Wilting Flowers Set to Succeed Only in Winding-Up Leeds Fans – by Rob Atkinson


The battle for Leeds United

The battle for Leeds United

Probably the most significant recent development in the Leeds United Takeover Slapstick Farce is the winding up petition (WUP) served by Andrew Flowers, alleged fan of the club and disappointed member of the thwarted Sport Capital which failed to buy a controlling interest in United last month. Amid all of the speculation and rumours surrounding the moral probity of Massimo Cellino, it is interesting to examine the possible motivations of Flowers in the extremely drastic action he has taken.

This blog has come to the conclusion that Flowers is lashing out in a manner not dissimilar to a spoiled child’s tantrum.  To run further with that analogy, the winding up petition is as much of an over-reaction as that of the wailing child who, denied the biggest share of the sweets, hurls a set of wooden blocks through the dining-room window.  It’s an over-the-top reaction, the product of immature arrogance and spite.  Somebody should perhaps shut Mr Flowers in his room with no toys, until he’s learned how to behave nicely.

A little research shows that it’s not unknown for a WUP to be issued as a tactical measure, designed to impede an unwelcome rival bid as it nears completion.  The website “Company Rescue” states

“In the Leeds United case, it appears Flowers has issued the petition in order to settle the dispute over the bid, which can happen if creditors feel they are ignored.

This kind of action is likely to be dismissed by the Court, however , as a WUP should only be issued if the company is thought to be insolvent.  As Flowers seems to be issuing one to settle a dispute, this could be deemed in the court as an abuse of process.”

Naturally, the courts tend to take a dim view of this sort of thing, as Leeds United in its current guise will be hoping happens in this case.  Their statement last night referred to “abuse of process” and it has to be said that this will do absolutely nothing but harm to Mr Flowers’ reputation if it is shown to be the case.  Another term for less-than-sincere legal action is “frivolous and vexatious”.  Courts and judges just hate this sort of thing.

There is the effect on the fans (remember them?? Hang on, it’s US!) to be considered, too.  Once the supporters cottoned on to the fact that the actions of Flowers pose a serious threat to the reputation or even continued existence of Leeds United – and that cottoning-on did not take long – then sympathy started to drain away from Mr Flowers and from Enterprise Insurance like pus from an open wound.  The idea of being anywhere near the bottom of the league, and then incurring a ten point league penalty, is not a comfortable one for Leeds United fans, not comfortable at all. Minus fifteen is still a vivid memory and still a cause of bitter resentment.  Ten points deducted right now would leave us a precarious 5 points clear of the relegation zone.

Neither will the fans appreciate the prospect of this ridiculous pantomime being dragged out for very much longer.  And yet Flowers’ WUP is due to be considered by the High Court on March 17th – almost six weeks away.  Six more weeks of anguish and uncertainty?  No, thank you.  Another factor evident today is the high incidence overnight of nocturnal emissions in many a South Yorkshire hovel, as desperate fans of smaller clubs dreamed moistly of the possible disappearance of Leeds United from the football landscape.  The tweets today bear witness to this frankly sad level of excitement and anticipation among the inbred, chip-on-the-shoulder tendency.  The attitude of other fans will be of little import to the suits as they go about their squabbling – heavens, they can hardly bother to think about the club’s own fans – but it’s a real enough part of the misery being imposed on us – and a particularly irritating one to the loyal Leeds United following out here, unable to do much but watch in horror and wait in apprehensive uncertainty while this humiliating tussle goes on.  And on, and on…

Over the past few days, and particularly since the news of Flowers’ WUP gained some currency, the attitude of the Leeds United support has appeared to sway significantly in favour of the Italian Cellino, and away from the dubious methods being employed elsewhere.  At first there was much doubt and virtuous rolling of the eyes at the thought of Cellino’s supposed criminality and wickedness – and yet, in the cold light of day, he appears little different to other mega-rich football club owners in this respect.  It’s highly unlikely that his convictions – one apparently suspended, one seemingly quashed – will act so as to fail him under the League’s Fit and Proper Person (FAPP) test.  He has an embezzlement charge hanging over him, but is rightly regarded as innocent until proved otherwise on that score.  And are Cellini’s rivals so squeaky clean?  The background of one Liverpool-based member of one of the consortia begs some critical evaluation, what with drive-by shootings and the like and – let’s not forget – Enterprise Insurance itself is unlikely to be based in Gibraltar simply for the lovely scenery afforded on the Rock.

