Saturday, March 29, 2014

Leeds United: GFH refuse to pay until appeal held

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/3/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United and owner Gulf Finance House will wait for the outcome of Massimo Cellino’s takeover appeal before completing payment of wages for March after hatching a deal to defer half of the money owed to the club’s first-team squad.
Leeds United and owner Gulf Finance House will wait for the outcome of Massimo Cellino’s takeover appeal before completing payment of wages for March after hatching a deal to defer half of the money owed to the club’s first-team squad.
United’s players and coaching staff, including manager Brian McDermott and assistant Nigel Gibbs, agreed to accept 50 per cent of the wages owed to them this month after Leeds failed to pay them on time yesterday morning.
The delay, which did not affect non-playing staff at Elland Road, came as GFH and Cellino – the Italian businessman whose proposed buy-out of Leeds hinges on an appeal against the Football League – failed to resolve a bitter argument over which of them should pay the salary bill for March.
Cellino’s 75 per cent takeover was rejected by the Football League on Monday, with its eight-man board ruling that his recent conviction for tax evasion in Italy breached the governing body’s Owners and Directors Test, but the 57-year-old has appealed and his challenge could be heard by an independent QC as early as Monday or Tuesday.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) was involved in easing the dispute over wages during a meeting at Thorp Arch yesterday, with United’s squad and backroom team agreeing to accept an immediate payment of half of their wages.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said the rest would be paid “subject to how the appeals process goes.”
Taylor told the YEP: “The players are realistic and we’re optimistic that the issue can be resolved.
“It’s quite political at Leeds regarding the ownership but we’ve been in touch with our members and a solution’s being found. Everyone is satisfied with the way we’re going forward.
“Whilst we’re never happy to see these problems, we’re hopeful of seeing the situation resolved.”
Taylor said he believed the money paid to the players yesterday was “coming from the prospective owner (Cellino)” but said: “To be perfectly honest, I can’t say at this stage who will pay the whole balance.”
However, the YEP has been told that the wages for general staff at Leeds - all of whom were paid in full yesterday morning - and the 50 per cent paid to the players and coaches came from money left in United’s accounts.
A source said neither GFH nor Cellino had put fresh funds into the club in the past 48 hours, and the cash available to Leeds left them unable to meet more than half of the players’ wage bill.
Taylor played down the possibility of the PFA using its benevolent fund to temporarily loan Leeds money, saying: “It’s there to help players in times of hardship and it’s a last resort.
“I don’t think we’re at that stage yet but it’s a recourse that’s available to us.”
The League Managers Association (LMA), which assisted McDermott after his attempted sacking by Cellino in January, was approached for comment but have not responded.
GFH has said nothing about yesterday’s debacle but the stand-off between the Bahraini bank and Cellino has increased fears that United are on the verge of financial collapse.
Urgent talks involving lawyers representing Cellino and GFH chief executive Hisham Alrayes were arranged by United managing director David Haigh in London on Wednesday and continued throughout Thursday without securing a resolution.
GFH believes that the deal it agreed with Cellino for a £25m sale for Leeds included a provision that the Italian’s company, Eleonora Sport Limited, would meet the club’s operating costs for a six-month period from the end of January.
Cellino met that obligation for two months running but has grown increasingly reluctant to hand over more cash with his takeover under threat.
The Football League disqualified him from becoming owner of Leeds on Monday after a court in Sardinia found Cellino guilty of failing to pay around £300,000 of import duty on a yacht he bought in 2010.
Meanwhile Together Leeds consortium leader Mike Farnan says his group are still keen on buying the Whites.
Farnan said: “We are a very sound group. We are a very experienced group. We have the interests of the football club at heart. We do not want to the see the club going into administration.
“If Massimo Cellino fails with the appeal, we want to be the alternative choice to take this football club forwards.
“We believe we have the ability, the money, the will and the strategy to take the club from the starting line next year, equal terms to everybody else in the Championship, to give us a good shot at Premier League.”

Phil Hay - Inside Elland Road: Classless GFH leave Leeds United high and dry

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/3/14
by Phil Hay
SHAMEFUL: GFH and would-be Whites owner Massimo Cellino argue over money and the wage bill goes unpaid on another farcical day at Elland Road
Wednesday was a day for reflection about football. The game with the nets and the rectangular field. This is the last weekend of March and Tuesday’s harrowing defeat in Bournemouth was an excuse and a cue for some blood-letting at Elland Road. What better time to start deciding which of these cats are out of lives?
So naturally Wednesday was devoted to other things as senior employees from Leeds United and Gulf Finance House and lawyers working for Massimo Cellino converged on London to argue the toss over who if anyone would pay the wages for March. Brian McDermott says football is secondary at Leeds but even that opinion is generous. The game is nowhere in the club’s consciousness, as far back from the front counter as United are from the play-offs.
The definition of disrepute is being held in low esteem by the public. That’s the level GFH has reached and that’s where the bank has dragged the club. There was no spinning out of the failure to pay United’s players in full yesterday and GFH did not bother to try. How it can see a role for itself as a minority shareholder at Leeds in future is an answer to be found through the wardrobe into Narnia.
It took Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, to say yesterday morning that as far as he knew, Cellino would be responsible for funding part-payment made to United’s squad in the past 24 hours. It fell to him to claim that payment of the remaining balance – half of what the players are owed – would arrive subject to the outcome of Cellino’s appeal to the Football League; in other words, after his appeal but only if an independent QC revokes the League’s decision to ban him from buying a stake in Leeds.
The general understanding is that when Cellino and GFH made their takeover pact on January 31, the Italian agreed to meet all operating costs for the next six months. It was a huge commitment – and GFH believes, an unconditional clause – but the deal was bound to be tested if the Football League obstructed his buy-out. From the earliest days, Cellino’s takeover and the agreements around it gambled on an approval process which never looked like a formality. There are worries now about the calculation of the risk and a reluctance on Cellino’s part to wade in too deeply.
GFH likes to let it be known that Leeds are in no danger. The bank says it has money to fund the club if necessary. If we take its word for that, what we had on Thursday afternoon – with the wage bill due the following morning – was two parties holding enough cash to pay the debt but showing no desire to do so. In some respects, won’t pay is worse than can’t pay. It’s a considered choice. But obviously this is all about Leeds United. It’s all about the history, the supporters, the fever. Bournemouth away must have brought back memories.
Contracts notwithstanding, the real world will ask why on earth Cellino would be minded to foot the wages for March when his takeover hangs by the thread of an appeal. But in the absence of any official comment and in spite of Cellino’s resistance, Taylor gave the impression that it would fall to him. Other sources say Leeds used all that was left in their bank account, which is why the players made do with half-pay. Not that the players were any the wiser. They spent yesterday morning trying to establish whether any of them had received any money. On Thursday night you had uncomfortable visions of the entire workforce at Leeds, sat in front of laptops refreshing their bank accounts. At least the rank and file – good people and scores of them – were paid on time.
As for the players, don’t bother with the notion that this is Karma for Tuesday night’s no-show at Bournemouth, or for their general performance since Christmas. It’s a disingenuous way of distorting the issue unless you think that public sector workers should have their pay docked or withheld on the say-so of anyone who pays tax and has a problem with their input.
United’s application at Dean Court scraped the barrel – a derelict, soulless effort – and for that time on Wednesday should have been spent determining who’s in and who’s out when the summer comes – the squad, the coaching staff, everyone. There are legitimate ways of dealing with underachieving professionals; drop them, sell them, release them at the end of their contracts. Hundreds of players lose their jobs each year and more and more find employment with new clubs difficult to come by. It’s never been a career without consequence and when May comes, the exodus from Elland Road will be large. There is still no reason why monthly wages should be the collateral damage of a protracted change of ownership.
The most depressing fact to emerge in the past 72 hours was that by 2pm on Thursday, McDermott had received no contact at all about salaries from anyone above him. That would matter little had the wage bill been met in time and in full yesterday but the lack of communication is remarkable, especially since it transpired that he, his coaching team and the squad he manages were the people about to go short.
Morale? It must be wonderful. We’re at the tell-tale stage now where those on the inside are asking members of the media what to expect next. GFH says time after time the club will not go down the road they followed in 2007 but for those of us who saw that hellish period, there are similarities – confused faces everywhere, shoulders shrugged in response to questions, an absence of guarantees about money. No matter GFH’s view of events, there are many at Elland Road who feel deserted. Go there today and you’ll find plenty of them, pawns on the black and white board. You’ll also find some dignity and class. Just don’t look for much over their heads.

