Friday, January 30, 2015

Leeds United: Sol Bamba Interview

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/15
by Phil Hay
It seems that Sol Bamba is already part of the Leeds United family. The club’s head coach, Neil Redfearn, has found him to be a “fatherly figure”. Granddi Ngoyi, the midfielder who followed him to Leeds from Palermo on Monday, expects Bamba to act as his “big brother” in England.
It must be nice to feel wanted, especially after six months of mixed messages in Italy. Bamba came to Elland Road on a half-season loan last week, allowed to go by Palermo less than a year into his contract. The 30-year-old doubts that he’ll ever go back to Sicily.
Palermo recruited him from Trabzonspor in August and tied him to a three-year deal after their promotion to Serie A. In all his time in Italy, the centre-back has played once. Bamba is likely to make his Leeds debut away at Huddersfield Town tomorrow but is very honest about his fitness.
“I’ll need one or two matches to be 100 per cent,” he says.
A week on from his arrival in Yorkshire, Bamba is already touching on the possibility of a permanent transfer. His wife is keen for their family to settle after a few years of country hopping and Bamba has played in England before with Leicester City.
Moreover, he sees no satisfying future at Palermo; not while Giuseppe Iachini, the one-time Fiorentina midfielder remains in charge of the club’s squad.
“I moved there and I was expecting to be playing in Serie A,” Bamba says. “It didn’t work out for some reason.”
Can he explain why? “That’s the main question everyone keeps asking me. Honestly, I can’t answer that. I really don’t know. I used to train well and if you ask the manager, he always told me ‘you’re doing absolutely everything right.’
“I’d just arrived at the club and people in front of me had been in Italy for two or three years. The manager would say ‘you’re not far off, keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be playing.’ Well, after one month then two, three and four you start to get worried. So when I had the chance to move to Leeds, it was an easy decision.”
This, then, is as important a deal for Bamba as it is for Leeds. United have an agreement in place with Palermo to sign him full-time in the summer but the defender knows they will take up that option if his performances merit the investment.
As for Palermo, he doesn’t expect to return. “If I’m honest I don’t think so,” he says. “Not unless the manager changes. The club made it clear that they want me to come back and play but I don’t see that happening.
“We (his family) want to settle here if we can and get a deal done as soon as possible. It’s up to me. I need to show what I can do on the pitch to make the president (Massimo Cellino) buy me. But I’m not thinking about that right now. I just want to play and do well.”
At 6’3”, Bamba ticks a number of Redfearn’s boxes. He is a tall addition to a team which Redfearn describes as having “average height.” He has pace and presents a proven alternative in a defensive line which has been weak all season.
He learned Turkish with Trabzonspor and, more significantly in the context of United’s dressing room, picked up Italian during his time with Palermo. His English is excellent and gives away a touch of Scots; a legacy of spells at Dunfermline and Hibernian.
The Ivory Coast international says he is happy to be back in England. His career at Leicester ran between January 2011 and July 2012 and saw him amass more than 50 appearances. He scored inside 50 seconds of his debut, in an FA Cup tie against Manchester City. It was experience of the Championship that Redfearn sought at the beginning of the January transfer window and Bamba has it. “He knows what it’s about,” Redfearn said. “He’s at a good age for a centre-back, he’s got experience behind him and he understands the position.
“He’s got this fatherly figure about him as well. He speaks different languages and that will be good for the dressing room. It helps other lads to integrate.”
Bamba played in a behind-closed-doors match at Thorp Arch on Tuesday and has completed a full week of training with Redfearn’s squad. The confidence of a raw group of players - a group with an average age of around 23 - took him by surprise.
“The team are quite young but they try to play football,” he says. “That impressed me because normally young players don’t try to play. They just want to be okay, to pass easy balls, but the lads here play from the back and make it happen. It’s very good.
“I try to win every challenge and I try to organise the team from the back. My game is to be aggressive. But (the Championship) is a different league now so it’ll take me one or two games to get used to it.”
Leeds are 20th in the table and at risk of relegation. “I’m not worried, not at all,” Bamba insists. “We’ve got a decent team.
“We need to defend better, defend like a team, and try to get as more clean sheets. We need to be careful, obviously, but I’m not worried. I think we’ll be fine.”

Leeds United: Pearce joins Wigan Athletic

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/15
by Phil Hay
Jason Pearce has ended a two-and-a-half year stay at Leeds United by joining Wigan Athletic.
The defender joined United’s Championship rivals this morning for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region of £300,000.
Leeds paid £500,000 for the 27-year-old when they signed him from Portsmouth in 2012 and Pearce was the leading appearance-maker in United’s squad having played 112 times.
He lost his place in the club’s starting line-up before Christmas, however, and was replaced as captain by Stephen Warnock.
The recent signing of Sol Bamba on loan from Italian side Palermo added further competition at centre-back and a deal to sell Pearce to Wigan was agreed in principle earlier this week.
He moves to a team who are in the thick of the same relegation fight as United, three places and eight points behind Neil Redfearn’s squad.
Bamba is expected to make his Leeds debut alongside Liam Cooper away at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Chairman Andrew Umbers discusses Leeds United's situation and aims for the future 30/1/15
Leeds United chairman Andrew Umbers has spoken publicly for the first time since stepping into the role in Massimo Cellino’s absence, and says the situation at the club has "dramatically improved" since last year’s takeover.
The pair have worked together closely to restructure the club and reduce its debt after last April’s 75 per cent purchase by Eleonora Sport Limited.
Following Massimo Cellino’s resignation of his post last week due to a failed appeal against the Football League’s ruling to disqualify him, Mr Umbers, a Yorkshireman and lifelong Leeds United fan, was appointed as the club’s chairman.
In a lengthy interview, Andrew Umbers spoke of Massimo Cellino’s passion and vision for the club, how they have forged close ties with Leeds City Council and their financial aims for the future.
"Massimo and I have never, ever regretted the task ahead," said the chairman.
"We’ve always thought through how we take cost out, how we rebrand Leeds United and how we protect the club from the issues that its faced without the fans knowing the real situation.
"Because, what Mr Cellino saw when he bought this club, was a fallen and sleeping giant with some mis-management over a long period of time, but what he did understand was that this is a club that he and I believe belongs to its fans.
"While Massimo Cellino owns the club, we are its stewards. The club is owned by its fans, it is owned by the city, it is owned by the community.
"The behaviour of previous owners was something that we felt meant all of those partnerships had been lost. So we set about trying to represent the club with the council and we believe we enjoy a really fruitful relationship with Leeds City Council.
"They supported us very clearly in the appeal - we had letters of representation from the council.
"We have purposely set about our business quietly because we’ve never wanted to undermine what goes on on the football side of things.
"Massimo Cellino has moved to Leeds, with his daughter in university, he’s passionate about football. He’s enthusiastic, passionate, unorthodox, emotional. He has football at his heart and has Leeds at his heart.
"In my experience, Leeds United could not want for a better owner and one who is more capable of facing the financial issues that we have faced over the last nine or 10 months."
Mr Umbers believes that if the club can achieve its financial aims, it would be "historic in the Championship" during what he describes as a “tenuous” time for a number of Football League sides.
"The situation has dramatically improved," he explained. "We set about the restructuring to look at cost, to look at revenue, to look at assets.
"We reduced our stewarding costs, we have re-engaged with the police, not necessarily because of the court case that was won, but more to work with them to provide a better service financially for the fans.
"We looked at Thorp Arch and reduced the costs there. We’ve also looked at the first-team costs as well and the legacy that was inherited.
"Financially, our aim and objective is to finish the 2016 season, which is also our year-end, at or around breakeven. And for the financial year of 2015 to have losses which will be around a 1/3 reduction from 2014.
"The losses were £22million in 2014, we hope for between £7-8million and then breakeven.
"The financial consequences of having a business that is going to produce those sets of numbers will be historic in the Championship. We know and everybody in football knows the financial situation among football clubs in all of the Football League is tenuous at best.
"Equally, the investment that Massimo Cellino has put into Leeds United in cash terms and the considerations of GFH that own 25%.
"And, with the internal re-organisation that is currently ongoing but will be concluded very shortly, on long-term debt situation will mean that our debt is very minimal.
"If you have a football club like Leeds United that has very little debt, that is getting close to breakeven, then it is such an advertisement for the way that Massimo Cellino and his management team have run the business. It’s long overdue at Leeds United."
Mr Umbers also gave an insight into his own background and how he became involved at the club, as well as explaining the extent of the situation when the takeover was first completed.
"When Massimo had taken over Leeds United back in April, he knew that he faced a very big task," said the chairman.
"I was approached by one of the two senior leading attorneys in the Italian FA to ask whether I could help Massimo Cellino in restructuring Leeds United.
"For the last three years, my background has been in the sports industry, whether that’s cricket or basketball, cycling or golf, in all sorts of matters.
"It involved providing capital, finding capital, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions.
"Prior to that, it was 30 years of investment banking. My track record in that is as chief executive of a company that was successfully restructured.
"Massimo and I sat down in April and around late April-early May we set about looking at what the business was.
"At that time, Massimo and I were advised by a leading firm of accountants and other financial experts that the club should go into administration.
"Massimo Cellino has run a football club in Sardinia – Cagliari – for 23 years, and for the last 15 years, that football club has made 10million euros of cash flow per annum.
"He has been president of Lega Pro – Serie B and Serie A. He has re-written rules and regulations within that league.
"He is unorthodox in the way that most owners in England are that own football clubs. He is very, very hands on.
"Because of his experience of running a football club in Italy, he really does know how to run a football club. From those experiences, we set about looking at all of the club.
"We did a complete root and branch of Leeds United. We didn’t accept that this football club should be in administration or going into administration.
"We faced having debt of over £40million, and a loss in June 2014 year-end of £22million, the backdrop was obviously pretty awful."

