Tag Archives: fit and proper

Boro Took the Mick, Mowatt Took the Chance, Leeds Took the Points – by Rob Atkinson

Gibson

This blog has had plenty to say over the past few months about the Football League and its attitude towards Leeds United. That’s a bone of contention that goes back many years, to the days of the late and, quite frankly, unlamented Alan Hardaker.

The current League v Leeds stand-off surrounds United’s temporarily disbarred owner, Massimo Cellino, for whom the suits appear to have it in, big style. Doubtless, many owners and administrators at other clubs will have had a quiet chuckle to themselves over the Leeds situation, particularly those who, unlike the oft-hounded Cellino, appear to be getting away with murder – or at least rape, grand larceny, money-laundering and making a cushy living from the distribution of porn. It’s usually open season on Leeds, and clearly even those of dubious scruples will feel free to have a giggle, if unobserved.

There’s a certain etiquette to this, however; you don’t publicly laugh and point a mocking finger, lest such an overt show of disrespect should rebound on you, leaving you with egg dripping off your face and looking pretty silly. After all, why antagonise and motivate a foe about to meet you on the field of battle? Why do their rabble-rousing for them? There’s little to be gained in making a joke when there’s a danger of that joke, ultimately, being on you. It’s known as “setting yourself up for a fall”, or as we might say in the Broad Acres, “Beggin’ for thi arse to be kicked”. It’s really not wise and best avoided. Most sensible people realise this and conduct themselves accordingly. Not so, it seems, Middlesbrough FC. They risked looking stupid with their “Fit and Proper” banner, pictured above. And, one smash and grab defeat later, stupid is just what they look – however fit and proper Boro owner Steve Gibson might normally be.

It really is rather difficult to understand the thinking, the strategic logic, behind such a pointless gesture. Alright, this blog has added its own six penn’orth with the text over the picture – but we’re in a position to do that. The battle is over, the winners are celebrating a seasonal haul of six points, the losers are licking their wounds and wondering what the hell happened. Now is the time to gloat and, if the gloating is done by throwing an unwise pre-match taunt back in the crestfallen face of the unwise taunter, then so much the sweeter it is. It’s the state of mind that convinced someone this was a good idea in the first place – that’s the thing baffling me. What’s to be gained? Very little, surely. But you stand to lose much if you psyche-up capable opponents by blowing raspberries before hostilities commence. You might very well lose the match, as well as a lot of face. This is what happened to Middlesbrough, and serve them right. Surely, someone up there in Smogland is regretting that banner right now.

In professional sport, this kind of stuff matters – more than you might think. There’s a fine line between victory and defeat, and every competitor strives for any marginal advantage. It’s by accruing those small gains that you enhance your chances of success. It’s hardly rocket science, but it is Sports Psychology. And line one on page one of that book reads: Do not hand your opponent the initiative by saying or doing something daft to rile them up before the game. That’s the First Commandment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting Leeds United’s victory at Boro down to one daft banner. Nevertheless, it could well have been a factor. A player in the United team might have seen it and thought “Cheeky gets!”, before mentally rolling up the sleeves and getting ready to demonstrate the unwisdom of taking the mick. Some of the wiser heads on the Boro side may equally have been having a little groan to themselves and damning the stupidity of whoever had risked winding Leeds up to give them a hard time. Even small factors make a difference.

It wasn’t that good a banner anyway – rather embarrassing if anything. The way it furled gave the impression that somebody had stepped on Mr. Gibson’s face whilst it was still warm, leaving it looking lop-sidedly ridiculous. A banner so large must have had club approval – it just defies belief that they should sanction such a blatant own goal.

On the evidence of the Boro game, I’m still fairly certain that the Smoggies will go up. They’re a seriously good side and – well as Leeds undeniably played – if Signor Silvestri had been in less miraculously-inspired form, we could well have been buried. I’d seen Middlesbrough performing well in Cup games at Man City and Arsenal and, realistically, I worried for us. But things went our way, we battled hard, our keeper looked as if he could show King Canute up and actually hold back the tide – it just went our way; well done us.