Consortium wants Leeds talks

Sporting Life 28/3/14
The consortium that lost out to Massimo Cellino in the battle to buy Leeds United has urged the club's outgoing owners to reconsider its bid if the Italian is prevented from completing his takeover at Elland Road.
The Together Leeds group, which includes businessmen Mike Farnan, Gary Verity and Adam Pearson - the former Leeds commercial director - among its number, claims it has the progressive vision to lift the troubled club from its current plight.
Leeds' players on Friday morning agreed to defer 50 per cent of their wages for March after owners Gulf Finance House Capital (GFHC) failed to pay them the full amount.
That came amid what appears to be another full-on financial meltdown at Elland Road, with GFHC understood to be unwilling to finance the club at all, believing that is the duty of Italian Cellino, the Italian they agreed a 75 per cent sale to in February. It is understood GFHC believes he agreed to finance the club for six months as part of that deal.
The 57-year-old was this week told by the League, however, that he could not complete the transaction because of a conviction of a tax offence meted out in Italy last week. He has formally appealed to the League and that is set to be heard next week.
The Leeds United Supporters' Trust has written to the Football League to encourage it to do "everything in its power to honour the duty of care" of the Championship crisis club.
Together Leeds insist it can provide the answer to the problems at Leeds, and is adamant the Championship club's plight should not be allowed to worsen.
Farnan said: "We are a very sound group. We are a very experienced group. We have the interests of the football club at heart. We do not want to the see the club going into administration.
"If Massimo Cellino fails with the appeal, we want to be the alternative choice to take this football club forwards.
"We believe we have the ability, the money, the will and the strategy to take the club from the starting line next year, equal terms to everybody else in the Championship, to give us a good shot at Premier League."
He added on Sky Sports News: "We have enough (money). We have a clean, clear strategy. We have the funds available. The money we put in has to help this club back to where it belongs, and that's the Premier League. This is a big club; it needs a group of people, like-minded people, people from Yorkshire, people who actually care about the football club, belong to the football club, and are fans of the football club, to take it forward.
"We've been asking for a meeting with the owners for some time now and we are insisting we should have that meeting and we are prepared to sit down, show those owners proof of funds, show them we have the ability to take the club forwards, show them we have a vision, show them we have a strategy and show them we have the will, the way and the know-how to take the club forward."
Farnan would not commit to keeping manager Brian McDermott at the club, were Together Leeds to take over.
"I think that's a slightly unfair question at the moment. Brian has done a very good job in very difficult circumstances and you have to feel sorry for him at times," Farnan said.
In the meantime the club appears to be living hand-to-mouth and the Trust has written to the League in order to ask for care and attention to be shown.
A letter written to Andy Williamson, chief operating officer of the Football League, by Trust chairman Gary Cooper, reads: "We urgently call upon them to ensure that they will do everything within its power to honour the duty of care to Leeds United as one of their member clubs."
The letter calls on the League to keep the club financial stable "in order to avert a major crisis".
Non-playing staff received their full salaries as expected on Friday, but following a meeting with the club's hierarchy and Professional Footballers' Association officials the players accepted part payment.
The other 50 per cent is due to come after Cellino's appeal, but who pays it remains unconfirmed.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor told Press Association Sport: "At the moment the plan is that prospective owner Massimo Cellino will contribute towards the wages for this month, with the players agreeing to wait for the rest until the outcome of the appeal."
Cellino was disqualified from taking control at Elland Road this week under the league's owners' and directors' test after being convicted of a tax offence by an Italian court.
There were suggestions on Friday afternoon that Showsec - the company which supplies some of the club's matchday security - would remove staff from Saturday's game against Doncaster because of non-payment.
There was no comment from Showsec when contacted by the Press Association and GFHC could not be contacted.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Businessman bides time for Leeds takeover

Football Direct News 28/3/14
by Richard Flynn
The Manchester businessman contemplating a takeover bid for Leeds United is prepared to wait until the uncertainty surrounding Italian entrepreneur Massimo Cellino’s offer is cleared up,[football] direct news has discovered.
The mystery suitor, who has never been involved with a football club before but is interested in owning one if the price is right, turned down the chance to heavily invest in another Championship outfit, Blackburn Rovers, at the turn of the year.
Cellino has looked in pole position to take the helm at Elland Road for some time and he has appealed against the Football League’s decision to block the takeover, which would see him purchase a 75% stake from Gulf Finance House Capital.
His bid was disqualified when he was found guilty of not paying import duty on a yacht in Italy.
The Manchester-based man holds a genuine interest in Leeds but a source close to him told FDN he is reluctant to put his cards on the table until the Cellino saga comes to an end.

Leeds United players defer wages following takeover crisis

Guardian 28/3/14

Club fail to pay player salaries on time for March
Football League blocked Massimo Cellino's buy-out
Leeds players have agreed to defer part of their wages for March after the club failed to pay them on time.
Non-playing staff at Elland Road have received their full salaries as expected, but following a meeting with the club's hierarchy and Professional Footballers' Association officials on Friday morning the players have accepted part payment.
The club owners, Gulf Finance House Capital, and prospective owner Massimo Cellino are in dispute over who should fund the players' wage bill after the Football League blocked the Italian's £25m takeover bid earlier in the week. Cellino is appealing against that decision.
The PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor, said: "At the moment the plan is that prospective owner Massimo Cellino will contribute towards the wages for this month, with the players agreeing to wait for the rest until the outcome of the appeal."
The appeal will be heard by an independent QC and was expected to take place within the next two weeks. But following the club's failure to pay the players' wages, it is understood that hearing could now take place next week.
"The players are being realistic about the situation," Taylor added. "It's not ideal. It's obviously better for them to have some certainty, but they are holding together and will wait for the outcome of the appeal, which could be next week. We've been involved with [Friday's] meeting between the club and the players and all parties are satisfied with this way forward."
Cellino was disqualified from taking control at Elland Road this week under the league's owners' and directors' test after being convicted of a tax offence by an Italian court.
The offence related to the non-payment of import duties on his boat and resulted in a fine of €600,000 (£500,800) by a Sardinian court and the confiscation of the boat.
Cellino, the owner of Serie A side Cagliari, has claimed that because he is appealing against the court's verdict under Italian law, the League should treat him as innocent until proven guilty.
GFH Capital meanwhile, are understood to argue that when Cellino exchanged contracts with them to buy 75% of the club's shares in February, he agreed to meet the running costs for the following six months.
"Ideally every club needs to have good, strong ownership and a long-term strategy for continued success, but that cannot be guaranteed in football," Taylor said. "Leeds have reached the very top of the game and with their history are still considered to be one of our big clubs, with an excellent supporter-base.
"We hope a club with all this tradition has the strength to come through this. In an ideal world the situation there at the moment would not happen, but football is not as easy as that."

Massimo Cellino pays Leeds players 'a proportion' of wages pending appeal outcome

Sky Sports 28/3/14
Leeds players have been paid only part of their wages this month as the ownership of the club remains unresolved.
Massimo Cellino's takeover was this week blocked by the Football League after he failed their owners' and directors' test.
The Italian businessman is appealing that ruling, and his case is expected to be heard by an independent QC within the next fortnight. In the meantime Cellino - understood to have been bankrolling the club since his company's purchase of a 75% stake was agreed in February - has agreed to pay 50% of the March wage bill.
Professional Footballers' Association chairman Gordon Taylor said: "I've been in touch with the players and the club. The players and club have had a meeting.
"A proportion of the players' wages has been paid via the prospective owner Massimo Cellino.
"The remaining wages will be made subject to Cellino's Football League appeal. There has been a compromise between the current owners and Cellino.
"The players are holding together and understanding of the situation."
Cellino was barred from completing his takeover after it emerged he had been convicted of a tax offence by an Italian court.
The Cagliari owner argues he should be considered innocent pending the outcome of any appeal against that verdict.

LEEDS UNITED: A PLEA FROM THE FANS TO THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Leeds United Supporters Trust 28/3/14
Following is an email that has been sent this morning to Andy Williamson, Chief Operating Officer of the Football League;

Mr. Williamson,

Further to the recent rejection by the Football League regarding Mr. Cellino’s proposed takeover of Leeds United, we urgently call upon them to ensure that they will do everything within their power to honour the duty of care to Leeds United as one of their member clubs.
We understand that as part of the process regarding a change in ownership, Leeds United have provided the Football League with detailed financial plans and proof of funds going forward. Further to the decision that they have made, we are sure that the Football League will be aware of the financial impact that this will have on Leeds United and therefore we demand that they take every available action open to them in order to ensure that they act in the best interest of their member club and do all that they can to ensure financial stability is maintained. With reports in the press today suggesting that Players have not been paid, this action needs to be swift in order to avert a major crisis.
Whilst we understand that the Football League has not caused the situation that Leeds United find themselves in today, they have contributed to the outcome and do have the power and responsibility to act in order to protect their member club rather than punish them. Clause 16 of the Football League Regulations sets out the parameters within which we expect them to act in order to ensure financial stability remains however, should this prove unsuccessful we would expect leniency to be applied when considering any actions under clause 12.3 as we believe the current situation should be classed under Force Majeure.
Your Faithfully,
Gary Cooper
Chairman
Leeds United Supporters Trust

(EDIT) - In laymans terms, this email is to reminding the Football League of their obligations and asking them to ensure our owners', as per the assurances they gave when taking control of the club, are being fulfilled.

Leeds United miss wages payment to players

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/3/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United have missed payment of wages to their players, the Yorkshire Evening Post has learned.
General staff at Elland Road received their salaries for March as expected this morning but the playing squad at Leeds were not paid as scheduled.
The worrying development comes after a week of arguments between club owner Gulf Finance House and prospective buyer Massimo Cellino over who should fund this month’s wage bill.
The Professional Footballers’ Association, the players union, had been in touch with the squad at Leeds in the past 48 hours amid fears that the wage bill would not be met.
United’s players are now expected to receive part payment today with the remainder of the money arriving after Cellino’s appeal against the Football League’s decision to reject his takeover is heard next week.
Gordon Taylor, the PFA’s chief executive, told the YEP: “The club are meeting the players this morning to try and reassure everyone.
“They’re talking about part payment today with with the rest of the wages paid subject to how the appeal’s process goes.
“Whilst you’re never happy to see this situation, we’re hopeful of seeing the situation resolved.”
Taylor said the PFA had a benevolent fund which had been used in the past to temporarily pay the wages of players at clubs in financial crisis but he said: “That’s a last resort. It’s a recourse for us to use but we’re not at that stage yet.”