The sad and frustrating fact is that Mr Flowers has taken a sledgehammer here to crack a peanut.  He filed his application the day after his consortium’s bid collapsed – on the rebound, as it were.  It has all the hallmarks of a fit of pique.  Given the statement from Leeds United last night – and even though that was swiftly watered-down, it’s still out there for people to see due to various assiduous bloggers – it seems inconceivable that Flowers and GFH could sit down around a table and discuss amicably any proposed business over the ownership of a football club which in any event actually belongs in a very real sense to the fans out here.  So what has Flowers to gain?  Read here and here to see what a very serious step a WUP is.  Why would he do that to a club he allegedly has close to his heart?

It will be interesting to see how the feelings of the Leeds United support continue to drift as the next few days go by – but already there has been a significant shift away from Flowers & Co and towards the “King of Corn”.  If Flowers is planning a long game, he risks completely exhausting the patience of the fans, patience that is already wearing dangerously thin.  And he might just find that any support or sympathy he ever had will have completely evaporated long before he ever gets his day in court.

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30 responses to “Wilting Flowers Set to Succeed Only in Winding-Up Leeds Fans – by Rob Atkinson

  1. My take on this is that if the Flowers petition forces a delay in the deal, GFH have a significant issue on other debt repayments, so the danger is that they fall into administration and get nothing (and the vote is decided by the biggest creditors – Flowers – as GFH are connected to the company they should not get a vote).

    The petition is apparently due in mid March. If the repayments fall in Feb the company would not make it there unless GFH loan the money (from Cellino?). There would be a penalisation for administration and GFH get nothing. And Flowers’ loan may have all kinds of liens in it that trigger on such circumstances.

    Given GFH know all that, better to negotiate an out now with Flowers (or someone acceptable to him) and get something rather than end up in that situation.

    I assume that is the tactic playing out. It forces a non-Cellino outcome. If you prefer a non-Cellino outcome I’d not panic too much. Flowers is a successful businessman and knows what he’s doing.

    Cellino’s background isn’t his only issue – or his main issue, to my mind. Do you want the chairman picking the team?

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    • I don’t, but I suspect that Cellino is ready to embrace the English football culture. I could easily be wrong about that, but there’s really no way of saying. Then again, Cardiff went up under Tan – and he’s at least that mad.

      Where I am at the moment is really wanting nothing more to do with Andrew Flowers ever again. I think his actions have been amateurish and ridiculous.

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      • Mr orange

        I totally agree with that rob , my feelings are the same towards flowers now , he’s like a spoilt kid who would rather break the toy than let another kid have it , cellino for me , OR a more rational billionaire if possible , but that’s not going to happen,,

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      • Because it would be more professional to write off a few million quid he put into our club to keep it going after being promised he could buy it on a set of terms that later changed?

        Could you tell me how Leeds United are threatened by this? Who suffers? The only way an order will be made is if there’s no owner by then. GFH aren’t going to want to let it go, because they’ll lose too much money. They’ll find the cash if they have to, or just maybe they’ll have to accept a bid from a group of largely Yorkshire businessmen who want to grow the football club.

        Could you explain how Cellino has shown he’s willing to embrace English football culture? His creature, Feste, is still at the club, ready to bring in loads of shop-soiled loan players that no decent European club wants. Cellino has said that he wants a coach rather than a manager. In fact he wants nearly 2 coaches a year. Cellino has come in like a mugger and sacked people illegally – sorry Rob, but I reckon Cellino knew whether or not he owned the club at that time.

        Could you tell me how much money Cellino has put into Cagliari over the last 20 years? I want the sum that’s left when transfer income is deducted – oh look, it’s a minus figure. Just like Bates.

