Tag Archives: Eleonora Sports Ltd

Wilting Flowers Set to Succeed Only in Winding-Up Leeds Fans – by Rob Atkinson

The battle for Leeds United

The battle for Leeds United

Probably the most significant recent development in the Leeds United Takeover Slapstick Farce is the winding up petition (WUP) served by Andrew Flowers, alleged fan of the club and disappointed member of the thwarted Sport Capital which failed to buy a controlling interest in United last month. Amid all of the speculation and rumours surrounding the moral probity of Massimo Cellino, it is interesting to examine the possible motivations of Flowers in the extremely drastic action he has taken.

This blog has come to the conclusion that Flowers is lashing out in a manner not dissimilar to a spoiled child’s tantrum.  To run further with that analogy, the winding up petition is as much of an over-reaction as that of the wailing child who, denied the biggest share of the sweets, hurls a set of wooden blocks through the dining-room window.  It’s an over-the-top reaction, the product of immature arrogance and spite.  Somebody should perhaps shut Mr Flowers in his room with no toys, until he’s learned how to behave nicely.

A little research shows that it’s not unknown for a WUP to be issued as a tactical measure, designed to impede an unwelcome rival bid as it nears completion.  The website “Company Rescue” states

“In the Leeds United case, it appears Flowers has issued the petition in order to settle the dispute over the bid, which can happen if creditors feel they are ignored.

This kind of action is likely to be dismissed by the Court, however , as a WUP should only be issued if the company is thought to be insolvent.  As Flowers seems to be issuing one to settle a dispute, this could be deemed in the court as an abuse of process.”

Naturally, the courts tend to take a dim view of this sort of thing, as Leeds United in its current guise will be hoping happens in this case.  Their statement last night referred to “abuse of process” and it has to be said that this will do absolutely nothing but harm to Mr Flowers’ reputation if it is shown to be the case.  Another term for less-than-sincere legal action is “frivolous and vexatious”.  Courts and judges just hate this sort of thing.

There is the effect on the fans (remember them?? Hang on, it’s US!) to be considered, too.  Once the supporters cottoned on to the fact that the actions of Flowers pose a serious threat to the reputation or even continued existence of Leeds United – and that cottoning-on did not take long – then sympathy started to drain away from Mr Flowers and from Enterprise Insurance like pus from an open wound.  The idea of being anywhere near the bottom of the league, and then incurring a ten point league penalty, is not a comfortable one for Leeds United fans, not comfortable at all. Minus fifteen is still a vivid memory and still a cause of bitter resentment.  Ten points deducted right now would leave us a precarious 5 points clear of the relegation zone.

Neither will the fans appreciate the prospect of this ridiculous pantomime being dragged out for very much longer.  And yet Flowers’ WUP is due to be considered by the High Court on March 17th – almost six weeks away.  Six more weeks of anguish and uncertainty?  No, thank you.  Another factor evident today is the high incidence overnight of nocturnal emissions in many a South Yorkshire hovel, as desperate fans of smaller clubs dreamed moistly of the possible disappearance of Leeds United from the football landscape.  The tweets today bear witness to this frankly sad level of excitement and anticipation among the inbred, chip-on-the-shoulder tendency.  The attitude of other fans will be of little import to the suits as they go about their squabbling – heavens, they can hardly bother to think about the club’s own fans – but it’s a real enough part of the misery being imposed on us – and a particularly irritating one to the loyal Leeds United following out here, unable to do much but watch in horror and wait in apprehensive uncertainty while this humiliating tussle goes on.  And on, and on…

Over the past few days, and particularly since the news of Flowers’ WUP gained some currency, the attitude of the Leeds United support has appeared to sway significantly in favour of the Italian Cellino, and away from the dubious methods being employed elsewhere.  At first there was much doubt and virtuous rolling of the eyes at the thought of Cellino’s supposed criminality and wickedness – and yet, in the cold light of day, he appears little different to other mega-rich football club owners in this respect.  It’s highly unlikely that his convictions – one apparently suspended, one seemingly quashed – will act so as to fail him under the League’s Fit and Proper Person (FAPP) test.  He has an embezzlement charge hanging over him, but is rightly regarded as innocent until proved otherwise on that score.  And are Cellini’s rivals so squeaky clean?  The background of one Liverpool-based member of one of the consortia begs some critical evaluation, what with drive-by shootings and the like and – let’s not forget – Enterprise Insurance itself is unlikely to be based in Gibraltar simply for the lovely scenery afforded on the Rock.

The sad and frustrating fact is that Mr Flowers has taken a sledgehammer here to crack a peanut.  He filed his application the day after his consortium’s bid collapsed – on the rebound, as it were.  It has all the hallmarks of a fit of pique.  Given the statement from Leeds United last night – and even though that was swiftly watered-down, it’s still out there for people to see due to various assiduous bloggers – it seems inconceivable that Flowers and GFH could sit down around a table and discuss amicably any proposed business over the ownership of a football club which in any event actually belongs in a very real sense to the fans out here.  So what has Flowers to gain?  Read here and here to see what a very serious step a WUP is.  Why would he do that to a club he allegedly has close to his heart?