Leeds United: Whites fans are at end of tethers - Cooper

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/3/14
Leeds United supporters’ trust chairman Gary Cooper speaks to the YEP about the current situation at Elland Road.
On Monday, the Leeds United Supporters Trust put out a statement on behalf of our members, reflecting the concern that all of us feel about the future of Leeds United and the state of the club.
The response which came back – and it was absolutely massive – showed two things. Firstly the strength of feeling and anger towards Gulf Finance House and the way the bank is running Leeds United and secondly, the worry fans supporters have about the financial situation at Elland Road.
I’ve not seen the mood as volatile as this since the Trust marched on Elland Road to call for change in January 2012. I don’t think it goes too far to describe the atmosphere as one of outrage.
This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction on our part; the resentment’s been building for a while and what we’ve got at Leeds now is a fanbase at the end of their tether.
You only have to look at the past six months or so to see why. In that period we’ve had the debacle of the failed Sport Capital takeover.
At the moment we’ve got another takeover – this one by Massimo Cellino – which looks like it’s about to fall through too.
There was the scandal of Fiasco Friday and, bit by bit, a lot of evidence which seemed to contradict GFH’s claim that it was controlling the club in a sound and sensible manner.
It’s probably safe to say that GFH saw Mr Cellino as its ticket out of this. Maybe the bank still does.
I had the opportunity to meet him along with Ray Fell from the Leeds United Supporters Club a few weeks ago, and personally I found him very likeable. His character is definitely on the side of eccentric and he’s a passionate man.
For what it’s worth, I reckon the fans would have warmed to that – although he admitted himself that the way he runs a club might upset us from time to time.
He’s clearly a hands-on guy who likes to exercise control as he sees fit. I can’t imagine him sitting quietly in the background.
And obviously he has money. Money’s what we need at Leeds. But without wanting to judge him personally, it’s pretty obvious that he has a history as well.
I’ve seen reports recently of a dossier which GFH put together raising concerns about Mr Cellino’s past. On the basis of some of what we know, it surprises me to say the least that more alarm bells didn’t ring at GFH and that the bank didn’t take the view that this takeover had quite a serious chance of failing.
With the Football League rejecting him and Mr Cellino appealing.
What we have at Leeds now is a complete shambles.
We’ve all spent the past 48 hours wondering whether the coaching team, the squad and the staff at Elland Road – please don’t forget about them – would be paid, and away from all that, the season’s got badly out of hand.
I see the performance of the team and the manager at the moment from two different view points.
On one hand, if I was working for an employer who was trying to get out, making embarrassing PR gaffes and taking regular loans to keep things going, the worry it caused me might translate into my job and affect my ability to do it properly. It’s naive to say otherwise.
But on the other hand – and a lot of fans are saying this – the manager and the players are professionals and the football recently has been poor.
Some of the performances have reflected the debacle off the pitch but the squad were fifth before Christmas and this is a management team who we all had great faith in last summer.
I’ll never forget the outrage we witnessed on Fiasco Friday when Brian McDermott was sacked.
Even so, they can’t solve the fundamental problems at Leeds. Not immediately anyway.
In the short term, the best we can hope for is a return to something resembling stability which is easier said than done.
Above all else, we need some action from GFH – not meaningless statements filled with platitudes which bring about no progress.
I’m not buying any of it anymore and I doubt whether many of the club’s supporters are.
We’re sick of being told that everything’s alright because frankly it doesn’t look that way.
For example, we’re being told that administration isn’t a possibility.
That doesn’t reassure me because the figures don’t seem to add up.
The loans coming into the club don’t paint the picture of a club who are self-sufficient with a grip on the finances.
If Mr Cellino’s takeover isn’t happening, I’d like GFH to come out and tell us how it intends to pay the various loans back and how it intends to keep Leeds afloat.
The club’s accounts are due very soon and they should give us a much clearer idea of the position we’re in. I’d be surprised if they’re pretty.
I’d also ask the bank to commit itself to speaking to every group with a genuine interest in buying the club, including Together Leeds. I don’t see any justification for ignoring anyone.
Going forward, if GFH wants to leave any legacy at this club – other than removing Ken Bates – it needs to sell Leeds United to a group or an individual with the following attributes: experience in football, money and know-how. I look from the outside and at the highest level of the club I see very little of any of that.
All I see are the signs which make me as worried as the rest of the Trust’s members.
Right from the start, when GFH first got involved at Elland Road, we as supporters have been told how great we are, how loyal we are and how much we’re valued.
None of it means anything. It’s mere words.
The only way GFH can show its respect for us now is by doing right by us and sorting this mess out.
We’ve all had enough.

Leeds United: We’re fighting for our future - McDermott

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/3/14
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott said he and his players were “fighting for our Leeds United future” as he waited to see if wages owed to the club’s staff would be paid ahead of tomorrow’s derby against Doncaster Rovers.
The Leeds manager told his squad to concentrate on securing a role at the club next season amid an unseemly dispute over who was responsible for paying the wage bill for March.
Lawyers representing club owner Gulf Finance House and Massimo Cellino – the Italian businessman bidding to buy Leeds for £25m – remained in discussions in London yesterday evening as talks raged about funding salaries for players and staff at Elland Road this morning.
GFH wanted Cellino to meet the seven-figure bill, claiming the 57-year-old’s company – Eleonora Sport Limited – had agreed to pay United’s day-to-day costs for a six-month period as part of takeover a deal struck between the two sides in January.
But Cellino is reluctant to invest more money in Leeds after seeing the Football League rejected his bid to acquire a 75 per cent stake in the club last week.
Cellino formally appealed against that decision yesterday and is challenging the League’s ruling that a recent conviction for tax evasion in Italy breached the governing body’s Owners and Directors Test.
The past 48 hours, however, have been dominated by lengthy negotiations over wages following McDermott’s admission that he and his players were uncertain of receiving their salaries for March.
McDermott said he had sought no assurances from GFH, Cellino or United managing director David Haigh but admitted that prior to his press conference at 2pm yesterday, none of those involved had been in touch to discuss the issue with him.
Asked about the dispute, McDermott said: “I don’t look for assurances about getting paid. I’m not looking for that and I’ve never had it here or anywhere else.
“Do I need assurances? Well, we’ve been paid since I came here in April every single month. I assume at the end of every month you’ll get paid. It’s always an assumption.”
United’s game against Doncaster has been completely overshadowed by the wait to see if the wage bill would be paid, but McDermott attempted to focus the attention of his squad on the final nine games of the Championship season.
Leeds have fallen out of the fight for a play-off position after a woeful run of form, compounded by a 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Tuesday, and McDermott said: “All of us are fighting for our Leeds United future – players, staff, all of us.
“We’ve got nine games to go and they’re important games. Who wants to be here next season? Who wants to wear the shirt next season? I think we’re fighting for that future.
“The club’s situation is obviously priority number one, two and three. So is the ownership situation. But as a staff and a group of players, we’ve got to fight for our lives now.”
McDermott also denied that concern about wages might negatively affect United’s performance at Elland Road tomorrow, saying: “I expect the players to play, get the right result and perform to the right level.”
The players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, has been in touch with McDermott’s squad in the past few days but the organisation was itself in the dark about whether or not they would paid.
Cellino, meanwhile, is continuing to fight for ownership of Leeds after submitting his appeal to the Football League.
The League’s eight-man board were responsible for rejecting his takeover on Monday but his appeal will be heard by an independent QC with “access to independent expert evidence relating to certain aspects of Italian law.”
Cellino’s legal team is arguing that despite being convicted of failing to pay tax on a luxury yacht he bought in 2010, Cellino remains innocent in Italy until all appeals against the verdict have been exhausted.
A statement from the Football League said: “The appeal will be convened at the earliest opportunity, in line with the Football League’s previous commitment to expedite the appeal process to deliver much-needed certainty to all the relevant parties.”
Cellino’s appeal is expected to take place within the next two weeks.
The argument over funding wages at Leeds has heightened the importance of Cellino’s appeal amid suggestions that Leeds could face administration - a claim Haigh has repeatedly denied - and mounting financial pressure at Elland Road.
A spokesman for GFH refused to comment on either the wage dispute or the possible threat of insolvency last night.
McDermott said: “GFH are still owners of the club. They’ve taken on that mantle and they have that responsibility - to make sure that bills get paid and people get paid. That’s GFH’s responsibility and I’m sure they know it.”
He also said he had been told administration was not being considered, saying: “It doesn’t bear thinking about and we’ve been told that it won’t happen.”

Manchester businessman plots Leeds takeover

Football Direct News 27/3/14
by Richard Flynn
A Manchester-based multi-millionaire is considering a takeover bid for Championship outfit Leeds United,[football] direct news has discovered.
The mystery businessman turned down the chance to join a similar project aimed at taking control of Blackburn Rovers earlier this year, but he retains an interest in becoming involved with a football club.
He spent the best part of a year pondering entrepreneur Ian Currie’s request for him to pump money into an offer for Rovers before opting against the idea.
Currie intends to wrestle control from controversial owners Venky’s but needs help from elsewhere.
A source close to the businessman told FDN that he is giving serious consideration to the prospect of bidding for Leeds and is monitoring with interest the situation surrounding Italian Massimo Cellino, who also wants to take the helm at Elland Road.
The Football League has revealed that Cellino has appealed against its decision to block the takeover, which would see him purchase a 75% stake from Gulf Finance House Capital.
His bid was disqualified when he was found guilty of not paying import duty on a yacht in his homeland.

Brian McDermott looking to sort out Leeds United inconsistency

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott says he is looking to iron out the inconsistency in the side with two home games in four days coming up.
Leeds face both relegation threatened Doncaster Rovers and Charlton Athletic at Elland Road and McDermott will be desperate to see his side go past the fifty point barrier.
The whites currently have 47 points and they have picked up just fourteen points from seventeen games since their win at Doncaster in mid-December.
Leeds beat Millwall last Saturday to record their first win in seven games but this was followed up by an abysmal performance at Bournemouth in midweek, where they lost 4-1 and McDermott wants to see his side return to form.
Speaking at his press conference ahead of the game with Doncaster, McDermott said, "The inconsistencies in the performances and we are trying to eradicate the inconsistency in the performance.
"We have two games coming up at home and we have to have consistent performances. We have been inconsistent since December and we have to stop it."
Leeds have won just three of their last seventeen games, a run that has seen them drop out of the play-off places and into the bottom half of the table. Failure to win either of their two home games against Doncaster and Charlton would drag them into the relegation dogfight with just seven games remaining.
McDermott says they are all fighting for their future at the club.
Leeds have major off field problems with the proposed takeover of the club by Massimo Cellino being rejected by the Football League this week. The decision by the Football League has seen suggestions this week that the club could enter administration and the staff and players are unsure whether they will be paid at the end of this month.
Leeds are still in danger of being dragged into a relegation dogfight having won just three times since Christmas and McDermott says they are all fighting for their lives.
Speaking at his press conference ahead of the game with Doncaster Rovers this weekend, McDermott said, "We are all fighting for our Leeds United future, the players, the staff, all of us.
"We have nine games to go and it is an important nine games. Who wants to be here next season and who wants to be wearing the shirt next season?
"The club situation is the priority as is the ownership but as the staff and players, we have to fight for our lives."

