Whatsamatter You, Haigh? Gotta No Respect? – by Rob Atkinson


Massimo Cellino

Massimo Cellino

Reports that a winding-up petition against Leeds United FC had been issued by Sport Capital (Sole director: former United CEO David Haigh) were initially dismissed, due to the fact that they had first appeared in notorious lie-rag the Daily Mirror.  However, it now appears that – contrary to the best traditions of tabloid journalism in this country – there may have been an element of truth in the story.

It seems that the matter is to be considered by a judge in that there London on June 9th, according to documents seen by the altogether more reliable Yorkshire Evening Post.  This follows a statutory demand which set a 21 day deadline for payment of £957,000.  United failed to meet the deadline and were then served with the winding-up petition.

New owner Massimo Cellino, who purchased 75% of Leeds United through his company Eleonora Sport, has already seen off a £500,000 tax bill, paid arrears of wages deferred before the takeover and dealt with two other winding-up petitions in the short time since he was allowed to assume control of the club after a successful appeal against the initial refusal of the Football League to sanction his status as an owner or director.  Now, Cellino appears to have less than five weeks to settle another substantial demand.

David Haigh may now be seen in an even more unpleasant light by United fans, although there was never any unanimity of opinion that he had the best interests of the club at heart.  This blog has become rapidly disillusioned with the prospective Tory candidate, having once hailed him as a nice guy who might take us places.  Well, we all make mistakes – as the Dalek said, climbing off the dustbin.  Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is now happy to make clear that it regards David Haigh as an unctuous and oily chancer who was only ever after the main chance, and was probably a scummer in the first place (see below).

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Haigh – a deeply dodgy past?

Haigh will henceforth be identified in the minds of Leeds United fans with a period of ownership characterised by hollow and broken promises, facile attempts to manage supporter expectations, tacky publicity stunts and a solitary positive point of “Not Being Ken Bates”.  Massimo Cellino, meanwhile stands for – we hope – a brighter future under more efficient and ambitious leadership.  That being the case, we will look to see this latest financial threat being dealt with in short order, as Cellino has already managed more than once.  The nagging question is: why was the statutory demand not met within the 21 day deadline?  It remains to be seen whether or not United have any serious grounds for disputing that the money is owed.

For better or worse, Cellino is the foreseeable future of Leeds United, and the fan-base will wish to see decisive action on several fronts over the summer, leaving a leaner, fitter club to embark on a more successful campaign next season.  The club’s captain, Ross McCormack, has quite reasonably pointed out that Leeds need to be challenging at the top end of the table next time around. This stance has quite a lot to do with his own age – not a million miles from thirty – as well as the undeniable necessity of firing the club’s support with enough enthusiasm for what the immediate future holds in terms of on-field ambition.  Cellino’s pronouncements have been more cautious – he appears to envisage a season of recuperation for a financially ailing organisation, prior to a promotion charge the year after. One thing it would be good to see is the owner,the manager and the captain all singing from the same hymn-sheet. After all, there’s a telling clue in the word “United”, chaps.

So Massimo – if you get to read this, or if anybody brings it to your attention – let’s get a few preliminary things sorted.  You have the reputation of a guy with a few quid behind him.  Very well – let’s get the aforementioned oily creep Haigh paid off and sent packing, damn his eyes. Then let’s get the ownership of the stadium and training ground brought back wholly within the club – thousands of us seem to remember a very definite statement to this effect not too long back, but there have been no signs yet of you taking a trip down to the nearest ATM and withdrawing the necessary 15 or 20-odd million quid.

And lastly – for now – let’s get you, Brian, or whoever, and Ross around a table somewhere (Billy’s Bar is quite nice, I’ve heard) and let’s see if a unified statement of policy can be agreed upon, one that satisfies supporter thirst for success and ambition – as well as meeting the prudent fiscal constraints you might feel necessary in order to restore the club to a state of rude health, financially speaking.  All that these current mixed messages are doing is muddying the waters and worrying the fans.  And you need the fans on board, Massimo. As a wise man said quite recently, “You can buy a bitch for one night, but you can’t buy the love my friend.”  You can, however, chuck a few quid at bringing about a situation where love may grow.

Leeds United's chief executive, David HaighFirst things first though.  I’m sure you’ve had enough of judges lately – so let’s send Haigh packing with his grubby money repaid to him, shall we?  No need for any June 9th court date then, and we can get on with the other items on the agenda.  We’re expecting you to be busy, you know, while we’re sat on our backsides watching Wimbledon and the World Cup. Attaboy, Massimo.  Go get ’em.

