Tag Archives: The Football League

Leeds Fans Knew the Script as Barnsley Outclass Millwall at Wembley – by Rob Atkinson

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Millwall thugs break security to attack jubilant Barnsley supporters

Today’s League One Playoff Final was a script already written; certainly many a Leeds United fan, knowing what we know of the protagonists, could accurately have predicted how events would unfold. 

Predictably, Barnsley would beat Millwall comfortably at Wembley, to secure promotion to the Championship. Predictably, Millwall’s vicious minority would have a mass tantrum afterwards, charging at celebrating Yorkshire fans to spoil yet another occasion involving football’s sickest club, the shame of London. And, predictably, self-righteous Millwall fans would argue that it’s OK for them to do that and that we have no right to criticise, “because Leeds fans have been violent and have sung nasty songs“. It was all massively predictable, well in advance.

And so it came to pass, certainly in the first two particulars. Barnsley swept into a second-minute lead and never really looked back. Even being pegged back to 2-1, after Hamill‘s classy second, presented the Tykes with no real alarms or jitters. Millwall huffed and puffed, but were hopelessly outclassed. Barnsley’s promotion-clinching third after the interval flattered them not one iota. It could so easily have been more.

Then the Millwall fans showed their true colours after the game was done, trying to get at the red-shirted, jubilant Barnsley fans and generally making fools of themselves, as is their wont. One Tweet told of a disabled Barnsley supporter being tipped out of a wheelchair and kicked down some steps. Reportedly also, two Barnsley fans received stab wounds. Who knows if all of that is gospel true? But the point is, you can easily believe it of the degraded bunch of savages that forms part of Millwall’s less than massive support. Now, all that remains is for the Millwall fans who read this, and other accounts, to bleat their standard excuse: don’t point the finger at us! You do it too! And so we have, in the past, as have other sets of idiot fans. Not these days, though, never as often and not as brutally. Let’s face it, we’re not perfect, but we’re not Millwall. Thank heavens.

And surely, the Football League must now address the problem of Millwall and its classless, cowardly, disgraceful followers. This is a club with form for its fans fighting among themselves at Wembley in the past. The same thugs showed themselves up in the semi-final second leg of this play-off competition, with late pitch invasions to end Bradford‘s hopes of mounting a last-gasp comeback. It happens time and time again in a disgusting Millwall history that goes back in a similar vein for decades. It will keep on happening unless this nuisance club are cracked down on – and cracked down on hard. Whatever the problems that may, from time to time, have assailed other clubs – my beloved Leeds prominent among them – Millwall FC stands alone for the frequency and severity of their transgressions. It’s time for swift and decisive action to be taken. 

It probably won’t happen, though. Millwall are a Football League blind spot, just as Galatasaray are for UEFA. Truly is it said that there’s none so blind as those who won’t see, and the football authorities seem determined to look at Millwall’s transgressions through the darkest of blackout spectacles. The media are no better; they seem to have adopted the Beasts of Bermondsey as their token small club ripe for patronising. Meanwhile, opposition fans continue to live in fear of cowardly, mob-handed attacks. Except at Elland Road, of course, where the Millwall tough lads, no angels they, fear to tread. They usually bring about a dozen, who sit in a terrified silence, meekly accept defeat, and slink off home like the craven curs they are.

Congratulations to Barnsley, who – having been bottom of League One before Christmas, will now adorn the Championship with their classy brand of football. They have also obligingly ensured that happy division will stay relatively clean and civilised by condemning the scabby and feral Lions to prowl around at a suitably lower level. The second tier picture is complete now, and it looks an enticing prospect. On today’s evidence, Barnsley FC will not look out of place.

Tarn

Barnsley celebrate a well-deserved promotion

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Lord Chancellor “Concerned” Over Recent Leeds United Legal Successes – by Rob Atkinson

Lord Chancellor: are the Scales of Justice tipping worryingly towards Leeds?

Lord Chancellor: are the Scales of Justice tipping worryingly towards Leeds?

In the wake of two unsuccessful legal challenges involving Leeds United FC, the Lord Chancellor has expressed “concern” at what he fears may be an unhealthy trend towards fairer treatment of the club.

The Whites’ defender (see what we did there?) Giuseppe Bellusci was recently cleared of a racist abuse charge after a complaint by Norwich City’s Cameron Jerome was found “not proven”, due largely to the lack of independent corroboration.

More recently, a damages action launched by former United technical director Gwyn Williams has been thrown out in the High Court. Williams had been summarily dismissed for gross misconduct after sending emails to members of Leeds staff which included “obscene” images. It was claimed for Williams that the emails had been part of a “Dirty Leeds” joke, reflecting the “hard but fair” approach of the Super Leeds team in the early 1970s. Williams had claimed compensation of £250,000, but his claim was rejected – the court holding that the sending of “obscene and pornographic e-mails” was “a sufficiently serious breach of the duty of implied trust and confidence as to amount to a repudiation of the contract”.