Football League issue statement regarding Leeds United takeover

leedsunited.com 27/3/14
The Football League issued the following statement on Thursday afternoon...
The Football League can confirm that the legal representatives of Massimo Cellino have lodged an appeal against The League’s decision that he is subject to a disqualifying condition under its Owners’ and Directors’ Test.
The appeal will be heard by an independent QC, who will have access to independent expert evidence relating to certain aspects of Italian law and will determine the matter following submissions from both parties.
The appeal will be convened at the earliest opportunity, in line with The Football League’s previous commitment to expedite the appeal process to deliver much-needed certainty to all the relevant parties.

Massimo Cellino appeals against decision to block Leeds United takeover

Guardian 27/3/14
Italian failed 'fit and proper' test after tax conviction
Cellino hopes to convince Football League to change verdict
Massimo Cellino has appealed against the Football League's decision to block him from buying a majority stake in Leeds. The appeal will be heard by an independent QC and is expected to take place within the next two weeks.
The Italian businessman was disqualified under the league's owners' and directors' test this week after being convicted of a tax offence by a court in Sardinia. The offence related to the non-payment of import duties on his boat and resulted in a fine of €600,000 (£500,000) by a Sardinian court and the confiscation of the boat.
The QC in charge of the appeal will be given access to specialist advice on Italian law – something that will be necessary given that Cellino, the owner of the Serie A club Cagliari, has claimed that because he is appealing against the court's verdict under Italian law he should be treated as innocent until proven guilty. The appeal will be heard as soon as possible as the League is aware that the future of Leeds hinges on the outcome.
Eleonora Sports, the company headed by Cellino, had agreed to buy a 75% stake in Leeds from the Bahrain bank Gulf Finance House Capital in February. Since then it is understood the Italian has been bankrolling Leeds – some reports say he has invested £6m in the club with a view to taking control at Elland Road.
The case has been viewed as a major test of the rules that govern ownership of Championship and Premier League clubs.
The government has also been pushing for several years for football's authorities to take a stronger stance in relation to club ownership.
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "The government and football fans asked the football authorities to strengthen their fit and proper persons' tests in recent years. The Football League and Premier League have done that and we back their toughened rules on club ownership and their efforts to improve transparency and financial sustainability in the game."
A Premier League spokesman said: "We and the Football League and the FA have worked closely to develop robust governance rules and they should be applied when appropriate."
The Football League confirmed an appeal has been lodged by Cellino. A spokesman said: "The Football League can confirm that the legal representatives of Massimo Cellino have lodged an appeal against the League's decision that he is subject to a disqualifying condition under its owners' and directors' test.
"The appeal will be heard by an independent QC, who will have access to independent expert evidence relating to certain aspects of Italian law and will determine the matter following submissions from both parties.
"The appeal will be convened at the earliest opportunity, in line with The Football League's previous commitment to expedite the appeal process to deliver much-needed certainty to all the relevant parties."

Leeds United: Massimo Cellino takeover appeal confirmed

BBC 27/3/14
The Football League has confirmed that Massimo Cellino has lodged an appeal against its decision to block his takeover of Leeds United.
Cellino heads Eleonora Sports, which agreed to buy a 75% stake in Leeds from Gulf Finance House Capital in February.
His bid was disqualified on Monday, after he was found guilty of not paying import duty on a yacht in Italy.
He told BBC Sport he intended to appeal against the ruling, saying he felt a "responsibility" to do so.
A Football League statement read: "The Football League can confirm that the legal representatives of Massimo Cellino have lodged an appeal against the League's decision that he is subject to a disqualifying condition under its owners' and directors' test."
The statement added that the appeal would take place "at the earliest opportunity".
Over the last two months, Cellino has invested around £6m in Leeds, who are losing more than £1m per month.
The club's wage bill is due to be paid in the coming days and BBC Radio Leeds understands that owners GFH believe that Cellino is contractually obliged to pay it.
Brian McDermott's side, who were beaten 4-1 at Bournemouth on Tuesday, face Doncaster at Elland Road in the Championship on Saturday.

Lee Peltier's loan move to Nottingham Forest held up by rival interest

Sky Sports 27/3/14
By Pete O'Rourke
Lee Peltier's agent claims interest from other clubs has held up his protracted loan switch from Leeds United to Nottingham Forest.
Forest agreed a deal to sign Peltier on Monday, but the move appeared to be off after complications arose between the two clubs.
Bolton expressed an interest in signing the former Liverpool man, but now Forest have secured the signature of the player before the close of the loan window on Thursday.
Peltier's agent, Barry Whelan, says interest from other clubs held up the defender's move to Forest and that the former Leicester and Huddersfield full-back always had his heart set on a switch to the City Ground.
"We have been in conversations for the last three weeks with Nottingham Forest over a long-term move for Lee, but there has also been interest shown in him from two other big clubs and that complicated things," Whelan told Sky Sports.
"Lee has always wanted to go to Forest, but there were complications at the Leeds end which held things up.
"The issue has now been resolved and Lee is looking forward to going to Nottingham Forest and helping them in their bid to make the play-offs."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Leeds United: Peltier loan saga in hands of the FA

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/3/14
by Phil Hay
Lee Peltier’s immediate future remained unclear last night amid suggestions that Bolton Wanderers have ended their interest in signing him before tonight’s emergency loan deadline.
The Leeds United right-back – caught in the middle of a bizarre transfer saga – was expected to move to the Reebok Stadium after Nottingham Forest attempted to pull out of a deal to recruit him.
But sources in Bolton claim the Lancashire club are no longer interested in striking a deal of their own.
Leeds reached an agreement with Forest on Monday and say the transfer was formally finalised. Forest, however, attempted to abandon the move after talks to appoint Neil Warnock – the man who brought Peltier (inset) to Leeds – as their new manager broke down.
Speaking on Tuesday night, Bolton manager Dougie Freedman (right) said: “He was going to sign for Forest. There was some confusion which held some things back from Forest’s end.
“I’m a fan of Lee, blatantly, and I’ve enquired about the situation but as we speak the situation is with the Football Association.”

Leeds United: Crunch time in talks on wages

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/3/14
Gulf Finance House and Massimo Cellino were in urgent talks last night amid entrenched disagreements over the payment of Leeds United’s wage bill for March.
United owner GFH and prospective buyer Cellino are at odds over which of them should meet this month’s salary costs, with staff at Elland Road due to be paid first thing tomorrow.
The club needed money in place by this morning to ensure that wages for March were delivered on time but reluctance on the part of both GFH and Cellino to shoulder a seven-figure bill led to frantic discussions yesterday.
Requests for an immediate cash injection are understood to have been made to third parties in the past 24 hours, with GFH and Cellino refusing to concede ground. United managing director David Haigh met with GFH chief executive Hisham Alrayes in London in an attempt to break the impasse.
The dispute comes as doubts about Leeds’ financial position grow on the back of comments made by manager Brian McDermott in the wake of a 4-1 defeat to Bournemouth on Tuesday.
Talking after full-time, McDermott hinted at concern among the club’s players and staff about whether or not they would be paid this month.
GFH, the Bahraini bank which has owned Leeds since December 2012, expects Cellino to provide cash for wages after agreeing to sell a majority stake in United to the Italian businessman last month.
Officials at GFH believe the £25m deal reached with Eleonora Sport Ltd – the company which Cellino is using to buy United – committed him to financing the club’s operating costs for the six months after his takeover was agreed. The bank appears increasingly reluctant to commit money to Leeds itself following long-standing attempts to sell a substantial portion of its shares in United and relinquish full control at Elland Road. But Cellino, whose proposed 75 per cent buy-out was blocked by the Football League on Monday, has helped to pay the last two monthly wage bills at Leeds and is understood to have refused to provide further funds while his takeover hangs in the balance. The 57-year-old is appealing against the Football League’s decision to bar him from buying Leeds on the basis of a conviction for tax evasion imposed on him by an Italian court last week.
Mishcon de Reya – the UK legal firm representing Cellino – is preparing to challenge the League’s ruling after the Italian was given 14 days to fight Monday’s judgement.
An irate Cellino spoke of severe financial pressure at Elland Road earlier this week, saying Leeds needed “help, blood and money” in “hours, not days.”
On Tuesday evening, McDermott talked of off-field events affecting him and his players, saying: “There’s all the talk of who’s going to be in (as owner), talk of who’s going to be paid. I’m not going to make excuses but it does affect (results).”
Asked if he thought wages for March might be delayed or unpaid, McDermott said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know what the situation is. “That comes up on Friday or Monday, whenever it turns up. Hopefully it can be resolved.”
GFH was asked by the YEP to confirm whether staff wages for March would be paid as planned. A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.
Cellino is thought to have invested several million pounds in United since reaching a takeover deal with GFH on February 1, some of which has been used to finance wages at Elland Road.
Leeds have also received loans from various other sources since last summer, a number of them from companies run by or connected to Haigh. Portions of that money were channelled towards operating costs at a club who are thought to be losing around £1million a month.
In an interview this month, Haigh, who until recently was employed as deputy chief executive at GFH’s private equity arm, GFH Capital, played down fears that the financial strain on Leeds might push the club towards administration.
“The club is in good hands,” he said. “It has money and there’s no chance of the club going into administration. None whatsoever. I keep hearing these whispers, where people have put two and two together to make 550. But the club is not in any kind of precarious financial position, either now or in the future. It’s not true and never has been.”

