Despite All the Wrangling – Doesn’t Cellino Own Leeds Utd Already? – by Rob Atkinson


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Cellino – Signor Leeds United in a very real and legally-binding sense

Since the turmoil of last weekend, when low farce threatened to proceed via melodrama to real tragedy – before turning into a rip-roaring epic with a hat-trick hero – things have settled down, battle lines have been drawn and it’s situation normal at Elland Road.  In other words, the football is all but forgotten, various big egos are competing to see who can wee highest up the wall and the fans are relegated to mushroom status; kept in the dark and fed a load of crap.

But what is the reality of the situation?  Despite all the fighting and fratching, all of the writs and wrangles – isn’t it actually quite simple?  If you strip away all of the extraneous nonsense, then doesn’t it all boil down to an elementary matter of whether or not a contract now exists between GFH and Eleonora Sports Ltd?  If that contract does exist, then it’s difficult to see how it can now be argued that negotiations can properly continue between GFH and any other party. People will point to the fact that, when Cellino’s solicitor arrived at Elland Road to “complete” the deal, he was ushered off the premises, the papers left unsigned.  So: no deal, right?  But it’s not really as cut and dried as that, not when we look at the basic elements of what constitutes a contract.

Basically, a contract exists where one party makes an offer accepted by another party, with a “consideration” – i.e. money changing hands. No signatures needed, no paperwork – a contract is technically binding without all that.  Offer, plus acceptance, plus consideration = a contract, with all the enforcing power of contract law behind it.

So if Cellino had his offer to buy 75% of the club accepted by GFH – as it seems they have acknowledged – and if, as he says, he has paid for those shares – even if those funds are actually held in an escrow account and not yet paid to GFH; then it’s difficult to see how GFH can, at this stage, repudiate the contract and enter into discussions with a different party. So it does look to me as though Cellino owns Leeds Utd, subject only to official ratification under the FAPP Test, which he would almost certainly pass due to spent convictions which cannot, under English law, be prejudicial to his status as a “fit and proper person”.  Cellino himself appears ready to go to law in order to defend his contractual position.  Worryingly, it appears that the other parties in this whole sorry mess appear equally determined to have their day in court.

Can anyone make a serious alternative case, for the enlightenment and edification of this blog, to the conclusion that Cellino is the de facto owner of Leeds United? I’m still trying to sort out for myself whether I actually want this for Leeds, or not. So I’ve no interest in being right for being right’s sake; if anyone can tell me why all of the above contract theory is not true, then I’ll be happy to be convinced accordingly.

If the contract issue is as straightforward as it currently appears – and admittedly, these things rarely actually are – then Cellino only really needs the green light from the relevant authorities to move in and start putting his mark on the club.  What that would mean in practice is the subject of a whole separate article, and there are as many opinions as to his positive/negative effect on Leeds United as there were fans in the stadium when Leeds mauled Huddersfield last Saturday, or so it might appear.

In the meantime, all of the kerfuffle which currently occupies us all to the exclusion of anything to do with the actual football business of the club, could just be sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Just an almighty, annoying waste of time.  If it really is such a simple question as “Is there a contract, or isn’t there?” – then for God’s sake, let’s get it sorted out, and swiftly.  The one real voice of calm and sanity in all of this, Brian McDermott, has said himself that the ownership issue needs sorting out fast. Elsewhere, there have been quotes from David Haigh to the effect that talks might go on for “days, weeks, months”.  God forbid – we just do not need that.

Looking yet further down the food chain, our one-time main sponsor figurehead, Andrew Flowers – thwarted member of the Sport Capital consortium who started all of this nonsense by reneging on a done deal and submitting a “revised offer” for the club – is now issuing a winding-up order against the club whose best interests he ostensibly has at heart.  Apparently, this winding-up order is no wind-up – this guy means business.  It’s a pity he didn’t have the integrity to see the original deal through and save us all a lot of grief.  Now, it would seem he’s having to join forces with yet another consortium to match Cellino’s bid.  But little has been heard of what financial muscle this “super-consortium” would have to take the club forward post-purchase.  And this is a vital issue – after all, it’s not just the initial cost – it’s the upkeep.  Could we have any faith in future investment for the club, the team and the stadium if Flowers & Co did get their way?  And isn’t Flowers himself open to a charge of being vindictive in trying to stretch this matter out by such drastic means?

