.
McDermott was contacted directly by the Evening Post but declined to comment.
The conflict between Cellino and McDermott is threatening to render McDermott’s position untenable, though Cellino has made no move to sack him.
McDermott’s contract runs for another two years and would cost Cellino around £1.5million to sever. The League Managers’ Association (LMA) is believed to be working in support of McDermott but has not responded to repeated requests for comment on his position.
The former Reading coach has been under constant scrutiny since Cellino failed with an attempt to dismiss him in January, before the 57-year-old’s takeover of Leeds was officially complete.
McDermott’s first full season in charge ended a fortnight ago with Leeds ranked 15th in the Championship.
Under previous plans, the squad at Leeds were due to report into Thorp Arch for the start of pre-season training on Thursday, July 3, five weeks before the new season begins.
An early recall is likely to lead to questions from the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), though a spokesman for the union said he was unaware of any official instruction to the players from Cellino.
Club captain Ross McCormack has been called up by Scotland to play in a friendly against Nigeria at Craven Cottage on May 28.
Cellino made his position clear on Thursday, saying the squad’s holiday allowance would end 25 days after their 1-1 draw with Derby County on May 3, the last day of the 2013-14 term.
“I think and I believe that in the contract of my employees, they have 25 days of holiday,” Cellino said.
“They (the players and staff) left on May 3. On May 28 everybody is going to be here. We go by contract. They’re going to get everything they got in contracts, nothing more.”

