Football League Treatment of Leeds Utd Fans is “Cruel and Unusual” – by Rob Atkinson


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Justice delayed is justice denied

“Cruel and unusual” is a highly descriptive phrase identifying treatment which is considered illegal due to the suffering, pain, or humiliation it inflicts on the person or persons subjected to it.  It has an American flavour these days, due to the fact that it forms the sharp end of the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution, which was designed to protect citizens from being too harshly treated by over-zealous law-enforcers in the Land of the Free.  Yet the words were first used as far back as 1689 in the English Bill of Rights, as the Old Country sought to limit the excesses of the various courts as they set about correcting malefactors.  A similar form of words also appears in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Whichever piece of history you might choose, these are powerful words, specifying and ruling out of bounds judicial and other behaviour which is considered fundamentally unacceptable, uncivilised and uncalled-for. And yet somehow you still have Guantanemo Bay in the US of A – and over here in Merrie Olde England, we have the Football League.

In a sporting context, it’s hard to conceive of a situation more closely approximating to “cruel and unusual” than the Football League’s casually callous attitude to the hapless and frustrated fans of Leeds United, as their scrutiny of Massimo Cellino goes on and on, ad nauseam.  To provide a little background, Leeds fans have been waiting for over a decade now for some obliging Knight to ride in on his white charger and bear us all off to a brighter and happier future.  It’s been years of purgatory, humiliation and having to grub around in competition with clubs not fit to lace the boots of former Champions.  And when, at long, long last, a potential saviour enters upon our tableau of suffering, with promises of rich bounty and an enhanced wage structure, what do the Gentlemen of the League do? They shilly-shally most grievously, that’s what.  They mank about, ineffectually. They spin the whole bloody thing out until the nerves of all Leeds fans, whether they want the Italian or not, are as red and raw as meat on a butcher’s block.

It’s almost as if, in fact, they take pleasure from the long, drawn-out, torturous nature of their interminable process.  Meanwhile, criminals, idiots and despots rule the roost at various other clubs, and nobody says them nay.  Cellino, no more than a likeable rogue and certainly not the heavy-duty villain you find without too much effort elsewhere in the Championship, must feel rather picked-upon, to say the very least.  It’s not fair; it’s not even remotely funny unless you’re some leering idiot that supports Sheffield Wendies or some other such bitter, Leeds-hating outfit. It’s the stuff of malice and persecution, the kind of thing that seems to happen only to Leeds fans – there’s no wonder some call us paranoid (And we’re not, not at all.  They’re just getting at us).

Even when the end-game seemed to be upon us, still they’ve umm-ed and ah-ed away in their ivory tower, in that aloof, patronising, annoying way common to all such pettifogging bureaucrats.  We’re meant to take from all this that they’re so busy and important, with weighty matters to consider, the kind of things that mere turnstile fodder could never hope to understand.  Don’t they realise that we see only a bunch of daft old gits in suits, blundering around, trying and failing to distinguish arse from elbow? So when an Italian court pronounced Cellino guilty on Tuesday of some silly technical tax misdemeanour, fining him and grabbing his yacht, could the League not then have acted decisively?  At least we would have known where we stand.  But this latest five-day-and-counting extension to the already lengthy wait for some sort of decision – it’s just added bitter insult to grievous injury.

GFH also have to bear a large portion of blame for such a farcical, overblown and ridiculous situation.  Their latest clumsy attempt to impose some sort of order took the form of an ultimatum to the League to get the matter sorted by close of play Thursday.  Naturally, the League – standing on their supposed dignity – airily disregarded this.  Such incredibly important gentlemen are evidently not to be told what to do and when to do it by a bunch of investment bankers.  So they continue to take their own sweet time, to scratch their well-upholstered backsides and ruminate away, absorbing tea and biscuits and achieving the square root of sod-all.