Ken Bates blasts current Leeds United situation

Sky Sports 26/3/14
Former Leeds owner Ken Bates has told the club's current hierarchy to get "out the way" as the confusing situation at Elland Road shows no sign of abating. Gulf Finance House Capital, who Bates sold the Championship club to in December 2012, is currently looking to find a solution after the man they wanted to sell to, Massimo Cellino, was told he could not complete his transaction by the Football League.
The Italian was found guilty of tax evasion in his home country last week and as such failed the League's owners' and director's test, leaving GFH with a conundrum to solve.
It selected Cellino and his Eleonora consortium as its preferred bidder last month, with the decision coming days after a group consisting of club sponsor Andrew Flowers and current managing director David Haigh fell apart.
Bates has remained in the background since selling the club, but the 82-year-old spoke out on Wednesday, claiming his wife had loaned GFH money and that he had been asked and was willing to join up with Flowers and Haigh's group.
Speaking on Radio Yorkshire, Bates said: "They (GFH) claim to be a multi-million-pound bank, so why did my wife have to lend them £1million this time last year to pay wages? And why are they scrabbling around today to pay the wages tomorrow. It's hand-to-mouth all the time."
Bates' comments about wages come a day after team manager Brian McDermott, in the wake of the 4-1 loss to Bournemouth, suggested his players were worried about being paid this week.
Cellino has been funding Leeds over recent months but has stopped bankrolling the club and it remains to be seen where Leeds' cash is going to come from.
Former Chelsea owner Bates has long been rumoured to be in the background at Elland Road but on Wednesday denied he was going to launch a takeover bid.
"They (GFH) claim to be a multi-million-pound bank, so why did my wife have to lend them £1million this time last year to pay wages? And why are they scrabbling around today to pay the wages tomorrow. It's hand-to-mouth all the time."
Ken Bates
He did, however, say he had been willing to put money into Flowers' and Haigh's consortium - a claim which contradicts earlier comments from Haigh that Bates, a divisive figure amongst Leeds fans, was not involved.
"The rumours, I'm afraid, are unfounded," he said.
"Andrew put together a deal with David Haigh, it was agreed with Hisham (Alrayes, of GFHC's parent company) and then Hisham changes his mind and does a deal with this Italian. I'm keeping a close eye on it because I still love Leeds and want them to do well.
"I'd like to see GFH out the way. Somebody, anybody, who takes it over must be better than them.
"It's a secret but I was asked if I would put £1.5million towards Andrew and David's consortium because someone had dropped out. I said yes, but it never happened."
Bates' outburst came after it emerged Cellino, via his London-based lawyers Mischon de Reya, will lodge an appeal against the Football League's decision.
GFH Capital confirmed on Monday that it is still in talks with the Football League and Eleonora Sport in a bid "to find a solution that is suitable to all parties".
There was no comment from GFH Capital or Leeds on Wednesday night.

Leeds United: New wage bill fear

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/3/14
by Phil Hay
Gulf Finance House and prospective Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino are today locked in last-minute talks about funding the club’s wage bill for March.
The YEP understands that the two sides are attempting to thrash out a deal to meet salaries due on Friday morning following a suggestion from manager Brian McDermott that staff at Elland Road fear they will not be paid.
McDermott appeared to point to impending and immediate financial problems at Leeds following the Football League’s decision to reject Cellino’s £25m buy-out of the club on Monday.
Talking after a 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth last night, the United boss said: “There’s all the talk of who’s going to be in (as owner), talk of who’s going to be paid. I’m not going to make excuses but it does affect (results).”
Asked if he thought there would be difficulties with paying staff this month, McDermott said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know what the situation is.
“That comes up on Friday or Monday, whenever it turns up. Hopefully it can be resolved.”
GFH, the Bahraini bank which is attempting to sell a 75 per cent stake in Leeds to Cellino, believes the agreement it reached with the Italian businessman in January committed him and his company, Eleonora Sport Ltd, to funding United’s operating costs for a six-month period.
But Cellino, who has already injected substantial amounts of money into Leeds, is understood to be unwilling to provide any more cash while he waits for the Football League to hear an appeal against his failure of the governing body’s Owners and Directors Test.
Cellino’s buy-out was rejected by the League’s board on Monday morning after it ruled that a conviction for tax evasion imposed on the 57-year-old by an Italian court last week disqualified him from buying United.
He told the BBC this week that Leeds needed immediate investment, saying the club required “help, blood and money” in “hours, not days.”
GFH is looking to reach a solution today and ensure that funds are in place tomorrow morning, in time to meet the wage bill on Friday.
GFH was asked by the YEP whether it was in a position to pay the staff at United. A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.

Bournemouth 4 Leeds United 1: Mac is left all at sea by shambolic Whites

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/3/14
by Phil Hay
This season will end soon enough, the only small mercy Leeds United can count on.
Quite when the club’s purgatory will end is impossible to say but no time soon if the first 48 hours of this week are anything to go by.
Massimo Cellino felt the crack of the whip on Monday morning, his takeover rejected by the board of the Football League, and Brian McDermott took the lashes in Bournemouth last night as his squad sold him down the river with a spineless defeat which no manager could explain, less still defend.
United’s manager has reflected on so many beatings this year that he can only conclude that something is terminally wrong, not merely at the very top of the club but among his own dressing room.
If the players were playing for him at Dean Court, their body language and application during a pitiful first hour looked more like mass desertion.
One goal down after 67 seconds and three adrift after 30 minutes, they were never in the game and barely on the pitch.
These are technically two mid-table clubs with a few weeks of dead rubbers ahead of them but Bournemouth’s version of average was vastly superior to United’s.
Granted, there is no turmoil at Dean Court and no mutiny in the stands but the squad at Leeds has caved in on itself in 2014. Fifth before Christmas, their form since then merits relegation or a scramble to avoid it. McDermott must wonder how it came to this, and so quickly.
United’s death on the south coast was quick last night.
Yann Kermorgant converted a tap-in with almost the first chance of the match and Lewis Grabban scored twice from close range in quick succession.
You knew the game was up when the away end began chanting ‘we might be s**t but we still love Leeds’ before half-time – one of those last-scrap-of-dignity chants which come on evenings so bad.
Kermorgant’s second goal worsened the scoreline early in the second half and McCormack’s 27th of the season did little to soften it.
Leeds have waded through poor seasons before but the past few months have been unique in the number of capitulations and outright massacres suffered by McDermott’s squad.
Even the woeful 2006-07 term, the year when Leeds were relegated to League One, the squad were largely immune to severe embarrassment game-to-game. At present it is customary to prepare for it.
They would call this one of those weeks at Leeds if most other weeks were any different.
Between the blockade of Cellino’s takeover, the recall of Connor Wickham by Sunderland and Lee Peltier’s 10-minute affair with Nottingham Forest, McDermott had distractions all around him.
Minus Wickham, United’s manager trusted an old faithful of his and played Noel Hunt on the left wing, a novel approach in a season which has seen a few.
There were alternatives available to McDermott: Cameron Stewart and Aidan White, involved for the first time in months.
Lewis Walters, the young academy forward, made an appearance on the bench but did not deserve to be blooded in such a debacle.
The nod went Hunt’s way, just days after McDermott claimed that the inexperience of his team was a factor in United’s unrewarding results. All Hunt’s selection did was give Simon Francis the run of the right and four assists.
Another demoralising defeat was in the post after 60 seconds as Leeds gave way at the second time of asking.
Jack Butland got a hand to Marc Pugh’s shot after United made a meal of the kick-off but he was beaten when Kermorgant got a touch to Francis’ volley a yard from goal.
Francis’ arrival outside the box caught McDermott’s defence with their backs turned, unaware of his arrival.
More often than not in the opening exchanges, United’s backline were turned towards their own goal as Bournemouth switched the ball from side to side and attacked space around Butland’s box.
Grabban hacked a shot over the crossbar from 18 yards and made a nuisance of himself at every opportunity.
There was a careful style about Bournemouth, stemming from the safety of a mid-table position minus any of the internal stress bothering Leeds.
Before long, United were staring down the barrel of another thrashing Francis was the instigator again, tearing down the right wing in the 18th minute and cutting the ball back to Grabban who placed a neat side-footed finish past a painfully exposed Butland.
There was a World Cup place at stake when the goalkeeper joined Leeds on loan a month ago; it is hardly worth him crossing his fingers now. Throughout Elland Road, all hope is gone – or suspended at best.
The takeover looks shot, the season is blown and the squad are losing composure and respect.
These have been hard months for Leeds but last night bordered on a complete no-show, an insult to the 1,300 who travelled to fill the away end.
They were incandescent when Bournemouth scored for a third time on the half hour.
Francis, the former Bradford City full-back, was involved again, advanced and prominent in a way that United’s wide players never were. His clever backheel ran to Grabban who sized up Butland and beat him with his left foot
. A minute later, Kermorgant rattled the post with a shot from inside the box. It was cricket-score territory with Leeds taking the bat to their head.
There was nothing resembling a chance from United before half-time; nothing for Bournemouth goalkeeper Lee Camp to deal with, other than the odd hanging corner.
McDermott could have replaced 11 players at half-time but replaced none, perhaps leaving his starting line-up to find a way out of their own hole.
It grew deeper on 52 minutes when Kermorgant rose to head home Francis’ free-kick – both men free and unmarked – and the rest of the game passed in a meaningless flash.
Smith almost nodded a McCormack free-kick into Bournemouth’s net but could not get a touch, and striker McCormack pinched a goal in the 70th minute when a mistake let him run clear and slip the ball to the right of Camp.
The captain’s instinctive reaction was to run to the away end and bow down to them, the innocent bystanders in all this mess.

Leeds United: Cellino’s legal team confirm he’ll appeal

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/3/14
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino’s UK lawyers confirmed last night that they are preparing an appeal against the Football League’s decision to block his takeover of Leeds United.
Mishcon de Reya, the London firm which has represented Cellino throughout his bid to buy a majority stake in Leeds, will present a legal challenge to the Football League inside the 14-day window given to the Italian to appeal.
Cellino’s £25million buy-out of current United owner Gulf Finance House was formally rejected by the League on Monday after the governing body’s eight-man board met to discuss his proposed takeover the previous day.
The League ruled that a conviction for tax evasion imposed on Cellino a week ago breached its Owners and Directors Test and disqualified him from taking charge of the club.
Cellino, 57, was given two weeks to lodge an appeal and a spokesperson for Mishcon de Reya told the YEP: “Mr Cellino will be appealing the decision. We have no further comment.”
In a statement on Monday, the Football League said: “In line with Football League regulations, Massimo Cellino is entitled to appeal against the board’s decision within 14 days.
“In such circumstances, the League would seek to expedite the process to deliver certainty to all parties in the shortest possible timeframe.”
The League’s board includes six executives from Football League clubs but it is likely that an appeal from Cellino would be heard by an independent lawyer taking representations from both sides.
Cellino was barred from buying United on the basis of a court ruling in Sardinia on March 18 which found him guilty of evading import duty of over £300,000 on a yacht he bought in 2010.
Lawyers for Cellino argued that the Cagliari owner remained innocent under Italian law until all possible challenges against the conviction had been exhausted. In a four-page judgement, the League rejected that claim after taking legal advice.
Cellino insisted on Tuesday evening that he would continue his battle to secure control of Leeds, almost two months after he and GFH finalised the terms of their sale.
“I have to appeal,” Cellino said. “I feel a responsibility to the fans who I am proud to say wanted me.”

