Tag Archives: appeal hearing

Leeds United to Quit England?? Cellino in Shock “Serie A” Pledge – by Rob Atkinson

Cellino: bring on Juve and Milan

Cellino: bring on Juve and Milan

More sensational developments are unfolding in the ever more confusing story about the year-long struggle at Elland Road, over the ownership, management and league membership of Leeds United. Documents have become available in the last 24 hours that prove the extraordinary determination of controversial banned owner and convicted yachtsman Massimo Cellino, to hang on to the club he’s had to negotiate so hard to own.

The newly declassified information is from last year’s Football League “Fit & Proper” appeal hearing in London, and it indicates the lengths Massimo Cellino was prepared to go to, in order to overturn the Football League’s rejection of him as a “fit and proper person” to own the club. Sensationally, Cellino undertook to achieve promotion within a defined time span for the fallen Yorkshire giants, not to the FA Premier League – but to the Italian top flight, Serie A.

A spokesperson for Cellino, Avril Primero, was tight-lipped when she was quizzed, on April the 1st, about what would certainly be a controversial move. “What a load of bologna,” she said, through tight lips. “Where did you get hold of this rubbish? Un tale carico di merda!

The story, though, refused to go away. The religious affairs correspondent of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything was able to speak personally late the next night, via ship-to-shore phone from the blog’s duty-free yacht “Nélie”, to the Pope in the Vatican. When pressed on the Serie A story, the Pontiff – a keen cricket fan – was willing to confirm that Leeds’ participation in the Italian top league was “nailed on” for the start of 2016/17 – if things went as planned with the Football League. “The Italian league is open to this, my son,” the Argie Pontiff confided. “There had previously been a suggestion of Glasgow Rangers,” added the leader of the world’s Catholics, “but as you might guess, I ruled THAT one right out of court. Then someone called Harvey mentioned Sheffield Wendies, but I simply laughed. Really, who are these people… Leeds though? ¡Excelente!

The Football League itself was reluctant to comment at that stage of proceedings, with matters poised so delicately. “We have no comment at this stage”, commented a League official, reluctantly, “Matters are so delicately poised.” The FA Premier League indicated that this was not a matter for them presently, but that such a move might well attract some support. “We certainly don’t want Leeds United in our nice clean league”, ejaculated the FA Officer in charge of bungs and bribes.

The then United owners GFH were less forthcoming yet. When asked if competing against the likes of Juventus, Milan, Napoli and Serie A giants Cagliari formed part of their strategic vision for the Whites, they stated simply “We couldn’t give a camel’s left knacker. We just want our money, cash on the nail, coppish? Then we can send Davey Haigh to Dubai, we’ve got big plans for him…”

Massimo Cellino, seemingly unruffled by these revelations from last year, is nevertheless unlikely to be present at the Brentford game on Saturday, preferring to remain in Miami where he is stocking his new refrigerator with beer in preparation for “a major interview” later today. When asked if, despite the Football League ban, he’d have any input into the contents of the team sheet, Mr. Cellino appeared to misunderstand. “Yes, you’re right, team issa sheet, so I stay here, drink beer, buy bitch, talk random Leeds fans onna phone”, he confirmed. “Is better that way, my friend.”

Shaun Harvey is 107.

Happy Monday? It’s a Pivotal Day in Leeds United’s History – by Rob Atkinson

 

"Historic and Iconic" - Leeds United AFC

“Historic and Iconic” – Leeds United AFC

Forget March 2nd 1968, the day Leeds United won its first ever silverware, beating Arsenal at Wembley to lift the League Cup. Forget May 6th 1972 when, at the same venue, against the same opponents and by the same 1-0 score, United won their sole FA Cup. Forget, even, those three incredible days which saw the Whites hailed as the best in the land as our three Football League Championships were confirmed in 1969, 1974 and 1992.  All of those dates pale in comparison with the epochal significance of the legal fixture being played out in London tomorrow, March 31st 2014.  For tomorrow, it’s likely to be decided which of two well-defined paths Leeds United will be treading into the future.

On the one hand we have a signpost pointing upwards which says: possible fame and success, with a minted owner to put us on a par with those we should be emulating. On the other, there’s the signpost pointing downhill, with the equally unmistakable message: more of the same at best, with a distinct possibility of crisis and dissolution in the near future.  It’s not a choice Leeds United or their amazingly loyal and long-suffering fans are able to make for themselves.  We are all in the hands of the legal eagles as they fight it out over the technicality of whether or not the Football League were correct in saying that Massimo Cellino’s peccadilloes rule him out of fitness and propriety under their own test. Upon this technicality hangs the immediate, or short term – or even the whole future of a famous old club that has never been far from the headlines, for good reasons and bad.

