Tag Archives: Far East

Cellino to Sell Majority Stake in Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson


It is understood that a deal has been agreed in principle for the sale of a majority stake in Leeds United, with the buyers, or at least the money, tipped to be of Far East origin – possibly China. Massimo Cellino would apparently retain a small stake in the club, but would relinquish control. 

Sources agree that this is a done deal, with only legal formalities to be completed. Doubtless there will be much more on this story over the coming days, but what seems certain is that we are seeing the end of an era at Elland Road, with new owners and new ideas.

It’s going to be an interesting time ahead at Leeds United. 

End of Season Far East Tour Under Way – by Rob Atkinson

After a season of few ups and too many downs, of pressure and nerves, of joy and disappointment – actually, as you were with the joy – the traditional end-of-term junket starts this evening, and it’s Ho! for the Far East.

Yes, fellow sufferers, it’s off to Filey for a few escapist days at the glorious East Coast for Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, together with that tired and dispirited blog’s long-suffering wife or “significant other” depending on how traditionalist or otherwise you might be. It’s not before time – blog posts have been flowing thick and fast of late (mostly the former) – so it’s time for a rest before the keyboard melts. A little fresh air and fun should give the hardware a much-needed rest as well as recharging the cerebral batteries of one R Atkinson Esq. (Sole Prop.) That’s the plan anyway.

In practice, and whatever Mrs Rob might be fondly imagining, football will most likely still play a fair old part of the so-called “complete break”. I’ll be watching the Cup Final as I have a tenner riding on it. I’ll try to keep up with the various play-offs as well – and I do intend to submit the blogular equivalent of a saucy postcard or two, in the hope that this might stop my esteemed readership forgetting all about me and #LLUUE.

Any posts I manage to put up while I’m away will be somewhat limited by the fact I’m having to submit them via an iPhone instead of my trusty desktop dinosaur. But I promise to try and stay topical and relevant, with maybe a whiff of the briny and the odd 99 cornet – just to provide that holiday atmosphere.

In the meantime I’ll wish you all a pleasant weekend, just in case my mobile technology lets me down. In that case, I’ll be back online next Wednesday by which time, of course, everything will have changed for the unrecognisably different down Elland Road, and we’ll have to set the scene all over again – after which I shall need another holiday…

Arrivederci and MOT

Murdoch to Hammer Another Nail Into Football’s Coffin?

Uncle Rupert

Uncle Rupert

News is emerging that Rupert Murdoch may be about to unveil a “Summer Super League” plan for football, whereby 16 “elite” clubs would compete in a league-type competition throughout the traditional European close season.  Matches would be played in cities around the world in a transparent move to open up new markets and further popularise the Sky/Murdoch brand before an international audience possibly running to billions.

The drawbacks to such a plan spring readily to mind.  There is an obvious issue around the physical and mental demands upon players who might now be called upon to perform without a break in the whole calendar year.  That is, assuming that the players involved would be the senior players of the “elite” clubs envisaged as making up this league; but that does seem a fair assumption.  It is hardly likely that a project like this would have the necessary appeal and marketability if the competing teams were to field development squads – stars would be a pre-requisite for success.

What, then would be the impact on existing competitions?  It would be easy to imagine that the effect on, say, domestic cups could be quite shattering.  We’ve already had the precedent of Man U withdrawing from the FA Cup one season for some money-making prestige junket to South America where they competed for a version of the World Club Championship, and predictably sank without trace.  If the likes of Man U, Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal were to be invited (as they most certainly would be) to compete in Murdoch’s latest commercial fandango, then we could quite probably predict that – at the very least – the FA Cup, and certainly the League Cup would slide yet further down the priority list for these in-demand clubs.  Already we see shadow squads competing for the League Cup, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see withdrawals from that competition, and the treatment of the FA Cup as a proving ground for promising younger players.  It would be the eager crowds in the Far East, Australia, the USA and the Middle East who would have the pleasure of seeing the Premier League’s major talents performing in the flesh.

The question also arises: what of the World Cup, and the slightly lesser competitions held on individual continents?  Would FIFA be prepared to take on Murdoch and his increasingly omnipresent empire?  The days when domestic cup competitions caused a thrill of excitement and a sense of occasion are already receding into golden memory.  Will the same happen to the four-yearly cycle of the greatest international tournament of them all?  It’s not impossible; and if it were to happen, we’d know what to blame – the three M’s.  Murdoch, Money and Markets.

The time is fast approaching when Football as we know it will be in sore need of rescue by seemingly the only people left who actually care enough to want to preserve its proud history and tradition: the fans.  Obviously, I mean those of us who are old enough to remember the game’s great days, before Murdoch got his talons on it; when you stood on a packed terrace and sampled an incomparable atmosphere as you cheered on your favourites for under a pound and moaned mightily when that went up to £1.50.  When the only games shown live on the box were really big ones, Cup Finals, major International games, European nights and maybe the odd smattering of League games here and there.  Those were the days when you would have laughed out loud at any suggestion that one day you might be asked to fork out £60 a month for “entertainment” which might include Norwich v Wigan on a Monday evening.

That’s the reality we have now, and it’s scary to look ahead and see how much more our game might change now that Uncle Rupert has had this spiffy new idea.  He’ll want to make sure his audiences have their entertainment in a way that doesn’t put undue strain on their attention-spans, and allows enough time to sell, sell, sell in those commercial breaks.  Didn’t someone once have a great idea about playing four quarters instead of two halves?  What about time-outs?  Why bother with boring draws, can’t we have an exciting shoot-out?

If you doubt things might actually go down that road – just cast your mind back 25 years, and see if you could have imagined then the kind of game we have to watch today, and ask yourself: couldn’t it maybe happen?  Aren’t we in real danger of losing the last vestiges of the game we used to know and love?  And isn’t it maybe time to think just what the hell we can do about it?