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37 responses to “Whatsamatter You, Haigh? Gotta No Respect? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Just interesting to see how quickly Haigh’s story went from converting debt into club shares to trying to send the team into administration. Seems to me he’s still trying to take over the team – I guess he’s figured there are assets he hasn’t managed to winkle out yet and wants to see if he can strip the cupboard a little more bare.

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  2. White By Name, White By Nature

    I really want to swear, this guy is a two faced, conniving so and so. I hope nothing but bad luck comes his way. Him and Bates shafted us but luckily (or unluckily) for us we got Cellino. This was not in the script so now Haigh and his mates are trying different avenues to mess us up. Him and Bates are like a bad smell that refuses to go away. I positively despise The lot of them, Flowers, Haigh, GFH & Bates! I hope they all go and rot in hell

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  3. Amazing that Haigh has gone from leaving the money there, converting it to shares and is now demanding it paid back. What a nice chap to demand this through a winding up petition… Someone is throwing his toys out of the pram.

    Another great piece thanks mate! Enjoyed the read.

    ballandall.com

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  4. Calgary White

    Some Leeds fan eh? Lets hope MC has the measure of him and deals with the pond life accordingly. Cautiously optimistic for next season from an exiled Yorkie White in Calgary. MOT. PS I love reading your very well written blogs Rob, so cheers!

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  5. Stubbsybear

    It seems that Haigh and Flowers are following the same plan, Try to buy the club, weasel your way in with a few quid and once it becomes apparent that they don’t have the necessary to go the distance, they try to have the club they both profess to love wound up. Probably with a faint hope of administration and a bargain football club. I wonder if Enterprise will still be on the shirts next season or have the new shirts been delayed to get another sponsor on board. It would stink if a company that tried to wind the club up was still a sponsor afterwards, however weak and ill-fated the winding up order was!!

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  6. Rob, I have always had a few concerns about Cellino. But for the most part I put them to one side and allowed myself to be swept along with the mass out pouring of relief following the buy out of GFH ( well 75% or thereabouts )
    The major nagging concern for me was Cellino’s decision to build a new ground for Cagliari without having obtained the required consent. I understand the ground was then demolished. It echo’s the farmer who turned his farmhouse into a mock castle with the construction taking place behind a mountainous sized wall of hay bales. Once they were removed the local council said, “very nice ..now take it all down”.
    There is, for me this worryingly over sized panjandrum type ego that ……….. Ah what the feck ….he is still better than the last shower.
    Hopefully it is this ego perspective that I almost explained that wants to toy with Haigh before parting with cash, rather than a need to raid the two pence jar to meet the ever growing list of creditors.

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  7. Probably best headline of year, Cellino not doing any spending until Italian judge’s written verdict sees him in the clear, then we will see his worth.

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  8. Reality Cheque

    Good post Rob. Are you able to clarify just exactly where GFH’s financial liability ‘lies’ in this respect? (Pardon the pun- lies, GFH; Funny how those two words keep cropping up in the same sentence!!). When Haigh provided the loan it was to enable GFH (who at that time were sole owners of Leeds United and doing everything possible to ignore debts and tax liabilities) to supposedly fund the said debts, running costs etc. GFH have very recently posted millions of pounds of profit re its involvement with Leeds United ownership, and still have a significant percentage stake in the club’s ownership. Haigh was an employee of GFH at the time of the loan and was in effect providing a loan (the terms of which he negotiated with his employers) to hide the debts/mismanagement which he had played a major role in creating!!! Perhaps Cellino considers that he has already paid his 75% towards debts, winding up orders, players wages etc and it is now up to GFH to pay their fair share from the £3.8 million profits they announced last week?

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    • Hell of a good point, and one worth thinking about. Maybe this is behind the failure to pay up so far. I’d like to think so – are faith in Cellino is based on a perception of him not being a “can’t pay” – a “won’t pay” is certainly preferable.

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  9. fred stomper

    So,,,,,erm………..The Daily Mirror wasn’t lying. They got the story right and the ever reliable YEP who should have their finger on United’s pulse and break these stories being the local paper just repeated their story.

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    • To be fair, you can’t expect real journalists just to believe a snotrag like the Mirror. The delay will have been caused by the YEP first laughing at it, then routinely checking it – and then finally sitting there gobsmacked when they found some truth in it.

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    • Wakes Wayfairer

      I think the reality is Haigh has seen that the only way to get paid is to establish yourself at the front of the queue of creditors and that’s exactly how everyone else has gone about getting their debts settled. With Massimo in charge there’s no real danger of administration so perhaps it’s just a part of the process rather than a sinister attempt to kill us off.

      From Cellino’s side he may want to put Haigh through the public court by refusing to pay and forcing this next step of the process, but perhaps there are some crazy inflated director payments which he disagrees with or some nice monitoring equipment that he’d like to be subtracted from the bill.