Leeds United: I won’t quit - Mac

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/3/14
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott insisted he had no intention of quitting his post as Leeds United manager as he faced up to another appalling result away to Bournemouth last night.
McDermott said he would not consider resigning and was committed to continuing in his post, despite an imploding season and a directionless club above him.
The 52-year-old cut a shocked and dejected figure after four goals in 52 minutes consigned Leeds to a 4-1 defeat at Dean Court, a scoreline and performance McDermott described as “bitterly disappointing.”
He refused to use the on-going takeover saga at Elland Road as an excuse for last night’s loss –but said the doubt over his future and the proposed buy-out of United by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino was in part to blame for their decaying campaign.
Cellino’s 75 per cent takeover is on the verge of failure after the Football League barred him from buying Leeds on Monday. The 57-year-old intends to appeal.
McDermott went on to infer that staff and players at Elland Road were concerned about whether their wages would be paid this month, despite United managing director David Haigh recently dismissing talk of serious financial trouble at Leeds.
But pressure on McDermott is intensifying, and braces from Yann Kermorgant and LewisGrabban at Dean Court weakened his position further.
Asked if he had considered walking away, the former Reading boss said: “No, not at any point. I’ve never felt that.
“I don’t think things feel out of control. I don’t think we’ve got control but I don’t think things are out of control either. There’s a difference. To have control you need the ownership to be clear and clarified.
“It (the takeover) does affect what’s happening. That’s not an excuse for this performance and I’m disappointed with all of us but there’s no doubt it affects what happens on the pitch.
“There’s all the talk of who’s going to be in (as owner), talk of who’s going to be paid. I’m not going to make excuses but it does affect it.”
McDermott also suggested that Cellino’s failed attempt to sack him in January might have affected the attitude of his squad.
“I think there’s an element of truth in that,” he said. “Once that situation happens, there could be some truth in it. But it’s no excuse. I’m stood on the line, I’m still here and I want to be here.
“I don’t think anybody’s given up, I really don’t. But it’s bitterly disappointing to try and explain that performance.”
Meanwhile, Lee Peltier’s future remains unclear with Leeds insistent that the defender has joined Nottingham Forest but Forest attempting to back out of the deal.
Bolton Wanderers are pushing to take Peltier on loan today.
Young winger Gboly Ariyibi has joined Tranmere Rovers on loan until the end of the season.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sorry Leeds suffer seaside nightmare

Telegraph 25/3/14
By Jim White
It has not been a good week for Brian McDermott. The Leeds Unitedmanager has seen his club pushed to the very lip of extinction by another series of boardroom blunders which culminated in Massimo Cellino, a putative new owner, being deemed by the Football League as not a fit and proper person to take charge of a club.
Then on Tuesdat night McDermott stood hapless on the touchline as his team produced an unwanted piece of history: this was the first occasion they have lost to Bournemouth. Actually, they were not just beaten, they were hammered. And McDermott believes there is no coincidence. The feeble, lacklustre display on the field mirrors what is going on in the boardroom.
“It does affect what’s happening on the pitch,” he said of the ownership shenanigans. “There’s no doubt about that. All the talk is about who’s going to be in, are we going to be paid, this and that. And this has been going on for quite a time.”
Leeds were 3-0 down within 28 minutes, ripped apart every time the home right-back Simon Francis galloped athletically down the wing, and eventually lost 4-1. It was a wretched performance on the pitch, Leeds offering about as much defence as the convicted fraudster Cellino. The 1,300 Leeds followers perfectly summarised the situation.
“We might be ---- but we still love Leeds,” they chanted, an observation which drew a sympathetic round of applause from the home supporters, who have faced down a few financial crises of their own over the years.
There was a cruel coincidence in the fixture computer pitching Leeds in their latest moment of misery with a club currently basking in the glow of benevolent ownership. After years of financial disaster on the Dorset Riviera, Maxim Demin brought some sunshine to the place in 2012.
The Russian billionaire has proven himself the kind of owner every supporter would wish for their club; even as Leeds have mortgaged their resources, in a succession of crises selling everything that is not nailed into the west Yorkshire limestone, so Russian money has transformed Bournemouth. New training facilities have been acquired and the Goldsands Stadium has richly been buffed up.
But on Tuesday night, Jeff Mostyn, the Bournemouth chairman who prides himself on providing the best hospitality in the Championship, had no Leeds directors to entertain. The club were represented by the ex-player Dominic Matteo, obliged to tackle the extensive finger buffet on his own. Leeds currently appear to be a business without owners.
The Bahrain-based principal shareholders, Gulf Finance House Capital, have been trying to sell their asset almost from the moment they bought it from Ken Bates. Possibly the only oil state investors without any money, they are now in difficulty.
With the league administrators ruling out their deal with Cellino, the club have been pitched into a troubling limbo, no one even sure if wages will be paid this week.
“It’s not a club out of control,” McDermott said. “It’s just I don’t think we’ve got control.” Maybe, in the absence of anyone prepared to take responsibility for a once great footballing institution, Mostyn should have invited Phil Beeton into the directors’ box in their stead.
After all, Beeton is far more representative of the Yorkshire club than any of those recently in charge of the fish tank there.
Tuesday night was the 2,000th consecutive league match the 61-year-old had watched. He was here in 1990, when Leeds came to Bournemouth on May Bank Holiday Monday and 10,000 Yorkshire supporters celebrated promotion to the top division by tearing the old Dean Court stadium apart. One Bournemouth observer remembers being terrified. Now, the only scary thing about Leeds are their accounts.
Certainly on the pitch they presented the softest of opposition. From the first whistle, Bournemouth were picking them apart with the slickest of pass and move football.
Within seconds, Jack Butland, the Leeds goalkeeper on loan from Stoke, was obliged to palm Mark Pugh’s fierce shot behind. From the resulting corner, Yann Kermorgant deflected in Francis’s fierce volley.
Sixteen minutes later, Francis galloped down the right on to Matt Ritchie’s clever through ball and beautifully squared to Lewis Grabban, who fired past Butland. The third came in the 28th, when Francis again was the provider, belting into box then back heeling for Grabben again to hammer past Butland from 12 yards.
“You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” the Leeds fans chanted as their team went four behind to Kermorgant’s sharp volley early in the second half.
In the face of such a tawdry display, the Leeds fans did what they have done all season: they chanted. For 20 minutes in the second half, they maintained an incredible round of “we all love Leeds”.
They barely broke to acknowledge a consolation strike by Ross McCormack, the player who is currently the only thing Leeds have going for them. No wonder the first thing McDermott did on the final whistle was to go over and acknowledge their effort.
“That is the soul of the club,” he said, pointing to the stand where the Leeds fans were accommodated. “They are what this football club is all about. For the last 10 years they have been let down. To have somebody come in and take this club to where it really belongs would be fantastic.”

Bournemouth 4-1 Leeds: Cherries run riot as visitors' week goes from bad to worse

Mail 25/3/14
By SAM CUNNINGHAM
It took merely 66 seconds for a disastrous week in the history of Leeds United to get even worse against Bournemouth.
Then it got worse. And worse. And worse still.
The first goal was relatively scrappy, former Leeds legend Ian Harte spraying a corner to the edge of the box which was met on the volley by Simon Francis and poked in by Yann Kermorgant.
By 18 minutes Bournemouth had scored a slightly more refined effort, this time Francis bursting down the right and crossing low for Lewis Grabban to steer into the bottom left corner.
When the third came 10 minutes later they were so well-practiced it was even better, right-back Francis again marauding down the wing, this time passing into Grabban who took a touch before firing past Leeds goalkeeper Jack Butland.
It was as if the away defence had given up when they allowed Kermorgant to nod in a fourth, completely unmarked, on 52 minutes.
What on earth must Phil Beeton, attending his 2000th consecutive Leeds game, have thought?
The travelling supporters certainly made their feelings known when they started chanting 'You're not fit to wear the shirt' at their own team.
At least they had a consolation goal to cheer when Ross McCormack struck a low shot into the bottom right corner from the edge of the box with 20 minutes to play.
Dean Court looks very different to when Leeds beat Bournemouth 1-0 here to win promotion from the old Division Two into the top flight back in 1990.
There they stayed for the next 12 years, enjoying title challenges and glorious Champions League nights during a period when Harte, now seeing out the end of his career at Bournemouth, used to score his trademark left-footed free kicks for fun.
They had never been beaten by Bournemouth and recorded three wins in their previous three games since promotion that day.
In 10 games previously Leeds had won eight and drawn two.
How times have changed.
After the Football League blocked Massimo Cellino's proposed takeover of Leeds earlier in the week, it left the club's future shrouded in uncertainty.
The fans at least deserved a performance on the pitch to ease the pressure. They got nothing.

Teenage winger Gboly Ariyibi joins Tranmere on loan

leedsunited.com 25/3/14
Teenage winger Gboly Ariyibi has joined Tranmere Rovers on loan until the end of the season.
The youngster, a product of Southampton's Academy, signed a short-term deal with the club in December.
Gboly, who made his debut at Nottingham Forest and also featured against Blackburn on New Year's Day, will be hoping the move to Tranmere will see him gain further experience.