Leeds United: I’m here to work for the good of Whites - Carbone

Yorkshire Evening Post 17/5/14
The Apprentice: Benito Carbone says he is at Leeds United to help in the Academy and doesn’t have designs on the manager’s job. Phil Hay reports. Leeds United was a wing and a prayer for Benito Carbone. Massimo Cellino talks about him like a lifelong friend but they met in person for the first time when Carbone flew to Leeds from Italy four weeks ago.
Their relationship began after Cellino spoke to an Italian agent and asked for recommendations of football-minded people who could work with him at Elland Road. The agent suggested Carbone and Carbone agreed to come. He did so, he says, expecting no salary and prepared for a short lifespan under a notoriously ruthless boss.
“Honestly, when I came here I thought ‘I’ll stay here for two days and then he’ll kick my arse back home’,” Carbone says. “I really worried about that. But after two days it was better; always better. I like him. He’s given me a chance.
“I knew the name, Mr Cellino, but the day I came here I met him for the first time. But we have the same ideas. If you don’t have the same ideas, you don’t work with him.”
When Carbone appeared unannounced at Thorp Arch in the penultimate week of the season, the obvious question was whose job he would take.
Brian McDermott’s position as manager was fragile then and less secure now. Besides his playing career, Carbone’s CV showed a spell of youth-team coaching at Pavia, the Italian side where he retired. “Benito will help me rebuild the academy,” Cellino announced after Carbone sat in the directors box for United’s 3-1 win at Birmingham City on April 26.
On Thursday his job became official. Leeds described him as “a consultant” focusing on “technical and football operations” – of both the academy and first team. Carbone says that since his arrival in England, he has concentrated solely on academy matters. And the academy is where he thinks Cellino’s long-term priority lies.
It is an intriguing opinion for two reasons. Firstly, United’s training ground at Thorp Arch – the base of their youth development scheme – lies virtually empty after Cellino closed it for the summer. The Football League is sending officials to Leeds next week to establish whether the closure might impact on the category two status awarded to the academy earlier this year. That ranking earned the club a central payment of £490,000.
“We don’t want to lose category two,” Carbone says. “But for 25 years the chairman, Mr Cellino, has another club in Italy (Cagliari). He has the same numbers in that academy, from under-nines to under-21s, but the cost is really different.
“He wants to bring the same course he has at Cagliari to Leeds because it works well in Cagliari. It does the same thing. We don’t understand why here we must pay maybe 70 per cent more. We have high costs and the chairman is spending a lot of money every day – boom, boom, boom. We need to close the tap but we have a budget. If we are in the budget, we keep everything.”
Cellino, who bought Leeds from Gulf Finance House on April 7, is engaged in some of the heaviest cost cutting United have seen for years, much of it boiling down to redundancies.
Carbone says expenditure at the academy needs to fall; that the temporary closure of Thorp Arch makes sense, despite the fact that Leeds are committed to paying £600,000 a year to rent it.
“We will save a lot,” he says. “You can’t imagine how much. You still have electricity, air conditioning, the swimming pool, everything. If you don’t close it, you pay the same for months. It’s a massive training ground, for a Champions League team not a Championship team. But it’s beautiful and we want to keep it for sure. We’ll open it for pre-season, when the first team come back.”
The date of the return of senior players and staff is not exactly clear. Cellino said in an interview this week that he wanted everyone to report back on May 28, more a month before pre-season normally starts. McDermott is estranged from the club, in contact via written communication but still to speak to Cellino at length about his job and next season.
Carbone played a part in finalising a retained list at Leeds this week, something McDermott did not have his say on, but the squad as Cellino visualises it in August is yet to take shape. Carbone believes United’s playing resources will be heavily supplemented by an academy which has been headed up by development squad coach Neil Redfearn to good effect for two years.
Carbone is complimentary about the output at Thorp Arch. The cost is where he and Cellino see a problem.
“It’s fantastic,” he says. “My God, we have seven or eight players in the Under-21s who are very good players.
“Our objective is that in two, three or four years’ time, the line-up when we start a game has six, seven or eight players from the young Leeds. Like before, when the club were in the Champions League.
“Leeds players can do more on the pitch than other players in the world because they feel it in their heart. They come from Leeds and they love Leeds. Our idea is to keep the players from the academy and get six or seven into the first team.
“You give them a chance to grow and then you give Leeds a chance to sell maybe one or two each year, to make money – make big money and then save it. Because if you don’t do that, how do you get money? Always from someone’s pocket? One day that might finish.”
McDermott and Cellino have not spoken since the end of the Championship season. United’s manager is in the south of England, visiting his mother who was recently admitted to hospital. He has two years left on his contract but for all of Carbone’s contact with Cellino, he is unable to say whether McDermott will survive.
“I don’t know this one,” he says. “You must ask (Cellino).
“I know (McDermott), we have spoken at the training ground three or four times, talking about everything. He is a good manager, he’s doing well. But I don’t know what’s happening about the gaffer.
“At the moment I wouldn’t talk about the first team because nobody’s here. For the last four weeks, I’ve worked just for the academy. I’ve touched nothing with the first team. Because after the game against Deby, everyone left. We need to wait for the manager and then talk because at the moment they’ve gone on holiday – the players, the manager, the staff.”
Carbone says the retained list was ultimately Cellino’s call. “I’ve decided nothing,” he says. “The chairman (Cellino) decides everything anyway. Definitely, the chairman decides. But the chairman must talk with the manager because they must work together.”
The former striker coached three lower league clubs in Italy – Pavia, Varese and Saint Christophe Valle D’Aosta and he has a view on how a coach should be – approachable but strict, at arm’s length from players. “If I go inside and play five-a-side with them, it’s too friendly,” he says. “I don’t like that. Coaching under-21s is for me, beautiful. I don’t want straight away (to be managing in) the Championship or the Premier League. I’ve got time.
“Honestly, I came here to be a coach but not of the first team.
“I’d never say that because we have a manager and I respect him. I never thought to be consultant but the chairman sees me as someone who is very good in this role.
“‘You’re fresh, you do everything straight away when I ask.’ That’s what he told me. And I’ll do my best for this club from the first day to the last day because I’m professional. I always do my best.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