How much, if at all, did that banner aid our cause? We’ll never know, clearly. But I do know it’s not the sort of thing I’d like to see at Leeds. We have enough trouble winning games (with due deference to this great recent run) without doing the opposition’s team talk for them. It’s just not a good idea at all.

Silly Boro – really very silly. Many thanks for the six points, though. We’ll miss you next year for that much, I suppose – but not for your strangely daft, weirdly unfunny sense of “humour”.

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If You Love Leeds United, You SHOULD Sign this Petition – by Rob Atkinson

Shaun Harvey: pisspoor

Shaun Harvey of the FL: pisspoor

I wrote an article the other day, about why the Football League’s pisspoor and incompetently applied “Fit & Proper Test” should not apply retrospectively to a man in post who has comprehensively demonstrated that he is the best thing to happen to his Football Club in many a month of Sundays.

The club is, of course, Leeds United and the man is our very own Massimo Cellino, genius, nutter and saviour of us all. Now there is a petition calling upon the bewildered old men and corrupt younger ones who make up the Football League, under the dubious leadership of the appalling Shaun Harvey, to see sense in this matter and leave well alone.

If ever there was a time for the supporters of Leeds United – those who can see the good that Big Mass has done anyway – to band together and act collectively, this is IT. Please read, sign and share the petition by clicking HERE.

It’s highly likely that Cellino and his legal team will be able to thwart the FL as they did before. But it is for us, the fans, to make ourselves heard too. One way of doing that is to get this petition supported, in numbers as great as possible.

Please READ this, SIGN it and SHARE it among as many fellow supporters of Leeds United as possible.

Let the buffoons of the Football League know that they are in for a real fight.

Twitter in “Happy Ending for Leeds” Rumours: Cellino IN?? – by Rob Atkinson

Shaun Harvey: rumoured to be bearer of glad tidings

Shaun Harvey: rumoured to be bearer of glad tidings

When you’re drowning, you clutch at straws.  So when a Facebook friend mentioned that she’d seen a hopeful-looking tweet from someone who is (apparently) a neighbour of Shaun Harvey and claims to have received his reassurance that all will be well for the takeover – well, I had to see more.

What I saw could be the usual Twitter rubbish, but it could (just) be true as well.  Harvey is reputed to have stated that the Football League has no interest in seeing Leeds United go into administration, and that Cellino’s takeover was always going to be approved as the best way forward for the club.  The Italian court case seems to have muddied the waters rather, and it was felt that a straightforward approval would detract from the credibility of the League’s Owners & Directors test.  So – the rumour runs – the League felt it advisable not simply to approve Cellino, but to wait for the appeal stage in the knowledge that approval would be forthcoming then.

Obviously, the question arises: what is Shaun Harvey doing shooting his mouth off to a neighbour, when the whole matter is effectively sub judice? That’s a good point, and I tend to agree with it.  However, this morsel of rumour seems to me to have enough going for it for me to at least pass on to the Leeds fans out there – who are doubtless chewing their nails down to the elbows worrying over what’s going to happen to our club. Any hint of good news is something I’d certainly want to hear – so I’m going out on a limb to do my bit to share it.

Don’t shoot the messenger, eh?

League Hope for Leeds Ownership Decision “Before Next Ice Age” – by Rob Atkinson

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Shaun Harvey: no axe to grind, honest guv.

The Football League today moved to quell growing concern at the continued delay in reaching a decision on the proposed takeover of Leeds United by Eleonora Sports.  League spokesman Lee D. Shater confirmed in a brief statement that “it is envisaged a decision can be reached sometime in the present glacial period”.  The prediction, which nails down the potential notification date to sometime in the next 5.7 million years, would seem to fly in the face of letters from Leeds United Football Club to the Football League, requesting that the matter be concluded by last Thursday. Mr Shater was dismissive of this request, stating that it was “unfeasible”. The League would, he said, stick by its 5.7 million year timescale – though he did add that the effects of global warming could potentially stretch this out to as much as 8.9 million years.