Now the Lord Chancellor himself, alarmed at two successive high-profile judicial decisions going Leeds United’s way, has stepped into the debate. A statement from the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice advised, inter alia, “In what is still ostensibly a Leeds-hating country, it is deeply unsatisfactory and a waste of opportunity that not one, but two, gift-wrapped chances to hammer the club in the legal arena have, seemingly, been casually passed up. It is this sort of laissez-faire approach to the dispensation of justice that could, eventually, see Leeds overcome its problems and return to top-flight football. This Office is confident that such an eventuality would not be in accord with the wishes of the vast majority of UK citizens, who still hate Leeds and don’t know why, but suspect their dads told them to.”

The current holder of the office of Lord Chancellor, Christopher Stephen Grayling, is himself no stranger to professional and personal controversy. Issues have been raised in the past over his second property expenses claims, his comparison of Moss Side in Manchester to TV’s The Wire, the knowing misuse of crime statistics whilst in opposition to highlight a supposed rise in violent crime, his illegal backing of “Christian Bed & Breakfast owners'” rights to refuse accommodation to gay couples and perhaps most seriously the “loss” of a computer disk identifying the marksman who shot Mark Duggan (The Duggan shooting triggered the 2011 England riots).

The Lord Chancellor’s Office, however, have dismissed suggestions that this somewhat unfortunate history means that the Secretary of State for Justice (a position also held by the Lord Chancellor) cannot hope to hold the moral high ground when criticising the legal actions failing against Leeds. “Mr Grayling is a Tory cabinet minister,” we were told. “Of course he’s going to have things like that on his record. Any self-respecting senior Tory will. It’s what they do. But that shouldn’t blind us to the fact that any suggestion of Leeds getting a fair crack of the whip in the courts has to be extremely bad news for all concerned.”

The Chief Executive of the Football League, Mr. Shaun “The Sheep” Harvey, yesterday threw his support behind the Lord Chancellor’s stated position. “Yes, I’ve been shocked that two judicial bodies, one of them operating under the aegis of the FA itself, have seen fit to find for Leeds lately. It’s not a policy that finds favour with us here at the Football League. We know how to treat Leeds,” added the bald buffoon, whose track record of leading clubs into administration is almost unique, “and we don’t care how stupid and ridiculous it makes us look. We have a job to do here, and we’re inspired by that famous Ken Bates quote from 1984: ‘I shall not rest until Leeds United are kicked out of the Football League. Their fans are the scum of the Earth, absolute animals and a disgrace. I will do everything in my power to make this happen’. Fine words, as we can all agree – and we of the Football League are guided by them. The FA and the High Court would do well, in my opinion, to look at the example we’re setting.”

Leeds United have refused to comment officially on the Lord Chancellor’s intervention, though an anonymous source did wish to address Mr Harvey’s statement. Appearing heavily disguised under a yachting cap, false moustache and rock-star sunglasses, he told Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything “He talk-a sheet, my friend. Sheet. Trus’ me for this, we ain’t-a finish’ with him yet, no way.”

Cameron Jerome’s nickname is “Pinocchio“.

Gotcha!! Football League Torpedo Enemy Ship “General Massimo” – by Rob Atkinson

The sinking of the "Massimo" - as reported by "The Scum"

The sinking of the “Massimo” – as reported by “The Scum”

In a terse communique issued at 0001 hours Saturday 31 January 2015, the Football League spokesman Herr M. Thatcher confirmed that the enemy Italian vessel known as the General Massimo has been torpedoed, with eye-witness reports saying that the stricken ship has sunk without trace.

This military attack was ordered at the highest level, Obergruppenführer Harvey himself having authorised the strike personally. It has been confirmed by the Football League High Command that the Massimo was seen and photographed well inside a pre-defined 200 mile exclusion zone drawn around the Leeds United team. Claims that the Massimo was in fact steaming away from the team at the time the torpedo was launched have been dismissed as frivolous. Herr Thatcher insisted: “In our opinion, the Massimo still presented a clear and present danger of positive motivation to the Leeds team – we had no choice other than to strike hard and decisively in order to obviate this deep peril.”

Sadly, the League have also confirmed that a more covert operation, whereby a special agent was infiltrated into the Huddersfield v Leeds game in the guise of a referee, has failed to bear fruit. The despicable Leeds side tragically struck in the 90th minute to score what turned out to be the winner – despite Agent Foy adding on 55 minutes of overtime.

To add insult to injury, it is now being reported that the Commander of the General Massimo, one Captain Cellino, has escaped the wreck and was last seen heading for safety aboard the lost ship’s principal life-yacht, the Nélie.

More on the Huddersfield v Leeds game will follow later.

 

Unexpected Bonus for Harvey and FL as Leeds Splits Start to Show – by Rob Atkinson

Elland Road: are the foundations crumbling?