      In terms of Elland Road, now he’s sunk cash into paying rent, why tie up the cash and pay double when you can use that cash to buy players, settle rent and perhaps pay off a manger or two. Remember he said we’re ill, not in hospital at deaths door.

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  10. Couldnt the problem be FFP ? There are already suggestions that we are facing a January transfer ban and surely the more debts we have to pay the more likely we go over that red line…. I mean it’s possible we are now allowed to spend Zero on players in the summer which would be about right for cursed Leeds united. Sods law that we finally get an owner with cash and he’s not allowed to spend it!
    If so then the only thing that could help is the fans buying season tickets and shirts….

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    • The plot thickens…

      Mind you, the talk is that anyone a bit wily can find their way around or through FFP.

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      • Chareose

        Man city couldn’t mate…. Or perhaps they just didn’t care ???

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      • More like anyone already in the “big boys club” e.g Madrid,Barcelona, the scummers, AC Milan, even little clubs like Chelsea who happened to get rich at the right time.

        FFP is about protecting the interests of these clubs, clubs that have banged on for years about European super leagues and what have you.

        FFP is designed to keep out interlopers like Man City, even though city are a bigger club than some of the current crop (e.g. Chelsea)

        Can see the same attitude being taken with bigger clubs that intend to gate crash the premiership (e.g us)

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  11. Steve Trebert

    Hi guys
    Any news on the spy camera’s in the boardroom and changing rooms. Just the talk about David Haigh and GFHC got me thinking. Not that there is a link ?

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  12. I don’t think that Massimo gives a xxxx about Haigh or anyone else really. I may be wrong, again, but, I think that he is just a guy who does things his way. I bet that he is working right now, analysing the financial situation, the options that are open to him and planning his moves. As Leeds fans we might as well accept that he will do as he pleases and will let us know what is happening when he is ready. Massimo is from s different ‘World’. He thinks differently and does things differently. He is not going to be stupid with money and he will do what is best for Leeds, but, I don’t think that he will be asking for our blessings. The way that I see it is that you have the Man U branding, business model, then you have the Man City, Chelsea rich throw money away, competly unfairly model and the others in between. Now we have the Cellino business model, because that is what I suspect it will be! Make no mistake, Massimo is calling the shots now and the experience from Cagliari suggests that he won’t spend too much time servicing the insecure needs of United fans. I expect that he will make the decisions in the best interests of Leeds in the longer term and in respect of Cellino business model. I believe that his skill as a businessman is just as important as his money. I just hope that we are not the dustbin thus time round, lol!

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  13. It's all gonna be allwhite

    Great

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  14. Ropey Wyla

    This should be taken as a lesson, never again should we get into bed with Smurfs, Arabs or Tories. It has to be said this is one of those lessons one would think was so self explanatory we would not need to learn it.

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  15. It's all gonna be allwhite

    Great title Rob. I do however think that Massimo must be tired of paying all of these bills from the GFH era, and let us not forget that GFH still own a shareholding of the club that we are now told that they have seen a proffit on. If it were me I would be looking for GFH to be paying the 25% of all of these bills as a 25% shareholder, either that or converting these payments into stockholdings and therefore reducing the GFH ownership. Massimo cannot just keep paying for stadiums, players etc while GFH own 25% of all the additional investment he makes. I can see this one going to court!

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  16. Quite so Rob, Haigh was always a Walter Mitty figure – I note his website still proclaims him MD of Leeds United and his twitter feed (strangly silent since April 5) too. Fact is there was never a scrap of evidence to show he was ever previously a Leeds supporter and his background remains highly obscure. But he worked for a private equity house so no one should be surprised that that the PR soft soap was just that. PE houses flip companies for a fast buck; that’s what they do.

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  17. He’s probably deliberately not paying haigh in case he’s behind them secret microphones and stuff. Although my moneys elsewhere, what with someone happening to have an office within radio range of ER and some insignificant little bloke at the football league keen on getting some Malaysian casino to buy lufc.

    As for not spending on players, well look at what’s happening with man city. If eufa are that keen on keeping citeh away from thier big boys club, I imagine the FL with their long history with shafting Leeds Will be keen to enforce them financial fair play rules quite vigorously. The ironic thing is we’ve already broken the FFP limit,mostly on purchasing “consultancy” under the previous owners who needed advice from the err… previous owners err… themselves, hence gfh making a few million quid profit on leeds even though leeds itself made a loss (really they should have bunged sega the consultancy fee seen as their expert advice seemed to consist of how highly players are rated on football manager)

    Now I don’t think infrastructure comes under the FFP rules so theres nothing to stop cellinio buying ER (if he actually has the cash).

