It’s NOT the Name of Leeds United Being Dragged Through the Mud   –   by Rob Atkinson


cellino-crotch

The real culprit in this sorry, sorry affair

In the wake of the Lucy Ward Industrial Tribunal verdict, there has understandably been a welter of press and social media comment, some of it informed, some of it less so. Leading the way, as is only right and fair, is the Yorkshire Evening Post, which today carries a front page editorial piece entitled “How Much More Can We Take?”. For the most part, this is a justifiably explosive torpedo of a piece, aimed accurately right between the eyes of United owner Massimo Cellino and his cronies past and present. This blog has no argument at all about that.

All the main aspects of what came out of Ms. Ward’s successful Tribunal appeal against her dismissal (with an associated successful claim that she suffered sex discrimination) were accurately covered in the YEP article. This is as one might expect from a reputable publication with United’s – indeed the whole city’s – interests at heart. The YEP carries a banner tagline, Twitter style, of #championingleeds. Most laudable, if a little ironic, in the light of the tone parts of this front page article carried.

In summary, we read in the Post of “this sorry, sorry affair”, with suitably disapproving reference to the Tribunal findings that Cellino did indeed make sexist comments to Ms. Ward (Football is no place for women. They should be in the bedroom or beauticians). The Tribunal found Lucy Ward to be an honest and truthful witness, whereas the testimony of the witnesses ostensibly representing the club had scorn poured upon their veracity and credibility. All very damning for the losing side in this legal play-off; for Lucy Ward it was a day of triumph, tinged with sadness at the treatment she has received whilst working for the football club she loves.

The nagging problem with the coverage of this case, though, is a tendency for both Press and Judges to lay blame at the door of Leeds United as an entity. The Post refers to a once proud club being dragged through the mud. Leeds United is still a proud club, ladies and gentlemen of the Press. Its history and achievements are reason enough for that, as well as its large and fanatical support. Football clubs don’t make sexist comments – it’s ignorant, loutish people who do that – people like Massimo Cellino, convicted fraudster and an unreconstructed male chauvinist who has no place in the 21st century, let alone in charge of a world famous sporting institution. The club, and its iconic name, are not being dragged through the mud. If that were the case, then we’d all of us, all those thousands of fans all over the world, be liberally daubed in the sticky stuff. Whereas, in actuality, the reaction I’ve seen so far is of pleasure and relief that Lucy Ward has been vindicated – together with anger and resentment that our maverick owner has yet again disgraced himself whilst associated with our great club.

The Tribunal panel was at it, too, according to the Post. They professed themselves to be astonished “that this respondent (Leeds United) had no awareness of the ACAS code or what it contained and that it failed to comply with what are regarded as basic principles”. Well, with all due respect to the august members of the Tribunal panel, that is just so much nonsense.

Football clubs, let’s face it, are neither aware nor unaware of ACAS codes, proper procedures or basic principles – because they’re institutions, not sentient beings. As such, they are at the mercy of those who own and run them. To blame Leeds United for failing in any particular matter of legal principle or process of arbitration – is like blaming the RMS Titanic for pranging on an iceberg. It’s plainly ridiculous because the blame resides with the man at the helm, if anywhere. And this is more important than you might think. Because it’s no mere matter of semantics.

If Leeds United were capable of taking the blame, or of having its name sullied, as has been suggested, then its adherents – we, the fans – would find ourselves tarred with the same brush (as we have been tarred on our own account often enough in the past half-century). But, as we have seen, the majority are firmly behind Lucy Ward and delighted that she has found justice at last. Meanwhile, if the focus is lost as it threatens to be, the true culprits may be permitted to dodge the spotlight that should properly be exposing them to the public glare of disapproval. So let’s not lose our focus here. It’s people, fallible, wrong-headed, unscrupulous and deeply misguided people, who are to blame for what is indeed a sorry, sorry affair. And we all know all too well who those people are.

I’ve got no problem with the Yorkshire Evening Post, or any other reputable paper, shouting from the rooftops for justice, whether it be for Lucy Ward, the United fans or Leeds United itself. More power to their elbows, I say. Good on them. But, please, YEP – keep your aim true and don’t be led down side alleys of deflected blame. Because, when you say “But this sorry saga isn’t about just about Mr. Cellino alone“, you make a very basic and damaging mistake. This sorry saga is about Mr. Cellino alone. He is the sole arbiter of club policy and the buck should rightly stop with him. He may even have some dim awareness himself of this; he was certainly noticeable by his absence for the Tribunal verdict.