Elland Road: are the foundations crumbling?

It’s been just another cataclysmic day at Elland Road. In the wake of a battling draw against Birmingham City on Saturday, when the match officials put in a disgraceful performance that will no doubt have earned them plenty of brownie points at Football League HQ, Monday brought the League’s latest confirmation that the interests of its biggest member club are a long way down the list when there are vendettas to be pursued. Massimo Cellino’s ban under the largely discredited “fit and proper test”, prompted by a legal process that has some way yet to run under Italian law, has been upheld – meaning that the King of Corn must step away from his involvement with Leeds United until April, at which point the conviction, though not finally ratified in Italian courts, will be deemed “spent” under English law. Leeds as an entity are considering their options; meanwhile the individuals concerned have had plenty to say, with alarm and confusion regrettably ensuing.

Sadly, too, there are signs that the strain is beginning to show behind the scenes at Elland Road. This is potentially calamitous, but really not all that surprising; embattled is hardly an adequate word to describe the position of the club throughout this torturous season. Great Britain in the early part of World War II could scarcely have been more isolated or heavily assailed from all directions than the hapless West Yorkshire pariahs of Leeds. It appears highly unlikely on this occasion that a convenient Eisenhower figure is going to appear over the horizon, perhaps backed up by the cavalry. If Leeds are to fight on, they will – as ever – fight alone.

Such a siege situation historically demands unity and solidarity within the ranks as well as clarity and leadership from the top. If you’re lacking those elements, you can rest assured that your walls will ultimately be breached and the barbarian hordes will inundate your enclave with gorily fatal results. At Leeds, the splits are beginning to show – and under the pressure of universal hatred and contempt, those splits, the cracks just now appearing in the very foundations of the club, are liable to widen as they threaten to topple the whole edifice. This is an outcome that Shaun Harvey and his crooked cronies at the Football League must devoutly have wished for – but scarcely dared to hope might happen.

The alarming thing about any football club in this type of situation is the marginal advantage it affords all of its rivals. In professional football, as in any top level sport, those margins separating success from disaster are always fine. Games are won and lost, seasons succeed or fail, clubs stand or fall, not by gulfs of clear blue water, but by details of fine tuning. For Leeds, against whom it is an article of faith for rival clubs to raise their game – and engaged as they are in the dog eat dog frenzy at the foot of the table – the writing is now very clearly on the wall. The situation prior to the latest Black Monday was serious enough. Now, things have taken on a still more sombre and frightening aspect.

The reactions from within the club to the League’s latest knife in the back have been confusing, dissonant, unhelpful. At a time when a United front is absolutely crucial, Leeds seems to be an organisation divided within and against itself. The signals from the top – from Cellino himself –  have been of apathy, despair, defiance and then, disastrously, of a most bizarre attempt at self-aggrandisement, all in swift and bewildering succession. First we heard that the Italian was unsure as to whether he would take the reins up again at the end of this present ban. Then it was, well, someone else will sign the cheques; nothing has changed. This was swiftly followed by a rabble-rousing “I’ll be back” in the best Arnie tradition, as he seemed set fair to terminate the League in all its Machiavellian plotting. But at the last, as Monday ebbed away into Tuesday match-day, we had Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino blurting that three players – named as Bianchi, Sloth and Doukara – wish to leave the club in the event of Cellino’s appeal being rejected.

Just how this might be imagined to help the situation is nigh-on impossible to explain – so I won’t even try, as it’s honestly beyond me. But I could provide a list as long as your arm of ways in which such a pronouncement is shatteringly unhelpful. Firstly, we must assume that none of the trio identified as wantaways can be involved in the match-day squad for the visit of league leaders Bournemouth. How can they be? They’ve been publicly outed as the first of the rats clamouring to dive off the sinking ship. Their relationship with team-mates, management and fans must surely be so compromised that they will be of no use in any game, let alone one so difficult. It’s back to that fine-tuning mentioned earlier. In the run up to kick-off in a professional football match, everything has to be exactly right. There is certainly no place for the kind of stun grenade that Cellino has carelessly lobbed into the middle of sensitive preparations for a battle with the usual, highly-motivated opposition.

Even if it’s all just hype and brinkmanship, and the players concerned have no intention of seeking to absent themselves from a struggling, failing club – the damage may well have been done. Even if there are no schisms within the squad, even if Redders does not feel that he’s been dealt an exceptionally cruel hand by his maverick owner – what are the poor, bewildered fans to make of it all? Just what will the atmosphere be like at Elland Road, a ground that should be a cauldron of white-hot support to test the nerve of any opposition? How much good will it do Leeds United if that normally vociferous support are stunned and demoralised, reeling from the news that a good proportion of the squad want out? In the event, Casper Sloth seems to have come out and denied that he’s anything other than totally committed to the Leeds United cause, asserting his own commitment to fight for the shirt and produce better than we have so far seen from him. But, welcome though that might be of itself, doesn’t it merely emphasise the utter failure of Leeds United’s personnel to be seen to be singing from the same hymn sheet? The damage has most likely been done – just how much of a disunited United side will take the field against the table toppers, who are seeking to avenge an unlikely early-season defeat on their own patch?