Leeds United: Brown, Diouf and Pugh among 13 players released by United

Yorkshire Evening Post 16/5/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United tonight began the rebuilding of their squad by releasing seven senior players and six junior professionals.
Michael Brown, El-Hadji Diouf, Danny Pugh and Luke Varney were among the experienced players culled as United launched a major clear-out at Elland Road.
As reported by the YEP this week, a new deal has been offered to 20-year-old left-back Charlie Taylor – currently on loan at Fleetwood Town – and development-squad defender Afolabi Coker is also in line for an extended stay with Leeds.
United have taken up options to extend the contracts of goalkeeper Alex Cairns – the club’s understudy throughout this season – and centre-back Ross Killock.
But all of the senior players who are due to move on from Leeds at the end of June will depart the club.
Goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown, defender Adam Drury and midfielder Paul Green have been told that their services are no longer required.
Drury and Green finished the season on loan at Bradford City and Ipswich Town respectively, and Varney saw out the Championship term at Blackburn Rovers, a club he joined temporarily with a view to a permanent deal.
Leeds have not commented on whether any of their under-contract players have been officially transfer-listed.
The six young professionals released are Simon Lenighan, twins Nathan and Lewis Turner, Richard Bryan, Smith Tiesse and Gboly Ariyibi.
The exodus from Leeds, which was finalised by Italian owner Massimo Cellino in the absence of manager Brian McDermott, is likely to trim around £3m from United’s £18m wage bill.

Leeds United release thirteen players

Vital Leeds 16/5/14
Leeds United have announced their released list with seven senior professionals on the list.
Leeds have released thirteen players in total with Gboly Ariyibi, Jamie Ashdown, Michael Brown, Richard Bryan, El-Hadji Diouf, Adam Drury, Paul Green, Simon Lenighan, Danny Pugh Smith Tiesse, Nathan Turner, Lewis Turner, and Luke Varney all being told that they will not be offered new deals by the club.
Young goalkeeper Alex Cairns, who spent most of the second on the bench for Leeds, is being retained whilst Charlie Taylor and Ross Killock are being offered new deals.

Sign him up! Cellino spotted at Rotherham game as midfielder shines

Here is the City 15/5/14
Stephen Pickering
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino watched on from the stands as Rotherham United, and ex-Derby County, midfielder Ben Pringle provided a masterclass.
An unlikely spectator during the League One play-off semi-finals was Leeds owner Massimo Cellino who was spotted by one of the Sky Sports cameras.
This quickly lead to rumours that he was looking at potential players the club could sign this summer, and if he was, he wouldn't have been disappointed.
After the match, Leeds United supporters took to Twitter to show their appreciation for the excellent Rotherham United midfielder Ben Pringle, who created two of his sides three goals.
The former Derby County Young Player of the Year has really come on in leaps and bounds since Nigel Clough decided to release him in 2011 after just 20 appearances for the Rams. Since then, he has gone on to become an integral part in a progressive Rotherham United side who, if things go their way, could be a Championship side next season.
Rotherham United showed no mercy in the League One play-off semi final and unfortunately for Preston, it just wasn't meant to be their day. A Paul Gallagher free-kick put the away side in front, however, their lead didn't last long. A quick reply from Rotherham saw them go 2-1 up before half-time, both assisted by former Derby man Ben Pringle.
Ex-Everton starlet Kieran Agard ultimately finished the game off in the second-half, which now means Rotherham can start to dream what might be at Wembley.
As for Pringle, It would be criminal if the Newcastle-born midfielder wasn't given a second chance to prove himself in the Championship next season either with a promoted Rotherham United, Leeds United or somewhere else.
The high-energy midfielder has proven, with the right coaching, just what an asset he can be. In his time at Derby, he was often back-up to pantomime villain Robbie Savage, but found himself released upon his retirement. An unfortunate situation for the young player who had to drop down the leagues and once again show the fight and desire to rebuild his reputation, which he has done at Rotherham.
In fact, in his current form, you could well argue Clough's decision to release him in 2011 may well go down as one of his biggest mistakes in his time with the Rams, which ended controversially earlier in the season.
A good, honest, hard-working player who has shown the determination to rebuild his reputation. Leeds could certainly do a lot worse this summer.