The reaction at Elland Road was philosophical.  “We didn’t really expect to hear by last Thursday,” a source advised Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything. “We were just hoping to apply a little subtle pressure with a view to hearing some positive news, perhaps by the end of the century”. The proposed timescale of “sometime within this geothermal epoch” has caused some scratching of heads at the club, where officials confirm that all paperwork has been submitted and that everything should be in place for an announcement at any time.

ImageThe latest from the League is that part of the delay has been down to their desire to recruit a new non-executive member of the Football League board, who would be envisaged to have some vital input into the decision-making process. One surprise name in the frame is that of Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung.  The fact that Yeung is currently in jail in China is not seen as an obstacle to his involvement in the Cellino case.  “Carson is still the owner of Birmingham City, and we feel that his particular experience will prove vital in determining the suitability of Massimo Cellino to be the owner of one of the Football League family of clubs,” said Mr Shater, shredding a file marked “Documents requested from Leeds”.  A prominent sports lawyer later confirmed that Yeung’s criminal record could be of positive relevance in the Leeds case. “After all, it takes a thief to catch a thief”, he winked cheekily.

Shaun Harvey is irretrievably bent.

Football League Treatment of Leeds Utd Fans is “Cruel and Unusual” – by Rob Atkinson

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Justice delayed is justice denied

“Cruel and unusual” is a highly descriptive phrase identifying treatment which is considered illegal due to the suffering, pain, or humiliation it inflicts on the person or persons subjected to it.  It has an American flavour these days, due to the fact that it forms the sharp end of the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution, which was designed to protect citizens from being too harshly treated by over-zealous law-enforcers in the Land of the Free.  Yet the words were first used as far back as 1689 in the English Bill of Rights, as the Old Country sought to limit the excesses of the various courts as they set about correcting malefactors.  A similar form of words also appears in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Whichever piece of history you might choose, these are powerful words, specifying and ruling out of bounds judicial and other behaviour which is considered fundamentally unacceptable, uncivilised and uncalled-for. And yet somehow you still have Guantanemo Bay in the US of A – and over here in Merrie Olde England, we have the Football League.

In a sporting context, it’s hard to conceive of a situation more closely approximating to “cruel and unusual” than the Football League’s casually callous attitude to the hapless and frustrated fans of Leeds United, as their scrutiny of Massimo Cellino goes on and on, ad nauseam.  To provide a little background, Leeds fans have been waiting for over a decade now for some obliging Knight to ride in on his white charger and bear us all off to a brighter and happier future.  It’s been years of purgatory, humiliation and having to grub around in competition with clubs not fit to lace the boots of former Champions.  And when, at long, long last, a potential saviour enters upon our tableau of suffering, with promises of rich bounty and an enhanced wage structure, what do the Gentlemen of the League do? They shilly-shally most grievously, that’s what.  They mank about, ineffectually. They spin the whole bloody thing out until the nerves of all Leeds fans, whether they want the Italian or not, are as red and raw as meat on a butcher’s block.

It’s almost as if, in fact, they take pleasure from the long, drawn-out, torturous nature of their interminable process.  Meanwhile, criminals, idiots and despots rule the roost at various other clubs, and nobody says them nay.  Cellino, no more than a likeable rogue and certainly not the heavy-duty villain you find without too much effort elsewhere in the Championship, must feel rather picked-upon, to say the very least.  It’s not fair; it’s not even remotely funny unless you’re some leering idiot that supports Sheffield Wendies or some other such bitter, Leeds-hating outfit. It’s the stuff of malice and persecution, the kind of thing that seems to happen only to Leeds fans – there’s no wonder some call us paranoid (And we’re not, not at all.  They’re just getting at us).

