Tag Archives: Massimo Cellino

Leeds Fans LLP’s Dylan Thwaites: ‘We’re Potentially Aligned With Cellino’

From the minute Dylan opens his mouth, you can hear the conviction that permeates every single word. To say that he is driven about the task that stands ahead of Leeds Fans LLP, a group of fans who want to bring democratic fan representation to Leeds United’s board, would be an understatement.

“I truly believe that this is the last opportunity to save Leeds United,” Dylan Thwaites tells me.

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Football League Ruling May Be Best For Leeds United And Stop Unfit Cellino

Massimo Cellino, former Cagliari owner.

Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1)

The reaction was never going to be particularly calm, but anyone who didn’t see the events of yesterday occurring needed to lend a more critical eye to the situation.

Massimo Cellino, Schrodinger’s owner of Leeds United, went to his appeal with no real case. Given the fact that the situation surrounding the club has never been particularly stable since his arrival, it would have made sense for the Italian and his legal team to keep a staunch defence in their pocket throughout the last year.

As it stands, what they had was little more than had already been heard and rejected by Tim Kerr in April. The only thing that got Cellino through then was a lack of written judgement.

In fact, what occurred was even worse. Andrew Umbers, previous adviser to both Ken Bates and Gulf Finance House, and suddenly a director at Leeds United, suggested that the Elland Road club could go insolvent if Cellino was banned. A direct threat, but one which the panel did not see as possible heading forward.

Looking at that threat, we can see the extent to which it simply isn’t true. The majority of the debt at the club is held by owners of Leeds, meaning that any insolvency and reformation would do little but clear it, rendering both Cellino and GFH with a clean slate but none of the money they have put into the club. Money, of course, that has been required as a result of mismanagement by several owners.

Attempting to threaten the Football League into contravening their own rules is symptomatic of the manner in which Cellino has run the football club since his arrival.

I don’t believe he has any bad intention, and compared to the previous two owners, he’s an improvement, but the manager eater speaks in half truths and has made consistently poor decisions since he bought the club.

The simple act of buying it was bad enough, given the nature of the share purchase agreement with GFH. How Cellino found himself paying so much for a club ostensibly riddled with debt is a question that will baffle me from now until the end of time. How he found himself forced to follow the financial demands of the minority owner I also do not understand.

What followed was the crazy deadline day, one which saw Brian McDermott sacked and Ross McCormack demand a transfer.

The first victim of Cellino at Leeds, Brian McDermott, removed from his post as manager twice.

The protest was obvious, but Leeds fans, including myself, soon settled down into supporting Cellino in one way or another – he seemed like a means to an end, a method of getting rid of GFH and David Haigh, whose very presence had come to poison the atmosphere around the club. The Bahraini bank seemed to be dragging Leeds towards financial woe.

It was also at this time that Cellino had his infamous interview with White Leeds Radio, something that changed opinions. The problem is that his chat that night, when he admitted he was “drunk”, is the only time we’ve seen the real Massimo Cellino. Since then, the character he developed in that interview has been pushed, not as a genuine human, but as a PR exercise. Cellino is a passionate man, they tell us, but that passion is easy to dismiss when he is nowhere to be found during key points of both the summer and winter transfer windows, when he was in Miami rather than carrying out transfer activity.

The appointment of Dave Hockaday came, and my faith was immediately lost. It took only about five minutes at Guiseley to see how out of his depth the former Forest Green Rovers manager was, and the team was struggling as a result.

Summer’s transfer business was also questionable, and coming out of the window, I only saw relegation on the cards. A brief upturn in form under Neil Redfearn only papered over the cracks and has helped magnify the truth of the situation – Leeds’ squad this season has never been good enough.

That falls squarely at the door of Cellino. Ken Bates was not disliked simply because he sold our best players, but because of where he spent the money. With the sale of Ross McCormack this summer, Cellino had an opportunity to do good with a staggering £11 million.

He simply didn’t. Promises of buying back Elland Road have disappeared. The transfers in never matched up to McCormack’s departure, and the squad, despite only losing two true first team players in the summer, is weaker, despite extensive incomings. Cellino’s method of working puts the onus for transfer business on his shoulders, with the potential praise that comes with it. When it doesn’t work out, the blame is his too.

Casper Sloth

There is also the manner in which he deals with the press. Yesterday saw him tell Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post that Casper Sloth, Souleymane Doukara and Tommasso Bianchi wanted to leave if his appeal failed. Only a short time later, Sloth’s agent clarified that the player was committed to Leeds.

How badly does that reflect on Cellino? Terribly in my opinion. He seems to be using players as pawns in his battle against the Football League, but only serves to highlight his own desire to bend the truth to how he sees the world. This is not the act of a fit owner of a football club.

That’s reality. The Football League may have saved Leeds in the long term, because Cellino’s method of work has plunged the Whites into a relegation battle this season.

Contrast Cellino to the recently passed Leslie Silver and the comparison is even more unflattering. I wrote recently about how Silver’s rise spoke for a huge cultural shift in Leeds, and just like Silver, like Bates, like GFH, Cellino had the potential to create a legacy for himself at Leeds. Unfortunately, what he will likely leave is a negative history, one to be noted down in the books alongside his two predecessors.