Leeds United: Whites ponder challenge to Cellino’s ban

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/15
The possibility of Massimo Cellino challenging his Football League disqualification is still “under review”, according to Leeds United chairman Andrew Umbers.
Umbers said the Italian – banned from running Leeds until April 10 – was continuing to look at ways of challenging his punishment having lost an appeal against the Football League last week.
A three-man Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) upheld the Football League’s view that Cellino was in breach of its Owner and Directors Test following his conviction for tax evasion in Italy last March.
The 58-year-old subsequently resigned as a Leeds director seven days ago and is beginning a 79-day suspension in which he is barred from exerting any control over United’s day-to-day operations. His ban ends on April 10.
Cellino, however, could look to mount a fresh challenge by asking for arbitration with the Football Association under Rule K of the governing body’s regulations.
His legal team are also investigating other legal avenues.
Umbers, who took up the role of chairman at Elland Road in the wake of Cellino’s ban, said: “All further legal representations to the Football League are under review.”
In the meantime, Cellino is complying with his disqualification and has been absent from Elland Road for past week.
Speaking 10 days ago, Cellino told the YEP: “In April, finito, I’ll come back.”

Leeds United: Cellino will return - Umbers

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/1/15
by Phil Hay
New Leeds United chairman Andrew Umbers said Massimo Cellino would remain as the club’s long-term owner at the end of his disqualification as he spelled out what he called a “dramatically improving” financial situation at Elland Road.
In his first interview since his appointment as the head of United’s board, Umbers told the YEP that Cellino would return to the club as planned when his Football League ban ends on April 10 and said the option of selling Leeds had not been raised prior to the Italian’s resignation as president.
Cellino stepped down from the board at Elland Road last week, beginning a 79-day ban imposed on him by the Football League following his conviction for tax evasion in Italy 10 months ago.
The 58-year-old was found guilty of failing to pay import duty on a private yacht, a crime which breached the Football League’s Owners and Directors Test.
Cellino has other court cases pending and media reports in Sardinia say he is due to stand trial on April 14 over allegations that he avoided VAT due on a Range Rover. A guilty verdict in that case could result in another Football League ban.
The risk to Cellino, whose firm Eleonora Sport Limited bought a 75 per cent stake in Leeds last April, of further suspensions raised the question of whether the Italian would feel compelled to relinquish control of United permanently, a suggestion he dismissed after failing with an appeal against the Football League’s ruling.
Asked whether Cellino could stay as Leeds’ owner in the long term, Umbers said: “I’m not a lawyer but the answer is yes. He’s back on April 10 and he’ll be running this football club. At the moment he has no day-to-day role.
“He’s decided to take his punishment. He doesn’t want the club to be disrespected in the Football League, as has been the case in the past, and we have to turn over a new leaf. However hurtful that is, he’s taken the responsible attitude. He’ll serve his penance and come back.
“Massimo has moved to Leeds (from Miami), his family are here and he’s put his daughter into university. He’s passionate about football and he’s enthusiastic, unorthodox, emotional. He’s got football at heart and Leeds at heart.
“In my experience, Leeds United could not want for a better owner or one who’s more capable of facing the financial issues we’ve faced in the past nine months.”
Umbers worked as an advisor to Cellino following Cellino’s takeover of Leeds and he took a seat on the club’s board last month. Cellino named him as chairman last Friday after quitting as a director.
“It’s a privileged position,” Umbers said. “I have complete jurisdiction across the board on everything. I answer to the board of directors.
“The governance of Leeds United is good and sound and completely in obeyence of Football League rules.”
Yorkshire-born Umbers - the man who helped push through the sale of Leeds by Ken Bates to Gulf Finance House in 2012 - has worked as a financier for over 30 years.
The 50-year-old said: “For the last three years my background has basically been in all sorts of the sports industry, in all sorts of matters - providing capital, finding capital, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions.
“I’m a Yorkshireman, my family have been involved at Yorkshire Cricket Club, we had a brewery in Barnsley and I’m a Leeds United fan. I went to my first game when I was seven, one-all against Crystal Palace.
“My involvement is to work day-to-day for the next 70 days and after that, when Massimo returns, to work as we’ve been doing before to complete the restructuring and our business plan. We’ve achieved a lot in a very short space of time.”

Leeds United: Sport Capital sues GFH for £33m over failed Leeds takeover bid

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/1/15
by Phil Hay
Sport Capital, the BVI-based company which failed with a bid to buy Leeds United last year, has launched a £33m claim for damages against Gulf Finance House over the collapse of its deal.
Sport Capital claims GFH and the bank’s private equity arm, GFH Capital, breached the terms of a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) reached between them, causing the proposed takeover to fail.
The Sport Capital group - a consortium featuring ex-Leeds managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, MD of United shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance - spent almost three months attempting to push the buy-out through but saw the deal fall apart in January 2014.
The failure of that bid cleared the way for current owner Massimo Cellino to agree the purchase a 75 per cent stake in Leeds in early February.
GFH, which took control of United in 2012 after securing a 100 per cent stake from Ken Bates, retained control of a 25 per cent share after Cellino’s takeover and is still a minority shareholder at Elland Road
Sport Capital accuses GFH of breaking the terms of the SPA by negotiating the sale of United to Cellino and the Italian’s UK firm, Eleonora Sport Limited.
In a statement issued today, Sport Capital also claims that GFH attempted to sell the Yorkshire club to Khaled Al-Baltan, who was president of Al Shabab football club in Saudi Arabia.
The action is being taken by Sport Capital Limited, a company based in the British Virgin Islands. The firm is understood to be controlled by Haigh.
Flowers and Haigh, who has been under arrest in Dubai since May of last year over allegations of financial wrongdoing made against him by GFH, were the two public faces of the doomed Sport Capital offer.
Today’s statement said Cellino was also involved with that bid, along with Terry Riley, the owner of the Ascot Property Group.
Sport Capital’s statement read: “The SPA provided for Sport Capital to fund the working capital of the club throughout the term of the SPA, which they did.
“The SPA also specifically prevented GFH from entering any negotiations or discussions with any other parties regarding the sale of Leeds United shares.
“The legal action against GFH states that the exclusivity of the SPA was breached by GFH which continued to pursue the sale of Leeds United to third parties including Mr Khaled Al-Baltan, then the president of the Al Shabab Football Club in Saudi Arabia.
“It further claims that GFH’s separate negotiations with Massimo Cellino and Eleanora Sport Ltd were in breach of the agreement.”
Flowers denied any involvement in the legal claim, telling the YEP: “The Sport Capital claim is absolutely nothing to do with me. I’m not involved at all.
“Any control I had of the company went back to David Haigh after the takeover ended. I believe it’s 100 per cent owned by him.”
Sport Capital’s £33m claim has been lodged with the High Court in London and a spokesman said the firm was seeking to have GFH Capital’s English assets frozen.
“We expect GFH to attempt to evade service of the claim from their Dubai HQ which will mean ultimately we have to serve this claim on them through diplomatic channels,” a spokesman said.
“Our contention is that the actions of GFH and specifically of (GFH chief executive) Hisham Alrayes delayed and then destroyed the Sport Capital deal.
“This was a deal which would have ensured a sustainable and successful future for the club and that included the almost immediate purchase of Elland Road, the terms of which had been agreed.”
The court claim the latest in a long line of exchanges involving Haigh and GFH, exchanges which followed the bitter end of the Bahraini bank’s time as owner of United.
Haigh was imprisoned after GFH accused him of defrauding the bank of around £3m during his time as deputy CEO of GFH Capital.
The 37-year-old quit that post in February of last year but was arrested at GFH Capital’s offices three months later after flying to Dubai to discuss a job offer from the firm. He denies all allegations against him.
Haigh was a director of Leeds for the duration of GFH’s time as owner, taking on the role of managing director in July 2013, but he quit that post shortly after Cellino’s takeover following an admission from the Italian that he intended to sack him.
GFH responded by saying: “The latest press release issued by Sport Capital looks like an attempt to divert attention from the allegations against Mr Haigh which are being heard in the Dubai courts.
“He and Sport Capital appear to have commenced cases in London although we have not been served with any papers.
“As Mr Haigh is facing criminal and civil proceedings in Dubai we do not want to say anything which would jeapordise any proceedings.
“We will be happy to comment further when we are able to do so, but until then we think that the courts, not the media, are where disputes should be resolved.”
Shortly after Sport Capital’s takeover collapsed, Haigh was quoted as saying: “As fans know, we signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital at the end of last year.
“Sadly, some of the consortium’s backers ultimately didn’t feel able to deliver the backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward.
“I have met many, many potential investors over the past year and, sadly, while many are keen to talk the talk, they have been unable or unwilling to deliver in financial terms.
“Nevertheless, these talks continue with a number of parties to seek the best possible outcome for Leeds United.”

Leeds United: Austin’s ‘not for sale, at all costs’ - Redfearn

Yorkshire Post 29/1/15
NEIL Redfearn insists rumoured Wigan target Rudy Austin will not be leaving Leeds United declaring: “he’s not for sale, at all costs.”
Wigan have been linked with a double swoop for both midfielder Austin and centre-back Jason Pearce and Redfearn confirmed on Thursday that Pearce had not trained with Leeds and hinted that his departure could be imminent.
However, United’s head coach passionately declared it would be a bad move to sell Austin, stating the Jamaican had a key role to play in both holding his place in the United first team while also helping with the development of young stars such as Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Charlie Taylor and Sam Byram.
An improving United return to action on Saturday at Championship rivals Huddersfield Town and Redfearn said: “Obviously I want to try and keep our better players and for me these are the sort of players that are going to benefit us for years to come.
“We’ve got a young squad and the good seniors we need to keep.
“Rudy has been in the side and, for me, he is not for sale, at all costs.
“We want to try and keep Rudy because you look at your Cooks and your Taylors and your Byrams and your Mowatts and you need your Rudy Austins in there to give them that lift and give them that experience.
“The point of the matter is if we are climbing and we are building then you keep your better players and you add better players to it.
“You don’t let your better players go, simple as.”
Asked if Pearce was heading for Wigan, Redfearn admitted: “Perhaps. Obviously Wigan have shown a great interest in Jason and it might be that that’s the case.”