Even when the end-game seemed to be upon us, still they’ve umm-ed and ah-ed away in their ivory tower, in that aloof, patronising, annoying way common to all such pettifogging bureaucrats.  We’re meant to take from all this that they’re so busy and important, with weighty matters to consider, the kind of things that mere turnstile fodder could never hope to understand.  Don’t they realise that we see only a bunch of daft old gits in suits, blundering around, trying and failing to distinguish arse from elbow? So when an Italian court pronounced Cellino guilty on Tuesday of some silly technical tax misdemeanour, fining him and grabbing his yacht, could the League not then have acted decisively?  At least we would have known where we stand.  But this latest five-day-and-counting extension to the already lengthy wait for some sort of decision – it’s just added bitter insult to grievous injury.

GFH also have to bear a large portion of blame for such a farcical, overblown and ridiculous situation.  Their latest clumsy attempt to impose some sort of order took the form of an ultimatum to the League to get the matter sorted by close of play Thursday.  Naturally, the League – standing on their supposed dignity – airily disregarded this.  Such incredibly important gentlemen are evidently not to be told what to do and when to do it by a bunch of investment bankers.  So they continue to take their own sweet time, to scratch their well-upholstered backsides and ruminate away, absorbing tea and biscuits and achieving the square root of sod-all.

Meanwhile, the fans continue to be treated as mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed on crap.  And we suffer, not in silence – because there are some very angry people out here – but we suffer nevertheless; our club is important to us, and we’ve done nothing to deserve all this.  We just want answers, stability, some idea of where we are and where we’re going, if anywhere.  We want a future, one that might in some way make up for some of the dark hopelessness of the past twelve years.

All of these men in suits, at some point or another, have paid lip service to recognising that the situation – the stupidly long delay – is not ideal for the fans.  They have acknowledged that there are many thousands of us out here, deeply affected by the goings-on at Leeds United, deeply apprehensive about what the future holds, profoundly upset and humiliated by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which buffet our club, while so many others seem to have a relatively untroubled existence.  They have nodded their heads wisely, and expressed regret.  But still the silly charade goes on.

It does appear likely that, at some point in the next few days (touch wood), we will get an answer.  We were even told it might be by yesterday (Friday). But that was probably just to emphasise that it wouldn’t be happening on Thursday, as GFH had demanded.  In any event, Friday came and went, and nowt happened. The previous time-scale of ten days would take us up to the end of the weekend, meaning that another vital match has to be played in a cloud of uncertainty.  Nobody seems genuinely to care what all of this is doing to the legions of harmless and inoffensive people for whom Leeds United forms an extremely important part of their everyday lives.  It’s scandalously thoughtless, unforgivably casual. In context, it is definitively cruel and unusual, the kind of thing no body of supporters, with the exception of Man U, should ever have to put up with.  But we’re Leeds, so – apparently – we’re fair game for this sort of thing.

There are many out here now who don’t care half as much which way this decision goes, as they do about finally getting some decision, so that we can take stock and move on.  Limbo is supposed to have been abolished by the Vatican seven years ago, but it’s where we’ve all been for the most part of this year so far, and it’s not very bloody nice.  So please – after we’ve dealt with Millwall or they’ve dealt with us this Saturday – can we possibly call a halt to the most nonsensical period of uncertainty I can recall since the original TOMA? Because we really have had quite enough cruel and unusual treatment now, thanks.

Football League Ready to Stretch a Point to Accept Cellino? – by Rob Atkinson

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Massimo Cellino – waiting game

They’re strange folks at the Football League.  When the news broke this morning of Massimo Cellino’s less-than-ideal result in the Italian Courts, I rather expected that we’d have a ringing non-endorsement of the King of Corn in good time for an early lunch.  This pessimistic view was based on close to fifty years’ experience of the game’s authorities being ready, willing and indeed eager to do Leeds United a power of no-good at every possible opportunity – the so-called “Hardaker Approach”.  But in the hours since the court decision was reached, all we’ve had from the League is a brief, bland statement which noted the Cellino verdict and added only: “We are engaged in an ongoing dialogue with his legal representatives in this country and cannot comment further at this time.”