Southampton eye Sam Byram transfer from Leeds as Calum Chambers' potential replacement

Mirror 25/3/14
By Ed Malyon
Saints hope to hang onto teenage defender who is on the radars of Arsenal and Manchester United - but do have contingency plans
Southampton are eyeing a cut-price move for Leeds full-back Sam Byram if Calum Chambers leaves the club this summer.
Mauricio Pochettino hopes to keep hold of the talented defender in spite of interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, but is keeping tabs on England Under-20 international Byram’s situation at the Championship club.
Nathaniel Clyne would likely become first choice at St Mary’s if Chambers is sold, but the Saints are keen on Byram’s versatility and encouraged by reports that have suggested his character would fit in well with Pochettino’s squad.
Mirror Sport understands the financially-troubled Elland Road club would not be able to turn down significant offers for the 20-year-old this summer unless a takeover is complete. Italian millionaire Massimo Cellino has been paying salaries since the turn of the year but has now been blocked from buying the club after being found guilty of tax evasion.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Leeds United takeover: Fans demand assurances from GFH following Massimo Cellino ruling

Independent 25/3/14
The Italian has been barred from taking over the Championship club
Leeds United Supporters Trust has demanded “a concrete and substantial statement” from club owner GFH Capital after the Football League blocked Massimo Cellino's takeover.
The League announced on Monday that Cellino's conviction last week for a tax offence in Italy constituted "a disqualifying condition under its owners' and directors' test".
The Italian has 14 days to lodge an appeal and his lawyers have said he will do so.
GFH Capital has confirmed it remains in talks with the League and Cellino's company, Eleonora Sport, in a bid "to find a solution that is suitable to all parties".
Cellino has been bankrolling the club for the last two months and Leeds fans now fear the club may slide towards administration.
Leeds chief executive David Haigh has categorically denied that will happen, but fans' group LUST wants urgent assurances.
"Our members, and the wider fan base, are understandably concerned about the course the club will now take," LUST said in a statement.
"When GFH bought the club the fans were promised long-term stability, but little more than a year later Leeds United is again at the centre of a long-running takeover process that is overshadowing every part of the club.
"Since the end of November the news has been dominated by GFH's attempts to sell Leeds United, with the result that we find ourselves in March with no sale, and no evidence of a plan B.
"It is time for the people who own and run the club to make substantial and concrete statements about what they are going to do now.
"While David Haigh has promised in the press that the club will not go into administration, the letter that Gibson Dunn solicitors sent to the Football League last week warned that delays to Cellino's takeover could cause 'potentially irreparable damage to the club,' and the fans need to be told as a matter of urgency what this means.
"Leeds United Supporters' Trust also request that GFH urgently explain their stance towards other potential buyers following the rejection of Mr Cellino's bid."
Together Leeds, a rival consortium to Cellino's headed by former Manchester United International director Mike Farnan, have been waiting to enter into talks and it is understood there may be other unnamed parties ready to step up their bids.
LUST also called on the Football League "to say what they are going to do to safeguard the future of one of their members".

Football League rejects Massimo Cellino's bid to buy Leeds United

Guardian 25/3/14
Italian fails owners' and directors' test over tax fraud
Lawyers announce intention to appeal against decision
James Riach
Massimo Cellino's deal to buy Leeds United was rejected by the Football League, casting serious doubt over the club's financial future with the Cagliari owner having spent around £10m funding the club in recent months.
The Italian, whose company Eleonora Sports agreed a £25m deal to buy 75% of Leeds from Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital in February, was rejected under the League's owners and directors' test after being found guilty last week in an Italian court of failing to pay €388,500 of import tax on a yacht.
Cellino's lawyers announced last night that the 57-year-old intends to appeal a decision he admitted had made him "feel like I will jump from the window right now".
Leeds wrote to the League last week following a protracted saga that provided its most chaotic night at the beginning of February, when the manager, Brian McDermott, was sacked apparently at the behest of Cellino, only to be reinstated later.
The League's board, including chairman Greg Clarke, voted unanimously to reject Cellino's ownership and disqualify the 57-year-old's bid, despite the fact that the Italian legal system allows for an appeal on the import tax verdict. A statement said: "The board considered detailed legal advice with regard to the application of its regulations within the context of a decision made under Italian law. Having fully considered the matter, the board agreed unanimously that the decision of the Italian court does constitute a disqualifying condition under its owners' and directors' test.
"The relevant disqualifying condition being that Massimo Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving acts that would reasonably be considered to be dishonest."
Cellino told the Guardian last night: "I'm not a dishonest man. If they say I did this I am stupid. Why would I do something like this, because I am a fool, I am stupid.
"There's different justice in Italy, I prefer the English way but I am in Italy unfortunately. I pay millions and millions at clubs and they [the courts] say I tried to screw them over for a small amount. It's stupid. I could pay that tomorrow.
"I am not a dishonest crook. If I made a mistake it was not on purpose. I'm shocked, I'm very shocked. I feel like I will disappear, I am so ashamed of myself you have no idea. It's not about the money at the moment.
"I didn't try and do anything bad to Leeds, to anyone, I just wanted to do something good. I'm so shocked that I feel like I will jump from the window right now. I feel so ashamed. Why did they take two months to wait for the decision of the Italian court. I could have delayed the trial for one or two years if I had wanted."
A Leeds statement said: "The club and its shareholders are disappointed at the decision of the Football League not to approve Massimo Cellino as a director of Leeds United. However, the board will continue discussions with the Football League and Eleonora Sport to find a solution that is suitable to all parties.
"Our shareholders continue to support the club directly or through additional investments as has always been the case. We would like to reassure the fans of the continuity of our great club."

Leeds United: Brian McDermott’s left to front up on another dark day

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/3/14
Defiant: In the wake of Cellino’s bid collapsing Brian McDermott faced the media but the last thing he wanted was sympathy. Leon Wobschall reports.
BRIAN MCDERMOTT and his Leeds United players have been here before. In a similar part of the country as well.
United players and staff boarded their team coach at Thorp Arch yesterday for a epic trip to the other end of England in Bournemouth, just as they did in early February when they had also an appointment in the deep south at Yeovil.
Five-hour motorway journeys to the likes of Huish Park and Goldsands Stadium may represent one of the more unwelcome facets of being a footballer up north.
But given the intense situation that is consuming Leeds back in West Yorkshire where the main – make that only – topic of conversation is the tortuous off-the-field saga, being well away from that particular toxic environment, even for just a few days, is probably a blessed relief for players and staff.
McDermott pretty much alluded to that in his pre-match press conference yesterday when most of the questions he fielded were ones he had to deflect and which had nothing to do with matters on the pitch.
Questions for a football club’s hierarchy and not the man who runs the team.
As for the subject of a lengthy midweek trek to Bournemouth, he was emphatic in his own way. ‘Can’t wait’ was the reply and he wasn’t joking. Bring it on...
In the week that followed the wholly bizarre sacking and reinstatement of McDermott, with the club plainly in chaos, United found brief sanctuary in wind and rain at Yeovil at the end of the first full week in February by virtue of a 2-1 win in front of the Sky cameras.
Now they have an opportunity for respite fifty miles down the road from Yeovil on the Dorset coast after a similar plethora of headlines all to do with matters off the field as opposed to on it.
McDermott is stoically getting on with things as best he can, refusing to bemoan his lot and focusing on bringing order to what he can control.
Players and staff will have their own worries about what has gone on at the club in recent times for sure, but on it, it’s all about closing ranks and showing a collective desire to fight for the white jersey, their club and their wounded legions of supporters who deserve much better.
And providing a temporary ray of sunshine if it’s possible.
McDermott said: “Everyone is fighting here. For me, that’s a good thing.
“I like that and the mentality that you have got to fight for this football club because it’s worth it.
“I have no sympathy with me at all. I am very, very happy to be Leeds United manager in whatever the circumstances. Yes, it’s difficult and no-one said it’s going to be easy.
“I didn’t think when I signed the contract in April that it was going to be like this. But in a funny kind of way, it’s a real challenge and I am right up for it and I know the fans are and the players are.
“I certainly have not got fear or trepidation. I am relishing the challenge of it all.
“I speak to a lot of people; you go around the streets in and around where I live and they are just solid people. I just want to get this club on an even keel, I really do.”
On the club’s future again being shrouded in uncertainty after Massimo Cellino’s takeover was rejected by the Football League, he added: “There’s nothing for me to say on it, there really isn’t.
“It’s not about how I feel. The only thing that matters for me is Leeds United and where we go from here.
“In the short term, we are going to go to Bournemouth and try and win there.
“You look at that support on Saturday and at Burnley and I know we will travel in big numbers again. I am sure situations like this bring everyone together. That’s how I am seeing it with our fans.
“There’s a lot of reasons to smile. You look at our fans and the way they travel. My God, it’s just incredible.
“We are going to Bournemouth and we went to Yeovil with a 12 o’clock kick-off with a full allocation.
“We went to Reading on a Wednesday night and took a full allocation and it’s just incredible. That’s what makes me smile – that and the players giving me everything.
“These fans deserve an awful lot better. But we’ve had a situation here for I don’t know how many years. It would be lovely to break the cycle of what is going on.”
McDermott must make do at Bournemouth tonight without the services of Connor Wickham, who has been recalled by parent club Sunderland just under a month into his emergency 93-day loan, with the big striker likely to be involved in their Premier League clash at Liverpool tomorrow.
Technically, clubs who loan players out on an emergency loan aren’t able to recall them in the first 28 days without the permission of the other club and despite Wickham technically being available for Leeds tonight after joining on February 26, McDermott responded to the pleas of Gus Poyet, who has just one fit striker for the Anfield trip.
That prompted his call to McDermott on Sunday night, with the Whites chief agreeing to the Uruguayan’s request.
McDermott said: “To be fair to Gus, he rang me at about nine o’clock last night (Sunday) and said he needed to bring Connor back as he was going to be involved in the game on Wednesday.
“I could have played Connor because he had 24 hours (still) to go here. But I have to do right by Connor and obviously Gus and Sunderland.
“I have to do right by Leeds; I know that. But he would have definitely gone back after Tuesday.”
Cameron Stewart is likely to replace Wickham on the left this evening, with McDermott’s main motivation this evening being to manufacture a victory to lift his side above Bournemouth in the table and reach the half-century points mark of a bruising campaign.
He said: “Bournemouth are having a good season and if we win the game, we will go above them.That would be our target. We know we can go up the table and into the top half, with two home games to come after that.
“The Milwall game was a tough one.
“I don’t normally get anxious during games, but I was anxious when they scored and it was an anxious 15 minutes or so.
“I was delighted with the way we dug in and got the win and we need to go to Bournemouth and do exactly the same.”