We keep on saying this – but it’s difficult to think of a worse day in the club’s history, and that is not primarily down to the corrupt and foolish League’s latest travesty; it is more down to the appearance of turmoil and chaos within what should be the Leeds United “circle of trust”. You might argue for the post points deduction era as being comparable in terms of crisis, but that whole minus 15 thing was demonstrably a unifying factor in Dennis Wise’s cobbled-together League One squad. Now, at a time when, more than ever, they need to be able to rely on each other, that priceless quality of unity seems to have been recklessly, thoughtlessly tossed away as intemperate mouths have spoken without caution or reason, with no regard to team spirit or the need to be together and fight a common foe. It might now be down to the fans to somehow overcome their own doubts and trepidation, to get behind the team and inspire them as few if any bands of supporters anywhere are better able to do. But what sort of shape is that support in right now? Not very happy, not very united and not very impressed with the man who had appeared as a saviour – that, surely, is the absolute least of it.

It would be just like Leeds United to bounce back after all, in the course of what must be a Tuesday of healing and rapprochement. It’s happened before, hasn’t it, and not so long ago at that. In the wake of last season’s lowest ebb, with the summary dismissal of McDermott by an owner not yet in situ and Sky TV’s urgent efforts to persuade our star striker he should be demanding a transfer, the team responded and, after a nervous start, utterly destroyed Huddersfield Town 5-1 with that striker – I forget his name – notching a hat-trick. It’s not impossible that a similar scenario could unfold with Bournemouth in opposition (and probably feeling that crisis-torn Leeds are there for the taking). Morison to score three, anyone? It’s not impossible – it’s merely bloody unlikely.

Whatever the outcome of the match on Tuesday evening, Leeds have to get it right in the hours and days immediately afterwards. They have to put a stop to all of these mixed messages – and certainly there should be an immediate halt to any tactic of broadcasting the message of “the players love me so much, they don’t want to stay without me”. Wiser counsel must prevail and, with that in mind, it is to be hoped we hear a bit less of certain highly vocal and emotional parties – and a lot more of the new Chief Operating Officer, Matt Child. His was the sole voice of reason and sanity on Monday; amid all of the confusion swirling around him, he spoke quite well. He might just offer some sort of navigable route out of the morass in which we currently flounder.

The one thing we cannot hope for is any sympathy from outside of the club, its support and a very few gentlemen of the press who have demonstrated in the past their unwillingness to follow the herd on its Leeds-hating stampede towards the common gutter. So, we are just going to have to make the best of things, as usual, strive to support the team against the south-coast high-flyers on Tuesday evening – and simply hope against hope (and against all realistic probability) for better times ahead. Surely, even this remorselessly grim season must yet have some positive moments in store for us?

 

Angry Leeds Fans in Protest at F.L. HQ, Preston TOMORROW – by Rob Atkinson

The Football League: rubber-stamped as corrupt

The Football League: rubber-stamped as corrupt (and incompetent)

The Football League Operations Centre at Edward VII Quay, Navigation Way, Preston PR2 2YF will be the scene of peaceful protest tomorrow, as Leeds United fans turn up in force to hold the League to account for their callous and ignorant treatment of its biggest and most famous member club. The local police are fully aware of the planned protest and have liaised with the organisers to ensure a smooth and peaceful event, between 10:00 and noon on the day.

There is no need to go over the fine details of the League’s mistreatment of Leeds United here. It’s all been well-documented enough – and the League in its complacency has taken not a blind bit of notice despite all the articles, arguments and logic placed before it. Serenely ignorant, they have blundered on, determined to act in the worst interests of United, flying in the face of their own guiding principles. It is time, therefore, to turn up in numbers and to make some noise. We must devoutly hope that the media will take an interest so that, perhaps, a few ripples may spread further afield. This blog understands that BBC Look North are interested in the event – again, let us hope so.

The other purpose of the protest event is officially to present to the FL a printout of the Change.org petition (publicised on this blog a number of times in the past few weeks). This petition has now broken the 20,000 barrier. That’s not so far off an average home attendance for Leeds in these parlous days; pretty good going for a campaign that is largely confined to online media and will therefore not have reached the ears of many less tech-minded Leeds fans.

The protest in Preston is the culmination of months, years, decades of shoddy treatment of our club Leeds United at the hands of the League. Finally, we have the opportunity to be heard.

Support the petition. Support the protest. Make your voice heard. We may never get another chance as good as this.

Almost 20,000 Leeds Fans Already Support Football League “Cellino” Petition – by Rob Atkinson

Nearly 20,000 now...