Leeds United: Wigan Athletic close in on Pearce

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/1/15
by Phil Hay
Jason Pearce was closing in on a move to Wigan Athletic last night with the Lancashire club refusing to give up on their pursuit of the Leeds United defender.
Leeds appear ready to sell Pearce to a team in the thick of the Championship’s relegation fight following fresh discussions between the clubs in the past 24 hours.
Wigan made an initial approach for the 26-year-old last week following the arrival at Elland Road of centre-back and new signing Sol Bamba.
United head coach Neil Redfearn was understood to be keen to retain Pearce despite the recruitment of Bamba on loan from Palermo, with fellow defender Giuseppe Bellusci beginning a two-match ban this weekend.
Bellusci will also be hit by a far longer suspension if a charge of misconduct brought against him by the Football Association is upheld.
The Italian is accused of racially abusing Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome during a game at Carrow Road in October and faces a minimum five-game ban. He denies the charge.
Bamba, the former Leicester City player, is set to replace Bellusci and make his Leeds debut at Huddersfield Town on Saturday, partnering captain Liam Cooper at centre-back.
Pearce looked likely to feature on the bench having lost his place in United’s line-up. And Pearce, who was replaced as club captain at the end of November, is understood to have been told by club owner Massimo Cellino – currently disqualified from running Leeds by the Football League – that United would listen to offers for him during the January transfer window.
Leeds have cover at centre-back in the form youngsters Scott Wootton and Dario Del Fabro but Pearce is the leading appearance-maker in the senior squad.
The former Portsmouth player has featured 112 times since joining the club in a £500,000 deal in 2012. He has 18 months left on his contract and United are holding out for a six-figure fee from Wigan.
United are also continuing to look for further signings as Monday’s transfer deadline approaches. Catania striker Edgar Cani and Sassuolo forward Leonardo Pavoletti are long-term targets while Leeds are also thought to be interested in Millwall’s Martyn Woolford and Rotherham United’s Ben Pringle.
United, meanwhile, have made a new appointment to their board following Cellino’s resignation as club president last Friday. Giampaolo Caboni, a 61-year-old who worked with Cellino at Serie A side Cagliari, was confirmed as a director by Companies House yesterday.
Caboni is also a director of Eleonora Immobiliare, an Italian firm which acts as parent company for Eleonora Sport Ltd. Eleonora Sport Ltd was used by Cellino to buy a 75 per cent stake in Leeds last April.

Leeds United: Fans group target bid for GFH shares

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/1/15
by Phil Hay
Newly-rebranded Leeds Fans LLP are aiming to raise £10m by inviting fans to buy £100 stakes with the ultimate target of taking over Gulf Finance House’s stake in Leeds United. Phil Hay reports.
Supporter-held stakes in English football clubs are relatively rare and inevitably hard-earned but the path leading to investment of that type always starts somewhere.
A movement which is gathering pace in Leeds began with a small gathering of 15 fans on December 22. Last Saturday, a second meeting at the Leeds Sports Centre attracted 200 supporters in person and drew 500 more to an online broadcast of the event. The plan at the heart of this is simple in theory and highly ambitious in nature: to raise £10m and purchase a minority shareholding in Leeds United.
At the outset, the group behind the fledgling scheme took on the title ‘Together Leeds’, the name of the consortium led by Mike Farnan who tried and failed to buy United around Christmas in 2013. Farnan – the former Sunderland, Sheffield United and Manchester United International employee – passed the name on last month, along with a Twitter account with 5,000 users.
This week, Together Leeds has been rebranded as Leeds Fans LLP, a limited liability partnership which will invite supporters to become partners of the group by purchasing £100 stakes. A total of 100,000 stakes are being created and individual fans will be able to buy a maximum of 1,000 at a cost of £100,000. Each stake carries one vote.
“It’s a way of making sure the scheme is inclusive,” said Dylan Thwaites, the businessman fronting the project. “We don’t want a situation where one supporter puts in £5m and effectively controls everything. That’s not the point of this. We want as many supporters involved as possible. It’s no good simply giving authority to the richest person in the room.”
Thwaites anticipates that Leeds Fans LLP will begin selling stakes next month. The group has no set timescale for fundraising but it has a fixed target for future investment: the 25 per cent stake in Leeds controlled by the club’s former owner Gulf Finance House.
GFH has managed a minority shareholding since it sold 75 per cent of United to Massimo Cellino last April. The Bahraini bank owns around 10 per cent itself and looks after smaller stakes belonging to Bahrain’s Islamic Investment Bank (IIB) and ex-Leeds chairman Salah Nooruddin. Its equity entitles it to two seats on the club’s board.
GFH’s record at Elland Road is chequered to say the least. As owner it ran up substantial losses during 16 months in charge. Since selling Leeds to Cellino, the bank has been a cause of irritation for the Italian and their relationship frayed amid disagreements over loan repayments and capital injections. GFH has little or no credibility among United’s fanbase but opinion over Cellino is more divided, as Thwaites found at the initial Together Leeds meeting in December.
“We’re targeting the non-Cellino stake because that seems to us to be the poisonous element,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is create is another faction.
“At the first meeting there were pro-Cellino fans, anti-Cellino fans and fans who were fairly ambivalent about him. It doesn’t help us to split the fanbase. What we all agree on is that it’s in the club’s best interest for GFH to go.
“GFH only seem to be creating hurdles and obstacles. They don’t seem to be contributing anything. By our calculations they’ve probably made a profit on their original takeover so selling to us would be a financial bonus.”
As an organisation, Leeds Fans LLP has not been in touch with GFH about the possibility. It has not spoken to Cellino to gauge his enthusiasm for supporter investment either.
“We’re still in the process of finalising the Leeds Fans set-up,” Thwaites said. “It would have been inappropriate and unprofessional to approach anyone before everything was in place and the group had the authority to do so.”
GFH was asked if it was open to the idea of selling shares to fans and in a statement, GFH Capital CEO Jinesh Patel said: “GFH is well aware of the (Together Leeds) group.
“As things stand, GFH has no plans to sell its holding. It remains committed to support the best interests of the club, as demonstrated by the fact that it has recently injected a further £5m.”
Leeds Fans LLP will be managed by a board of seven executives. Thwaites - a 49-year-old entrepeneur who lives in Huddersfield and sold his marketing business Latitude for £55m in 2007 - will be one of the seven and has agreed to head the project. Farnan attended both meetings but does not intend to be part of the executive board.
“This isn’t a vehicle for specific individuals,” Thwaites said. “Mike will help us with contacts and advice but he won’t be an executive. All of the executives will be other Leeds fans.”
Thwaites said that on the back of Saturday’s meeting - a meeting which included a speech from former Leeds striker Allan Clarke - around 100 supporters came forward to offer what he called “specific skill sets” - marketing and PR expertise and experience in fundraising. The group plan to allocate each board executive a ‘shadow network’ of qualified fans to help the investment scheme to grow.
Their plan is not free of some major challenges. The most significant are the terms of the Share Purchase Agreement reached between GFH and Cellino last year. The document expressly states that Cellino must have first refusal on any shares which another stakeholder tries to sell. In simple terms, if Leeds Fans LLP successfully negotiate a deal with GFH, Cellino has 45 days in which to take up that deal himself. The 58-year-old is currently banned from running United by the Football League but that suspension ends in little over two months’ time; too small a window realistically for a supporter-funded investment offer to materialise.
The initial target of Leeds Fans LLP could ultimately be Nooruddin. The businessman is believed to be keen to part with his minority stake and last January, as Cellino’s takeover drew close, a relative of his contacted the Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) offering to discuss the sale of shares.
“There are all kinds of possibilities and potential difficulties,” Thwaites said. “We’re very honest about that.
“It’s true that Cellino does have the right to buy the shares first, though it would leave a bit of a sour taste if we agreed a deal and he bought them. But even so, I still think we’d be in a far better position than we are now if Cellino owned 100 per cent of the club.”
Thwaites’ view and that of others around him is that raising funds for investment in Leeds is a logical strategy regardless. “If we have £5m or £10m behind us, it means that as supporters we’re ready to mobilise if an opportunity presents itself,” he said. “In the event of shares becoming available or, God forbid, a situation like administration arising, we’ll be in position and not starting from scratch.”
Thwaites said that all money raised from the sale of stakes would be held securely and transparently in a UK bank account. “Really, I want a level of transparency where every single transaction the group completes is detailed and explained to our partners,” he said. “There will be costs but at this stage they’ll be minor - setting up a website and so on. I’d like to think that if we raise enough money, the interest on the funds will cover those costs.”
The probability of the scheme amassing £10m is difficult to gauge. Thwaites said the highest total raised by fans of an individual club was around £3m by FC United of Manchester. “I’d like to think we could do better than that,” he said.
“I look at it like this: for the Doncaster play-off final (in 2008), 75,000 Leeds fans applied for tickets. The outlay on the day for travel, tickets and everything else must have been about £200 a head. That’s the equivalent of £15m on one play-off final, on one game involving the club.
“We asked the question of the first 50 people who signed up for the second meeting ‘how much would you pledge?’ The total came to about £250,000. Obviously we’d have to get the pledges in practice but I honestly think the idea of raising £5m-plus is realistic.”
The group’s motivation comes back to one thing: that in all the years of crisis and stagnation at Elland Road, United’s support has been the only constant and credible feature. “Leeds are a family club but the biggest and most loyal section of that family doesn’t have a voice,” Thwaites said. “We can’t influence the club. Not properly.
“We have to accept that no-one is going to charitably give us a voice. We’ve got to stand up and get to a position where we can get one for ourselves. Part of the crux of making Leeds successful is mobilising the fanbase and no-one at the club has succeeded in going that for 10, 12 years now. This is a way of changing that.”


Insider Media 28/1/15
An Italian executive, who worked with Massimo Cellino when he owned Serie A side Cagliari, has been appointed as a Leeds United director in the latest change to the club's boardroom make-up.
Documentation relating to the appointment of Giampaolo Caboni, 61, was filed with Companies House at the same time as a director termination notice for Cellino, who is temporarily stepping down as president in accordance with his Football League ban.
Earlier this month (January), financier Andrew Umbers was appointed to the Championship club's board. The Yorkshireman has now been named as chairman and will steer the club during Cellino's enforced absence.
Cellino's sons, Edoardo and Ercole, and Eleanora Sport director Daniel Arty also represent the Leeds' owner in the boardroom, while GFH Capital's Jinesh and Salem Patel act for the Dubai-based private equity house which still controls a 25 per cent stake in Leeds United.