A match-day commentator at Elland Road yesterday summed it up in one well-chosen phrase prior to kick-off against Doncaster Rovers.  Leeds, he said, should be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Man U and Chelsea.  And so, of course, we should.  None of these clubs has more of a right than Leeds – and its magnificent support – to be fighting it out at the top table for the big prizes.  It’s ironic that such telling words should be spoken ahead of a league fixture – and a defeat – against little Donny Rovers.  That sums up the dire straits Leeds have been consigned to by bad leadership, self-interested owners and relentless ill-fortune.  Whatever may have been done wrong, whatever rules may have been broken in the name of Leeds United – it’s no fault of the fans.  And yet, time and again, it’s been the fans who have suffered – whilst the principals in the ongoing pantomime of LS11 have generally waxed fat and walked away happy when their particular final curtain has fallen.  A prime example of this is, of course, Shaun Harvey, CEO of the Football League and a man with a face in each camp, so to speak.  I wonder how he sleeps at night? Blissfully, I expect.

There are two constants in any football club, which transcend players, directors, administrators, League officials and even solicitors, barristers and judges.  One is the entity of the club itself, which in our case is now just five years shy of her 100th birthday.  Where will she be, what state of health will she be in, when that Centenary rolls around in 2019?

The other constant is, needless to say, the supporters.  Come rain, come hail, come snow, the supporters are always there. They were there to cheer on the Greatest Footballer in the World when John Charles plied his mighty trade at Elland Road.  They were there to support Don Revie’s nonpareil team of the sixties and seventies as they witnessed some of the finest football ever seen on the planet. They were there too when Wilko’s Warriors rose, like a Phoenix from the ashes, to swagger back into the big time as if they owned the place and end up, once again, on top of the pile.  And they’re here now, today, watching the dross currently being served up by a team weighed down with larger worries that what happens on the pitch – a team who, with a very few apparent exceptions, are preoccupied with where the next wage packet is coming from, and just how heavy or light will it be?

The supporters will be here in the future as well, whatever happens tomorrow. That is beyond doubt, save only for that nagging worry over the club’s very existence. Only the numbers of that indomitable band will remain open to any variation, depending upon which path we tread.  Any Leeds United fan will tell you what the club deserves – and it’s not more of the same grinding, morale-sapping poverty that we’ve been putting up with now for twelve long and dreary years. Leeds United and their supporters – especially their supporters – deserve some time in the sun.

It’s not United – club or fans – on trial tomorrow.  If anything is on trial, it’s the duty of care owed by the Football League to all of its member clubs – even Leeds. The questions before the appeal panel must include that consideration in the scope of its examination of this whole issue.  The Football League have sat by and they’ve shown every willingness to let their biggest club, their most tangible asset, wither and possibly die for want of sufficient funding to operate on a big club level and compete with their true peers.  And this is the kernel of the matter.

Because, with rapists, con men and porn barons among the current and recent number of their owners and directors, the League has elected to make a stand over an obscure tax question surrounding a yacht.  One little boat, which might be American, and in respect of which some duty allegedly had to be paid in Italy, but was not.  The League have chosen to accept that Cellino, a man of staggering wealth, would court trouble over a matter of what is, to him, small change.  They have leant over backwards to interpret the law and their own regulations such that United are to be denied a saviour and their fans are to continue suffering.  Where is the duty of care amid all of that?

Tomorrow will, in all probability, be the start of a new era at Leeds United. Whether it is an era of further degradation, more doubt, more humiliation, remains to be seen.  There has to be a possibility that things might – for once in a very long while – go in Leeds United’s favour.  And then what? Would we know quite what to do with ourselves in the absence of this millstone of penury and reduced status?  Poverty is not just a matter of not being able to meet the bills, or afford a tank of tropical fish to brighten the place up.  Poverty is much more than that.  It seeps into the very fabric of a place and it poisons the soul.  If we were suddenly to become “Dirty Leeds, Filthy Rich” – how would we cope?

I can tell you this much, especially you lot who occupy the anti-Cellino bandwagon.  I’m heartily sick to death of a penniless existence.  So if the “Filthy Rich” option is there, ripe for the sampling – let me at it.  I’d simply love to try it out.  We lived the dream in the nineties – but there was always that worm of doubt; where’s it all coming from?  With Cellino –  well, it looks as though we’d at last have a man of immense material wealth who is keen to invest it in reviving a fallen giant.  Fingers crossed that he finally gets that chance.