It will be interesting to see how the feelings of the Leeds United support continue to drift as the next few days go by – but already there has been a significant shift away from Flowers & Co and towards the “King of Corn”.  If Flowers is planning a long game, he risks completely exhausting the patience of the fans, patience that is already wearing dangerously thin.  And he might just find that any support or sympathy he ever had will have completely evaporated long before he ever gets his day in court.

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Despite All the Wrangling – Doesn’t Cellino Own Leeds Utd Already? – by Rob Atkinson

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Cellino – Signor Leeds United in a very real and legally-binding sense

Since the turmoil of last weekend, when low farce threatened to proceed via melodrama to real tragedy – before turning into a rip-roaring epic with a hat-trick hero – things have settled down, battle lines have been drawn and it’s situation normal at Elland Road.  In other words, the football is all but forgotten, various big egos are competing to see who can wee highest up the wall and the fans are relegated to mushroom status; kept in the dark and fed a load of crap.

But what is the reality of the situation?  Despite all the fighting and fratching, all of the writs and wrangles – isn’t it actually quite simple?  If you strip away all of the extraneous nonsense, then doesn’t it all boil down to an elementary matter of whether or not a contract now exists between GFH and Eleonora Sports Ltd?  If that contract does exist, then it’s difficult to see how it can now be argued that negotiations can properly continue between GFH and any other party. People will point to the fact that, when Cellino’s solicitor arrived at Elland Road to “complete” the deal, he was ushered off the premises, the papers left unsigned.  So: no deal, right?  But it’s not really as cut and dried as that, not when we look at the basic elements of what constitutes a contract.

Basically, a contract exists where one party makes an offer accepted by another party, with a “consideration” – i.e. money changing hands. No signatures needed, no paperwork – a contract is technically binding without all that.  Offer, plus acceptance, plus consideration = a contract, with all the enforcing power of contract law behind it.

So if Cellino had his offer to buy 75% of the club accepted by GFH – as it seems they have acknowledged – and if, as he says, he has paid for those shares – even if those funds are actually held in an escrow account and not yet paid to GFH; then it’s difficult to see how GFH can, at this stage, repudiate the contract and enter into discussions with a different party. So it does look to me as though Cellino owns Leeds Utd, subject only to official ratification under the FAPP Test, which he would almost certainly pass due to spent convictions which cannot, under English law, be prejudicial to his status as a “fit and proper person”.  Cellino himself appears ready to go to law in order to defend his contractual position.  Worryingly, it appears that the other parties in this whole sorry mess appear equally determined to have their day in court.

Can anyone make a serious alternative case, for the enlightenment and edification of this blog, to the conclusion that Cellino is the de facto owner of Leeds United? I’m still trying to sort out for myself whether I actually want this for Leeds, or not. So I’ve no interest in being right for being right’s sake; if anyone can tell me why all of the above contract theory is not true, then I’ll be happy to be convinced accordingly.

If the contract issue is as straightforward as it currently appears – and admittedly, these things rarely actually are – then Cellino only really needs the green light from the relevant authorities to move in and start putting his mark on the club.  What that would mean in practice is the subject of a whole separate article, and there are as many opinions as to his positive/negative effect on Leeds United as there were fans in the stadium when Leeds mauled Huddersfield last Saturday, or so it might appear.

In the meantime, all of the kerfuffle which currently occupies us all to the exclusion of anything to do with the actual football business of the club, could just be sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Just an almighty, annoying waste of time.  If it really is such a simple question as “Is there a contract, or isn’t there?” – then for God’s sake, let’s get it sorted out, and swiftly.  The one real voice of calm and sanity in all of this, Brian McDermott, has said himself that the ownership issue needs sorting out fast. Elsewhere, there have been quotes from David Haigh to the effect that talks might go on for “days, weeks, months”.  God forbid – we just do not need that.

Looking yet further down the food chain, our one-time main sponsor figurehead, Andrew Flowers – thwarted member of the Sport Capital consortium who started all of this nonsense by reneging on a done deal and submitting a “revised offer” for the club – is now issuing a winding-up order against the club whose best interests he ostensibly has at heart.  Apparently, this winding-up order is no wind-up – this guy means business.  It’s a pity he didn’t have the integrity to see the original deal through and save us all a lot of grief.  Now, it would seem he’s having to join forces with yet another consortium to match Cellino’s bid.  But little has been heard of what financial muscle this “super-consortium” would have to take the club forward post-purchase.  And this is a vital issue – after all, it’s not just the initial cost – it’s the upkeep.  Could we have any faith in future investment for the club, the team and the stadium if Flowers & Co did get their way?  And isn’t Flowers himself open to a charge of being vindictive in trying to stretch this matter out by such drastic means?

The next match is just a few days away, in the public glare, via the unsympathetic and mischievous medium of Sky TV.  Can we hope for matters to be sorted by then?  Who knows? But surely, that would be in everybody’s best interests – not least the team, the fans and the patient but long-suffering Brian McDermott.

Comments invited, it’s your club, not theirs.  Please – make your feelings known.