It would be for the best interests of Leeds if Cellino were to seek a solution to the current situation, rather than just delaying further. Jinesh Patel, CEO of GFH, told me yesterday that there is a “need to buy time”. That is not to the benefit of anyone connected to Leeds, especially with arguably the club’s most important transfer window in history currently at play.

Let’s run down Cellino, as it stands. His record at Cagliari was spotty at best, and their fans were happy to see him leave. Life at Leeds began with a sacking and has, in the end, had four in under 12 months. His transfers are debatable, his method of working questionable, and his dealings with the press and Leeds fans render him a debatable source of information. In all, outside of the vague notion of the money he has, there’s little to defend Cellino with.

The Football League’s ruling will be much discussed, but ultimately, if a new owner can secure the club from Cellino, one without his perspective on football and without his divisive nature, Leeds could prosper from the decision of the three man panel, which has removed an owner who has never shown himself to be fit.

Is Cellino Doing More Harm Than Good At Leeds United?

Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1)

In the summer, someone on Twitter told me that my parents should have killed me shortly after I was born.

This was, to clarify, in response to me suggesting that it might be good if we went a goal behind in our first pre-season friendly against Guiseley, a game I ultimately attended.

Looking at the squad before that game, it was clear that the situation wasn’t good. We had sold Ross McCormack, comfortably our best player the year before, and not really replaced him. The arrival of Souleymane Doukara meant that we had a strikeforce in which Steve Morison and Noel Hunt were expected to play key roles.

In going behind against Guiseley, I was hoping that it would deal a shock to Massimo Cellino, who stood by the side of the pitch smoking, shaking hands with fan after fan.

By this point, he’d appointed Dave Hockaday as manager, and the situation was looking increasingly dire. I spent most of the first half, which was goalless and offered little hope, discussing with Moscowhite of The Square Ball and The City Talking that we were probably going to end up in a relegation battle.

Moscow wrote a great article about control at Leeds United today for The City Talking, and that is what inspired me to think more about Cellino.

It was not Guiseley (2-0 win) that dealt Cellino the shock I was hoping for, but Millwall away, a 2-0 loss. Between that game and the transfer deadline, we sacked Hockaday and we signed player after player, with first team regulars like Mirco Antenucci and Guiseppe Bellusci joining Leeds.

Why did he require that shock? As you stood at the side of the pitch at Guiseley, you could see that it wasn’t working – that Hockaday was out of his depth, that we had no dynamism, that no one could craft, create, imagine, build, basically do anything.

Yet Cellino stuck with his man and his squad going into the start of the season, and even then you knew trouble was afoot. We won against Middlesbrough against the best efforts of our first team. We got destroyed away at Watford, a game in which we looked less likely to have a genuine chance than a stable football club.

Since then, results have been up and down, mostly down. We’ve had a succession of managers with only Neil Redfearn’s side approaching impressive displays. We’ve had young players come to the fore but show their inexperience at crucial points. We’ve had undroppables get game after game.

We’ve also had our owner banned, pending appeal. It’s Cellino that comes into question here, and his control.

Cellino is clearly the captain of the ship, but it’s almost as if he chooses to remove the wheel for extended periods of time. It would be unfair to say he has no plan, but the plan seems to be scribbled down on the back of a serviette that was cleared away by a waiter at the end of the meal.

We’re buying Elland Road, we’re not buying Elland Road. Our squad, including ‘beautiful man’ Noel Hunt, is good, our squad isn’t good. We’ve planned for January, we haven’t, here are the six players we’re buying, we have an embargo, let’s buy them anyway. Where’s the consistency, the direction? It’s taken us weeks to hire an assistant manager for Redfearn, even though his preferred number two was given away for free by Huddersfield.

At this point, is Cellino just doing more damage than good? He’s a man who claims to have the best interests of Leeds United at heart, but is this inability to have a plan before he needs to (a week before the transfer deadline, for example) hindering our progress. I like Guiseppe Bellusci, accusations of racism aside, but you’d struggle to find a Leeds fan who believes he is worth the reported £1.6 million fee we paid Catania for him, a deal pushed through to ensure that we could bring more players in on loan ahead of the impending transfer embargo. Did we really get value for money?

The one true positive of Cellino’s reign has been Nicola Salerno’s eye for a player, with our signings generally working out this summer. By the same token, however, it would be impossible to justify Ken Bates’ time at Leeds by the fact that Gwyn Williams brought in Max Gradel and Luciano Becchio.

Heading into January, our squad clearly needs improvement. What would a player see ahead of them if they chose to sign for Leeds? A team in 19th, one who could find themselves without an owner until March. The relegation battle I feared is coming true, and if we want to avoid it, Massimo Cellino might have to look at himself and hand over more control to recently appointed COO Matt Child than he ever thought possible.

At this point, it might be time for the football men to run the football club. Salerno clearly gets the game in the same way that Redfearn does, and in tandem they could probably get the right players in in January to push Redfearn’s youthful side up the table, if the line of communication is between them without Cellino occasionally popping in and shouting: “hey, what about another midfielder?”

A captain-less ship with Redfearn exerting more influence might work better than one with a captain with no plan who is banned from steering it until March of next year.

What are your thoughts? Send them to us on Twitter @spoughtsblog or comment below.