Heads will be scratched and brains will be cudgelled as to precisely what that dialogue is aiming to establish.  There are various theories flying around, surrounding issues such as whether the matter is a civil or a criminal one, whether the status of Cellino remains innocent until proven guilty when there are still legal stages to be gone through – and, significantly, whether the League’s test should even apply to Cellino because of their own 30% stake provision – Cellino apparently only has 9.5% of Eleonora Sports, the company that is in the process of acquiring 75% of Leeds United.

It is the fact that this “ongoing dialogue” is going on at all, though, that is really of most interest. There is just the faintest whiff of a suspicion that the League would like to have its biggest club, its most compelling attraction, established on a  secure footing if at all possible.  It may just be to this end that talks and negotiations are now going on.  In various corners of the Leeds United universe, there are stubborn voices of faith, claiming that the takeover will go through, that all parties have long been prepared for today’s eventuality and that a way will be found to confirm the takeover, with whatever technical or cosmetic tweaks that might be necessary.

Such a theory also allows for the fact that yet another administration may not simply be a disaster for Leeds United, but also for the game’s governing body below Premier League level – and maybe even for the Premier League itself, for whom the eventual participation of Leeds is more and more being spoken of as A Good Thing.  This line of thinking says that Leeds’ presence would be welcomed in a league which has long marketed itself on glamour and excitement, but which has had rather too many Wigans, Cardiffs and Norwich Cities lately – and not enough Leeds Uniteds, Sheffield Wednesdays and even Nottingham Forests.  Leeds are easily the biggest pull below the Premier League, and there would be distinct financial benefits for any League containing a Leeds team doing well and pushing up the table.

It’s all speculation of course – but, given the theory that the Football League were simply waiting for today’s Cellino court verdict in order to give a simple yea or nay, the fact that there is still apparently so much to talk about may well prove significant in the final reckoning.

Not that I am holding my breath, of course.  There is the Carson Yeung precedent and there is the fact that Cellino promises to be a breath of fresh air at Leeds.  But for it to end up happily, with Leeds building for promotion under a minted benefactor just sounds that bit too good to be true.  For it to happen, we’d surely need to have a bit of good luck.  And we all know that good luck and Leeds United go together like ice cream and mustard.

Still – it might yet be an interesting few days ahead.  But whether that’ll be in a good way, or a bad way, remains very much up in the air.

Cellino Totally Justified in Angry Outburst at Limp Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

Cellino - anger

Cellino – anger

So Massimo Cellino has broken cover in the wake of the spineless United display against a deeply ordinary Bolton Wanderers side at the weekend. He’s raged, primarily at the players, calling them “chickens”.  They didn’t fight, he said.  They are guilty and without pride; they should be ashamed of themselves.  Can any of us honestly argue with the wisdom and accuracy of that little lot?  Wouldn’t we all be queuing up to kick a few arses, as Signor Cellino has expressed the earnest desire to do, if only we had the chance? And why, pray, do we feel this way?  It’s because we’ve invested hard-earned cash in supporting our team, that’s why – only to see overpaid non-triers throw that loyalty and commitment back in our bitterly-disappointed faces.  Imagine, then, how Cellino feels, several million down already, hauling the club out of deep and rank ordure – and being messed about by a dilatory governing body into the bargain.  No wonder he’s a little miffed.

Some have said that Cellino has overstepped the mark in being quite so vocal, not yet being the confirmed owner and all.  For a couple of reasons, I strongly disagree with that viewpoint.  Firstly – as referred to above – the man has paid – paid handsomely – for his right to express a vehement point of view. He who pays the piper calls the tune or, in this case, kicks the arse, if that’s his reaction of choice.  Nobody, surely, can deny the man who has funded this club over the last few weeks when, due to inept management and a craven refusal to dig deep on the part of GFH et al, we might otherwise have been well on the way to the wall by now.

