Dear Massimo: An Open Letter to Leeds Owner Cellino   –   by Rob Atkinson

Cellino - demanding respect

Cellino – demanding respect

Dear Massimo,

Although you almost certainly don’t know it, things have been rather rocky between you and me for a little while now. And it’s only now, as we hit this crisis, that I’m writing to you, even though you most likely won’t read this. But, although I’ve had occasion to make my feelings known to a good few thousand third parties, it seems that this juncture, when things are bad and there is tension on both sides, is the right time to address you more directly. Because it concerns something you suddenly seem to care about; something called respect.

The respect I’m talking about is regarded as a two-way street hereabouts – in the UK, that is, and more especially in Yorkshire. We talk here about “mutual respect” as creating a workable relationship between two parties, whereby much can be achieved. Your idea of respect, Massimo, appears to differ somewhat from that local model. It seems to have one of its carriageways missing – it looks to be a one-way process as far as you’re concerned: from us to you. You say that we, the Leeds United support, should show you respect; in fact, you demand that we should.

That’s a big problem for us, Massimo. We regard respect as something to be earned – not demanded. You once had some sage advice to give about matters of the heart and soul, in the context of football support – “You can buy a bitch for a night,” you confided, “but you can’t buy the love, my friend.” That seems so long ago now, back in your brief honeymoon period, such as it was. Many of us nodded and agreed with you. You were saying you’d just have to earn our love, and most of us liked the sound of that. 

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, Massimo. And little by little, bit by bit, that groundswell of support you had at first has gradually eroded away. We were quite frankly ready to adore anyone who could restore to our beloved club its pride and passion. But instead of the things we were promised – the repurchase of our spiritual home, for instance – there have been infidelities, broken vows, irrational actions. Withal, there has been a lack of respect from you to us – and the name of Leeds United made a laughing stock into the bargain.

People have come into the club, they’ve appeared to do well, gaining popularity – and then they have been unaccountably forced out. We, the fans, for whom it matters most of all, have been left in the dark and patronised through wildly varying statements from yourself or through club mouthpieces who appear to be towing a party line (take a bow, Mr. Lorimer). And yet, despite all of this, you see nothing wrong with presuming to demand our respect. It’s just not the way things are done here, Massimo. Not when so little by way of consideration and respect is coming our way.

Things have been worse lately. Just when we were thinking we might be finding a bit of stability, a respected CEO is gone, then yet another head coach and, hard on the heels of that, still another Football League ban for yourself. You’ll appeal it, but we all know there are more legal pitfalls in the offing. And all the time, this great club is losing more of its hard-earned respect and credibility. It’s been like some bizarre circus, the very antithesis of the utterly professional football club some of us were lucky enough to grow up loving, with fierce pride and a near siege-complex defiance running through the whole thing like a seam of gold. 

The thing is, we just don’t know where we are with you, or what you’re going to say or do next. Things have undeniably gone best when you’ve kept your head down and let people get on with their jobs. Daring staff have even remarked on this.  But you don’t seem able to maintain such a level of discretion. Every now and again, you break cover and say or do something crazy. And the club then suffers and we, the fans, cringe with humiliation. And yet you still see fit to demand our respect. 

One minute, you say you are ready to sell the club (having previously said you wouldn’t be tempted to sell for a billion). Then you’re selling to Leeds Fans United and wondering out loud why on earth you’d dream of selling to anyone else. And then you pull out of that, calling the fans’ group kids in a sweetshop. And now, today, as you bizarrely demand respect – you hint once more that maybe the fans can have the club. How can we even begin to understand all this to-ing and fro-ing….. much less respect it?

When you talk about respect, Massimo, you should look at the record of Leslie Silver OBE, a man who was at the top of Leeds United during a successful period a quarter of a century ago. He guided the club from the doldrums to the very top in his modest, unassuming way. He brought in football people and had the wisdom to listen to and support them. He earned our respect and that of his staff and peers, and he is much-missed today.

