Is Shaun Harvey the Right Man to Rule on Leeds Takeover? – by Rob Atkinson


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Shaun Harvey – smile on the face of the jackal?

The natural state of any football fan is one of unease, dissatisfaction, maybe even a touch of paranoia. The game is like that; it builds you up, raises your expectations – and then brings you crashing down to earth with an almighty bump. There are exceptions, of course. Some sets of fans have it easy by regular standards. But there are few hiding places, few protected bubbles of success. Even Man U fans, in their Devon armchairs, have experienced the bitter tang of reality this season.

How much more likely is it, then, that we fans of Leeds United will view the world outside of our own beloved club with a jaundiced and suspicious eye, ready at any time for some or other callous institution to do us a bad turn. Look at our history over the past half-century, and there’s never been too long between one grievous injustice and the next.

Now we wait for the Football League to pass judgement on a takeover that might just see us free of the sucking morass of poverty that’s been dragging us down for so long. We are looking at two sharply diverging paths ahead: upwards towards top-flight glory with funding appropriate to the size of the club – or back down among the dead men, without a pot to do the proverbial in, headed for another administration and ruing the day. Which shall it be? Leeds United must await the long, gleefully drawn-out pleasure of the Football League.

And who, pray, sits at the head of the body making this future-defining judgement? Why, it is none other than Shaun Harvey, erstwhile CEO of Leeds United in the unlamented Bates years, complicit in the actions which typified the reign of a man who once swore to bring about the death of our club, if he possibly could. When Bates finally fell, Harvey was finished at Leeds too. The two acted in tandem during a nightmare period for United and, in the minds of Whites fans, there was little to choose between them in the final analysis.

So how has a man with such baggage as this ended up as the ultimate arbiter in a case with such grave implications for a famous old football club to which he contributed no great service during his time there? How could such a possible conflict of interests have been allowed to transpire? Can real justice be done here? Can it be seen to be done??

It’s certainly not an ideal situation, is it – not by any stretch of the imagination. But, lest we forget, the League have prior form for tolerating what would seem to be blatant conflicts of interest regarding Leeds, and in the fairly recent past, too. During United’s first season in League One, the thorny issue of the 15 point deduction – the controversy which eventually denied Leeds an immediate, automatic promotion – was voted on by fellow League clubs, many of whom, our League One rivals, had a vested interest in keeping Leeds at that level, thereby benefiting from our phenomenal away support.

Was justice served? It ended up as a massively complex and technical question. But was it seen to be served? Those vested interests, that undeniable conflict between parochial benefits and the greater good – they say no. Nottingham Forest, the direct beneficiaries of this carve-up, would argue the opposite as they celebrated an unearned promotion. But the whole thing left a nasty taste which persists to this day.

Neither, in the instant case, will justice be seen to have been done if Shaun Harvey should be instrumental in any decision to deny United the lifeline that Cellino appears to represent. Rumours from London cabbies about possible South African consortia aside, the Italian seems to be the only game in town. If he is now compelled to walk away, Leeds will almost certainly be in dire straits, unable to meet running costs, tumbling headlong towards another administration and all that that entails. Is that what the League, under Harvey, actually want? Many United fans of a certain age, able to remember the malice and vindictiveness towards Leeds United of one Alan Hardaker, will nod glumly and say “Aye, most bloody likely they do.”

If Leeds are to be cheated of their saviour, must it really be signalled by a Judas in the reptilian form of Shaun Harvey, poised to betray his former club with the kiss of death? Couldn’t they at least maintain a semblance of judicial disinterest, reaching a decision without the dubious input or decisive vote of Bates’ former henchman – leading as it might to a fulfilment of old Ken’s 30 years-ago vow to kill Leeds United off once and for all?

If things pan out that way, everyone will know that there’s something rotten in the state of our football administration. Anomalies like this should not crop up, not when the fate of a football club – which, let’s not forget, looms so large in so many thousands of lives – is quite probably at stake.

Let’s have the right decision, by the League’s own rules – the standards that permit paragons of virtue like Carson Yeung, Vincent Tan and Assem Allam to run various of our clubs. Cellino would be OK by that reckoning – so let him get in and get on with saving the club which gave English League Football its finest team.