Cellino has the attitude of the French king who proclaimed L’Etat, c’est moi. (I am the State). Louis XIV established absolute monarchy in France, and left his descendants to pay the price to Madame la Guillotine. This is what makes those of us calling for Cellino’s head feel that we have a point – there’s that same arrogant “don’t blame me, just obey me” feeling about the Italian. To say that the club as an entity should take even a morsel of blame for his failures and wrongdoings is not only a category mistake – it’s damned unfair. Let’s be in no doubt that Cellino is the proper recipient of all the blame. Newspapers, and indeed Tribunal judges, should know better than to suggest otherwise.

Ask Lucy Ward, who has suffered grossly unfair treatment at the hands of a sexist nutcase whilst working at the club she loves and has served so well. She knows who is to blame, as she knew all along. She’s seen to it that the relevant people will be held to account – not the bricks and mortar, glory and history, blood, sweat and tears of Leeds United Football Club. In this, she may well have done our beloved United a great service, somewhere down the line.

In a nutshell, then: Owners may come and owners may go, with their associated scandals and baggage. But Leeds United is still Leeds United, and always shall be. Let that be properly understood.

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35 responses to “It’s NOT the Name of Leeds United Being Dragged Through the Mud   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Excellent fair post thank you Italian OUT

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  2. this is a no win situation. I am as pro eguality as any. But it is an untenable position to be in having your ex coach’s partner still being in the employ of Leeds . Has anyone ever questioned the legitimacy of having a relationship within the corporation and the expectation that this is above the priorities of the company. People do what they can to exploit a scenario. It is something we just need to get behind us.

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  3. Spot on – again
    But who’s going to save us?

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  4. I see your point. Of course Il Duce must be the main target of ensuing vitriol that will hopefully see the back of this mendacious narcissist. Let’s also not lose sight of the others mentioned in dispatches – Pearson & Hayton. Discredited at the very least. So pleased for Lucy and Redder’s.

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  5. Excellent article once again rob and fair play to ms ward for doing her bit in exposing some of the madness behind the scenes my only concern is why do people lets them selfs be used and abused in there pursuit of a career and money talk about selling your soul the line that most people hide behind is I’m only doing my job and as 6 million Jews found out that I’m only doing my job can have devastating consequences I know that is a extreme example but it just goes to show how dangerous it can be if ms ward was my partner I would have told her to tell mc to stick his job up his arse life is to short to be putting your self through hell everyday Its just a job I work to live I don’t live to work family and happiness first MOT without mc/gfh

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  6. Hi Rob fair points.you have made. Think it’s a bit over the top the treatment the club has had never mind ward it’s been full on with no balanced opinion.on that paper all season. I hate the joy some of or fans are getting out of it it’s a bit spiteful. The problem with this case is Cellino didn’t turn up which is a bit slack in its.self . It’s nothing to celebrate don’t get it myself still think something isn’t right with this and think there was a click in the club and it has been well documented in recent years that there was a split in the camp.Find it hard to believe now that MC will bother giving the YEP any interviews.I’d tell em.to.do one.

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  7. Depression.sets.in..

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  8. Hi Rob I ain’t a happy bunny the way lufc.Has been portrayed and the paper “Papers in general seem to have this one sided view on what all lufc fans think about what’s going on at our club . Not enjoyed the last few days myself people falling out over Lucy ward but the thing is for me is the club seems to be under attack continually with no breathing space even if the story is a none starter for example the fake I got paid £500 a month to put lufc owner in a good light story or the five million pound clause in cooks contract sick of it and most of it is caused by social media . Some took great enjoyment out of yesterday court result for the wrong reasons .

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  9. Nigel Kinder

    Don’t get me wrong Rob I am firmly in the “Massimo To Go” camp but what is being reported is a legal case where the Defendant was Leeds United FC. I expect Lucy had to name Leeds United FC as that entity was her employer. So it is the actions of Cellino, Pearson & Hayton in the name of, and for and on behalf of Leeds United FC that is being reported by the press. The press can’t do it any other way other than to report the failings as failings of Leeds United FC. Oh and one other thing don’t forget it will be Leeds United FC that pays Lucy’s damages for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination and her legal costs not Cellino Pearson & Hayter even though it is their conduct that is bringing our great club into disrepute.