Rift deepens as Cellino launches attack on Leeds boss

Yorkshire Post 16/5/14
THE rift between Brian McDermott and Massimo Cellino has deepened amid claims that Leeds United’s manager only returned to his home in the south of England after his mother was admitted to hospital.
Sources close to McDermott are denying allegations from Cellino that the 53-year-old had taken a holiday and was uncontactable at a time when United’s president is implementing widespread cuts and changes at Elland Road.
An angry Cellino vented frustration at McDermott in a television interview on Wednesday, saying the club was “not managed by anybody” and claiming to be unaware of McDermott’s whereabouts.
Cellino said: “I think at this moment the club is not managed by anybody. Who’s managing this club? Brian. Where’s Brian?
“I sent a letter to Brian – help us. He’s on holiday to get some rest. He was tired, I can understand. But why this kind of reaction?”
McDermott is understood to have left his home in Harrogate last week, travelling to visit his ill mother. He was present at the League Managers’ Association’s awards ceremony in Londonon Monday night and has remained down south since then.
Friends of McDermott’s say he has been available to a speak to Cellino throughout the past week but has not been contacted by the Italian, other than through written communication.
The former Reading boss, whose strained relationship with Cellino is threatening to end his 13-month tenure at Leeds, has had no verbal contact with his owner since the end of the season but received a letter from Cellino last Thursday, asking him to explain the absence of players and staff from Thorp Arch and outline his plans for the squad and pre-season.
McDermott has replied in writing, providing details of the fitness programmes given to United’s senior professionals and setting out a proposed pre-season schedule. The club are yet to finalise any friendlies or a summer tour.
But his position as manager is more fragile than ever after a week of major developments at Elland Road. Cellino launched a formal redundancy process on Wednesday and has drawn up a retained list with the help of Benito Carbone, the ex-Bradford City striker who began working for Leeds towards the end of last month.
The retained list, which should be announced today and reveal which of United’s out-of-contract players are to be offered new deals, was compiled without any input from McDermott.
First-team and development-squad coach Neil Redfearn was asked by Cellino to offer advice on United’s young professionals, and youngsters Nathan and Lewis Turner - twins who came through the academy at Thorp Arch - confirmed on Twitter yesterday that they are to leave the club this summer.
McDermott also appears to be heading for a parting of way with Leeds, though Cellino is known to be reluctant to foot a £1.5m bill by severing a contract which ties McDermott to United until 2016.
The LMA has been assisting McDermott since Cellino’s failed attempt to sack him in January but the organisation did not respond to a request for comment last night.
Carbone, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly prominent at Elland Road, and Leeds have officially confirmed his appointment to their staff, describing him as a “consultant” who will “deal with technical and football operations.”
The former Sheffield Wednesday player linked up with Leeds in the final week of April, with Cellino saying initially that he would “help me rebuild the academy.”
But a statement published by the club yesterday said Carbone, 42, would be “involved with all football matters, including both the first team and the academy.”
In a separate development, it emerged that secretary Alison Royston has been suspended by the club. Neither Leeds nor Royston have commented on the reason for her suspension.

Leeds United: Football League look into training ground closure

Yorkshire Evening Post 15/5/14
by Phil Hay
The Football League confirmed today that it is sending officials to Leeds United to discuss the impact of the closure of the club’s training ground on their youth academy.
The governing body is to hold a meeting with Leeds next week after owner Massimo Cellino took the unprecedented step of temporarily shutting Leeds’ training complex at Thorp Arch.
The decision came last Friday as part of Cellino’s attempts to cut costs and reduce monthly losses of more than £1m.
Thorp Arch, which has never been closed during the summer before, is due to reopen when the senior squad at Leeds begin pre-season training.
But the Football League is to ask questions about the effect of the closure on United’s academy having award the youth development scheme category two status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) towards the end of the season.
Through EPPP, Leeds were paid almost £500,000 to invest their academy.
A spokesman for the Football League denied that the organisation was preparing a formal “investigation” but said it “was meeting with the club to discuss what implications it might have on the youth development programme.”
Cellino’s takeover of Leeds on April 7 went through after a failed attempt by the Football League to disqualify him from buying a 75 per cent stake in the club.
The Italian businessman is engaging in severe cost-cutting at Elland Road and announced a formal redundancy scheme among general staff yesterday.