    However I’ve never liked TA. I would rather the players train in the city and be closer to the fans rather than be out In a posh little village miles away. I would prefer academy closer to home. He could buy TA then sell it though, the land is worth a bob or two being In one of the most exclusive areas of yorkshire.

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  18. With regard cellino not yet buying the ground and training ground , I just wonder if celino is asking GFH to stump up thier 25% of the cost and that is the delay , after all he’s not likely to buy all the assetts while GFH have a 25% stake in it ,, I just feel uncomfortable about him and GFH being bed fellows rob, as soon as something goes wrong they’ll both play the blame game

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  19. Iff this case goes to court (I hope it does) Haigh will loose.Massimo holds all the aces in this case .who lied to Massimo saying there would be no problems with the take over =Haigh +Harvey who planted the spy cameras=Haigh who tried to con Mssimo to put money in to club in Jan and feb knowing the FL would vote against Massimo =Haigh +Harvey who makes uncle Ken look like a saint=Haigh who has stolen from Leeds=Haigh Who should be charged with crimes against Leeds United =Haigh my verdict GUILTY Punishment (hang he bastard)

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  20. A great read once again Rob, Haigh is a disgrace. I know what you mean about paying him off and getting him out of this great club for good. Although I personally hope Cellino sorts out all the more important things first and leaves this scumbags money until the last possible moment… Leeds fan my arse, He’s a witch and he knows he is and so on…. (allegedly)

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  21. We shouldn’t be suprised he’s a secret scum fan, he did grow up in their south west heartlands after all

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  22. I sincerely hope Massimo has come in with good intentions (which I believe he has). First things first, he needs to understand the level of debt that previous incumbents Bates and GFH have manipulated or engineered and this includes now what Haigh and Flowers put in. Forget the wish list such as buying the ground and lets get the finances to where he at least knows the extent of the problem. Haigh and Flowers I am sure will have made good money on their “investments made in the best interest of Leeds united”.
    If and when MC gets to the point where he does understand how and why LUFC got into this mess I am sure it would make good reading particularly for the those guardians of the game at the FL and more importantly for the real fans.
    It is very hard to trust anyone who gets involved with LUFC following the actions of Ridsdale, Mckenzie, Bates, Harvey, GFH, Flowers and now Haigh. Just hope MC turns out to be a white knight.

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    • one interesting thing I noticed today. Forbes produced a list of the most heavily Indebted clubs are for once we aren’t on it. (neither is the other perennial financial basket case fiorentina)

      1 the manure (they look in real bad shape if they don’t get European football next year :D)
      2 arsenal
      3 valencia
      4 bolton
      5 barca
      6 real Madrid
      7 qpr
      8 Liverpool
      9 juve
      10 dortmund

      shocking that half the list are English clubs, guess the premiership didn’t turn out to be all it was cracked up to be.

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      • Also in a report on championship finances, contrary to popular opinion we didn’t have sky high wages.

        Our wage bill was average for a champion ship club. However our gate was the 2nd highest and our merchandise by far the highest (bigger than most premiership clubs, we sold more shirts and stuff than the likes of man city, everton & spurs).

        Our wages to income was 68% which is below the recommended safety level of 75%, the average for the championship was 77%.

        What screws us financially is
        1 renting the ground
        2 bates selling on season tickets to ticketus
        3 bates selling on match day catering
        4 “other expenses” e.g. the half a million bonus Harvey paid himself, the consultancy fees gfh paid themselves

        Now 2 is coming to and end, and hopefully massimo won’t be doing a 4 and will sort out 1 (unless usual suspect bates is blocking him) . So our money situation is looking somewhat better than in recent years.

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  23. What took ya.

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  24. Another well written and interesting composition the like of which we don ‘t get from any other source. I always look forward to reading your articles as you seem to have the ability to make me laugh, cry, dream and reminisce all in the same piece, totally in keeping with emotions we’ve all experienced over the years in supporting Leeds United! Keep up the good work Rob, which is enjoyed I’m sure by an ever increasing and appreciative readership and will make the ‘dark’ summer months that bit more tolerable.
    Thanks.

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  25. But you are on board with Massimo, aren’t you? Anyway, I don’t think this is Haigh so much as Sporting Capital. Phil Hay said that there’s money owed to both Haigh and to SC, and this is just SC — apparently. If DH plans to give only 150ks worth of shares to fans then it’ll be at the end of all this, after he has the rest of his money back.

    Not convinced Haigh is just a scammer though — he’s the one who put the cash in, the one who could be found at Elland Road, the one who clearly hasn’t, and won’t, make any money, and of course he got Massiah Cellino in to Save Us

    Still an oily scumbag though — good work with the Man U tweet. I certainly won’t disagree with your general view of the man.

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