The next match is just a few days away, in the public glare, via the unsympathetic and mischievous medium of Sky TV.  Can we hope for matters to be sorted by then?  Who knows? But surely, that would be in everybody’s best interests – not least the team, the fans and the patient but long-suffering Brian McDermott.

Comments invited, it’s your club, not theirs.  Please – make your feelings known.

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39 responses to “Despite All the Wrangling – Doesn’t Cellino Own Leeds Utd Already? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Is it not possible that gfh-c can over-rule gfc? Despite that,gfh have the morals and integrity of an alley cat and are just as likely to screw cellino as he is likely to screw them.

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  2. andrew allonby

    You make a fair point BUT contract law as a rule is not that simple hence why so many rich solicitors !
    A general rule is one party or another insert caveats which they hope are not seen, so contracts go back and forth. In a case like this the seller only has to disagree with any such caveat or clause and the contract has not been agreed simples….the purchaser would have a claim for costs incurred if a court rules that the seller has been unreasonable, like wise if a deliberate concealment of facts is later found by the purchaser irrelevant of what the contract says or if it is signed a claim against the seller would normally succeed !!!!
    Think about when buying a house, things go wrong and people pull out !!

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  3. Money doesn’t even have to change hands for a verbal contract to be legal, proving it when it’s all gone wrong makes lawyers rich. No doubt this debacle will cost LUFC thousands while the incompetents argue in court.
    Personally I hope the super consortium wins, I’ve not read anything good about the Italian, he is rich and stays that way by not spending money on players, buys them cheap sells them on later, we’ve seen that type of millionaire before.
    MOT

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  4. Mirfieldwhite

    Alright rob. I agree , gfh and haigh are probably been a little naughty trying to off the club whilst they have a contract with massimo. What gfh haigh et al don’t seem to have is any brass. If the Italians have then I say let’s have them in , and get behind them. They’ve been running a seria a team since haigh was In nappies so I reckon they know what they are doing . After Saturday they won’t be sacking Brian anytime soon. It feels a little like when we minus 15 , club and fans (and hopefully) new owners pulling the same way. Bring it on.

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  5. I am no expert in legal matters, however if an agreement is binding following an initial acknowledgement and “Consideration” i.e. transfer of funds then shouldn’t the consortium led by Flowers and Haigh actually be the owners now. After all GFH accepted their original offer along with their six million. If GFH then decided to back out of that deal at the last minute, then I cant see any reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to back out of this deal as well if it doesn’t feel right.

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  6. Whats a matter you
    haigh
    gotta no respect whatta think you do
    haigh
    why you looka so sad
    itsa not so bad, its a nice a place
    ah, shaddap you face.

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  7. John Stanley

    My thoughts are similar to the above. Leeds United is no second tier club. If Leeds is to survive it needs a plan, money and stability. I do not see this would be joint bid having the clout to move the club forward. If Cellino is going to put money into the club, buy back the ground etc, we should not just say bad man and want to exist like a mute Oliver Twist. Money and plan, is what Leeds needs, coupled with the fantastic fan base and stability! Father Christmas, Poor Sheiks? Conservative CEO’s, Insurance Company owners playing games, who needs them. For the sake of sanity, invest in the greatest club in the world, (Work in progress at the moment.)

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  8. They are all unknown buyers really I think flowers has shown his true colours with this winding up order, do any of. This consortium really have the cash to buy the club and take it forward ,I don,t think they have . I would. Rather take a risk with cellino at least there is chance with him. With the others we will just. Stagnate again trying to cover running costs

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  9. Sniffers shorts

    Life long Leeds fan flowers my arse ….. Serving a winding up order as well as trying to have another go at a buy out …. Unreal greedy vindictive git ….. Life long Leeds fan wtf is he on …. Invest for a return not to push us forward ….. As a life long Leeds fan this should be his gift for stability and our future ….. Hang him from the yard arm boys this is mutiny of the highest order…… Seething !!!!!!!!!!!!! Liar and thieve how can we trust this man …. He has shown his colours sorry

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  10. my gut feeling is to give the crook a chance , ( bit harsh ? ) well no , because he is a crook , but then again so is bates , so was risdale , and so will the next millionaire be , they all piss in the same pot as far as i can see, but when would we have a chance to take on the big 4 again without a BILLIONAIRE… deep down this is exactly what we all hoped would happen one day so i say grasp the nettle and run with it..