That’s how it’s done in these parts, Massimo my friend. You’ll get nowhere with Leeds fans, blowing your own trumpet about achievements that look silly beside those of the giants who went before you. Demanding respect cuts no ice with the guys and girls in the stands at Elland Road. They’ve been waiting for you to earn respect – and the noise you heard at the Blackburn game, and will hear again if you break yet another promise and venture back to a match once more, that’s a raucous signal that you’ve failed. You can demand, complain, bluster. It won’t get you anywhere in Leeds.

It’s best to keep quiet now, Massimo, until you can leave with some dignity. Anything else will be seen as digging yourself a bit deeper into that hole you’re in. It’s time now to take a look at yourself, at what’s been achieved at this club in the past and how – and acknowledge that your volatile, hire-and-fire approach hasn’t worked. If respect really is so important to you that you’ve made the fundamental mistake of actually demanding it – in Yorkshire, for crying out loud! – then you need to understand that there is only one way now of finally achieving that respect. 

Go with good grace and minimum fuss, Massimo. Go – and try to leave a great club in good hands. Give us the chance to regain some of the face and reputation we’ve lost on your watch. Get out while the going is good, and while something can still be salvaged from this season. No more demanding, just acceptance and a bit of humility at last. 

That’s what most of us are now asking of you. Do that simple thing, Massimo – and you’ll have belatedly earned our respect. For whatever that’s actually worth to you. But please – just think about it, OK? It’s for the best, believe me.

Yours sincerely


Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

28 responses to “Dear Massimo: An Open Letter to Leeds Owner Cellino   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Pingback: Dear Massimo: An Open Letter to Leeds Owner Cellino   –   by Rob Atkinson | Sports Droid

  2. Barry Harrison

    Well said Rob, he has gone and dun it big time, the man is the pits and I suppose this is not the last time. I just hope he leaves but I do not think that will Happen, Barry


  3. mrbigwheels

    Fueling the fire with no alternative progressive ownership proposals..
    So self limiting…


    • If you have something constructive to say, you could perhaps have put it here – instead of attempting a level of irony that seems beyond you?


      • Irving08

        Goodness me the arrogance – it is no wonder when fellow fans are are sillily dismissed that we are in such deep trouble. No single fan or group of fans and especially would-be opinion makers has a monopoly on the soul of Leeds United.


      • “sillily” – hmmmmmm 😁


    • Its funny I have had no buyers for my house for the last five years maybe the reason for that is because I haven’t put it on the market yet


    • That’s YOUR opinion MRbig and its based on NOTHING, I on the other hand hope for an LFU buyout, on faith perhaps but no less blind than you who like many who comment knowingly know absolutely nothing about “whos got money” and “whos capable” of running our club

      I keep hearing the pathetic argument that we should stick with Massimo because its better the devil you know but is that honestly a justified argument for continuing with what is abject chaos ???!! Legal battles, court cases with ex employees, team interference…… there is no justifaction to grin and bear it because EVERY DAY fans quit the club or fall out of love with it…….ITS DIEING


  4. Reg Hinchliffe

    Demand respect , who does he think he is Mussolini !!!


  5. Andy Sawyer

    I have something constructive to say! Massimo has made mistakes, some of very big. He hasn’t always been transparent or even honest but let US discuss things in a balanced way! We have spent more money on players during his reign than in the ten of Ken Bates. He has made wacky decisions in appointments true but I believe he loves (or loved) the club and has tried to achieve (unsuccessfully) what we all want. I think it would be best if he moved on but is this the right time for a change of ownership? When our current coach requires investment in players. Could we moan if he decided not to invest any more while people are ranting against him? Much has been said about fan ownership but could the group in question really spend 40 million quid and still have cash to invest in quality players to move the club intothe premier league. I’m not convinced they can! However, let’s let Massimo exit with some face, thank him for the investment that he’s made and not forget that what he’s done, he’s done thinking it will benefit the club, not himself as a certain Mr Bates did! Yes, he has failed, but at least he wanted to try!