Meanwhile, the fans continue to be treated as mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed on crap.  And we suffer, not in silence – because there are some very angry people out here – but we suffer nevertheless; our club is important to us, and we’ve done nothing to deserve all this.  We just want answers, stability, some idea of where we are and where we’re going, if anywhere.  We want a future, one that might in some way make up for some of the dark hopelessness of the past twelve years.

All of these men in suits, at some point or another, have paid lip service to recognising that the situation – the stupidly long delay – is not ideal for the fans.  They have acknowledged that there are many thousands of us out here, deeply affected by the goings-on at Leeds United, deeply apprehensive about what the future holds, profoundly upset and humiliated by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which buffet our club, while so many others seem to have a relatively untroubled existence.  They have nodded their heads wisely, and expressed regret.  But still the silly charade goes on.

It does appear likely that, at some point in the next few days (touch wood), we will get an answer.  We were even told it might be by yesterday (Friday). But that was probably just to emphasise that it wouldn’t be happening on Thursday, as GFH had demanded.  In any event, Friday came and went, and nowt happened. The previous time-scale of ten days would take us up to the end of the weekend, meaning that another vital match has to be played in a cloud of uncertainty.  Nobody seems genuinely to care what all of this is doing to the legions of harmless and inoffensive people for whom Leeds United forms an extremely important part of their everyday lives.  It’s scandalously thoughtless, unforgivably casual. In context, it is definitively cruel and unusual, the kind of thing no body of supporters, with the exception of Man U, should ever have to put up with.  But we’re Leeds, so – apparently – we’re fair game for this sort of thing.

There are many out here now who don’t care half as much which way this decision goes, as they do about finally getting some decision, so that we can take stock and move on.  Limbo is supposed to have been abolished by the Vatican seven years ago, but it’s where we’ve all been for the most part of this year so far, and it’s not very bloody nice.  So please – after we’ve dealt with Millwall or they’ve dealt with us this Saturday – can we possibly call a halt to the most nonsensical period of uncertainty I can recall since the original TOMA? Because we really have had quite enough cruel and unusual treatment now, thanks.

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36 responses to “Football League Treatment of Leeds Utd Fans is “Cruel and Unusual” – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Yes they are seriously taking the piss.. think this is 1 of yours rob “slower than a tory at a free buffet” 😉 the whole thing is just dripping hypocrisy whichever camp ur in and its disgusting.

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  2. Pattaya White

    Another well written and articulate blog Rob .
    When I look at the make up of the FL panel that are sitting in judgment on us and see Keith Lambs name there , that says it all . This is the guy that cost Boro their Premiership status years ago by not submitting documents to the FL in time to tell them that Boro had a virus in the Squad and they could not send a team out at Blackburn . They failed to complete the fixture and were docked 3 points and relegated . This is one of the Guys sitting on the panel with the Millwall and Blackpool Chairmen that love having us in the same league as them . Don’t get me started on our ex I’m working my socks off Bates puppet .
    Us Leeds fans hope for the best and expect the worse , it has always been this way since Hardaker the Revie hater .
    Keep them coming Rob and sharpen your pencil for when we get our teeth kicked out again by the FL in rejecting our Italian savior .

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  3. Kelly hxwhite

    Good article Rob I think all Leeds fans would agree we seem to b whipping boys when the choose the unfair treatment of the club by the football authoritiesbooth here and abroad, Milan, Paris both scandalous in there own right then there was the point docking exercise of letting the league’s chairmen decide a true sign of cowardice passing the decision to somebody else and now the treatment of our club again regarding the takeover of mr cellinio that the man as mot legged or back to Miami is beyond me all that can b said is good luck today lads hope the give us something to smile about, in brain we almost trust nearly but MOT

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  4. IMHO they are doing it deliberately to antagonise the fans and the club. As Pattaya White says, look at the board members and you can see why we are being messed about much to their great glee. They want us in the lower divisions because of our fantastic away support and the payday the opposition gets from playing the Whites. Our only way we can get any form of revenge if the answer is no is to boycott all away games for the rest of this season and all of next season. Just about every club in the championship has had it’s highest attendance when we are the visitors so boycotting them will make some mark on their hoped for paydays.
    One of the board members is a Millwall director so if he does attend todays match at ER then hopefully after the game he can be given the treatment Cellino got and trapped in the ground afterwards although I suspect Haigh would do his best to rescue him.
    Another great blog Rob, at least you tell it like it is unlike the media.