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  11. I am sure Cellino will have a contract. He has lawyers too and he has been here before. Flowers is a disgrace and acting like a spoiled child taking his bat home. He had his chance and blew it.
    We are criticising Cellino before he has had a chance to speak to the fans and maybe Flowers has shown the ‘consortium’ in is true colours. They may all be rich but not football rich. As you say Rob it’s the upkeep that’s important and needs serious financing.
    Personally, I think Patel in his interview let it slip that Brian was under great scrutiny from GFH and there is a lot of smoke and mirrors from all sides in this saga.
    Just one final point – was it Haigh who first became involved with Cellino in trying to replace investors who had dropped out. I am sure he was around ER before that deal was officially scuppered. Perhaps Cellino just thought he would do this on my own.
    It’s a difficult one but I just feel committees don’t work and someone has to be in charge. Also LUST and Leeds City Council should keep their noses out of this. From what I have read today I can’t see how he will not pass the FL test. In any case I feel Brian will still be the manager.

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  12. if david haigh really wants the best for his beloved leeds then the bid he fronted cant or wont stump up the cash he should step aside let this italian who has already shown the colour of money have a go or is its really whats best for haigh and the people he brought in to flip the club what you think rob

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  13. andrew allonby

    Flowers has done what any normal businessman would do,he and haigh have been funding the club for a while now to the apparent cost of £6 million,They have the right to ensure he gets his money back I am pretty sure with the recent events GFH wont be paying it back from the sales proceeds in a hurry !!

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  14. Sniffersshorts

    Really stirred the hornets this time ….. Until proven wrong I too back Cellino as stated above his family has had years in football …. Not property not oil not Russian forestry ….. Grass (excuse the pun) roots football the king of corn has the money to move us forward and I really hope the stability to keep us on track at a steady rate. Give the man a chance to understand how we tick what it is to be Leeds united and English football …. And we could just could be kings of Europe under the king of corn ….. Unlike wet spam the kings of porn!!!!!!!!!!

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  15. I think the Italians the way to go. The rest are bluffers. Sports Capital pissed about for months. Consortium don’t have money go do anything with us if they do buy us. At least Cellino seems to have the dosh and the “takes no shit” attitude that in fairness we have been lacking for years. I know its got its risks too but maybe just maybe. Plus Flowers has painted himself as a clown in my books with his winding up………what happened to the good of the club?? MOT

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    • I think there is a shift in opinion now. Let’s get it done and move forward Cellini is a football man and isn’t buying us to throw his cash away. He is not daft and will already have noted what makes us tick. Il Duce for me guys
      .the others are just empty suits.

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  16. “I would. Rather take a risk with cellino at least there is chance with him. With the others we will just. Stagnate again trying to cover running costs”

    The above comment/quote (from this blog) sums up why none of this makes sense. If you know the fans of the team you are buying…if you know what LUFC is all about…if you understand the passion of it’s followers…why would you get involved in this if things were to remain status quo? What would they hope to gain? Even if Together Leeds was just doing this for a small profit goal (meaning no attempt at getting us competitive)…why would they? So they can be lambasted on a daily basis? That’s masochism…hopefully they know what they are doing…

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  17. mrbigwheels

    Firstly Cellino is not a billionaire or that wealthy… if research is done but he is definitely wealthier than thou, (the other prospects), which means the sellers, (GFH), are more likely to take his money because they don’t have any. Contract or no contract Cellino has bought the Club because he’s just lent the Club £1.7m and no doubt recorded the text sent to him by The Chairman last friday lunchtime saying… ”congratulations, the club is yours”… piff, paff, puff… let the football begin. He’s already rehearsed the sacking manouvres, met the team, Festa knows his way around and Brian will be calm. Can’t see any other situation. GFH have to sell by the end of February, I believe.

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  18. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company v Cahill bank 1903

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  19. Carlill 1892 (my memory is failing)

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  20. I think that they are all being messed about and having their reputations dragged through the mud! I think they will all have big shot lawyers looking at every angle and arguing forever. It is unbelievable how much damage has been done. This is a fight to the end. Wouldn’t be surprised if Papa Smurf doesn’t wade in just for the Hell of it, lol!