  6. Paul Tomlinson

    I respect the passion that Massimo has for football and for Leeds United, and the work he has done to set the club on the road to financial stability. However I can envisage him being repeatedly banned for long periods for successive tax/fraud issues, so if he really loves Leeds and respects the fans, maybe it’s time for him to honour his word and sell the club to the one group of potential investors that definitely has the club’s interests at heart – the fans!


  7. Ropey Wyla

    Clearly we as Leeds fans should repent and confess our sins with regard to our recent treatment of Mr. Cellino, however, once we have done that, what would he have us do to show our respect? Carry his mothers groceries all the way home perhaps?


  8. Tommy o Riordan Killorglin Co Kery IRELAND

    Don Revie must be turning in his grave. This FOOL not fit to walk the holy ground of my beloved club who i have loved for over fifty years.Get lost Cellino Leeds til i die.


  9. No offense to leslie Silver but he sold us and made abit of money he also made bad decisions i remember rioting when he sacked Allan clarke in the eighties he wasn’t much different to any other chairman and if you remember correctly he never spent any money basically they will do what they feel fit, they own the club, you and myself and all the others SUPPORT it .we,as fans have to live with the decisions.At present i believe we have a passionate chairman who, in his own way wants to succeed with Leeds United and i’m happy he is, barring his rashness with coaches


  10. Bang on Rob!


  11. Nigel McHUGH

    Cellino, yes rude, arrogant ,hated but take your head out of the sand, if it was not for his cash we would still be under the blue of Bate’s or worse totally GFH or the real truth not be here as a club. We were bust again!!!! and only short while from not been a football club.
    Yes people can say he lied about buying the ground or is the truth to hard to bear, this man of passion has covered more debt than the average fan will ever know. We were a basket case and no more, I am glad we have a nutter, so many fans sang and praised Risdale, cheered with him and his team of Directors, took us down the swannie !!!!! . As for respect , yes in Yorkshire respect is hard to gain and should be earned, but again as different people we ultimately choose who we want. Yes, he needs to learn to be less vocal at times, but at least he has brought HIS cash to us, invested heavily – let’s help the bloody guy to make us famous, get him around a table, give him some true Yorkshire understanding. He came to the biggest Yorkshire Club with his money, I repeat his investment – I want to sit with this guy and others and help guide his passion into the direction and person we want him to be.
    People have being rude to his family and if it was your family you would be abrasive and aggressive back. Let him join the true Leeds Family instead of treating him like a pig. So what he makes mistakes!!!! he is not perfect!!!!! and never will be. The Football Association would not like that neither !!!!! Did we not know a guy called Harvey who now has certain role !!! again pretended to be part of the Leeds Family. Around Leeds Cash means survival for many families, I use the word family because we are supposed to love them and care for them , let us look after Cellino not throw him away the FA would love that.
    We have the best fan base , young talented players , some brass in our pockets – we claim we march together , let us sing about Cellino and how he saved us from being bust – people put their own spin on everything so Rob let this letter of appeal be shown to all.
    Let us all work together , put our hands in our pockets deeper than just our tickets , we want our club to be successful , the best team , best players , we have no certainty in who will ever own the club !!!!! THE PAST OWNERS have let us down a lot more than cellino ever has, he is trying and needs OUR help to breathe fire back into one of the biggest clubs in the World and was never going to be easy.
    A fans buyout based on some members having a controlling share is not the way forward, recipe for disaster – we do not want Red Bulls cash!!!!
    Let us bring Cellino to the trading table, buy some fans stake off him and work with him , he has obviously successful businesses that brings him cash.
    Again I will say his cash, CASH that is there for proof and been spent on Leeds United. The rest pretended for so long – let us tell him straight and all earn respect ( and by the way I repect Peter Lorimer a true Leeds GREAT he still needs to earn a crust – I bet he wished he played nowadays).
    As Leeds we have never had real cash , only lies. Cellino loves Leeds and is passionate, let us not throw away these facts or person.