Nearly 20,000 now…

The following article has been submitted by petition organisers for inclusion on this blog, and adapted by myself for publication here.
One final push for the petition!
At the time of writing the petition has been signed by 19,599 fans. It would be great to get it over the 20,000 mark. A massive 85 countries around the world are represented by those who have signed the petition! 

The petition can be found here and we urge all your readers to take a look and, if they agree with the sentiment, sign, share on Facebook and RT on twitter! If everyone who has signed can find another fan to sign we would be approaching 40,000! Just click on the link below:

Please – Sign Here!!


If we can help show the following aims are being achieved, then we can say with justice that the petition has been a success:
 
a) To make clear the sense of injustice and the strong feelings of many Leeds fans 
b) To bring what many fans feel is extremely unfair treatment of Leeds United by the Football League to mass media attention 
c) To put additional pressure on the Football League to think again as to whether they are really acting in the club’s best interests

We ask the FL to look again at the FPP test and to ask themselves if it is truly fit for purpose, especially for an owner in situ. There are directors and owners of other clubs who have done far worse than Massimo Cellino. The crux of the matter is that he is now an owner in situ and the rules the FL developed were to assess potential owners prior to purchase. Their sole aim in this matter is to assess if that person is fit and proper to run a football club – nothing else. What better way to assess this in the Leeds United case than by monitoring how Cellino is running the club, rather than looking at old evidence to make a decision? Indeed, Cellino would be able to run any club in Italy, or be a director/owner of any other UK company. Why should these rules be so different? Are the FL really acting in the best interests of Leeds United by asking for Cellino to resign – only for him to be able to take his place again in March? Isn’t this actually just needless disruption for the sake of it, seemingly calculated to destabilise the League’s biggest club?

There is another extremely important point to make here. Those that vote on the Football League are not impartial – not by any stretch of the imagination. Financially the FL are better off with Leeds United in it. Also, other clubs have a better chance of succeeding if Leeds United are sanctioned. Sean Harvey was 100% correct not to vote – but we feel that NONE of the voters (chairman of competing clubs) are impartial. It should ALL be decided upon by completely independent parties. You wouldn’t find relatives of the victim on a court Jury so why are chairman of rival clubs asked to make a decision on Leeds United? 


It is not as simple as Cellino resigning and coming back in March as there are similar court cases on the horizon, so the question has to be asked as to whether the rules are truly fit for purpose. Whether he has or hasn’t paid the correct import duty/tax on a boat or car really shouldn’t be relevant as to whether he can do a good job for Leeds in running the club. He ran Calgiari in Italy for over 20 years! We need the Football League to take a good look at what they are trying to achieve and whether their current rules achieve it. They say he is ‘dishonest’ and therefore should be banned. How is tax duty on a boat / car worse than those that live as a tax exile in order to pay less taxes throughout their lives! What about the many other directors of clubs who have a far more chequered past than Cellino! Let’s not forget that there are the likes of money-launderers and convicted rapists among these seemingly untouchable gentlemen…

If Cellino (and his family) were to be forced out, then it is pure speculation as to what would happen next. We just hope the club would be sold without going into administration, otherwise there is a worry that the likes of Bates/Harvey could be sniffing around again and the vast majority of United fans would agree this would not be good for LUFC. There are constant rumours of others ready to take over Leeds but Cellino is the only person who wanted the club so badly he was willing to sign anything to make sure it happened – no one else was willing to pay the asking price. They clearly didn’t want the club as much as he did. Some may say he shouldn’t have signed the original Share Purchase Agreement on those terms or he should have done more in the way of Due Diligence. Had he done that who knows where we would have been now. GFH would probably still own 100% of Leeds. No one else wanted the club enough to pay the asking price. Cellino has shown he is passionate about Leeds. Whilst he has made mistakes he deserves a chance to take this great club to where he wants to take it – The Premier League and then onto the Champions League.
All of the points raised above need to be aired in public and then addressed by the authorities currently engaged in a determined campaign to oust Cellino. This latest push to get the support for the petition over 20,000 and onwards towards 25,000 is a big step on the way to obtaining the kind of national publicity necessary to make a difference – to have a real effect on the issues currently clouding Leeds United’s season.
If you haven’t yet signed – PLEASE do so, then share this widely and ask any friends to sign also. If you have signed – then please share the petition among as many people as you can in order to get even more support.
Leeds United – your club – needs you.

 

Cover Your Goolies, Lads! Lash Lorimer is Back on the Ball – by Rob Atkinson

90 miles an hour

90 miles an hour

One of the most distressing things about being a Leeds United fan over the past decade or so has been to witness former heroes not exactly covering themselves in glory as, one after another, they’ve been wheeled out by local and national media to give their opinions or reactions to the ups and downs of the roller-coaster Elland Road soap opera. Even erstwhile midfield maestro Johnny Giles was at it recently, venturing into print to savage the man many see as Leeds United’s saviour, Massimo Cellino.