Leeds United: Whites beginning to get balance right

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/1/15
by Phil Hay
United coach Neil Redfearn tells Phil Hay his team is beginning to hit the right groove, thanks in part to the arrival of his new assistant, Steve Thompson, who came from this Saturday’s hosts Huddersfield Town.
Only once this season have Leeds United registered back-to-back victories in the Championship. The victims on that occasion, far back in September, were Bournemouth and Huddersfield Town.
Neil Redfearn isn’t interested in half-baked omens but the club’s head coach is tempted to think that his squad are edging into the groove which brought six points in his final week as caretaker boss.
Leeds accounted for Bournemouth at Elland Road last Tuesday, outwitting the league leaders for the second time in four months, and they travel to Huddersfield Town this weekend with some overdue momentum behind them.
A 1-0 defeat of Bournemouth was as valuable result as the club have produced this season, a huge shot in the arm just as the Championship’s relegation places seemed to be sucking their players in, but Redfearn did not see it as a freak scoreline or an isolated performance. He is hopeful that once again, Huddersfield will catch his squad at the wrong time.
“That result’s been coming for a few weeks,” Redfearn said. “We’ve been improving bit by bit and we’ve been getting better. If you look at the games since the turn of the year, we’ve been a competitive side; properly competitive.
“Bournemouth was outstanding and to beat a team like that is no mean feat. But we ran Bolton close at their place and we were unlucky not to beat Birmingham at home. You’re talking about three form teams there and it wouldn’t have been an injustice if we’d come out of those games with nine points.
“But in the circumstances and considering the way the season’s gone, five points is good going.
“It’s a step in the right direction and it’s a positive run. I can see our rhythm coming back.
“A few wins back-to-back would make the world of difference now and I want us to be looking for that.
“We’re going to Huddersfield with our tails up.”
Redfearn will go there with two new players after Leeds completed the loan signings of defender Sol Bamba and midfielder Granddi Ngoyi from Palermo over the weekend. The pair should both receive international clearance in time to play at the John Smith’s Stadium and Bamba could start at centre-back with Giuseppe Bellusci beginning a two-game ban.
Redfearn, nonetheless, has conjured United’s upturn in form by using more established or familiar faces.
His line-up against Bournemouth contained just three summer signings and only two from abroad. He has married the best of United’s academy products with players who were essentially surplus a month ago – Luke Murphy, Rodolph Austin and Steve Morison. Leeds would have listened to offers for any of them at the start of the January window.
“I’m looking at the team and seeing round pegs in round holes,” Redfearn said.
“The system at the moment needs a striker who can play up front on his own and Steve Morison’s capable of that. In midfield there’s the right balance between grit, energy and creativity. We look like a balanced side.”
United’s improving results have also coincided with the arrival of Redfearn’s assistant, Steve Thompson, at Thorp Arch.
Leeds took almost two months to talk Huddersfield into a deal for Thompson, who was employed as a first-team coach at the John Smith’s Stadium, and Redfearn has little in the way of experienced coaches beneath him prior to the 50-year-old appointment. He will have the benefit of Thompson’s knowledge of Huddersfield’s squad as United prepare for Saturday’s match.
“The main difference with having Thommo here is the extra work it allows us to do,” Redfearn said. “Before, I was basically looking after the entire group.
“It was very difficult to split the players up and focus on the areas we needed to improve. The messages I wanted to get across were a bit diluted.
“We’re in a position now where he (Thompson) can look at the front end of the team and concentrate on their movement while I take the back four for a proper session. Some of it’s basic stuff but it’s vital too and you need extra pairs of hands to get everything done.
“I’ve known Thommo for years and he’s been around the Championship for years. He knows it and we definitely need that knowledge right the way through the set-up.”
Bamba trained with Leeds for the first time last Friday and will continue to settle in this week, but the Ivory Coast international played next to no football for Palermo in the first half of the Italian season, featuring in a solitary league game in September.
With Bellusci banned, Redfearn has the option of turning instead to former club captain Jason Pearce, a player who is the subject of interest from Wigan Athletic.
United’s suspended president, Massimo Cellino, deemed Pearce surplus to requirements last month but Redfearn is believed to be resistent to the idea of selling him.
Bellusci remains at risk of a lengthy ban from the Football Association after being charged with racially abusing Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome. A date for his hearing is still to be announced but the Italian will be suspended for a minimum of five matches if found guilty. He denies the charge.
Morison, meanwhile, should be fit to start up front at Huddersfield despite limping out of United’s win over Bournemouth.
The striker has a minor injury affecting a hip and a thigh but he was sent to a specialist last week and received an encouraging analysis.
“It doesn’t sound like there’s any great problem,” said Redfearn. “Fingers crossed he’ll be fine for the weekend.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leeds United to open talks for Edgar Cani today

Here is the City 27/1/15
Billy Hawkins
Leeds United have been linked with a move for Albanian international striker Edgar Cani.
The Daily Mail reported earlier this month that the Whites were interested in signing 25-year-old Catania striker Cani on loan, and it now appears as if talks are progressing.
A story published by TMW today has indicated that the two clubs will hold talks in the 'next hours' to come to an agreement concerning Cani, with all parties involved keen on a move to Elland Road.
Catania have already started looking at a replacement for Cani, and have targeted Juventus forward Lorenzo Rosseti, but they cannot complete a deal for him until Cani has been removed for the club’s ranks.
The report suggests that the two clubs are stalling over the price tag, with a further €150,000 reportedly wanted by the Serie B side for Cani’s services, but the Whites current financial situation could mean that they pursue a loan deal with the right to purchase in the summer. This is the same method used to secure the signings of Palermo pair Sol Bamba and Granddi N’Goyi, who joined the club in recent days.
Leeds have also been linked with a transfer for Sassuolo forward Leonardo Pavoletti, as per theYorkshire Evening Post, but Cani could be the easier option, with Sassuolo delaying any potential deal until the end of the transfer window.

Leeds United: ‘Big brother’ Sol can help me to settle in - Ngoyi

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/1/15
NEW LEEDS UNITED signing Granddi Ngoyi is confident that “big brother” Sol Bamba will ease his transition into English football.
The defensive midfielder, 26, has completed his expected loan move to Leeds from Serie A outfit Palermo for the rest of the season, hot on the heels of Bamba also joining from the club.
Both players are now hoping to impress in training to put themselves in firm contention for Saturday’s West Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield Town.
Leeds are also in the market for other recruits ahead of the closure of the transfer window on Monday night.
Ngoyi grew close to Bamba during their time at Palermo, with the Frenchman admitting that the centre-half, who has previously spent time in England with Leicester City, will help him settle, with his own command of English currently limited.
Ngoyi, restricted to just 71 minutes of action with Palermo this term said: “Bamba is my brother, my big brother!
“He will help me a lot because he knows English football and speaks very good English.
“I’m happy to be here. I’m very happy to be joining a good group.
“I will do my best. I’m happy because I didn’t play a lot of games in Palermo.
“I hope to show what I can do on Saturday.”
Like with Ngoyi, Bamba, 30, has also linked up with United for the remainder of the campaign, arrives with a point to prove after just one appearance for Palermo in 2014-15.
He said: “Palermo came to me and said that Leeds were interested.
“From that day, I knew it would be an easy decision for me.
“Everyone knows about the history of the club in English football.
“The most important thing for me is to play because I didn’t have that chance in Italy."

Leeds United: Fans will enjoy ‘flamboyant’ Bamba

Yorkshire Post 26/1/15
by Leon Wobschall
LEEDS UNITED fans should enjoy the ‘flamboyant’ skills of new acquisition Sol Bamba - who attracted a cult following during his previous spell in England at Leicester City.
That’s the view of Rob Tanner, Foxes reporter for the Leicester Mercury newspaper, with Bamba spending just under 18 months in the East Midlands from January 2011 to June 2012.
The French-born Ivory Coast international defender, 30, who has joined United on loan from Palermo for the rest of the season, may have only spent a relatively brief spell with Leicester, but he emerged as a fans favourite in his eventful time there.
Bamba arrived at City from Hibernian for an undisclosed fee in January 2011 and soon endeared himself to the club’s supporters by netting in the first minute of his debut against Manchester City in a 2-2 draw in an FA Cup tie.
Later that month, Bamba netted twice in the 4-2 home win over Millwall and soon earned himself a reputation for being a footballing centre-back.
Famously, then Leicester manager Sven-Goran Eriksson even compared aspects of his play to that of German legend Franz Beckenbauer, but without Der Kaiser’s customary command and surety at all times.
Despite being linked with top-flight clubs in the summer of 2011, Bamba signed a new deal with Leicester, but when Eriksson left, he soon found himself out of favour with his replacement, Pearson.
The former Hull boss sanctioned his £750,000 sale to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in the summer of 2012, a move which disappointed a number of fans, including Cliff Ginnetta, the chairman of Leicester’s Official Supporters Club.
At the time, Ginnetta went on record to express his dismay, adding that one fan likened his sale to the departure of the legendary Frank Worthington from the club in 1977, such with his popularity.
On Bamba’s eventful time at Leicester, Tanner said: “When he was at Leicester, he was very popular with the fans as he was quite flamboyant. “He will take a few touches and try and bring the ball out from the back.
“The reason he moved on ultimately, was that Nigel (Pearson) would not particularly chose that type of centre-half. He (Bamba) was one who liked to take risks, although he was very entertaining for the fans.
“I am sure the Leeds fans will take him to their hearts.
“He was a committed centre-half, although flamboyant on the ball sometimes.
“It is a surprise that since he moved away from Leicester that it has not really worked for him anywhere.”

Granddi Ngoyi: Leeds United sign Palermo midfielder on loan

BBC 26/1/15
Championship strugglers Leeds United have signed French midfielder Granddi Ngoyi on loan from Italian Serie A side Palermo until the end of the season.
The 26-year-old began his career with Paris St-Germain before moving to fellow Ligue 1 side Troyes in 2012.
Ngoyi is a former France Under-21 international but is also eligible to play for DR Congo.
Defender Sol Bamba also joined Leeds on loan from Palermo until the end of the season earlier in the window.