  12. Wow this is the best article you’ve ever done. This is the feelings of the majority of Leeds fans. Hammer, nail, job done. Well said mate.


  13. Eddiegraysshoulderdrop

    I originally supported Cellino, his investment and passion, that often looked bizarre due to literal translation appeared to be what the club needed. However successive coaching appointments and ultimately successive sackings have undermined and destabilised our club, making us a laughing stock for those (many) that revel in the demise of Leeds Utd. Now being mocked I can take, I have broad shoulders and after 38 years following our beloved club skin thicker than the proverbial elephant, what does hurt me is seeing Leeds Utd by proxy of Cellinio’s actions treat good people with absolute disdain and contempt. Coaches, academy employees, players all cast aside with little thought given to doing things right. The loss of Adam Pearson was for me the final straw, regardless of how it was spun, he realised that he could not risk being associated with a car crash of a chairman/owner. I only wish I could give an answer to our current situation but as much as I hope someone out there will come in and save the day I believe we may be too toxic to touch. Giving fans the hope of ownership when in reality it will take more than a few thousand issued shares again demonstrates the vindictive nature of Massimo. Time to go? Without doubt. MOT


    • Surely the appointment of Perason was a healthy recognition by Massimo that he could not done everything. What evidence do you have to support your view of the reason why he departed ? Surely it would have been in his interests to stay if he foresaw a ‘car crash’. Besides he must have realised before his appointment that the League would probably ban Massimo for his alleged tax offence. As for the ‘crash’ itself, why does the sacking of a coach who, though a top man, foisted on us a formation for which our personnel were manifestly unsuited ?


      • You’re looking at incidents in isolation when really it’s an accumulation of such incidents that has led to such damaging instability.


  14. Very good article Rob. Well said.


    • Nigel McHugh

      An accumulation of Cellino’s incidents ?
      Or really the FULL ACCUMULATION of the last 18 years that has left us the problem we have. People should remember the real crash of our mighty club that has never had REAL CASH ever but many many fans were convinced and cheered when Ridsdale and his colleagues created the Rot that has never diminshed over the years.
      Bates came for the carcass but the bones had decomposed – how much REAL money did he put in NONE, did we verbally abuse his daughter or wife ? No.
      We say in Yorkshire that we believe in straight talking and not pussy footing about. Well we get some one that is similar to our own nature, big mouths , prone to mistakes , passionate.
      I hear people calling Cellino a liar for not purchasing Elland Road , well sorry we gave it away , we gave Viduka 500,000 to put in an off shore account !!
      We paid venables to sell one of our players who we claimed was great, we loved Rio who left us for our best best friends.!!!!
      Too much stability for me!!!! Yes as a Leeds Utd fan i loved division 2, the Championship is great and we have not spent too long there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      I hear people say Cellino is a maverick on a his own horse , well he needed to be to enter Elland Road – all that debt , debt , debt , debt ,debt most people would of ran straight away.
      Maybe columnlists and journalists will have their say , maybe they were prepared with the words THE ENDING just before Cellino came.
      Maybe we should support him and give him a little slack , ease some of his pressure and accept his mistakes , lets help him and LEEDS UTD OVERCOME ALL OFF THE LAST TWENTY YEARS OF MISTAKES AND “DAMAGING INSTABILITY”


  15. Well said that man!!


  16. Despite today’s welcome victory your call remains valid. Indeed at times Mr C seems to have good intentions but his own ego or sense of self importance seems to get the better of sensible judgment on a regular basis. I am sure if the shoe was on the other foot he could easily justify his own sacking on the basis of just one of his faux pas but the culmination makes the issue totally without argument.


  17. Rob, I have posted comments on 2 leeds sites in the last 2 hours re. the rumour that Steve Parkin has bought Cellinos shares & is to install Moyes as manager. The odd thing is that both the pages have now been removed from the ‘newsnow’ feed! Moyes was 33/1 only 24 hours ago but this morning Paddypower were offering 11/4!


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