        I’m annoyed with Flowers too, but the winding-up petition will do Leeds United no harm at all, and as for this daydream about how Cellino will be really really nice and lovely and spend billions and billions getting us the Champions League, that’s just crazy.

        Could you tell me why you’re now delighted at the prospect of Leeds United signing loads of loan players?

        And please tell me why it’s OK for Cellino to be judged innocent until proven guilty as if that’s a black and white rule that always applies? (Not that it applies to anyone without money for lawyers, now legal aid has been cut so much). There’s such a thing as bail for a start, but I want to know how your lovely liberal principle applies to business and to company directors. I want some protection against fraudsters, not an ‘Oh, sorry, nothingto do with us, mate.’ when my football club is kicked out of professional football for all sorts of rule infringements.
        If your argument amounts to ‘Oh, poor ickle diddums Cellino can’t buy the club just because those nasty law enforcement people want to put him on trial later’ forget it, because that’s just an argument for speeding prosecutions up.

        People should be protected against proven criminals (oh – hang on – there’s one of those around, isn’t there?) and suspected fraudsters. What next, police accused of corruption allowed to carry on working while they wait for hearings? Suspected rapists allowed to carry on working in childrens’ homes?

        Cellino buying Leeds would be the ultimate disaster. It’s not as if we don’t know what he’s like!

        Mad. You’re all mad. ‘It doesn’t matter who he is, he’s got cash.’

        And the word ‘HYPOCRITES’ comes to mind in relation to some Leeds fans at present. WHAT was all that stuff on this very blog, for example, about the Premiership being corrupt, about clubs practically buying titles, about Ferguson being a bully (! Ferguson! You ain’t seen nothing yet – Cellino’s a gentlemen, is he?)

        Wise up before it’s too late. You should be organising protests against this stuff.

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  2. I think Mr Flowers may find he hasn’t just shot himself in the foot he’s well and truly blown it off. Anyone who has anything but the best interests of the club does not go around issuing winding up orders no matter how much their nose has been put out of joint. It seems quite clear that a joint bid from the two English parties will probably see us living from hand to mouth for as long as it takes them to move us on. The only person who has the financial clout is Cellino . I could end up regretting it in years to come but i would rather risk Cellino than Mr flowers and friends.

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  3. Rob, you have to feel sorry for all of them because the fiasco is damaging all their reputations. I do have some sympathy with Andrew Flowers though, we don’t know his motives but he has been involved with Leeds for some time and has shown a lot of commitment in time and money to improve the club. I would like to think that he is actually protecting us from years of inappropriate ownership, which could happen. The FA have too much money and are totally incompetent! You would not expect them to get this right, would you. The fans have to have rights enshrined in law and the politicians need to do more to safeguard our clubs. I would have thought that you would have been in touch with your socialist mates in Labour to sort it out before now, lol! I really do hope that the consortium sort this or we could continue to be a pantomime for some years to come

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  4. signore sniffers shorts to you sir

    Rob, sums up our thoughts without getting heated, you really do need to get this book out. However in light of this on going insufferable saga, when this is put to bed some further facts may surface, which should be added and the wrong uns behind this exposed. however Your summary of the situation at this time is bang on. Will this hearing 17th actually hold up, the possibility of Cellino actually taking the reigns. Surely not, my take on due diligence is surely the seller can pull out as much as the buyer can, Flowers attempts at pulling the long straw, has surely failed and he and his cohorts have ended with the very shortest. Where as Cellinos wheat is strong and ripe for the harvest. what is your take on LUST and their standpoint, they have a large following, I believe I read 75% are against Cellino …. divided we stand ….divided we fall …. these questions and so many more???? great read as ever really superb!