Cellino will know just how much he’s stumped up in wages, with absolutely no guarantee that his purchase of the club will end up being sanctioned. He will know exactly how much X has “earned” and how much Y is being paid for his headless chicken act.  It must drive him mad to have actually seen those players fannying about on a professional football field and succumbing without so much as a peep of protest to a team they should be taking to the cleaners – especially at home.  The money the Italian has shelled out gives him an absolute right, in my view, to express himself as strongly as he sees fit.  Good on him for condemning the guilty parties in strong and unequivocal terms.  It’s not before time.

Which brings me on to reason number two that Cellino was right to act as he did, confirmed owner or not.  A bit of anger and invective has been needed from within the club for far too long now.  It’s all been much too friendly and cosy as far as we can tell from the regular soundbites, and there are people on the payroll taking blatant advantage of that easy-going atmosphere.  They will have been aware, perhaps, of some discontent out here in the real world, but they appear to be living and working in a little pink bubble where all is sweetness and light and, oh so polite – so why should they care if a storm is raging outside of that bubble?  Somebody needs to shake the place up a bit. I think we all know who that somebody should be – but if that’s not happening, then – by all means Massimo, old son, you stand up for all of us out here. Vent your spleen, rattle a few cages, have a go.  Maybe if they see the guy holding the purse-strings getting slightly aerated, they might sit up and take notice – due to a footballer’s well-known respect and concern for the bottom line.

There have been far too many humiliating results lately, far too many score-lines that speak all too clearly of extremely well-paid young men who simply don’t care – not anywhere near as much as they should, given the honour that is theirs to wear that white shirt.  That’s the ultimate in not good enough, and it’s high time someone let loose a few slings and arrows at those guilty parties and read the riot act here and there.  For all of these reasons, I’m glad to hear that Cellino has climbed down off the fence where most of the rest of the Leeds United personnel appear to be roosting, and has made his acerbic views known, in no uncertain terms.

We’re likely to be able to gauge what kind of effect this Latin bollocking has had when Leeds meet McDermott’s old club, Reading, on Tuesday.  I hope the players feel upset, angry and humiliated to have been spoken of in such very frank and derisive terms.  No professional likes having his or her professionalism called into question.  In the macho world of football, nobody will relish being called a chicken, or having shame called down upon their heads.  The players should be hurt, they should be annoyed; above all they should be possessed by a bloody-minded determination to show exactly what they’re made of.  They should be ready to go out and sweat blood in a do or die attempt to prove Cellino wrong and to put in an effort to prove they do have the bottle to play for, as McDermott puts it, a “big badge”.  And, lest we forget, a demanding crowd.

Ironically, such an effort would only go to confirm that the Italian was actually 100% right to say what he said about the abject and spineless display the players gave in the Bolton game.  It would draw comparison with the second half against Huddersfield when, as one of them put it, “we did it for Brian”. Well, chaps – you’ve done bugger-all for him since.  But take three points off Reading on Tuesday, and a lot would be forgiven, if not forgotten.  Such is the way of football and human nature.

What Cellino has achieved with his outburst – beyond any reasonable doubt – is to focus the most intense scrutiny on how the players in those Leeds United shirts acquit themselves on Tuesday evening in the Reading game. Under those eleven “big badges” – are there eleven big enough hearts to take on board the Massimo Cellino message and to come up with the right response? We shall see soon enough.

Should Cellino Take a Leaf out of Cardiff Owner Tan’s Book? – by Rob Atkinson

Tan - fit & proper?

Tan – fit & proper?

With the Leeds United takeover still dragging on and on, it’s possible to imagine that Massimo Cellino is taking a glance around the rest of English football – and wondering what he’s done so wrong that the game’s highly-respectable and august authorities appear to be wrinkling their noses at him.