But perhaps the biggest let-down was the apparent disintegration of the legend that was Peter Lorimer as he seemed to be reduced from his godlike status as Mr Ninety Miles per Hour into a yes man for the then chairman and despot Ken Bates. However angry the fans got over Bates and his loathsome little tricks, Lorimer always seemed to be there, trying to pour oil on troubled waters, seeking to portray Bates as a positive factor around LS11. We weren’t fooled, and Lorimer’s pedestal crumbled into dust as he was perceived more and more as Papa Smurf’s creature.

And yet today, we have had the clearest sign to date that maybe Lash is back to something like his old form, blasting howitzer-like missiles at our enemies rather than attempting to persuade folk of Ken’s essential cuddliness. Lorimer’s article in Thursday’s Yorkshire Evening Post showed an appreciation of the fears so many Leeds fans feel at this latest crass decision by the Football League buffoons against il Presidente Cellino. The piece is full of good sense and, in a very welcome return to the old-style Leeds United siege complex, Lorimer also reflects on the historical fact that the League have taken every opportunity over the past half-century to berate, impede and generally get in the way of the Elland Road club. Peter certainly doesn’t pull his punches whatever the target, and more than one rocket shot is directed at the very vitals of those bastions of the Press who seem to have it in for the Whites.

Lorimer makes it clear that he has no time for any part of the Fourth Estate with its knife into Leeds. “For many years now,” says Lash, “I’ve refused to buy certain newspapers because in my opinion, they push an anti-Leeds agenda. They seem to take great joy for having a go at us. I’m not naming names but I think they know who they are.” I think we all do, Lash.

The former Leeds hero is clear in his own mind that Big Mass will not be taking the League’s machinations lying down. “Knowing what I do about the man, I expect Massimo to fight this move. I don’t see him walking away – not least because whatever happens, he’s allowed to regain control of the club in March. I think it’s safe to say that he’s finding out that Leeds aren’t the most popular club in the world (away from their own supporters, of course) and he must be pretty bemused by the negative attention we get.” This is classic stuff, the sort of opinionated stance you might expect from any committed Leeds fan, but all the more punchy and effective coming as it does from one of Revie’s Super Leeds Supermen. It’s the sort of thing, this blog would venture to suggest, that might well see an old hero’s reputation and status restored to him, and not before time. Lorimer is speaking for many, many United fans in this latest article; at long last he appears to be on the right side of the argument.

The Evening Post piece ends with our former Number 7 striking an ominous note for United. Reflecting on the decades-long struggle and war of attrition between Leeds and the game’s authorities, he concludes: “It was like this when I was a player and it never seems to change – when the opportunity to stick the boot in comes, there’s always someone waiting to take it. This time it’s the Football League’s turn.”

That’s a forbidding final phrase. But Lorimer may just have struck the first blow on behalf of our old heroes towards fighting back against those in the corridors of power who so devoutly wish to “stick the boot in”. The importance of a legend saying what the fanbase is thinking can hardly be over-stated. People listen; the fans feel vindicated; resistance and protest could thus be galvanised. A protest is planned for January 6th between 10 am and 12 noon outside the Football League offices in Preston. Several hundred Leeds fans are already promising to attend, Lancashire police are aware and media interest is growing. Who’s to say there won’t be a banner advertising the metaphorical shooting prowess of Peter “Lash” Lorimer at such an event?

After all, if the Cannonball Man himself really is back onside, then his could be a powerful voice raised against the pallid mandarins of the League who seem so arrogantly convinced of their own case, in defiance of all evidence to the contrary. Maybe it really is the Football League’s turn now; to suffer as Leeds United have suffered for a half a century. Cellino can be counted upon to put up firm resistance in his own style, the fans can be counted upon to stand behind him in numbers. Maybe now, at last, we can also rely upon the old guard, the old Leeds United heroes – and Peter Lorimer might just have lit the blue touchpaper on that particular rocket. It could with undeniable justice be aimed right up the self-satisfied backsides of those clueless gentlemen of the League.

Are you listening, Johnny Giles?

NB: Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything would like to make it clear to female readers and lady supporters of Leeds United everywhere that this article does not imply either disrespect or disregard for the proportion of the Leeds fanbase who lack the physical attribute of goolies. Goolies in this context should be taken in an entirely symbolic sense; please be assured that this blogger is 100% respectful of the women in the Leeds United family – and he certainly does not wish to get on your tits.

Leeds Fans: TELL the Football League What They Should be Doing – by Rob Atkinson

Football League officials in sober conclave

Football League officials in sober conclave

The Football League, by their decision this week to disqualify Massimo Cellino as owner/director of Leeds United, have demonstrated their utter inability to appreciate the factors at play in this situation. The arguments have been laid before them; the fact that Cellino’s “dishonesty” is as water unto wine beside the wrongdoings of certain other Football League club shareholders and owners (there are rapists, money-launderers, porn barons and other such unsavoury chaps out there. None of these bad boys attract the attention that Cellino does from the League as they pig-headedly pursue their vendetta).