Leeds United: Cellino set to appeal decision

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/3/14
by Leon Wobschall
Confusion reigns following another bewildering day at Leeds United after club owners GFH Capital revealed they have not given up hope of Massimo Cellino’s company Eleonora Sport taking over – despite the Football League disqualifying him from purchasing a majority stake.
The league issued a statement yesterday morning saying that the Italian businessman, convicted last week for tax evasion after not paying import duty on a yacht, had failed their owners and directors’ test.
Several hours later, GFH Capital insisted they were still in talks with the league and Eleonora Sport in a bid “to find a solution that is suitable to all parties”.
The rival Together Leeds consortium, led by Mike Farnan, are monitoring developments and plan to meet towards the end of this week.
In line with league regulations, Cellino is entitled to appeal against the decision within 14 days and the indications last night suggested he will carry on his fight to purchase the club.
Previously, he has said that he would “walk away without a fight” if his takeover was not approved.
The 57-year-old, who has bankrolled the club since the start of February and paid United’s wages for the past two months, said: “I have to appeal. I feel a responsibility to the fans who I am proud to say wanted me.”
“There are hours, not the next few days. Leeds needs help, needs blood, needs money. Leeds can’t wait.
“What worries me is I am the only one worrying about that. It’s embarrassing.
“I am not worrying about the money I have already paid and maybe am going to lose.
“I am feeling embarrassed, ashamed and down.
“It’s not nice to say. I feel lost. I am not a crook. I didn’t come to Leeds to do anything bad.”
GFH Capital exchanged contracts to sell 75 per cent of the club’s shares to Eleonora Sport on February 7 and despite being disappointed at the league ruling, they have vowed not to abandon the sale of the club to Cellino. And they have also attempted to reassure fans about their commitment to Leeds amid grave fears from supporters about the financial situation at the club in the event of Cellino’s bid being knocked back.
Earlier this month, managing director David Haigh said there was no chance that the club will go into administration.
A statement read: “The club and its shareholders are disappointed at the decision of the Football League not to approve Massimo Cellino as a director of Leeds United FC.
“However, the board and executive management of the club will continue discussions with the Football League and Eleonora Sport to find a solution that is suitable to all parties.
“Our shareholders continue to support the club directly or through additional investments as has always been the case.
“We would like to reassure the fans of the continuity of our great club.”
The League’s decision to block Cellino’s takeover was taken at a board meeting on Sunday evening which considered his eligibility in the wake of his conviction in Sardinia.
The league said: “Mr Cellino was recently found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a Court in Sardinia of an offence under Italian tax legislation relating to the non-payment of import duties on a boat.
“This resulted in a fine of 600,000 euros (£500,800), an order for the payment of trial costs and the confiscation of the boat in question.
“Having fully considered the matter, the board agreed unanimously that the decision of the Italian court does constitute a disqualifying condition under its owners’ and directors’ test.
“The relevant disqualifying condition being that Massimo Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving acts that would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.’’
“In line with Football League regulations, Massimo Cellino is entitled to appeal against the decision within 14 days. In such circumstances, the league would seek to expedite the process to deliver certainly to all parties in the shortest possible timeframe.”
Meanwhile, Brian McDermott says his decision to let Connor Wickham return to Sunderland early was due to his desire not to potentially jeopardise future relations with the Wearsiders.
Wickham returned to the Stadium of Light yesterday, with McDermott ceding to Black Cats boss Gus Poyet’s request for the 20-year-old to go back despite not completing 28 days of his loan at United.
Emergency loan rules governing players who sign on 93-day loans like Wickham state that loanees cannot be recalled in the first 28 days by parent club’s.
In Wickham’s case, that technically wasn’t until tomorrow, with the striker joining Leeds on February 26.
But McDermott, contacted on Sunday by Poyet - facing a striking crisis with just one forward available for tomorrow’s Premier League trip to Liverpool - says that letting him leave 24 hours early was the sensible option.
McDermott said: “Gus did right for me by letting me have Connor in the first place.
“If there’s a situation where we can get a player from Sunderland again, I want to make sure I do the right thing as far as we are concerned.”

Phil Hay: Where next for GFH and Leeds United?

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/3/14
There was always a chance Cellino’s bid for United would be blocked. Now everyone is waiting to see if GFH have a Plan B. Phil Hay reports.
Gulf Finance House should have known from the start that in Massimo Cellino it was dealing a wildcard to the suits and solicitors of the Football League.
Around the time that the Bahraini bank began discussing the sale of Leeds United to Cellino, a background report on the Italian businessman was commissioned and written on GFH’s behalf.
Called ‘Project Athena’, it laid out convictions, allegations and incidents involving him; evidence to suggest the Football League might find a reason to wave the red flag.
The issues highlighted were considered too spent, too unsubstantiated or too frivolous to warn GFH off so a £25m deal was done but the guilty verdict handed down to Cellino by a Sardinian court last week, convicting him of tax evasion, meant GFH’s standards of fit and proper mattered less than the Football League’s.
The writing was on the wall on Sunday afternoon when Cellino told a journalist he was “sick of this” after two months spent waiting for approval.
Recent interviews with Cellino made him sound tired and beaten; no longer the bombastic man who talked about Leeds as his “Ferrari” and Cagliari – the club he owns in Italy – as his “Fiat 500”.
He made that comment in the days when the significance of his failure to pay tax on a luxury yacht was still to register in England and GFH thought he was home and dry. By Sunday he could see that rejection was coming.
Cellino has the right to appeal his failure of the Football League’s Owners and Directors test but only 14 days to do so, and he was categorical two weeks ago in saying that he would take the governing body’s decision as final.
His lawyer in Italy, Giovanni Cocco, and the firm representing him in the UK – Mishcon de Reya – were asked last night whether Cellino would lodge an appeal.
Cocco said Cellino was being advised to contest the Football League’s verdict but “feels very worn and disappointed.” Mishcon de Reya did not respond.
Whatever it has in the way of contingency plans, GFH will not place hope in Cellino persuading the League to back down.
The League’s executive took extensive legal advice on his conviction for tax evasion and found that his offence could “reasonably be considered dishonest”.
That judgement leaves the bank with two options, both of which it is likely to consider – repackage the sale of a majority stake to Eleonora Sport Limited minus Cellino, or sell to a different buyer altogether.
A short statement issued by Leeds yesterday said the club – or GFH, whichever party official statements speak for these days – were in discussions with the Football League and Eleonora Sport about ways to “find a solution that is suitable to all parties.”
Cellino, 57, is one of two directors with Eleonora Sport, a British company named after his daughter which he planned to use to buy a 75 per cent shareholding in Leeds.
There is no doubt among officials at the Football League that this was his takeover, initiated by him, dictated by him and financed by him. GFH has a different view: that the cash is coming from a Cellino family trust and is not singularly controlled by Massimo.
There is a theory on the seller’s side that an alternative arrangement could be found, sidelining Cellino from the deal completely and handing control of Eleonora Sport to others.
That strategy stands every chance of falling foul of Football League rules governing ‘shadow directors’ – people who have nothing to do with the club in name but hover in the background, calling the shots from a distance.
Cellino is effectively banned from exerting any significant influence in the boardroom. Other family members would been seen as a surrogate for him.
On that basis, yesterday’s decision from the Football League was GFH’s cue to actively seek new bidders.
The bank is aware of one group of alternative buyers who made themselves known to the public many months ago and may be aware of others who have not.
In the past week and anticipating that Cellino’s takeover would fail, legal representatives of Mike Farnan’s Together Leeds consortium have attempted to draw GFH into negotiations about the sale of a majority stake.
There have been no discussions yet but Together Leeds – a group which includes Welcome To Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity and the ex-Hull City chairman Adam Pearson – are expected to declare their position and announce their intention to bid for the club in the next 24 hours.
Back in January when Cellino finalised his buy-out of Leeds, Together Leeds said they were backed by “institutional funding” as opposed to independent wealth.
The consortium now claim to have personal cash behind them, though detail about their plan and financial strength has not been given. One known aspect of the unsuccessful takeover offer submitted by the group in November of last year was that they intended to buy back Elland Road from its private owners by mortgaging the ground.
Formal talks between GFH and Together Leeds, assuming any materialise, will not be simple. There is an inherent belief on the part of the bank that Farnan’s group lack credibility and the necessary money to buy United. GFH has shown no desire to engage them.
The relationship between Together Leeds, GFH and David Haigh – United’s managing director and until recently, employed by GFH’s private equity arm – has been bitter, aggressive and political for months, with legal letters exchanged between the two camps.
There is no possibility of Together Leeds – or many other bidders for that matter – matching Cellino’s purchase price.
Even staunch opponents of the Italian described his £25m bid as “top dollar” for a club who are losing money, building up debt, stuck in the Championship and renting their stadium and training ground.
The Football League had no problem with Cellino’s wealth or his plan to fund Leeds; it was simply unwilling to turn a blind eye to tax evasion.
It spelled out the case against Cellino in a lengthy judgement yesterday morning.
Some at Elland Road think GFH has other options; prospective owners hidden away who it will turn to now that Cellino’s bid is fatally flawed.
There are no names and no indication of how long another takeover would take but there is a sense of the process returning to the starting line, of the clock resetting.
At no stage have Together Leeds had the chance to complete full due diligence, and United’s financial situation now is not what it was six months ago or even at the turn of the year.
The club have borrowed more money in the past few months and lost more money too. Cellino, who provided some of the cash, was blissfully untroubled by any of that.
A little known detail of his contract with GFH is that Cellino, or Eleonora Sport Ltd, agreed to fund the United for the six-month period after his takeover was first agreed.
That provision still applies, though Cellino no longer has much motivation for abiding by the terms of the deal.
He would be paying now to support a club who the Football League won’t allow him to buy and for all his remarks about preventing harm coming to Leeds, he owes them nothing.
His time and his investment has been for nothing, or so it seems.
There was an elephant in the room throughout this saga – how GFH would react if Cellino was rejected; how it would fund Leeds and what it would do next.
The bank and its associates react angrily to talk of administration at Elland Road, implying that insolvency is the quickest way to lose the money it has ploughed into United.
GFH will tell you that as an organisation it has cash and can afford to pay the bills at Leeds month-to-month; for whatever reason, it has chosen to allow others to do so this past year.
If that is true then life continues as it did before, with United in depressing, unproductive waters but facing no terminal threat.
If GFH is bluffing, the Football League’s decision has called it.
And in the eyes of the public, all bets are off.