Leeds United official statement re Benito Carbone 15/5/14
Carbone to join staff at Elland Road…
The club are delighted to announce that Benito Carbone has joined the club in a consultant position and will deal with technical and football operations.
The former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford City, Derby County and Middlesbrough midfielder will be involved with all football matters, including both the first team and the Academy.

Brian McDermott's Leeds future in doubt as Benito Carbone is hired as 'special consultant to the board of directors'

Mail 15/5/14
Brian McDermott's Leeds future in doubt as Benito Carbone is hired as 'special consultant to the board of directors for sport matters including facilities and academy'
  • Brian McDermott future as Leeds United manager is uncertain
  • Benito Carbone has been appointed as Elland Road director of football
  • Leeds owner Massimo Cellino is set to line up Carbone as future boss
  • Talks to terminate McDermott's contract have failed to reach an agreement
  • West Brom have been linked with McDermott following Pepe Mel's sacking
Brian McDermott’s Elland Road future looks more uncertain than ever after Leeds United appointed Benito Carbone as director of football.
Carbone tweeted that his full official title is 'special consultant to the board of directors for sport matters including facilities and academy.'
Sportsmail revealed last month how former Sheffield Wednesday forward Carbone had been shown round Leeds’ Wetherby training ground after being lined up by owner Massimo Cellino to take over as manager.
Talks to terminate McDermott’s contract have failed to reach an agreement, however, with the former Reading boss due £1million in compensation if he is sacked and Cellino reluctant to pay it after describing Leeds’ finances as ‘alarming’.
With Carbone left in limbo, as the negotiations dragged on, Cellino finally decided to act by making him ‘special consultant to the board’, effectively technical director.
It would appear to be a question of how much longer McDermott holds out before accepting a cut-price settlement, particularly with other jobs becoming available. West Brom are evidently showing an interest in him after sacking Pepe Mel.
It is difficult to imagine him still being in charge of Leeds at the start of next season, after Cellino criticised his decision to go on holiday and added that the club was ‘not managed by anyone’ at the moment.
Cellino invited Carbone over to Leeds last month after the ex-Wednesday, Aston Villa and Bradford City forward made a bright start to his managerial career in Italy’s second division and made it clear he was eager to test himself in English football.
A frequent visitor to Barclays Premier League and Championship games to study coaching methods, Carbone, who can converse in English, insisted he was ready for a fresh challenge in this country.
They don’t come much bigger than trying to turn round Leeds’ fortunes, after more than a decade of decline and internal strife, but he could get his wish soon. If McDermott does finally accept the inevitable, Cellino is expected to turn to Carbone to take over as manager.