It’s also true to say that Cellino can point to a highly productive track record as Leeds owner since he first appeared on the scene. Various whimsical coaching appointment decisions aside, he’s got the club on a sounder financial footing than at any time this millennium, he’s assembled a fine and talented squad – at last being gelled by the right coach – and he’s pursuing capital investment with a view to making all our dreams we dare to dream come true. The Football League, by contrast, continue to betray themselves as corrupt, purblind fools who are clearly not fit for purpose in their brief of running the game below elite level.

The text of a current petition at Change.org is reproduced below. I would ask anyone who hasn’t signed it yet to read the arguments advanced by the petition organiser, and to sign it without further delay. If you have signed it, I would urge you to share it as broadly as possible, to ensure the maximum possible support. The grounds laid out below make good sense; this petition deserves universal support from anyone with the interests of Leeds United truly at heart. Since the latest crass League decision, support for the petition has raced up to over 9,000. We need 10,000 at least to have a good chance of generating some media interest and gaining a wider platform for the argument that Massimo Cellino has been good for Leeds United, and that – in the interests of the club and the game in a wider sense – he should be allowed to get on with the job he’s doing.

“Dear The Football League,

The Owners’ and Directors’ test (previously called Fit & Proper Persons test) was brought into effect in 2005. The purpose of the test is to better protect clubs and the reputation and image of the game, thus to protect Football League member clubs from Owners and Directors who might mismanage or ultimately guide a club into administration. With this in mind, rules and guidelines were written to protect member clubs.  The fundamental intention of the test – to protect member clubs and act in their best interests – should not be forgotten.

Since purchasing the club six months ago, Massimo Cellino has turned around Leeds United’s precarious financial position.  Under his control, the club’s debt and operating expense have reduced. Leeds United have signed 15 players – many of whom seem to be extremely talented and don’t demand the high salaries that can often force clubs into administration. For the first time since the turn of the century, Leeds United’s finances seem to be under control.

The dire financial situation which Cellino inherited was caused by the mismanagement of the two previous owners who both passed your Fit & Proper test – namely Ken Bates and GFH Capital.

Massimo Cellino has invested a lot of money in Leeds United – initially through his purchase and then through subsequent investment.  In all probability, if you force him out now, Leeds United would, again, be facing administration. Forcing Cellino out of Leeds United is not in the best interests of one of your member football clubs and would in fact, be very damaging indeed.

The Owner’s & Director’s test is particularly valid prior to an owner taking over a club. However, the same critera should not apply after ownership has begun. In many circumstances, removing the owner could cause harm and instability to a member football club. A new set of guidelines which monitor how the club is actually being run would offer much more insight into determining if the owner or director is fit and proper to run the football club.

Cellino is now a major part of Leeds United. He has owned the club for six months. He has made large contributions, both on and off the field, and many of the fans are in support of the direction he is now attempting to take the club. Cellino would not be prevented from becoming an owner or director of any other business in the UK.  Considering Cellino has owned Leeds United for six months already, an examination of the financial statements in the periods before and after his takeover would enable you to better judge his ability to control the football club. Forming an opinion based on his non-payment of import duty on a boat in Italy in 2012 is now inappropriate.

Please remember that your responsibility is to act in the best interests of Leeds United and to protect the club from being controlled by someone who might mismanage it. This needs to be the most important factor in your consideration of this matter.  Do you now genuinely believe that Cellino will not manage Leeds United in its best interests?  Are you just desperately seeking to find him dishonest so you can block him for some other reason? We sincerely hope that Shaun Harvey’s relationship with Ken Bates along with Ken Bates apparent desire to regain control of the club is not a factor in your decision.

Everyone signing this petition is requesting that you allow common sense to prevail and that you drop your pursuit of Cellino, attempting to force him out of Leeds United.  Please also take some responsibility for allowing GFH and Ken Bates to purchase Leeds United and control the club for too many years.  The club and its fans have suffered greatly under the control of previous owners and directors.

We would like to bring your attention to your charter which states that ‘The Football League is committed to providing excellent service to its stakeholders and club supporters.  The League is a listening organisation, which aims to be open and fair in its dealings with all persons representing the interests of the game.’

With the above in mind we strongly request that you act in the best interests of Leeds United Football Club and release a statement confirming that you agree that forcing Massimo Cellino out of Leeds United would not be acting in the club’s best interests; and that you will continue to monitor the situation with respect to any future foul play, as you would any other member club.”

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is happy to support this petition – and to campaign for an end for the interference by the Football League in the internal affairs of their premier member club. I hope that anybody who reads this article will be prepared to support this as well – and also to help spread the word by sharing this as widely as possible.

Please get involved – please help. Leeds United is your club, so do your bit to make sure the idiots and buffoons of the League aren’t allowed to destroy it.

