Reports emerging today indicate that Massimo Cellino’s takeover of Leeds United may be on the brink of collapse. The Football League, which has been busily delving away for any excuse to deny United a seriously minted owner, now appear likely – it is said – to wait for the outcome of a forthcoming court case in Italy, to be heard on March 18th. Cellino has, by all accounts, pumped millions into Leeds United already, in the form of loans short of his ratification as owner. If that ratification does not now transpire, the loans could be called in – and the Leeds United financial cupboard is bare.
Meanwhile, Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung has been found guilty of five counts of money laundering by a court in Hong Kong. This does not appear to be causing any great degree of panic or concern at the Football League, occupied as they are in seeking any excuse to put Leeds United into trouble – a League tradition dating back fifty years or so.
Such apparent double standards are unlikely to go down well with the Leeds United support, the bulk of which – although initially suspicious of Cellino – are now ready to embrace a man whose actions have already spoken louder than any words. The Leeds support and others with the interests of the club at heart will want answers to several questions, for example:
- Why are the likes of Yeung, Abramovich, Tan and Allam allowed to do pretty much as they like without official interference, while Cellino seems to have been treated as Public Enemy #1 from the outset?
- Why is the League’s due process being spun out to include court cases yet to be heard? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
- Why are Leeds United yet again being treated in a way which is demonstrably less favourable as compared to other clubs?
- What is the League stance on the positive impact of Cellino during his spell as de facto owner? Wages paid on time when they otherwise might not have been; high profile loan signings; the avoidance of a winding-up order by payment of a debt to Enterprise Insurance. All the actions of a man fit and proper to be running the club, surely?
- In the light of all the above – just what the hell does it take to be accepted as fit and proper? Is Ken Bates the yardstick?
This circus has gone on long enough. If the Football League get their way, Leeds will be plunged into administration again, with no guarantee of a solid future for one of English football’s great names. That’s not good enough.
We want answers, and we want them NOW.