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    • I get what you mean on a technical/legal basis. But I still feel there is a point to be made on a far deeper level, the viscerally emotional level on which fans relate and react to their club. You often see protest pieces and pictures – “memes” – with ‘Not In My Name’ prominently displayed. That’s very much how I feel and, I suspect, many others too. And, if Leeds United could speak for itself, I feel that “not in my name” would be the likely retort. Whatever the technicalities behind the citing of the club as respondent, I feel it’s vital – if only for morale and to demonstrate exactly where we’re at – to separate out the guilty people from the blameless club as it approaches its centenary in dire straits.

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  10. Rob
    Totally spot on.
    It’s not just one instance. This is the tip of the Iceberg.
    Leeds United is toxic from top to bottom, as as ‘The fish stinks from the head’ then CELLINO quiet rightly must take all the blame.
    Bates was a despicable man and towards the end of his reign toxicity became the norm. GFH just clueless shysters with no funds, and now we have the wretched criminal Cellino dictating policy and destroying any decency that remained.
    Every day there is a horror story eminating from him. Look at his repulsive son and what he is being charged with?
    Has the club apologized for the unacceptable biting incident involving Doukara?
    Go inside ELLAND ROAD and smell the fear and distrust of the staff that remain.
    On the playing side, which is actually why we all support the club, no Head of the Accadamy, not enough youth coaches, no scouting system and the worst first team squad for years, managed by another proven liar and fraudster.
    You couldn’t make it up!!!
    Until the authorities really stamp down on Cellino and we the fans stop the supply of money, then he will not sell.
    At the moment he values his share at a totally unrealistic 50/70M and GHF who hold enormous power value theirs at between 25/30M.
    The club is worth in total with no assets no more than 35/40M so who in their right mind will come and even attempt to do business with the mad man?
    DESPERATE DESPERATE TIMES!!!

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  11. Belfast White

    Excellent and accurate piece Rob. MESSimo Cellino is NOT Leeds United; the man doesn’t even understand the ethos of the club! He would snigger at ‘Side before Self’…once it was explained to him. And as for ‘Keep Fighting’…perhaps someone should say that is FOR Leeds United. I would venture to suggest that the excellent Ms Ward would never wish to work for the sexist dinosaur again, but would love to work for LUFC again. I for one would be very pleased if she and Redders were back at the academy again one day.

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  12. David Dean

    100% correct, Rob. The club has been hijacked. We are controlled by a dangerous man that needs removing from power – in steps the football league to save us by upholding his ban, it will be the one good turn we will be thankful for. Those supporters of Cellino are his henchmen.

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  13. Ropey Wyla

    For me Cellino’s ownership has only produced bottom half of the table finishes, his willingness to fire without any thought of the consequences has lead to embarrassing court cases and his media management is atrocious and this is why he should go.

    I myself find women’s football, rugby and boxing a total turn off but that doesn’t mean I am a sexist or women’s sports shouldn’t exist and it doesn’t mean there’s no place in football for women.
    A woman’s place is where she wants to be.

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  14. Could be Rob that when the YEP wrote:

    “But this sorry saga isn’t about just about Mr. Cellino alone“

    that they were alluding to the Cellino sprogs and cronies such as Eduardo, the genius who writes that Leeds fans are “spastics” etc..

    Seems a fair statement of fact from the YEP there Rob.

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  15. No problem with the tribunal panel, YEP or anyone else in this sad case, but it does reinforce the position that Cellinos’ should not be part of LUFC. They need to depart very soon. The whole sad bunch of them. No good to Leeds United.

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  16. Well said. Cellino must go. How much more damage can he be allowed to inflict before he does something that will destroy us. Surely the FA has more than enough to to take firm action and spare us anymore of this guy’s kamikaze stupidity.
    At the end of every season we are so disappointed, so demoralised and yet we pick ourselves up and get behind the club in the hope of better things to come. Unfortunately, it hasnt happened for years and we just live in hope. I really believe that there is someone out there who is going to be our saviour from this Italian joke. Please hurry up.
    In the meantime, let’s all have a good summer and come back stronger and rejuvenated. MOT

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  17. The Club will be paying the bill. Not Cellino, obit is reflecting on the Club.