Leeds United: Adryan still has Whites future - Redfearn

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/1/15
Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn has promised Brazilian playmaker Adryan that he is “absolutely certain” of another run in the team despite falling out of favour in the past three weeks.
Redfearn described the 20-year-old as an “immense talent” and said his recent exclusion from United’s squad was not an indication of doubt about Adryan’s ability to thrive at Elland Road.
Adryan has missed the club’s last three league games, including Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Championship leaders Bournemouth, and he last appeared in a matchday squad during their FA Cup tie at Sunderland on January 4.
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino saw Adryan as a key signing in the summer transfer window, securing him on a season-long loan from Brazilian side Flamengo after several weeks of negotiations.
The move involved the termination of an existing loan deal at Serie A club Cagliari and Cellino negotiated a clause allowing United to sign the midfielder on a permanent basis for around £3m at the end of this term.
Adryan admitted last month that he wanted a full-time move to Leeds, saying he was “happy here and I like the football”, but promising periods of form have been interspersed with absences from United’s side.
Redfearn said: “He’s like a few of the foreign lads. They’ve come here and discovered a different sort of football and they’ve found the Championship quite tough.
“Adryan ran out of steam a little bit, he wasn’t quite on it, and I wanted him to come out of the team, have a breather and show a bit more in training. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s an immense talent because he is. He’s got masses of talent.
“But we’ve been under a bit of pressure recently and the priority has been getting the team right, not worrying about individuals. He’ll come back into the picture before long, that’s absolutely certain.”
United’s impressive win over Bournemouth was their first for nine games and the result increased the gap between the club and the Championship’s relegation places to six points.
Leeds relied heavily on their summer imports during the first half of the season but Tuesday’s team featured four academy products and included Luke Murphy, Steve Morison and Rodolph Austin.
Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and defender Giuseppe Bellusci were the only foreign members of their starting line-up.
Rio-born Adryan has played 12 times for Leeds since joining from Flamengo but Redfearn said he was reluctant to demand too much of the youngster during his first season in English football .
“He is only 20,” Redfearn said. “That doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact but it’s easy to get carried away with the idea that he’s a Brazilian playmaker who should be blowing teams away.
“To be fair to him, he needs a proper chance. The boy deserves that. By a proper chance I don’t mean just throwing him in every week. I mean giving him a long period – into next season, really – to settle in. He’s young and he’s a long way from home.
“I honestly think that given time he’ll be a big player for this club in the future. But he actually needs that time.”
United will look for a more immediate impact from Sol Bamba after the defender became their first January signing on Friday.
Bamba – an ex-Leicester City centre-back – has joined Leeds on a half-season loan with a view to a permanent deal.
With Saturday’s game at Huddersfield Town approaching, United should confirm the addition of French midfielder Granddi Ngoyi – a team-mate of Bamba’s at Palermo – on loan for the rest of the season today, and sources in Italy believe Catania striker Edgar Cani is also heading Leeds.
Cani was left out of Catania’s Serie B game against Pro Vercelli on Friday with a move from Sicily seemingly pending.

Wigan in talks with Leeds over deal to sign Whites captain Jason Pearce

Mail 24/1/15
Wigan have opened talks over a possible deal for Leeds United defender Jason Pearce.
Leeds are willing to let the 27-year-old defender go following the loan signing of Sol Bamba as they try to streamline their wage bill.
Leeds also have interest from Cardiff City in midfielder Rodolph Austin.
The Jamaica international is a popular figure at Elland Road but another they are prepared to sacrifice.
Aston Villa and Liverpool remain keen on highly-rated 17-year-old midfielder Lewis Cook who has yet to resolve a new contract.
Cook has made 26 appearances in all competitions for Leeds this season.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Phil Hay: Leeds United need to rise up to standards Cook sets

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/1/15
Leeds United’s contract talks with Lewis Cook should run their course.
The club expect to find common ground without difficulty and hope the 17-year-old will agree new terms by the summer.
He’s unlikely to commit until Massimo Cellino completes his sabbatical from Elland Road – a sensible stance when the man who “signs the cheques” has just surrendered his pen – but Leeds do not see a problem.
In the meantime, there are moves afoot to extend Alex Mowatt’s deal and pin him down beyond 2017.
Discussions before Christmas between Cellino and Sam Byram’s agent were decidedly fractious and ended abruptly but Byram himself is said to be happy.
Neil Redfearn remarked after Tuesday’s win over Bournemouth that football was the “saving grace” for a club with severe emotional stress. In United’s case and in the context of this season, their saving grace is actually the academy. Again. At a recent gathering of English development heads, from the Premier League down, the academy at Thorp Arch was rated as the 10th most productive in the country in terms of the first-team players it provides. The devil’s advocate would argue that many English clubs pay lip service to theirs; that Leeds depend on junior footballers because form, finance and incontinuity steers them down that route. But still.
Where Cook is concerned, he has not broken through by default. The teenager is blessed with that rare impetus which compels coaching staff to give into him irrespective of his age. He was 13 when he played in an Under-18s fixture. The club discovered later that they had breached the rules by fielding someone so young.
Cook falls easily into the bracket of talent occupied by Fabian Delph. It’s tempting to compare him to James Milner but easy to forget how good Milner was and how good he has been. Cook possesses the swagger, the touch and the knack of making league games look like street football. Where Delph had tricks – marvellous pieces of ball-control – Cook has poise; the ability to run a game, dictate it and drive it. Modern football appreciates players like Cook. Modern formations are made for him.
People joke about keeping the secret close, of playing Cook’s reputation down, but Premier League recruitment networks have eyes and ears everywhere. He’ll have attracted attention as far back as the European Under-17 Championship last summer and a scout worth his wage would argue that anyone who isn’t aware of Cook hasn’t been doing their job properly. A couple of years ago, a member of that fraternity who attended a Championship game with a view to analysing Byram was asked how widely word about the right-back had spread. “A lot of us were already following him in the academy,” he replied.
A comment like that gives a player’s contract perspective. Cook is presently tied to Leeds until 2016. He might be perfectly willing to sign an extension but the deal itself is only paper. Long contracts equate to bigger transfer fees these days and for Cook, the attraction of staying at Elland Road won’t be money or security. It’s a matter of perception; the midfielder’s perception of what is happening here and what he stands to gain by immersing himself in it.
Over the years Leeds have never had a specific problem with contract negotiations. Jonathan Howson was one of the few footballers who held off while new terms were on the table. The issue for the club is the fact that improved deals are rarely seen out. When Delph left for Aston Villa in 2009 he was 12 months into four-year contract. It might as well have run for half a century. The approach, the fee and the outcome would have been exactly the same, on the basis that Delph wanted the move.
Redfearn’s comments this week were right. The club need to retain Cook and others like him. It goes without saying. But a teenager so gifted and aware of his talent won’t stay at Elland Road out of obligation or because his contract forces him to. He’ll settle here if Leeds get their act together and for as long as the club live up to his standards. That benchmark is already high. In years to come, new contract or not, it won’t stoop to 20th in the Championship.

Sol Bamba seals deal with Leeds

Yorkshire Post 23/1/15
PALERMO defender Sol Bamba has sealed his transfer to Leeds United after training with the club at Thorp Arch.
The Ivory Coast international linked up with Neil Redfearn’s squad this morning having finalised a half-season loan at Elland Road.
Bamba, 30, was lined up as United’s first January signing at the start of this week and he has moving to England with a view to a permanent switch in the summer.
Palermo have confirmed the move on their official Twitter account.
The Italian side have used Bamba only once this season and Leeds were anxious to improve their options at centre-back with Giuseppe Bellusci set to begin a two-match ban during next weekend’s Championship game at Huddersfield Town.
Bellusci is also facing the threat of a much longer suspension after being charged by the Football Association with racially abusing Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome during a league match at Carrow Road in October.
The former Catania defender denies the charge but will receive a minimum five-match ban if the FA’s disciplinary commission finds him guilty. His hearing is likely to take place next month.
Bamba has prior experience of the Championship following his 18-month spell at Leicester City in 2011 and 2012.
He left England for Turkish side Trabzonspor and moved onto Palermo last summer. Despite agreeing a three-year contract in Italy, Bamba has had next to no involvement in Palermo’s Serie A season.
A deal to bring midfielder Granddi Ngoyi, Bamba’s Palermo team-mate, to Leeds is still awaiting completion, though Ngoyi is yet to arrive in England.
The 26-year-old Frenchman is also in line for a half-season loan at Elland Road and should tie up his transfer ahead of United’s visit to Huddersfield a week tomorrow.

Massimo Cellino resigns as Leeds president but vows to return after ban

Guardian 23/1/15
James Riach
Massimo Cellino has formally resigned as Leeds United president after being disqualified by the Football League, insisting he will return to his position in April “in good health and good spirits”.
He has been barred as Leeds’ owner under the league’s owners’ and directors’ test following a first-grade conviction in his native Italy for import tax evasion on a boat, and must not act as a “relevant person” at the Championship club until 10 April.
The former Cagliari owner’s lawyers have been in discussions with the league in recent days, with the confirmation of his temporary resignation on Friday coming after an appeal against his disqualification was rejected earlier in the week.
In the absence of Cellino, Andrew Umbers has been named as Leeds’ new chairman and is a director who played an important role in the sale of United from Ken Bates to Gulf Finance House Capital in 2012 through the firm Eurofin.
Cellino said: “It is with great sadness and frustration that I have to take this step, however I abide by the Football League’s decision to temporarily disqualify me from this great football club and will return in April in good health and good spirits. I have done my best for a club and fans that I hold close to my heart and it is now financially much stronger than it has been for a long time. It will continue to thrive and I am sincerely looking forward to returning very soon.”
It remains to be seen how the league will enforce the ban on Cellino, who has run Leeds from top to bottom since his company, Eleonora Sport, bought a controlling 75% stake from GFHC last year, working alongside the sporting director, Nicola Salerno, to bring in new players and sacking three managers along the way.
Cellino cooked the team’s pre-match meal of pasta on Tuesday night before their victory over Bournemouth, a first win in eight attempts that ended a poor run that has resulted in the club falling within touching distance of the Championship’s bottom three.
A professional conduct committee – chaired by Tim Kerr QC and including the League chairman, Greg Clarke – convened last week to hear Cellino’s appeal against his disqualification in December but upheld the decision.
Cellino’s tax conviction in Italy relates to a boat, the Nelie, and a failure to pay import duty in 2012. A judge in Cagliari described the 58-year-old’s “elusive intent” in a court document seen by the Guardian, and the league regarded Cellino’s actions as “dishonest” having read the full written reasons into the case, meaning he fell foul of the owners’ and directors’ test.
Cellino’s conviction becomes spent in the British legal system in March and he will be able to return in April. However, the league is investigating a potential further misconduct charge against him for failing to disclose the relevant court document when it first came available, with further sanctions likely.
Regarding Umbers’ appointment as chairman, Cellino added: “Andrew has personally worked tirelessly with me in restructuring the football club from May 2014 and shares the same goals, strategy and insights that I do in bringing Leeds United back from its financial abyss to make it the strong entity that its fans, players and city need it to be and to which these foundations are now in place.”