But if it all goes wrong – well. We’ll know at whom to point the accusing finger of blame – won’t we?

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25 responses to “Is Shaun Harvey the Right Man to Rule on Leeds Takeover? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Agreed this is like Turkeys voting for Christmas. I have a Leylandi tree in my back garden that has more integrity and intelligence than Shaun Harvey. This is a typical footballing ethical dilemma. That said Cellino will continue with his bid and the league will sanction it

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  2. Are the Football League Awards at The Brewery in Chiswell Street again this Sunday? I will happily stand outside with my Leeds shirt on with a placard with “Harvey Hypocrite” for the arrival of Shaun should this deal not go through. I may be able to muster up a few London Whites to join me. The more the merrier. Anyone in?

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  3. Derek mathieson

    a scary article Rob.I do subscribe to conspiracy theories and I believe Bates when he said he would do all we can to destroy us.There is something not right about Harvey presiding over this.The court date in Italy coincides with my 50th birthday.Am hoping for good news but the longer this goes on the more likely I think they will reject him.I don’t think FL will care that this will put us back in administration

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  4. By their own rules, perhaps the League aren’t investigating Cellino Snr at all? He’d have to own more than 10% of the club and clearly the company set up to buy Leeds is supposedly 90% owned by his children. What could possibly go wrong?

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  5. We’d be better off with Shaun the sheep on the board. Or maybe Shaun Harvey is Shaun the sheep in disguise. Can’t make my mind up on that one.

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  6. Reality Cheque

    Spot on Rob. Clearly, the chairmen of our league rivals are confident that Harvey will act in their best interests (and the best interests of his former employer Ken Bates) rather than act favourably for Leeds United otherwise they would have been up in arms about massive ‘conflicts of interest’, ‘justice not being seen to be done’ etc etc. It makes me realise that we should have been far more vocal than asking a local MP to question Harvey’s motives for the endless delays by the FL on our behalf, but we have been too distracted by the calamity occurring under our own roof both on and off the pitch. I suspect we would have strong grounds to appeal an unwanted decision by the FL on the grounds you have raised but sadly, Cellino has already made it clear that he would just walk away without a fight!!! (shrewd business bluff or what???) I suspect that we will have a decision within the next 48 hours so fingers and toes crossed Rob. (except when typing your amazing posts of course!!). MOT

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  7. From our own experience Harvey is not the most effective bloke in the world. Regardless, he should have declared a conflict of interest and stepped outside the process. By not stepping aside he has left himself open to questions and Cellino indicated as much when he said that he did not want to be involved in other people’ s fights. This time next week though we should have a decision. It all leaves a nasty taste though in terms of wrong doings and treachery.

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  8. Rob see the piece I YEP this morning from David Haigh. At least it provides some reassurance financially for now. The answer is unambiguous. It simply says the club is not in financial difficulties and never has been. Cellino is the best person to take us forward and that the financial panic has been caused by Flowers throwing out his dummy. We are impatient for news of the takeover, so well done to the YEP. I hope that they now run an article on Harvey and the FL but it needs more than just sitting at a desk and word processing. They should ring Rebecca Brooks for advice. Lol.

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  9. Sadly Rob,you may well be correct, unfortunately for us the old adage of “he who has commited no sin” will probably cut no ice with the FA, after all when where they this “thorough” with many other owners? The blue nosed in Brum are just one example that slipped through a not so thorough check, apparently their away kit next season has arrows on it.

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  10. Who’s to say that Cellino is the shining, messiah-like panacea we’re all hoping he is. Granted, he is all we’ve got but his record isn’t exactly perfect and for me, it exemplifies the state our club is in – when the overwhelming majority of fans accept the “Cellino is the Lord” narrative without question.
    Howevs, I am sick of the bloody chaos at Leeds United – why do the FA ratify the premiership of dodgy gits like Abramovich et al. but then suddenly get a dose of ethically-based reticence when mulling over Cellino’s bid to takeover Leeds United? The only good thing left at Leeds United is we the fans.