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  21. Seems like Cellino paid GFH a deposit in good faith, without exchanging contracts, arguably GFH could pull out and return the deposit. GFH have made a mess. Cellino was trigger happy by acting to hastily with Brian McD. If Cellino did sack McD, he showed has scuppered his own deal. All he needed to do was leave Leeds alone that week, get league approval and there’s nothing anybody could have done.

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  22. Cellino for me. This consortium sounds like another Krasner

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  23. Reality Cheque

    Our Chairman Mr Nooruddin certainly believes it is a done deal with Cellino and sent his personal congratulations to him last Friday night. Nooruddin is certainly in a position to be in the know regarding these negotiations having recently spent approx. £24 million of his own wealth to buy a stake in GFH thereby buying himself a place on the Board. Furthermore, as our Chairman he is clearly complicit in sanctioning Festa’s continued (highly provocative) presence at Thorp Arch yesterday despite GFH having allegedly given Brian assurances that he was still the manager and had sole authority for the duties that role entailed. Who officially told Festa and confirmed to Thorp Arch security personnel that Festa was authorised to be admitted onto the complex?? which took place in the full glare of the hordes of media who were awaiting Brian’s arrival and attendance at his subsequent press conference?? Sounds nailed on a done deal to me Rob.

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  24. Compo's Style Guru

    Like you Rob, I am definitely undecided (if that’s possible) on who would be best to take us onward and upward. However what I do know is that I want to see it finished one way or the other asap. I read elsewhere that the super consortium were seeking an immediate decision however, there doesn’t seem any movement on that score right now except the smokescreen of the writ. I wonder if/when the club is sold and the losing party inevitably seek legal redress who is liable LUFC, Gfh or Gfh-c?

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    • I would like to think that, if it can all be done properly for once, with no loose ends and no skeletons waiting to emerge from the closet, then maybe any subsequent legal challenge might be swiftly dismissed as frivolous and vexatious. But that’s probably hopelessly naive of me 😦

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  25. On the Mirror website, they are saying that Cellino paid the Leeds 1 million wage bill last week, because GFH could not afford to pay it.
    Apparently, from what people have been saying, GFH ran out of money months ago, but are still constantly leading the fans down the garden path with their lies and spin, just like a bunch of politicians.
    As for Festa being at the training ground, if that had happened in any other workplace, Festa would have been kicked out of the door straight away, but with Cellino paying the Leeds wage bill, then maybe Festa is entitled to be there.

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  26. Dave Fallon

    Where you been Rob? I was looking for your words of wisdom of the weekend of mayhem but you were awefully quiet. Please remember your flock needs your guidance and wit to get us through these troubled times. Ha, ha. Good to hear your thoughts as usual.

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  27. Translated from Italian.. http://www.massimocellino.it/page.jsp?i … 76&cat=276 January 13, 2010
    Massimo Cellino was born in Cagliari in 1956. Where he graduated as an accountant for several years and then attended the Faculty of Economics and Commerce.

    Interrupted his studies, began working with his father Ercole in the management of family firms. From 1978 to 1983 he moved to Australia, he established fruitful contacts with leading local producers of cereals.

    Back in Sardinia, he devoted himself full time to family businesses, restructuring the organization of domestic sales Sardinian.

    In 1988 he assumed the management of the Group Cellino and concludes with some important contracts to supply North African countries.

    At that time, the Group’s companies have spent around three million tons of grain, of which approximately 70% of the whole island, was considered the seventh largest world importer of cereals.

    The Cellino Group, with annual consolidated revenues of about 400 billion old lire, between employees (450) industries and workers (estimated at around 1,200) was an important source of income for a considerable number of families sardines. In the years between 1980 and 1990, constitutes and manage themselves some foreign companies, by their nature and name, were created to give support to the Group Companies Sarde.

    The careful management of the Company and the dynamism impressed them by Massimo Cellino, high, short term, at very high levels of efficiency and competitiveness by creating these undoubted advantages to the Group Companies Sarde

    The Group has over the years differentiate their commercial interests and business, but its main activity is the marketing and processing of cereals. Today it can be counted among the leading full-milling industries in Europe.

    In June 1992, takes over the family property in Orrù Cagliari Calcio, involving his family in the management of the Company.