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  5. Great piece Rob flowers has thrown the rattle out of the pram if I can’t have it no one can and f__k the fans we need to be brought forward as a club not more dragging through the mud

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  6. The Italian guy may be the best available option to solve our current situation. Unfortunately for him and us he entered our world like the proverbial bull but it could well be that he was “stunned” by the reaction his bulldozer tactics provoked and has rethought his strategy. He could have really bowed to supporter pressure and reinstated Brian because of this. I don’t know how long he will last as manager under this guy but if he follows the same path as other egotist owners he will change the manager/coach on a whim. I would say though if I were lucky enough to be able to put millions into a football club I would want some input into how it was spent! I don’t believe the other bidders would be any different.

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  7. Can you imagine the backlash if come April were in the play off position and then deducted 10pts because of Mr flowers and co actions , I suspect they would do more than chase a few taxis around elland road rob

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  8. An alternative view Rob is that as a businessman, Flowers is duty bound to protect the interests of his company and maximise shareholder benefit. Enterprise have loaned a significant sum of money to LUFC. If Cellino succeeds in his takeover, which seems increasingly likely, then responsibility for repaying that loan presumably passes to him.

    It may well be that Flowers has been advised that relying on a convicted fraudster, currently under investigation on an embezzlement charge, to repay a loan in the future would not necessarily be seen as acting in the best interests of his company and its shareholders.

    Would you sleep easy knowing that a fraudster was about to take charge of a couple of million of your money?

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  9. And reputation. Hands up now – who thinks that the current version of Leeds United could be brought further into disrepute by a winding-up petition asking it’s wonderful current owners to pay a bill? Have they got any kind of decent reputation AT ALL? The only way Leeds United will sink further into that cesspit is if Cellino gets hold of it.

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  10. Flowers has made a big mistake with actions. I don,t any part of his super consortium near. Leeds United. We would end up in the championship for the next ten years. He has done. Massimo a favour I would. Choose him over the others , even though the paranoid lust support would not agree.

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  11. john palmer

    I’ ve been saying all along there isn’t an honest millionare the naïve people who think Flowers & his crew are more moral are sniffing the lattes at last Get CELLINO quick I say. I don’t lie WUP & Idont like WOP THERES ONLY 1 WAY TO DECIDE FIIIIGHT (Harry Hill )

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  12. God it comes to something when we are now hoping for Celino to take over, maybe he pais flowers to do this?

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  13. Sorry for the typo, i meant to say Paid

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  14. Give the Italian a go, at least he has a bit of passion! the way to get him “on side” is to stroke his ego…..make him think he decided to keep McDermott!
    The Italians are a loyal bunch once you get them on side.!!
    Plus he has a few Lira too! and probably a few mill worth of Bitcoin!

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  15. I agree with nc, Mr flowers & co don’t seem to have any serious cash and a move to their consortium would seem to be same shit different day. Everybody involved with owning this club over the past 10 years have had only one intention , bleed the club dry. IE Mr Big fan flowers is doing ok on his loan to the club 1.5 million @ 7% interest .
    Also their is concern about the amount of managers cellinio gets through! ( how many have lufc got through in the last 10 years, I’ve lost count )
    Cellinio seems to the only person in the running with any money, he’s owned Cagliari for 20+ years. He also seems to be in it for the glory not the money. I’m ready for change!!!!

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  16. Marlon Brando

    Great article Rob.I have always been scepticle of the ‘local’ heroes riding in like White Knights. Remember Krazna, Morrison (Morris?), Levi etc, none of them really had a piggy bank to piss in. That is why the wiser Diablo Bates barged his way in extracting cash while being a little parsimonius to say the least. This lot will do the same.
    I like this character Cellino, he is not the oger people think. He has looked after a club for twenty years. OK, Brian Mac will be a casualty, but try telling Chelski fans that replacing a manager every year is stupid, I could not count the League titles, European Cup, domestic cups etc they have won over the last 7/8 years with as many managers. Wake up Leeds fans, stability comes with success and the days of managers ‘building’ a club on mid table mediocraty (as we are) are gone.
    We’ve been crying out for an uber rich billionaire, we nearly have one, if it happens, hang on to your seats. It’s going to be one hell of a ride ( to the Premiership guaranteed).