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    • I really feel most FL processes are blighted by self-interest and not over-burdened by intellectual vigour. This sort of case cries out for an independent body of qualified people under the guidance of a senior lawyer.

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      • They probably think they are the best qualified people to keep us down. After all two of the members from the championship are close to relegation so getting us down there they think will help them escape. Would these idiots listen to a senior lawyer, I have my doubts but the idea is better than good.

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  5. Our fans, like all football fans, are fickle with short memories. When news of Cellino first broke we had another option and complained this man should not be allowed near our club. Now he is the best option we want the FL to forget all our complaints and let him in quickly but the league know the press will moan if they do – and so will we if it all goes wrong again – so they don’t know what to do. Their answer is to delay and hope it goes away somehow but they will have to make a decision soon. Just hope our club can get through this to get back where we belong!

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  6. Excellent piece Rob of well written frustration!
    The sad thing is though there are certain so called ‘fans’ on those pond life forums in the old style of BBC 606 who think the FL are doing nothing wrong & simply protecting our club from the ogre that is Cellino. Yes he’s colourful & has a bit of history bit is he really that bad?
    One jolly fellow with a name sounding like BUNTY considers Administration the better option than Cellino & reckons there are any number of more suitable would be investors lining up to takeover our once great club.
    Seriously, there are some very strange folk in Watford especially those who like their tennis.

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    • Oh HIM. Mr S. Had my run-ins on 606 with that cove, he thinks he’s God’s gift to Leeds Utd forums. Arse.

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      • Rob, quite & I couldn’t agree more.
        The independent body shout with a legal eagle & properly trained eye is exactly what is required when making decisions of such magnitude. The future of LUFC is at stake here & the minimum we should expect is some urgency & professionalism in the decision making process.
        These attributes are not common traits within the FL hierarchy or indeed, the FA for that matter. Football governance has proven itself time & time again to be incompetent & rarely fit for purpose. When u consider the names of the chief protagonists ruling on our club’s future then it beggars belief.
        This is not a self interested rant but rather, a statement of the obvious as far as football governance in this country is concerned.
        The fact that LUFC are still a big draw in the FL wouldn’t of course have anything to do with their desire to keep us down because of course, it’s not as if we are on tv that often these days what withnot being famous anymore & all that.
        The whole thing is a sham – if the decision is no then be done with it – Trial over.

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      • I truly wonder if they have the least notion of just how profoundly pissed-off we are.

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  7. Kev mcgarrigle

    God help us if Cellino had committed a criminal act, thank god last weeks case was a civil matter.
    Let’s remember Oystons brother who owns Blackpool served 6 years for rape, I suppose nepotism counts for some things.

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  8. I wouldn’t worry about it, Rob as that is exactly what the Millwall Chief Executive wants you to hence the reason he will influence a delay in the decision. We’re in complete disarray at the moment so he will at least want to extend it beyond this afternoon after his sides 6 pointer.

    We all know what the outcome will be anyway. I’ve said it before whatever situation we find ourselves in the worse case scenario will happen – every time. I knew all along something like this would happen that’s why I’m not really that disappointed.

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  9. David Smith

    Rob – another well written and passionate article. Agreed the delay is inexcusable, but the naive side of me hopes that there could yet be a ‘yes response’ to the takeover? As for matters football, surely some sort of a result today win or draw is required to save what is left of our dignity and Mr McDermott’s job!

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  10. Gordon baxendale 67 years a supporter

    If FL are awaiting details, written judgement is within 90days of last Tuesday , we could be into next season before decision is made!!!!!!

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  11. It wouldn’t surprise me if come Sunday the FL release another statement explaining that they are still waiting for Cellino & GFH to provide the relevant documentation. That seems to be their usual ‘get out of jail’ card. The whole thing is beyond farcical and yet still I spend my free time searching for any update. Oh well, 3 points today will cheer me up!