Should he, for example, be following the example of Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan?  Here is a man who has breezed into the club he’s bought and started treating it exactly like the plaything he obviously feels he’s acquired. Riding roughshod over supporters’ vehement objections, he’s now got the Bluebirds playing in red, he’s sacked the manager who did such a sterling job in getting them elevated to the Premier League for the first time since Noah was a lad – and he’s been heard disconsolately enquiring why the goalkeeper doesn’t score a few goals here and there.   The latest Tan bright idea was to offer his players a £3.7m bonus to avoid relegation, an incentive swiftly withdrawn after it was pointed out to Vapid Vincent that this was illegal.  Just to show they couldn’t be bought, his players went and lost at Spurs anyway.   Cardiff were certainly struggling under Malky Mackay – as is only to be expected in that perilous first season up.  But now, one ill-conceived managerial change later, they look doomed to relegation.  Fit and proper?  I wouldn’t want him at Leeds, thanks very much.

Allam - fit & proper?

Allam – fit & proper?

Or there’s the chap at Hull City, Assem Allam.  He doesn’t have much regard for history or tradition either.  He’s not going to change the strip though, as Mr Tan so controversially did at Cardiff. No, Assem likes the strip, and he likes the Tigers nickname that goes with it. So much so, that he wishes to rename the club Hull Tigers, exposing their horrified fans to ridicule from the rest of the football fraternity.  (Tigers, Tigers, rah, rah, rah!!)  To those who protested, adopting “City till we die” as their rallying cry, kindly old Uncle Assem has commented: “they can die as soon as they want”.  Fit and proper?  Hmmmm.

Sullivan/Gold - fit & proper?

Sullivan/Gold – fit & proper?

And further south still, we have those upright, downright pillars of the community who run West Ham – porn barons Sullivan & Gold.  Their avowed mission, to provide prurient entertainment, salacious scandal and gorgeous, pouting tits by the barrow load to every UK breakfast table, has not caused even the slightest of ripples at the FA or Football League.

Cellino - de facto LUFC owner

Cellino – de facto LUFC owner

Meanwhile, Massimo Cellino, having exchanged contracts with the useless GFH, is the de facto owner of Leeds United.  He has kept us going through what appears to be a cash crisis which would have brought the club to the brink of administration and disaster, were it not for his financial support.  Instead of going to the wall, United have been able to carry on, with Cellino paying off Enterprise Insurance – which has led to the sulky withdrawal of their petulant winding-up petition – paying the staff wages on time, funding the acquisition of two high-quality loan additions in the past fortnight and generally acting like a responsible – dare I say it? – fit and proper person to take Leeds United forward into a much more assured future – as compared to the last decade or so under a succession of potless chancers who the League appeared quite happy to see screwing things up.

Shaun Harvey - digging

Shaun Harvey – digging

Really – it’s almost as though the Football League, under that model of propriety Shaun Harvey, have a neat set of double standards and principles so flexible they might very well be called totally bent.  All those dodgy geezers in charge of other clubs, and not an eyebrow raised anywhere until this latest Tan gaffe.  And there’s poor old Massimo, doing his best, funding our skint club – and they seem to be digging deep for any excuse to tell him to get lost.  Perhaps the King of Corn should be trying to emulate the Kings of Porn in order to gain this elusive acceptance.  Perhaps he should change the Leeds United strip to pink with green spots, or start offering illegal bonuses  à la Tan at Cardiff.   Or maybe he could sweetly advise the denizens of the Gelderd End to accept a change of name to Leeds Peacocks, or end up sleeping with the fishes?  Any of these seem to attract more official approval than the Italian’s current, inoffensive and supportive stance.

It does make you wonder – doesn’t it?

Leeds Takeover: Is the “Yorkshire Post” Backing the Wrong Horse? – by Rob Atkinson

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Yorkshire Post: Nice headline, shame about the story

This bold headline in Tuesday’s edition of the YP was a scoop, surely.  Possible sensation.  Certainly an attention-grabber for anyone with the interests of Leeds United at heart.  Probably there would be interest further afield as well, for anything LUFC-related tends to make eyebrows raise and ears prick up, pretty much anywhere.  Love ’em or hate ’em – it’s very difficult to ignore Yorkshire’s Number One football club.  So this YP story looked like a sure-fire winner.  Only one problem.  The content of the article bore absolutely no relation to the headline, whatsoever.  There were no “first details”.  In fact, there were no details at all emerging from this meeting of Cellino and McDermott.  Nada, zip, zilch.  Nowt.  How perplexing.