Leeds United: Cuts deepen at Elland Road

Yorkshire Evening Post 14/5/14
by Phil Hay
Cuts to Leeds United’s day-to-day operations deepened last night as owner Massimo Cellino launched a formal process of redundancies at Elland Road.
United’s staff were warned of imminent sackings during 5pm meetings at the club’s stadium yesterday, the latest move by Cellino to reduce heavy monthly losses.
Lawyers from Mishcon de Reya – the legal firm responsible for mounting Cellino’s successful appeal against an attempt by theFootball League to stop him buying Leeds – spent much of the past 48 hours at Elland Road, reviewing the club’s finances and setting in motion a redundancy scheme.
There is no indication of the numbers of staff facing the sack but Cellino was reported last week to be planning for around 70 redundancies from a workforce of around 200. A source told the YEP that the figure of 70 “might not be excessive.”
Speaking on Monday, Cellino appeared to play down the possibility of sweeping job losses, saying: “I don’t sack staff who want to work with me and who do what they’re paid to do.”
The move to dismiss employees came as it emerged that Leeds have missed payment of wages owed to casual staff as a result of a winding-up petition served on the club by Sport Capital three weeks ago.
The YEP has been told that the petition – issued by Sport Capital on April 25 – led the club’s bank to freeze their main account, preventing payment of scheduled bills.
Sport Capital, a Guernsey-based company with strong links to former Leeds managing director David Haigh, is attempting to reclaim a £950,000 loan given to United in November of last year.
The firm requested repayment at the start of last month but United failed to meet the demand before a deadline of April 24.
The winding-up petition was served on the club the following day and publicly advertised last week, and a judge at the Royal Courts of Justice in London is due to rule on Sport Capital’s claim on June 9.
Sources close to United say Cellino intends to contest the petition at that hearing but the club face a problem paying bills before then with their bank account frozen. Monthly wages for United’s playing squad are owed on May 30.
Cellino – the president of Italian Serie A club Cagliari – has been engaged in substantial cost-cutting since his takeover of Leeds was confirmed on April 7.
He met an overdue tax bill and completed payment of deferred wages to United’s players and coaching staff during his first week as owner, and last week saw him unexpectedly close the club’s Thorp Arch training ground, a temporary step designed to lower overheads.
Thorp Arch, which has never been shut during the summer before, is expected to open again when the club’s squad return for pre-season training at the start of July.
The position of manager Brian McDermott, meanwhile, grows increasingly bizarre after Cellino revealed that he had written a letter to United’s boss, asking him to outline his plans for the playing squad and pre-season - and to explain why he was currently away on holiday.
McDermott’s job has been the subject of constant speculation since a failed attempt by Cellino to sack him in January – before the Italian’s 75 per cent takeover went through – and the pair have had virtually no verbal contact since the final game of the Championship season.
McDermott, who travelled to the south of England last week, was unavailable for comment when contacted by the YEP but it is understood that he has responded to Cellino’s letter in writing.
With the 53-year-old absent from Elland Road, Cellino has finalised United’s retained list with the help of Benito Carbone, the former Bradford City striker who recently joined the staff at Leeds’ academy.
Cellino met with both Carbone and development-squad coach Neil Redfearn this week, with Redfearn asked to advise on the club’s junior professionals.
United have until Saturday to offer new deals to any of their out-of-contract players.

Exclusive interview: New Leeds owner Massimo Cellino says United has no manager

ITV 14/5/14
Massimo Cellino's takeover of Leeds United has been anything but plain sailing and he says he is having trouble kick-starting his time at the club.
In his very first television interview, the charismatic business man claimed the Elland Road club was like an aeroplane with a load so heavy it could not take off - despite his best efforts to push it off the runway.
After the collapse of the Sports Capital consortium's attempt to buy out GFH Capital, the Cagliari owner swooped in with a late bid. The club's financial position was precarious but by the end of January Cellino had all but secured control.
Within hours he had sacked Brian McDermott, throwing the club into turmoil on transfer deadline day. Although McDermott was reinstated days later and led the Whites to safety in the Championship, Cellino says the club "is not managed by anyone" and that he will have to speak to McDermott about his position:
We contacted Brian McDermott regarding Cellino's comments but have not yet heard back from the Leeds United boss.
Cellino's takeover was formally completed in April but by then the team had slipped away from the play-off positions and were destined to another year in English football's second tier.
Next season will be Cellino's first at the helm and United's eleventh outside the Premier League after bankruptcy and relegation in 2004.
He says there is no good news for fans regarding transfers and preparation for a promotion push. The Italian even admitted that a lack of positive news has made him shy away from the media.
Five players are out of contract at the end of this season but Cellino says he is looking to players already at the club to step up next term:V For example, I saw at the end of the season, (Matt) Smith when I saw him during the season he was a little bit heavy. But I saw him in the last game, he had changed a lot, he is growing a lot.
I saw (Luke) Murphy, he is a player that I think if he was played in the right position he would be a very important player. We have eight or nine players at least who are very interesting. We have got nice players, better players than they look. We can do something very important this year.
Cellino questioned the presence of staff at the club's training facilities while players were on holiday saying "if we have to pay the people we have to use the people in the right way".
However, he was quick to praise the club's fans and some players who he believes are committed, regardless of wages:
The fans have passion, they are worse than me. And that is something positive. There is a lot of expectation and we have something good. We have players who love to fight for Leeds. They choose to stay here, they want to stay here. They have the passion to stay here, it is not just a matter of money.
The Cagliari owner, who sacked his 36th manager in 22 years at the Serie A club, demands to be allowed to govern the club. He suggested that there are people within the club "pushing on the brakes" and stalling progress without whom Leeds United could thrive:
I want to be the captain, the pilot. I want to be responsible for this plane. After that they can tell me if I am good or if I am not. But I will not take the plane with someone who when I push, they push the brake.
The Italian rejected the notion that he would influence the movement of players coming in or out of the club, beyond whether wages and fees could be afforded. "I am not a coach," he said.
He is confident that under his leadership there will be an improvement on the field next season. He may have stopped short of repeating his target of promotion within two years, but kept up the analogy of an aeroplane struggling with excess weight:
If we take a lot of weight out of this plane, I won't take this club to the Premier League, it will go by itself. It has got the potential that if you take a lot of weight out of this club. We need to take the weight, take the garbage from our plane, from Leeds.

