With the Leeds United takeover still dragging on and on, it’s possible to imagine that Massimo Cellino is taking a glance around the rest of English football – and wondering what he’s done so wrong that the game’s highly-respectable and august authorities appear to be wrinkling their noses at him.
Should he, for example, be following the example of Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan? Here is a man who has breezed into the club he’s bought and started treating it exactly like the plaything he obviously feels he’s acquired. Riding roughshod over supporters’ vehement objections, he’s now got the Bluebirds playing in red, he’s sacked the manager who did such a sterling job in getting them elevated to the Premier League for the first time since Noah was a lad – and he’s been heard disconsolately enquiring why the goalkeeper doesn’t score a few goals here and there. The latest Tan bright idea was to offer his players a £3.7m bonus to avoid relegation, an incentive swiftly withdrawn after it was pointed out to Vapid Vincent that this was illegal. Just to show they couldn’t be bought, his players went and lost at Spurs anyway. Cardiff were certainly struggling under Malky Mackay – as is only to be expected in that perilous first season up. But now, one ill-conceived managerial change later, they look doomed to relegation. Fit and proper? I wouldn’t want him at Leeds, thanks very much.
Or there’s the chap at Hull City, Assem Allam. He doesn’t have much regard for history or tradition either. He’s not going to change the strip though, as Mr Tan so controversially did at Cardiff. No, Assem likes the strip, and he likes the Tigers nickname that goes with it. So much so, that he wishes to rename the club Hull Tigers, exposing their horrified fans to ridicule from the rest of the football fraternity. (Tigers, Tigers, rah, rah, rah!!) To those who protested, adopting “City till we die” as their rallying cry, kindly old Uncle Assem has commented: “they can die as soon as they want”. Fit and proper? Hmmmm.
And further south still, we have those upright, downright pillars of the community who run West Ham – porn barons Sullivan & Gold. Their avowed mission, to provide prurient entertainment, salacious scandal and gorgeous, pouting tits by the barrow load to every UK breakfast table, has not caused even the slightest of ripples at the FA or Football League.
Meanwhile, Massimo Cellino, having exchanged contracts with the useless GFH, is the de facto owner of Leeds United. He has kept us going through what appears to be a cash crisis which would have brought the club to the brink of administration and disaster, were it not for his financial support. Instead of going to the wall, United have been able to carry on, with Cellino paying off Enterprise Insurance – which has led to the sulky withdrawal of their petulant winding-up petition – paying the staff wages on time, funding the acquisition of two high-quality loan additions in the past fortnight and generally acting like a responsible – dare I say it? – fit and proper person to take Leeds United forward into a much more assured future – as compared to the last decade or so under a succession of potless chancers who the League appeared quite happy to see screwing things up.
Really – it’s almost as though the Football League, under that model of propriety Shaun Harvey, have a neat set of double standards and principles so flexible they might very well be called totally bent. All those dodgy geezers in charge of other clubs, and not an eyebrow raised anywhere until this latest Tan gaffe. And there’s poor old Massimo, doing his best, funding our skint club – and they seem to be digging deep for any excuse to tell him to get lost. Perhaps the King of Corn should be trying to emulate the Kings of Porn in order to gain this elusive acceptance. Perhaps he should change the Leeds United strip to pink with green spots, or start offering illegal bonuses à la Tan at Cardiff. Or maybe he could sweetly advise the denizens of the Gelderd End to accept a change of name to Leeds Peacocks, or end up sleeping with the fishes? Any of these seem to attract more official approval than the Italian’s current, inoffensive and supportive stance.
It does make you wonder – doesn’t it?