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  11. By the way Rob, have you read the article by Haigh in the Yorkshire Post this morning? Why didn’t they ask the right searching questions? He says there is no chance of Leeds going into Administration and the 2 million he has invested in the club is still sitting there. So why has Cellino had to bail us out for about 7 million. If the FL turn Cellino down who would stump up 25 million to GFH and then pay back Cellino and fund the club forwards? They may as well wait to buy from the Administrator and take the hit on the points. As far as I can see it’s Cellino or bust. I don’t see GFH supporting the club in the interim and they have clearly demonstrated a lack of their own funds. I am not holding my breath on the FL making a positive decision today but hope I am wrong.
    It’s a complete mess and misery both on and off the pitch and the specter of Bates being over the road at Subway horrifies me when we know he already tried to retain the media rights when he sold.
    I have been supporting this club since the 1950’s and seen some hard times and some great times but this present debacle is the worst of times.

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    • Haven’t seen it yet, but just from your summary I detect the aroma of bovine ordure through a smokescreen of dodgy reassurances.

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      • Indeed, a distinct whiff of Eau De Bull No. 2 around Elland Road at the moment and it’s definitely not my Dad’s Hai Karate.

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  12. Guiseley White

    Answer to the question posed – no he isn’t. Personally wouldn’t employ him to clean the toilets at my business, but that’s my choice. Exactly how these people get the jobs they get is beyond me.

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  13. wetherby white

    harveys not fit for any form of purpuse. Was this toad look alike not one of a group of individuals who sanctioned the East Stand building project? One of the worst decisions ever made in the history of a club who have made more than most. Just looking at his smug little face makes me want to get go my fathers gun and shoot the…etc

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  14. Peter Doubt.

    How many hospitals would watch a patient bleed to death while procrastinating about the importance of survival itself. Leeds are hemorrhaging money every day, hour, minute while the FL find time to look at the situation, maybe today or maybe next week, (shrug of shoulders).
    Meanwhile these ‘fit and proper’ FL suits do not give the slightest of sympathies to the many small businesses who supply LUFC who could go to the wall with an administration imminent at Leeds unless Massimo gets the nod. To keep the game clean they should be bothered big time. These small businesses are run by real men and women on 300 quid a week not footballers on 15k a week. They need their jobs, pay the mortgage and cloth the children- real people in a real world crushed by FL siuts, now, I ask, who are the real ‘fit and proper’ people in all this, certainly not Harvey and Co. at the FL.

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  15. not very bright of Haigh to say no chance of administration – gives the FL the green light to send Cellino packing to demonstrate its piety without destroying the club.

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  16. Harvey and Haigh and GFH are no better than that devils spawn Bates. Many of them proport to being Leeds fans, with the best interests of Leeds United at heart, Sorry if they were Leeds, like us supporters they would have sorted this out ages ago. Like a rabbit lying by the side of the road with Mixamatosis, we need someone to put us out of our misery once and for all. I wouldnt be surprised if Cellino Jnr turns around to his pop and says, fuck this for a game of soldiers, lets go and buy some other club that wants us and our support

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  17. snifferclarkesboots

    Here is part of the problem. The FL don’t want to appear even more of a bunch of monkeys than they already are. The question is will they use Cellino as an example to show off their newly discovered ‘integrity’? (That’s assuming he is guilty which some swear he is, some swear he isn’t and some like the FL are not quite sure.)

    http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/mar/13/carson-yeung-offences-birmingham-city-fit-and-proper-test

    ‘Patience is a virtue’ – especially if you are a Leeds’ fan.

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  18. Lets face it Rob, It isn’t as though there’s a mile long queue of people waiting to inject their cash into the club, whilst I disagree with the way things happened with BMCD on that day, I think Cellinos intentions have spoken volumes, I mean how many people would pay their own money into a business that wasn’t technically theirs? Only to be shafted by the FL in the process

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  19. Kevin Wilson

    Couldn’t agree more Rob. Shaun Harvey is not a ‘fit and proper person’ to be judging our future. If it does go pear shaped we should start taking positive action ourselves. A couple of years ago a demonstration and march was organised against Ken Bates. With our substantial away support maybe we should organise an away day to the FL’s Head Quarters and make our feelings known there.

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