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  12. The ultimatum was a stupid move by GFH that will add a few more days of frustration.Its all a joke anyway, every millionaire is or has been a crook in some way, why make such afuss over Cellino?

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      • Makes me wonder if any of the FL board have been done for tax evasion, wouldn’t know how to check. You can bet your bottom dollar others that have passed the fit and proper test have and I bet they will not have been so called spent either.

        It’s annoying to say the least how people who call themselves responsibile adults are sitting in jobs in the FL. I agree we should have a independant board who have nothing to gain and are whiter than white for passing judgement on things like this. Sack the FL and all those that corruptly sail with her.

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      • I feel a campaign coming on for some sort of impartial judiciary. If Cellino is failed, I shall be publishing something rather critical of the evident conflict of interests situation.

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  13. I suppose the longer it goes on just goes in cellino’s favour ,, the FL are going to look pretty stupid if they finally come out and say he’s unfit , the football world will turn round and say “its took you this long to say that”?? At least this way when they say yes he can buy Leeds then no one can accuse them of being rash , its my theory rob and I’m sticking to it !!!!

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    • I like it Mr O! I will keep everything crossed that you’re right. Surely even the Cellino-outers would like to see an end to this uncertainty and would give the guy a chance. No Cellino and we’re still in limbo.

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  14. Guiseley White

    If administration is likely should Cellino not be approved how can people from Millwall and Blackpool act independently as a 10 point deduction (and knowing theFL it could be worse than 10) for us suddenly gives their own survival hopes a boost.

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  15. Wasn’t Karl Oyston declared bankrupt a short while ago Rob?

    If so, sets the standard for fit and proper alongside Shaun Admin Harvey then.

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    • But they don’t have a standard, they deal in double standards! More faces than the town hall clock too.

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      • I understand the FL are looking for a new non exec director too.

        Surely too good an opportunity for Peter Ridsdale to pass up when he is just across town at PNE? Oh yes, I forgot ,he is banned from being a director for 7 years so will just have to act as adviser to the board. He really does know how to f*** Leeds up.

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  16. Yes our club is important to us and we have done nothing to deserve all this its our own Game Of Thrones….. MOT

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  17. Sorry lads. The FL has made its decision. They drew things out until the outcome of the yacht trial, which they can’t have been oblivious to.

    Now they will stick strictly to their “procedures”, comparable to Barquentine’s hobble-footed Gormenghastian rituals, before finally saying “no”.

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  18. I do wonder if some fans have actually look at what MC has done in Italy . Cagliari have spent best part of 20 years in sarie A that’s like York (no offence York it’s just to get size scale) In the PL one of the only reasons they have no ground is down to authority’s in Italy blocking the ground so what has he done on football side that they don’t like one person said oh he buys cheap Brazilian youngsters and selling them for big profit I don’t get it
    Give him a chance it would be nice not to have someone who doesn’t have begging bowl out for a change

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  19. philip duxbury

    This is not unusual treatment of leeds fans. This set of b******s have done this ever since Revie walked out on england before they had chance to sack him!
    Double whammy on administration, sitting on their hands when leeds applied for their point deduction reduced.
    Judging Bates to be fit and proper, the extreme depths they must have dug to investigate whether the only skint arabs had enough finances in place to run the club! Danger is, they may have found somebody who has.

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  20. Here’s a thought… the FL struggling to arrive at any sort of decision decide to put it to a full members vote, I.e. All other 71 clubs can have a say in our future… sound familiar? Clearly this wouldn’t represent any conflict of interest, just like it didn’t when they handed out those lovely 15 points. The whole process stinks and the organisation is rotten to the core, like any of those board members want to deliver what’s best for LUFC!

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  21. Pingback: The Football League: Incompetent, Corrupt, Arrogant Hypocrites – by Rob Atkinson | La Vita, Leeds United, l'Universo e Tutto

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