What there was amounted to a rehash of several recycled, days-old, tired and weary semi-true factoids about United’s prospective new owner.  We could read – again – about his convictions for fraud.  The YP reckons they were both “spent” under English law and therefore would not be an impediment to Cellino’s passing of the League’s “fit and proper” test.  This conclusion seemed tinged with regret on the Yorkshire Post‘s part, but the raking-over of cold ashes continued nevertheless.  Fascinated, we were able to read – again – of how Cellino tried to sack McDermott and replace him with bosom buddy Gianluca Festa.  Yawn.  Heard it all before.  And we read – yet a-bloody-gain – that McDermott was reinstated during the 5-1 derby whopping of Huddersfield Town (some sources, including GFH, say that he was never actually sacked at all).  But again, we already knew about this, we’d known it all for ages.

And that was it – there was nothing more to this piece than a few reheated facts and rumours that were past their use-by date as long ago as last week.  What was the justification, we might well ask, for that rather misleading headline, appearing to promise at least some of the inside story around what actually passed between manager Brian and King-elect Massimo?   Ultimately, all there is to glean from this strange little article is that the Yorkshire Post appears to take a dim view of Signor Cellino and is thus moved to force-feed its readership a dubious diet of warmed-over snippets of an uncomplimentary nature.

The fact remains, after all, that Cellino is still quite likely to be Leeds United owner in the not-too-distant future.  And the Yorkshire Post, in common with any regional newspaper, surely has a vested interest in maintaining a mutually satisfactory working relationship with its local football clubs.  If it doesn’t, then it should have.  All of which begs the question – how does the YP imagine that a policy of repeated bitching about Cellino, under headlines purporting but failing to deliver new information – just how do they think this is going to assist them in establishing some sort of rapport with the imminent Cellino administration at the county’s foremost club?  It’s an odd sort of approach to the formation of professional and harmonious relations, to say the least.

If the YP have put all their eggs in the basket of earnestly hoping the Football League will somehow ditch Cellino, then that is one perilous and high-risk strategy.  There may well be a need for some frantic kissing-up mighty soon.  Perhaps, after all, they should adopt the Peter Lorimer tactic of heartily endorsing whoever seems likeliest to wield executive power in the near future – it seems to work for him, except insofar as his now-tattered “Legend” status with the fans is concerned.  It will be very interesting to see which direction the Yorkshire Post does take over the next few weeks, when this tangled situation – hopefully – gets sorted out one way or another.

Whatever course they opt for, it’s devoutly to be hoped that a newspaper with a long history of covering the slings and arrows of United’s outrageous fortunes can, in future, try to maintain some sort of link between headline and story.  Tuesday’s effort did them no credit at all, and many Leeds fans who rely on them heavily for updates on what the hell’s going on at Elland Road, will instead be wondering what the hell’s happened to journalistic standards at the YP.  The consensus on Facebook’s “Elite Dirty Leeds Group” – an eclectic mix of academics, nutters, deviants and cynics, bound together by an abiding passion for Leeds United – was that the YP had sold us a pup with this headline, and that the intention was to run a Cellino hatchet-job dressed up as a news article.  It’s hard to argue with that verdict.

Note to the YP: in future, chaps, if you’ve nowt new to say, perhaps it would be better just to say nowt.  There must surely be goings-on elsewhere you can usefully fill a few column inches with.  Filling them with your own jaundiced views on the soon-to-be-anointed King of LS11 is not a particularly bright idea.  Backing the wrong horse at this stage of the game is less bright still.

The fans need their local rag to keep tabs on things at Elland Road – so don’t let us down.  OK?