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  17. This tactic seems to suggest its all about business with Flowers. Previously we the fans had been led to believe the Sport Capital bid was all about “real Leeds fans” with the clubs interest at heart.
    The whole crazy situation is way above our heads and out of our hands. If the club is in such dire straits financially why would anyone want to buy it? I cannot see Sport Capital having deep enough pockets to fund the reported cash gap, GFH have managed this whole exercise farcically and are totally responsible for the mess at the current moment. Haigh has lost all credibility.
    I am beginning to believe a crazy rich Italian might be the only way out. After all he has already felt the passion of the fans and if he still continues with his bid he must see something he wants to still be involved in.

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  18. There has been a significant shift towards Cellino because many leeds fans cant think beyond it being about who will spend the most money. I think its neive to assume Cellino will spend massive amounts of money beyond the first year and in the mean time will remove a good man in BM.

    Yes Bm has had his critics but I believe management is often about luck and circumstances. I really like Brian, hes intelligent and I think in time and with half decent backing hed come good for us

    As for cellino I think it would make sense for him to keep Brian untl The summer now as this is his team and Cellino wont be able to replace the squad with Italian reserve players until then.

    Im very sad and I really really hope it will all be worth it and the Italian doesn’t just mirroe the disaster that was Bates…..we will see

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  19. mark benson

    Why do we assume flowers to be the bad guy? Are we not forgetting that he has sponsored the club and lent gfh a hefty sum to boot. Gfh stock market value jumped when they announced sports capitals due diligence period. Haigh was involved with this bid. Seems to me gfh used flowers to get cellino interested then double crossed flowers when cellino made an offer. Gfh it seems did not offer sports capital the chance to make a counter offer or offer any other potential bidder a chance. The way flowers has been treated I for one do not think him to be unreasonable to take this action. Would you trust cellino and/or gfh to repay him?

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  20. BMD is anice guy ,But he thinks Austin isa good player Durr.Cellino is in so protesting will only cause aBates type relationship with the fans wait & see 2 wins & you will all have Italian flags wrapped round you,remember Kebe was the DEVIL TUES., SUPER HERO SATURDAY.JUST ONE CORNETTO

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  21. Sniffers shorts

    So flowers is out of the picture thank Christ as he would have sat on us for a quick profit within a few years ……. I have just heard john majeski speaking about Reading ….. His words were I can’t afford this club ….. Football is for billionaires not millionaires wake up every body who loves this club …… Please !

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  22. I hope that Andrew flowers has spat his dummy out, I really do! Because his words are very clear and concise tonight. This deal is for GFH and not Leeds United, the fans or the community! If Cellino works out so well snd good, but if it doesn’t there could be years of pain and misery, may be, even as a second rate side in the PL. hope not, but for all of those who want to snatch the money, be careful about what you wish for! Also, just think how much money he has put into Leeds to support the club. Think we should take care when judging him.

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  23. mark benson

    Another thing rob. Gfh due diligence ran for nearly two months. Sports capitals ran two months too. Cellino had his bid accepted three days after sports capitals bid collapsed . Now did cellino bid with just three days of scrutiny of the accounts or did he have access during sports capitals due diligence period? Either cellino taking a bIg gamble or gfh been in negotiations with him at the same time as sports capital.

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  24. Lets hope it gets settled this week now that Flowers has thrown in the towel. I think we all might be surprised by Cellino so please let’s not condemn him before he really gets his feet under the table.
    I am sure he has taken careful note of the fans on Saturday.

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  25. Hello you English, I think I deserve a chance cos I Love Leeds and I will be good for you all! I will keep BM and give him big pay, like David Moyes and I will buy back ER and you can have new training ground too if I can sit in dugout, so I can advice manager where he goes wrong. Not many managers in PL so I expect that they will all be our manager in next two years. I don’t sack managers – this is very wrong – I just rotate them. I av plenty Euros, so like big squad of managers. I look forward to taking training and freezing out Ross Mc Cormack for speaking kindly about manager and scoring those silly goals – he needs to grow up.
    Bye for now but see you soon. Chorn King

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