    The commitments and responsibilities in the Companies evil be reconciled with those of the Company Cagliari Calcio and, between 1998 and 1999, he resigned from the positions they hold within the family businesses, delivering his brothers in a balance sheet and financial than healthy, despite the serious difficulties and vicissitudes through which the Group.

    After leaving companies in Cagliari Calcio pours all his energy and the great wealth of experience acquired in his business.

    The path to guide the company has never been easy. Italian football is a constant challenge, against the best equipped and most powerful economic realities. Repeatedly expressed weariness and intention to leave, but eventually it always remained in place. In fact, his presidency is the longest in the history of the club rossoblu.

    Cagliari Calcio has been included in group A, the one that distinguishes the company as healthy from the point of view. Countless players he discovered and launched the great game.

    His commitment and abilities are recognized unanimously by his own colleagues, who elected the Board of the League. He is currently Vice-President of the organism via Rosellini.
    In 1994 he realize Assemini Center Ercole Cellino. This is a sports complex with soccer fields and facilities excellent grass level, intended to house the first team and the training of youth work. A real gem that has the admiration from the most important Italian football.

    Since 2005 he lives in Miami. Even in Florida has found a way to demonstrate the passion for football. In 2007, government has established a youth football team, the “Cagliari Strike Force”, which assumed the colors rossoblu and intentions should become a branch of Cagliari. An investment in a virgin land for football. The new team has already achieved excellent results locally.

    The successes achieved in the economic-industrial, in 1994 the American University Columbia University New York NY confers the Honorary Degree in Economics, which is very proud.

    Married to Frances Boero, has three sons, Hercules, Edward and Eleano

    In 1994 he realize Assemini Center Ercole Cellino. This is a sports complex with soccer fields and facilities excellent grass level, intended to house the first team and the training of youth work. A real gem that has the admiration from the most important Italian football.

    Since 2005 he lives in Miami. Even in Florida has found a way to demonstrate the passion for football. In

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  28. Did anybody read this? http://goo.gl/BRb2pn. Dio ci aiuti!

    Of course, on the other hand.we have a guy who acts like he really cares about us and wants to sue us and buy us at the same time…just for the fun of it!.

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  29. Sniffers shorts

    Am now wide awake having tried to sleep ….. We are seemingly in a very shit state what with the power struggles of those apparently working for our best interests. Flowers company having bank rolled the clubs wages now using as a blocking agent to Cellino who has also bank rolled the club to pay the wages. I admire both as both had done so at a time they felt was in the interest of the club. Why is nothing straight forward with us , why us , it’s that bloody curse again and ruddy gypsies that smell of piss…….. It’s never left us has it that taint of stale piss ……. And now all this bullshit fragrant alas that won’t disperse ….. I want to go to sleep and wake up with a firm decision on the table ….. Either everyone fuck off or make your ruddy mind up and that also means the football league ….. Stop fucking about with this it’s either sanction the Cellino issue yes or no not ruddy maybe for ever more . Time rolling on is costing money …. We are in deep shit up to our necks swimming just …. Another week of this we will sink …. Stop bickering about who should take over ….. We are in the hands of the FA it’s them that need a kick up the Jacksie …. Fucking sort it …… Not apologising for my language sick of the bullshit stop fucking with our club or you will see what it means to fuck with us. DONT FUCK WITH US

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  30. john palmer

    wise up people Cellino will be no more acrook thanevery consortiam trying to muscle in, or any other rich businessman ,also the fans reaction to BMD wont change anything ,GFH wont have him sacked under their ownership because they would have to payhim ,if Cellino takes over which is close BMD will be out Fester in .hopefully that will happen because we are sinking financially again.

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  31. patrick hogan

    The worrying thing that I read is that the Winding Up order was served on Jan 29th and is a tactic that ensures that no sale of the club can take place while that is in effect. If Flowers doesn’t withdraw it the action won’t be heard till the end of March; and he’s only likely to do that if his consortium wins control. What Cellini would do if that happened is anyone’s guess; unless he fails the ‘Fit and Proper Persons’ test first.

    In short, whatever happens it seems that it could lumber on througout the rest of the season. Let’s hope it doesn’t end with Administration and 10 points docked if, God forbid, we are anywhere near the drop zone.

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