Official club website: Key appointment announced: Statement regarding chairman 23/1/15
The club can confirm that board director Andrew Umbers will be appointed Leeds United chairman in the absence of Massimo Cellino.
Mr Cellino said: "Following my resignation and in my temporary absence, the board has appointed Andrew Umbers to become chairman of Leeds United.
"Andrew has personally worked tirelessly with me in restructuring the football club from May 2014 and shares the same goals, strategy and insights that I do in bringing Leeds United back from its financial abyss to make it the strong entity that its fans, players and city need it to be and to which these foundations are now in place.
"Andrew is also a Yorkshireman and lifelong Leeds United fan."
Andrew Umbers has thirty years banking experience primarily as Managing Director of European Equities at Credit Suisse and as Chief Executive of Evolution Securities and Board director of Evolution Group. For the last three years as Chairman of Oakwell Capital Partners he has focussed on providing capital and advisory services to the sports industry.

Cellino considers further appeal as his legal team continue talks with League

Yorkshire Post 23/1/15
Massimo Cellino’s lawyers remain in talks with the Football League over their decision to ban him from being Leeds United’s owner.
Cellino was scheduled to sever all ties with Leeds on Wednesday after losing his appeal against the League’s ruling that his conviction for tax evasion in Italy last March was in breach of their Owners and Directors’ Test and so barred him from being a director.
The Italian was at Elland Road on Tuesday night when Leeds beat Championship leaders Bournemouth, but was expected to leave his office by noon on Wednesday to start a suspension that is due to end on April 10 when his conviction expires under UK law.
A Football League spokesman said: “The Football League and Leeds United remain in ongoing dialogue about matters relating to the recent decision of the Professional Conduct Committee regarding Massimo Cellino.”
United have yet to confirm who will run the club in Cellino’s absence, while the 58-year-old said he was considering a further appeal after the League announced his disqualification had been upheld by the independent PCC’s hearing.
Speculation is mounting over whether Cellino will resume his position when his ban has been served. He faces further charges of tax evasion in Italy which could result in later disqualifications, but despite the PCC’s ruling, the League have not ordered him to sell his stake in the club.
Cellino’s company, Eleonora Sport Limited, bought 75 per cent of the club’s shares from previous owner Gulf Finance House Capital in April last year.

Leeds United: Cellino confirms his resignation as president

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/1/15
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino has today confirmed his resignation as president of Leeds United.
The 58-year-old quit the board of directors at Elland Road this morning, beginning a 79-day ban as owner of the club.
Cellino was forced to cut his ties with Leeds temporarily after losing an appeal against a Football League ruling disqualifying him from running the Championship side.
The ex-Cagliari owner has been banned by the governing body over a conviction for tax evasion imposed on him in Italy last year. His appeal against the League’s decision was rejected by a Professional Conduct Committee on Monday.
Cellino, whose British firm Eleonora Sport Limited holds a 75 per cent stake in Leeds, is banned from exerting any control over the club until the second week of April, by which time his tax conviction will be spent under UK law.
In a statement, the Italian said: “It is with great sadness and frustration that I have to take this step, however I abide by the Football League’s decision to temporarily disqualify me from this great football club and will return in April in good health and good spirits.
“I have done my best for a club and fans that I hold close to my heart and it is now financially much stronger than it has been for a long time. It will continue to thrive and I am sincerely looking forward to returning very soon.”
United have named Andrew Umbers - a club director and the financier who arranged the sale of Leeds from Ken Bates to Gulf Finance House in December 2012 - as temporary chairman in Cellino’s absence.
Recently-appointed chief operating officer Matt Child will also handle day-to-day operations while Cellino serves his ban.
The YEP understands that Giorgio Altieri, a Rome-based lawyer who has acted on Cellino’s behalf in the Stadio Is Arenas criminal case in Italy, will act as a representative for Eleonora Sport throughout Cellino’s suspension.
Cellino described Umbers as “a Yorkshireman and lifelong Leeds United fan” and a statement from the club listed other companies he has worked for - Credit Suisse, Evolution Securities and Oakwell Capital Partners.
But Umbers is better known in Leeds for his work with Eurofin, the firm which helped to facilitate GFH’s buy-out of Bates two years ago.
Umbers was heavily involved in that process and claimed at the time that GFH’s buy-out was “the right legacy to build on the prudent stewardship of Ken Bates.”
GFH, who subsequently retained Umbers to secure fresh investment at Elland Road, sold Leeds to Cellino 16 months later after a torrid spell as owner.
“Andrew has personally worked tirelessly with me in restructuring the club from May 2014 and shares the same goals, strategy and insights that I do,” Cellino said.
Cellino bought a controlling stake in Leeds through Eleonora Sport nine months ago but his time as president of the club has been dominated by a continuous fight with the Football League.
The governing body tried and failed to block his original buy-out on the basis of Cellino’s tax conviction but Cellino forced his takeover through on appeal in April.
The League’s board voted to disqualify him again on December 1, however, after a written judgement from the court case in Italy strengthened its argument that Cellino had been guilty of a dishonest act and was in breach of its Owners and Directors Test.
Cellino fought that ruling again but a PCC panel of Tim Kerr QC and Football League board members Greg Clarke and Richard Bowker rejected his challenge after an appeal hearing in London last Thursday.
Cellino’s ban will run for 79 days and is due to end on April 10.
The Football League was asked by the YEP if Cellino would be prohibited from attending United’s league fixtures during his suspension but it did not respond. It is understood that the Italian will not be present at any games before April 10.
Speaking today, COO Child said: “He’ll spend his time travelling around Europe, watching as many matches as he can. The transition will be reasonably seamless and we’re moving forward as normal.
“(Head coach) Neil Redfearn and (sporting director) Nicola Salerno will have responsibility for all footballing matters, which is what you’d expect.”
A statement from the Football League said: “The Football League has been notified by Leeds United that its president, Massimo Cellino, has resigned from his position in accordance with with the recent decision of the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC).
“The PCC determined that Mr Cellino is disqualified from acting as a ‘relevant person’, as defined under Football League regulations, until April 10, 2015. Both Leeds United and Mr Cellino are fully aware of the Football League’s requirements emanating from the PCC’s decision and we are currently working with the club to ensure that these are achieved.
“In addition, a further misconduct charge against Mr Cellino and the Club for failing to supply the Italian court judgment to the Football League when it first became available will be heard by a Football Disciplinary Commission in due course.”

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Leeds United: Keeping Cook is vital – Redfearn

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/1/15
by Phil Hay
Neil Redfearn described Lewis Cook as “the best academy player I’ve ever seen” as he urged Leeds United to tie the 17-year-old to a longer contract at Elland Road.
Redfearn said the retention of Cook, whose existing deal runs to 2016, should be an essential part of United’s future plans after the midfielder stole the show in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Championship leaders Bournemouth.
Leeds are understood to have opened negotiations with Cook about an extension of his contract and the youngster’s value is increasing rapidly on the strength of his maiden season as a first-team player.
Cook made his breakthrough from the academy in August, three months after featuring in England’s European Under-17 Championship-winning squad, and he has been heavily used by Redfearn since the 49-year-old took over as head coach.
Redfearn oversaw Cook’s development during his time in charge of Leeds’ youth-team system – a job the 49-year-old gave up to take control of the senior side in November – and he admitted that the teenager’s talent exceeded that of any other junior footballer he had worked with.
“He’s the best I’ve seen by a mile,” Redfearn said. “If we’re going to be successful and get to the Premier League, we’ve got to keep Lewis Cook. It’s as simple as that.
“You forget he’s 17 years old but what an immense talent he is. He’s got this presence, this power and this drive about him and the kid can play. His best position is where he can dictate and he dictated that game (on Tuesday). He was the best player on the pitch.”
Cook was named in England’s Under-18 squad before Christmas and Sean O’Driscoll, the current England Under-19 coach, attended last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City.
The midfielder has started 21 league games this season – more than all but two other outfield players at Leeds – and United are relying heavily on their academy products, with Sam Byram, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor also established in the club’s line-up.
Cook shone throughout Tuesday’s win over Bournemouth, a crucial result which put six points between Leeds and the Championship’s relegation places.
“He’s a great kid and he doesn’t miss anything with his education or his scholarship,” Redfearn said. “He’s still collecting the (training) mannequins because it’s part of his scholar duties. Then he goes out there and plays like that.”
Discussions with Cook’s representatives about a new deal are likely to continue during the second half of the campaign, despite Massimo Cellino’s ban as owner of Leeds.
Cellino was formally barred by the Football League after losing an appeal against his disqualification on Monday. The 58-year-old was given 48 hours – until noon yesterday – to resign as a director at Elland Road but United are yet to officially announce his departure from the board.
The ex-Cagliari president is subject to a short-term suspension which ends on April 10 and Leeds are expected to complete a number of new signings before their next game at Huddersfield Town on January 31.