Leeds United: Cellino calls in the lawyers to look at ‘impossible’ situation

Yorkshire Evening Post 14/5/14
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino invited lawyers from London into Leeds United yesterday as he intensified the fire-fighting which is slowly defining the early weeks of his reign at Elland Road.
The Italian has called in outside assistance to review the club’s operating costs and help bring under control a situation described by Cellino as “unbelievable, impossible.”
Staff at Leeds are waiting for redundancies to begin in earnest with the club a week-and-a-half into the summer and already experiencing the first parts of Cellino’s plan to cut the outgoings of a club who are losing more than £1m a month.
Cellino took the unprecedented step of temporarily closing United’s Thorp Arch training ground last Friday, moving several employees to Elland Road and shutting the complex until pre-season training begins at the start of July.
The 57-year-old is widely expected to reduce United’s workforce and he was reported last week to have included club ambassadors Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer and Dominic Matteo in the list of probable sackings.
The three former Leeds players, all of whom were appointed by previous owner Gulf Finance House (GFH), have had no contact from Cellino about their positions.
Cellino spoke briefly to the YEP about the situation at Elland Road on Monday night, saying: “We have serious problems but we are fixing them.
“Some of what happens here is unbelievable, impossible, but I must sort it out.”
Asked about plans for widespread redundancies, Italian businessman Cellino said: “I don’t sack staff who want to work with me and who do what they’re paid to do.”
The Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) shed light on the finances at Elland Road yesterday by saying Cellino had revealed daily operating costs of more than £100,000 during conversations with three of the Trust’s board members.
Cellino met with LUST representatives on Monday and accused GFH of mortgaging season-ticket money for the 2014-15 season prior to his 75 per cent buy-out.
According to a statement issued by LUST, Cellino said he had repaid the loan since taking charge at Elland Road on April 7. Sales of tickets for next season began last week.
But GFH – the Bahraini bank which continues to hold a 10 per cent stake in United – later rejected his comments, with a spokesman saying: “It’s untrue that the season-ticket money for the 2014-15 season was mortgaged before Mr Cellino’s takeover, as he seems to be suggesting to the Trust.”
Leeds mortgaged season-ticket funds before GFH’s buy-out of Ken Bates in December 2012, taking a loan of £5m from private firm Ticketus to finance the redevelopment of Elland Road’s East Stand.
The final instalment of that loan – a sum of around £3.3m –was repaid using money put up by supporters for 2013-14 season tickets.
United, meanwhile, are under pressure to reach final decisions on the future of their out-of-contract players with the deadline for offering new deals due to pass on Saturday of this week.
Young left-back Charlie Taylor – on loan at League Two club Fleetwood Town – is in line for an improved contract but the fate of the wider squad and any plans to transfer-list under-contract professionals remain unannounced.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