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  18. What a weird season we have had, where a vampire player isnt even that bigger deal. Like with the Bates saga, Nothing will happen until the ‘out’ group is a majority. Imagine a set of scales, with every damaging story to come out of Elland Road tipping the balance that ever bit more. The strange thing is though that we haven’t moved backwards on the pitch since last season, we have stayed in the same league position, which is a miracle considering what we have witnessed off the pitch. I thought at the time Pearson left that it was to do with this court case. I wonder if he will return to help Massimo or that the court case has damaged his reputation enough for him to give us a wide birth. Rob, would you have Pearson back?

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    • I’m not sure, given his testimony at the Tribunal. Has he absorbed some Cellino toxicity??

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      • Hit the nail on the head Rob, Cellino is becoming an oil spill and all his employees are soaking up the toxic spillage, in their white feathers. I still think Pearson would be a good influence on proceedings, the trouble is his role is to buffer Cellino from reality. I’m not so sure Pearson will be back unless Cellino pays him a lot of money [so unlikely] I see the future panning out as follows; 1. Cellino sacks Evans and hires 2nd rate manager 2. Cellino sells Cook. 3. Cellino spends very little. 4. Lots of fans dont buy season tickets. 5. Cellino cant sell , 6. Football league temp ban again. 7. hover above relegation zone. 8, Cellino sells Taylor and Dallas in jan 9. Football league threaten to ban permanently and crowd number record low 10 Cellino sells club.

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      • Sounds a bleak way to a desirable outcome, Ben. Nowt would surprise me now.

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  19. I am less sure than you Rob that the club as an entity has nothing to answer for in this sorry case. I am struck, for example, by a degree of informality in Lucy Ward’s role at Thorpe Arch. Is it too much to suggest that Thorpe Arch may have become a little detached from the rest of the club ?

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    • Be that as it may, it’s the individuals in charge of the club who have to answer for it. It’s the club that we love, not (by and large, and with some notable exceptions) the personnel who come and go. The club and its staff should be regarded separately when it comes to deciding where the blame is aimed.

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      • Sorry, but I don’t think the distinction holds. The idea of the club – which is what you are rightly defending – is not the club as it actually exists, which is the work of many hands, including in this case the owner and his senior executives. I hate the thought of us being owned by a corporate monster or its equivalent but this may, in the end, be the only way we can get the kind of professional management we urgently need.

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      • I don’t see how that addresses the point I’ve made.

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  20. It looks to me that Cellino tells everybody what to think at Leeds and I was angered to see the fans, so-called “golden boy” Adam Pearson, trying to muddy the waters for Cellino.
    The staff at Elland Road obviously fear for their jobs and have to agree with everything that Cellino does and says, but Pearson is no longer under the thumb of Cellino surely and has now totally lost any respect and credibility, that he once had, even with the most gullible Leeds fans, who think that everything’s rosy in the Elland Road “very messy garden”.
    Well done to Neil Redfearn and well done to Lucy Ward, for showing what Cellino is really like and those crawling Leeds fans, who still back Cellino, after this, obviously don’t know the difference between right and wrong, both in life and in modern day working practices.
    If there was a trophy for mismanagement of a football club, our ailing football club would not be able to find a big enough warehouse to store all of the trophies from the past 15 years of financial melt down.

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    • Pearson is a busted flush and not to be trusted. Don’t blame Cellino for Pearson’s conduct, he made his own mind up.

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  21. Keith White

    once again well spoken Rob

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  22. Karl Major

    Well said Rob, some good points made, here’s another. When the powers that be decide that LUFC broke some rules, it won’t be Massimo that gets punished it will be the club. Will they acknowledge that it is all down to him??? I doubt it, they will hit us with a fine or a points deduction, both of which will hurt the club and fans.
    I used to think the FL was corrupt for continually persuing Cellino with threats to ban his ownership, now I turn that around, I want them to ban him and think they’re corrupt for not doing so.
    MOT as always.

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    • Scally Lad

      Karl, you’re probably right, but even as much as a ten-point deduction will still likely keep us safe from relegation to League One again. In fact, if you’re right, and the club gets hammered by the FA, I’d prefer the points deduction to the fine. We’re going to need every penny to make some good investments in the off-season.

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