Leeds United: Is Bianchi’s future away from the Whites?

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/1/15
by Phil Hay
Leeds United midfielder Tommaso Bianchi is pushing for a return to Italy, according to the coach of his former club Modena.
Walter Novellino, the manager who worked with Bianchi while the 26-year-old was on loan at Modena last season, said Bianchi “wants to come back here” but claimed Leeds owner Massimo Cellino was refusing to allow him to leave Elland Road.
Bianchi is tied to a four-year contract at United following his summer move from Sassuolo but he lost his place in Leeds’ starting line-up after a series of disappointing performances over Christmas and has not played since a 2-0 defeat to Derby County on December 30.
Novellino told Italian newspaper Gazzetta Di Modena: “In midfield I miss a player like Bianchi, one that guaranteed five or six goals a year. “He wants to come back here but it’s an impossible deal because Cellino will not give us him.”
Cellino told the YEP this week that Bianchi was one of three senior players who were looking to quit Elland Road following the 58-year-old’s disqualification as owner of Leeds.
Cellino said Souleymane Doukara and Casper Sloth had also asked to move on - a suggestion which Sloth’s agent promptly denied on Twitter.
Cellino said: “This disqualification kills us. We have to persuade players to come and we have to persuade players not to leave us. A lot of the players want to leave.”
Bianchi has made 23 league appearances for Leeds since his transfer to England in July.

Massimo Cellino cooks Leeds United's pre-match meal

BBC 21/1/15
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino cooked the pre-match meal for the players before Tuesday's 1-0 win over Bournemouth, their first win in nine games.
The Italian found out on Monday he has been disqualified from having an input in the day-to-day running of the club until 10 April by the Football League.
The club are considering an appeal.
"No surprises it was pasta but it wasn't bad. His new role might be club chef," head coach Neil Redfearn told BBC Radio Leeds.
"It was well cooked and we all gave our opinions of it to him and everyone said they liked it."
The club are currently considering their legal position before potentially lodging an appeal against the decision.
Cellino, 58, previously likened selecting a new coach to buying watermelons and worked in an Italian restaurant in London when he was a student.
The Elland Road side had not won a match since 29 November prior to their victory over the league leaders.
Redfearn believes that despite the uncertainty surrounding the club, the team have been improving.
"In the last month we have been playing well against the form sides in the division," he said.
"We're in a rich vein of form at the minute and we have to take that into our next game with Huddersfield."

Leeds United 1 Bournemouth 0: Ace Murphy’s brilliant goal stuns leaders

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/1/15
by Phil Hay
Leeds United said farewell to one former custodian last night, sending off the late Leslie Silver with a minute’s applause. The club’s current incumbent departs today with his legacy at Elland Road far less secure.
Massimo Cellino’s disqualification as owner of Leeds should officially start in the next 24 hours – unless he and the Football League can agree a period of grace while the Italian gets his affairs in order – and he has no way of knowing what he will return to when he resumes control in April.
He goes nonetheless with something to cling to after a splendid demolition of the Championship leaders and a result in keeping with another unfathomable period at Elland Road. It is typical of Leeds that in the week of Cellino’s unprecedented ban and after eight games without a win they should find away to beat a largely unbeatable Bournemouth side.
Leeds have given Bournemouth the treatment once already this season – amazingly, the only squad to have beaten Eddie Howe’s home and away – but last night’s win was worth infinitely more than their frantic second-half fightback at Dean Court four months ago.
Luke Murphy settled the game with a pearl of a finish, finding the top corner in the 36th minute as Bournemouth’s lax attitude caught them out once too often, and Leeds dug their claws into a win which is priceless in the extreme. The league table looks vastly improved this morning and the pressure elsewhere has climbed a notch. Relegation feels avoidable again.
Cellino called on Monday night for “fight” from the club’s players and a performance which made a stand in the name of their temporarily-deposed owner. How much the outcome of his failed appeal against the Football League drove Neil Redfearn’s squad was hard to say but Leeds have not been this switched-on since the Italian’s disqualification was first announced on December 1.
They survived a barnstorming finish in which Marc Pugh hit a post and substitute Yann Kermorgant smashed a penalty against the frame of their goal but fortune favoured United for the first time in a while. The 88th-minute dismissal of Giuseppe Bellusci was almost a price worth paying.
Redfearn used a flat midfield four during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham City, in the belief that Birmingham were a team Leeds could and should attack in numbers. The switch back to a solitary striker against Bournemouth was a reflection of the form and the pace of the side they were playing; a side who have dominated the Championship since United turned them over at Dean Court in September.
Leeds have dropped nine places in the interim and Bournemouth have climbed 14. United’s win on the south coast – contrary to their dreadful away form – stands out as the most remarkable of their results this season. Yesterday’s, in the circumstances, was no less surprising.
Bournemouth’s style is pronounced to anyone who watches them and a length-of-the-field break from Callum Wilson in the opening minutes – ending with a cheap and scuffed finish – served notice of the way in which Eddie Howe’s players would come at United.
Leeds let them play that way briefly but soon began responding in kind as the game opened up dramatically. Bournemouth’s goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, tipped a Rudy Austin header over his bar moments after Brett Pitman had passed up an inviting chance at the other end.
Austin went closer with a shot on the turn on 20 minutes after Bournemouth’s devotion to interplay tied them in knots on the edge of their own box and the visitors’ casual, confident air was a red rag to Redfearn’s side. The brilliant Lewis Cook set the example from deep, a seasoned pro in a 17-year-old’s body.
There were times when it seemed that Bournemouth had come to Yorkshire with the expectation of teaching Leeds a lesson.
In the first half they had no authority at all. United cut their defence open at will with searching passes but, true to form, lacked the precision to put Boruc’s clean sheet to the sword until Murphy picked a finish out of the top draw.
The midfielder – the source of United’s late equaliser against Birmingham on Saturday – drifted up field and took a lay-off from Austin before cutting into space and slashing a left-footed finish into the top corner of Boruc’s net from 20 yards. This is a renaissance from Murphy and no mistake. In 18 months at Elland Road, his influence has never been so great.
Pitman had the ball in United’s net before half-time but an offside flag ruled out his volley and Marco Silvestri kept out Wilson’s header by a matter of centimetres in the 42nd minute, a moment which would have called for goalline technology if Elland Road had it. There were shaky seconds but not enough to question the merit of United’s lead.
The importance of the second half did not need stating but there was no great sign of a second goal at either end of the field for an hour, even when Silvestri sliced a hurried clearance straight into the path of Matt Ritchie. Wilson eventually threatened an equaliser after getting a run on Liam Cooper but his cut-back trickled wide, and the striker came within a fraction of scoring on 64 minutes when he advanced on Silvestri and chipped a finish past the Italian’s goal. Pugh struck the inside of a post late on and with 88 minutes gone, Bellusci was dismissed for a tackle on Wilson on the very edge United’s box. Replays showed the challenge outside the area.
Referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot and sent Bellusci off. Kermorgant took the penalty but, with the snow coming down, he lashed it against the top of Silvestri’s bar and Elland Road breathed again. For a split second, a huge result was in doubt.
Isn’t everything at Leeds?

Leeds United 1 Bournemouth 0: Whites ‘alive and kicking’ - Redfearn

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/1/15
Head coach Neil Redfearn declared Leeds United “alive and kicking” after a brave victory over Championship leaders Bournemouth eased the threat of relegation.
A 1-0 win at Elland Road last night – earned by a spectacular Luke Murphy goal – lifted the mood of a club who are technically without an owner today following Massimo Cellino’s disqualification.
Cellino is poised to quit the board at Leeds after learning on Monday that he had lost his appeal against a Football League ruling banning him from exercising control over the club until April 10. The Italian attended last night’s game, bizarrely cooking a pre-match meal of pasta for Redfearn and his squad, and Murphy’s strike on 36 minutes completed a priceless home-and-away double over Bournemouth.
Eddie Howe’s in-form squad threatened to snatch a point late on as Marc Pugh hit a post and Yann Kermorgant smashed a penalty against the bar following a professional foul by Giuseppe Bellusci which earned the defender a straight red card.
Leeds, who are hoping to complete the signing of Palermo defender Sol Bamba later this week, have now opened up a six-point gap over the Championship’s bottom three.
Redfearn met with Cellino in the aftermath of the Italian’s failed appeal on Monday and said he had been told it would be “business as usual” during the 58-year-old’s absence.
“It’s tough times at the moment but we proved with that performance that the club’s alive and kicking,” Redfearn said. “At the moment the football is our saving grace. It’s something you enjoy doing and something you can lose yourself in. I’ve said from day one that Bournemouth are the best footballing side in the division but in the first half in particular we pressured them to death. We rode our luck a bit at the end but because of the work rate we deserved our luck. That’s four games running now where we’ve played well.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Leeds United 1 Bournemouth 0: Cook’s stirring display points Leeds to victory