LUST Chairman and Board members meet Massimo Cellino

Leeds United Supporters Trust 13/5/14
On Monday 12th May, Trust chairman Gary Cooper and board members Chris Coleman and Paul Keat met with Massimo Cellino for the first time since he successfully appealed to take over as majority owner of Leeds United from GFH Capital (GFHc).
On behalf of our members we asked Mr. Cellino about the current state of the club and discussed our relationship going forward. As a supporters trust two major issues emerged from our meeting with Mr. Cellino. The first is our concern at the precarious financial health of the club. The second is how the trust fits into the wider picture and its role in taking part in discussions with any owner of the club.
Recent press coverage will have made all Leeds United fans aware that the financial situation at the club is dire. Mr. Cellino pulled no punches when he explained to us that he had taken on huge debts from the GFHc era and an operating deficit of alarming proportions. He went into substantial detail and provided supporting documentation on expenditure. While it is not sensible or practical to list all the sums given, Mr. Cellino left us in no doubt about to the size of the task and the seriousness of the position the club is in.
There are, however, two examples given that can be relayed to illustrate the gravity of the situation. Firstly, Mr Cellino told us the club is spending well over £100,000 a day on operating. Secondly, he informed us that the upcoming season ticket sales had been mortgaged prior to his arrival, but since taking over he had settled the loan in question.
Mr Cellino told us he had been working hard on analysing the situation and that he had plans to restructure the club from all angles, looking at costs and methods, with a view to improving the club’s financial performance and viability. He also stated he was committed to doing so while investing sensibly in improving the quality of the squad.
We raised the issue of a fan share scheme, but Mr Cellino said that such a scheme would not be viable until the financial future of the club was resolved. However, he said he had considered the idea of involving the fans in the purchase of Elland Road. This is something we hope to discuss again in the coming months.
In summary, 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.
On this final point in particular, the Trust board has subsequently taken the opportunity to reflect on its own position and our relationship with the club’s owners.
The Trust has faced a degree of criticism for having publicly engaged with GFHc when, aided by hindsight, it transpired they were doing great damage to the club’s financial health. The Trust understood that many supporters were angry the club had been managed in such a way, and that some Leeds fans were simply looking for somewhere to direct their anger. However, we considered these criticisms when relaying what Mr Cellino has told us.
As a board we have concluded that the Trust’s position and function need to be made absolutely clear when dealing with the club’s owners, so as to avoid being the focus for criticism in the future, however misplaced we feel it is.
The Trust is governed by its constitution - a legal document that outlines the Trust’s goals and defines the way in which it is run. Among other things, the constitution requires two things in particular:
1. That the Trust seeks ownership of shares in the club;
2. Where this is not practical or desired - there is no ‘one size fits all’ model for all Trusts and clubs - the Trust is required to seek dialogue with the football club, with a view to establishing some form of fan representation.

This is the case regardless of who owns the club, whether it is GFHc or Massimo Cellino. 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 a Trust we will continue to pursue this accountability and, with our position clear, we hope that our members and the wider fan-base will keep their focus on the information itself. We believe it to be a less wasteful use of energy for members and fans alike to compare the information against the available evidence, rather than attacking the Trust for simply doing its job and presenting it in the first place.
We realise that to an extent the success of the Trust will always be determined by the willingness of the club’s owner to maintain an honest, ongoing dialogue with us. Therefore, we would like to thank Mr. Cellino for his candour and his willingness to produce documentary evidence to support his description of the parlous financial state of Leeds United.
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. LUST will be canvassing its members to find out how you would like us to move forward in these discussions. Your responses will dictate our future actions and the representations we make on your behalf, so it is vital that you continue to give us your opinions.
Encouragingly, Mr. Cellino has expressed his strong admiration for Leeds United fans. His passion serves as a timely reminder that our worldwide band of proud, loyal supporters are one of the few assets the club still possesses that give us the potential to return to the very top of the game. The Trust has great respect for the ongoing challenges faced at Leeds United, and we sincerely hope Mr. Cellino can finally deliver us a club befitting its fans.