Yorkshire Post 21/1/15
AMID all the luxury yachts and court cases and other off-field nonsense that seems to have characterised this season for Leeds United, football has become almost a secondary thought.
In certain defeats, this has not been a bad thing. Last night, however, was one of those games that made hearts that have been heavy for so long truly sing.
Against a Bournemouth side which arrived and left Elland Road sitting proudly atop the Championship, Luke Murphy’s stunning first-half strike was enough to seal a first league double of the season for the Yorkshire club.
But it told only half the story of the final night before Massimo Cellino has to step aside and hand control to others following his ban by the Football League.
United were, quite simply, outstanding as head coach Neil Redfearn threw caution to the wind and sent his side out to take the game to the leaders.
His reward was a performance packed full of guile and grit. More importantly, he also got a precious three points, achieved despite the hosts being reduced to 10 men when Giuseppe Bellusci was sent off and Bournemouth being awarded a late penalty for a foul which occurred outside the box. But Yann Kermorgant missed from 12 yards to ensure justice was served.
Elland Road was under half-full, but any notion this might lead to a low-key affair was dispersed with two teams clearly committed to attack meaning that play raged from one end to the other at such a frantic pace that, at times, it resembled a tennis rally.
The upshot was drama aplenty for the 17,634 crowd that had braved freezing temperatures.
Amid the often frenzied wave of attacks, some players still possessed sufficient skill to catch the eye. For Bournemouth, it was Callum Wilson with the striker looking a threat whenever he was within 30 yards of the home goal.
For Leeds, meanwhile, Lewis Cook was simply masterful as the teenager continued to prove that even amid the wreckage of this season a talent such as his can still flourish.
He was at the heart of everything United did, playing a team-mate through here and then following that by chasing an opponent down in such a fashion that he resembled a Canadian mountie.
And after invariably getting his man, Cook would then launch another Leeds attack. It was from one such interception of a Bournemouth pass that United claimed the only goal, the ball being immediately played to Rodolph Austin who, in turn, found Murphy.
Twenty yards from goal, the midfielder had just one thought and that was to thunder a shot goalwards that Artur Boruc in the visitors’ goal never stood a chance of keeping out.
Going ahead was no more than the hosts deserved, many of the chances that had been created by the time Murphy broke the deadlock on 36 minutes having fallen to a white shirt.
Austin’s header from close range was tipped over by Boruc early on and the Jamaican followed that by dragging a shot just wide after being released by Steve Morison. Then, Murphy brought a flying save from Boruc with a thunderous 25-yard effort as United’s fast tempo proved too much for Bournemouth.
Not that this meant the first half ended without chances for the Championship leaders, with only a last-gasp save on the line by Marco Silvestri keeping out Wilson’s header.
Silvestri also had to get down smartly to deny Wilson just after Murphy’s goal before Brett Pitman swept in the rebound only to be given offside.
Play continued to rage from one end to the other after the interval, though many of the better early chances fell to Bournemouth and Wilson, in particular.
After racing 40 yards with several white shirts trailing in his wake, the Cherries striker flicked wide from a tight angle.
Then, after being played in behind a statuesque United defence, Wilson inexplicably shot wide.
It was a massive let-off for Leeds, who should have made the game safe 13 minutes from time when, first, Sam Byram brought a fine block from Boruc and then Austin’s follow-up header was denied by Tommy Elphick.
Bournemouth’s response was to tear down the other end, where Marc Pugh fired against a post.
A lifeline then seemed to have arrived for the Cherries when Bellusci was adjudged to have fouled Wilson inside the area.
The Italian was immediately red carded for a professional foul, but salvation awaited Leeds as Kermorgant fired the resulting spot-kick against the crossbar to cap a remarkable night of drama.

Bournemouth rue missed penalty as Leeds dent their title ambitions

Guardian 20/1/15
Richard Gibson at Elland Road
The Leeds manager, Neil Redfearn, suggested his club remain “alive and kicking” after an odds-defying performance dented Bournemouth’s promotion bid.
A matter of hours after learning that the owner, Massimo Cellino, had lost his appeal to the Football League and will be forced to quit the board and not resume control at Elland Road until the second week of April, and nine matches since their previous win, the Yorkshire side somehow held on for victory against the league leaders.
Luke Murphy’s splendid first-half goal decided the contest but fortune was required too. Twice Bournemouth struck the woodwork, most significantly four minutes from time when the substitute Yann Kermorgant wasted a contentious penalty awarded by the referee, Oliver Langford, who sent off Giuseppe Bellusci for bringing down the pacy Callum Wilson.
Redfearn was scathing about the decision, claiming the offence took place outside the area, but upbeat about the result in the wake of the latest off-field turmoil.
“I spoke to Massimo yesterday and he basically said that nothing changes. It’s still his football club. Someone else will sign the cheques but it’s business as usual,” Redfearn said. “That performance has proved that the club is alive and kicking.”
In contrast, Bournemouth – attempting to become the 47th club to feature in the Premier League since its inception in 1992 – were unusually off-colour when it came to finishing. But on one of their bogey grounds – this was their seventh successive defeat – their tale of woe incorporated a disallowed goal from Brett Pitman five minutes after Leeds went in front and the striking of an upright late on by Marc Pugh.
“I had a gut feeling at the time that it was a tough call,” Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said of Pitman’s instinctive volley. “There seemed to be a defender between Brett and the goal and if that was the case I will be bitterly disappointed.”
Wilson missed several chances when well placed but his speed carved out the clearest opportunity when he forced both Bellusci and Langford into their late judgments. Kermorgant opted for power but although he beat Marco Silvestri his spot-kick cannoned off the top of the bar.
“The penalty summed up our night in front of goal and it was not like us,” said Howe, whose previous nine away matches had yielded eight wins and a draw.
Relegation-threatened Leeds scored the decisive goal at the zenith of their first-half dominance, when Sam Byram and Rodolph Austin channelled possession from the right touchline across the midfield and Murphy, who struck the equaliser against Birmingham at the weekend, skirted the area before arrowing a left-foot drive into the top corner.
Wilson, Bournemouth’s top scorer, regularly left Leeds defenders trailing in his wake but once in the first half and twice after the interval failed to apply a decisive finish when clear. He also failed to generate sufficient power on a close-range header as the half-time whistle approached, allowing Marco Silvestri to claw the ball down on the goal-line.
However, despite completing an unlikely double over the south-coast club, Redfearn remained confident about their likely destiny. “I don’t think Derby are as good, if I am honest,” Redfearn said. “I don’t think they’ve got as many facets to their game. Derby are good, don’t get me wrong, but they’re the best side we’ve played.”

Leeds 1-0 Bournemouth: Luke Murphy's first-half stunner halts Cherries progress at the top of the Championship

Mail 20/1/15
Bournemouth's Elland Road hoodoo continued as 10-man Leeds dented their promotion hopes through Luke Murphy's spectacular strike.
But Eddie Howe's Championship leaders had only themselves to blame after substitute Yann Kermorgant wasted an opportunity for a 86th-minute equaliser after blasting his penalty against the crossbar.
'The penalty summed up our night in front of goal and it was not like us,' said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.
Bournemouth were awarded the spot-kick after referee Oliver Langford dismissed Giuseppe Bellusci for hauling down Callum Wilson as he raced into the penalty area.
Moments earlier Marc Pugh had also struck the woodwork as the visitors made it seven defeats in as many visits to this ground.
During an even opening period, Leeds midfielder Murphy thrashed in from 20 yards and Bournemouth, who began the night top of the Championship with a three-point buffer to those outside the automatic promotion places, could not muster an equaliser.
Bournemouth had not previously lost on their travels since September at Derby, a sequence of eight wins and a draw preceding a trip to one of their least favourite grounds.
Despite carving out some glorious chances against their relegation-threatened hosts, however, they failed to continue that rich run of form.
Wilson's pace offered a constant threat on the break – three times he got beyond the home backline but failed to apply a finishing touch – while his strike partner Brett Pitman had the ball in the net shortly after Leeds went ahead only for an offside flag to cancel his opportunistic effort out.
'I had a gut feeling at the time that it was a tough call for us. There seemed to be a defender between Brett and the goal and if that was the case I will be bitterly disappointed,' Howe added.
Equally contentious was the late penalty and Leeds manager Neil Redfearn – whose relegation-threatened team held on for a surprise league double – said: 'It seems to be a standing order for us – a bad refereeing decision. It's about three yards outside the box.'
In front of their lowest home Championship crowd of the season, Redfearn's team went ahead in the 36th minute when Sam Byram and Rodolph Austin combined on the right flank to feed Murphy, who followed his late equaliser against Birmingham at the weekend, by arrowing a left-footed drive beyond the despairing grasp of Artur Boruc and into the top corner.
Leeds, winless in eight matches and reeling from the news that owner Massimo Cellino must resign from the board on Wednesday and not have any influence on club affairs until April 10 after he lost his Football League appeal, shrugged off their troubles and rode their luck to complete a surprise double over the division's top team.
'I spoke to Massimo yesterday and he basically said that nothing changes. It's still his football club. Someone else will sign the cheques but it's business as usual,' Redfearn said.
Redfearn had overseen a surprise victory on the south coast during a caretaker spell in charge earlier this season.
Wilson was guilty of profligacy twice more at the start of the second period after his speed off the mark took him past the Leeds defenders – an indecisive prod across the face of goal followed by an inaccurate shot.
But if there were any doubts it was to be a rare night of cheer for Leeds they were dispelled with the late drama.

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino blasts the Football League for trying to 'kill' the troubled club after losing his appeal

Mail 20/1/15
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has accused the Football League of attempting to 'kill' the beleaguered Championship side.
The Italian had his appeal against being disqualified as a director dismissed on Monday after a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) rejected Cellino's appeal after deciding his tax evasion conviction in Italy was an offence of dishonesty.
As a result the 58-year-old has to step down as director, cut ties with Leeds and not partake in any significant influence over the club until April 10, when his conviction becomes spent under UK law.
'They cheated. We got there and we were not able to fight,' Cellino told the Sun. 'We did not expect it to be arbitration. We expected a court, where you can challenge and put in your case.
'This was an ambush. It was a three-man panel, all three from the League,' added Cellino. 'The League are trying to hurt the club, that's my only conclusion. The club will not fall apart because I'm stepping away.'
Cellino is evidently furious that he failed the Football League's fit and proper person test in December due to his conviction for tax evasion in Italy:
'They say I am not fit and proper but I have put more than £30million of my own money into this club and I'm not here to make quick money for myself. When I arrived we were more than £55m in debt. Now the debt is £13m, I have cleaned this club.'
In its judgement the PCC stated on Monday: 'We consider that the judge's findings of fact and her description of Mr Cellino's state of mind based on them, is of conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.
'We therefore conclude that Mr Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving a 'Dishonest Act' within the meaning of the rules, and that he is accordingly subject to a 'Disqualifying Condition'.
'As a result of this decision, Massimo Cellino is disqualified from acting as a 'Relevant Person', as defined by Football League regulations until 10th April 2015.'
In a statement on the Leeds United website, Cellino and the club made a short comment on Monday's decision:
'Mr Cellino would like to thank the fans, sponsors and members of the wider footballing community that have given him overwhelming support, not just since the disqualifying order was issued but since he arrived at the club.
'We are surprised and disappointed by the verdict, however we are continuing to take legal advice.
'We will release further statements in due course.'