Is Cellino Guilty? Possibly … Dishonest? No Chance – by Rob Atkinson

Cellino: trusting in providence

Cellino: trusting in providence

The Football League – still reeling from the impact of a mere QC having the brass bollocks to overturn their magisterial decision to reject Massimo Cellino as owner of Leeds United – plainly have all their hopes pinned on the “reasoned judgement” of the Italian judge in the “Nélie” case.  This judgement, a fuller statement of the reasons for the judge’s verdict of March 18th, is due within a 90 day period from the initial judgement – i.e. by sometime in June.  The League will be hoping, in their remorseless determination to get rid of Leeds United’s best hope, that there is a clear imputation of “dishonesty” within the judge’s reasoning; this would enable them to revisit the issue of Cellino’s “fit and proper” status, as covered in Tim Kerr’s appeal judgement which was released on Saturday.

Happily for Cellino, Leeds United and long-suffering fans everywhere, there must be a very good chance that the Italian judge – for sound, common sense reasons – will make no imputation of dishonesty.  Firstly, the fine imposed was some way beneath the normal minimum amount for the offence concerned, with a mention of “generic mitigation” about which we shall doubtless hear more in the detailed reasons.  But this may well be an indication that Dr Sandra Lepore has decided that duty was evaded for reasons other than dishonesty. This leads us onto the second point: the important, nay crucial, distinction between “guilt” and “dishonesty”, upon which depends the eventual outcome of this case – together with all the League’s hopes of saving face and getting their man.

The first thing that needs to be understood is that, for Cellino to be disqualified, he must be found to be guilty AND dishonest.  These two do always not go hand in hand, as some might assume.  “Guilt”, simply defined is “the state of having done wrong”.  Cellino would argue that, under the Italian constitution, his guilt is not established until the entire legal process including a couple more stages of appeal, is exhausted.  That argument failed before Kerr, but he somewhat unexpectedly took the view that, on the evidence before him, there was no reason to find that Cellino had acted dishonestly.

Guilt can arise knowingly or unknowingly.  You can be guilty by design, by omission, through ignorance or deception, by being misled or badly advised – many circumstances can lead to guilt, not just sheer badness.  As can be readily understood, guilt through ignorance or misunderstanding is a different thing from guilt with, as they used to call it, malice aforethought. It’s these different categories of guilt that will differ in the presence or absence of dishonesty. Somebody guilty through ignorance or misapprehension is not dishonest, and this is very important in Cellino’s case.

In effect, to avoid any imputation of dishonesty, all Cellino has to show is that he thought he was doing no wrong.  Dishonest guilt implies that the offender knows very well that what he is doing is wrong, but he chooses to do it anyway. It’s possible, of course, that import duty could be avoided in just this way.  But to what end?  You end up paying it anyway, and a fine which can be up to ten times the duty avoided – and, as in Cellino’s case, the item upon which duty should have been paid is confiscated.  That’s not a good result – so why would anybody willingly court such an outcome? Especially somebody of Cellino’s reputed wealth, to whom import duty of €300k or so is almost literally small change.

Cellino also makes the point that he could have spun out this case over the yacht “Nélie” over a maybe a couple of years, by which time he and Leeds United may well have been beyond the Football League’s jurisdiction anyway.  But instead, he opted to get it out of the way – because he thought he was right.  This is vitally important.  If Cellino really thought he was not guilty, then by the logic described above, he may well be guilty – but he can’t be dishonest.  Dishonesty would require a good understanding of his legal position, an acceptance that what he was doing was wrong – and a reckless determination to go ahead and do it anyway.  In those circumstances, the duty-evader could be expected to delay the evil hour of judgement for as long as possible, knowing he was bang to rights.  Not – as Cellino did – to expedite the process, seeking an early resolution – because of his firm belief that he was in the right.

To summarise the position – if we assume that Cellino is guilty, i.e. that he has done something wrong for whatever reason, then all depends upon whether that reason had some dishonesty attached.  But if he genuinely believed that he had a case for non-payment – based on the argument that he is a US resident, the yacht is a US craft and duty had been paid in the US – then he cannot be held to be dishonest.  Ignorant, maybe.  Misguided, possibly, or even badly advised. But not dishonest – and if that’s the case, then the Football League will not be able to apply their disqualification to him.

Given all of the above, if Dr Lepore has had regard to all of these circumstances, it’s difficult to see how she can impute dishonesty against Massimo Cellino in this case – and that may just be what is behind the rather low fine – significantly less than the normal minimum. Looking at it from the outside, it’s difficult to see how a finding of dishonesty can stick, given that all Cellino had to do was convince the judge that, if he has done anything wrong, it was through ignorance, not design. With so little to gain from acting dishonestly in such circumstances, and with the transparency of his actions in seeking to get the case disposed of quickly, there must be a very good chance that Cellino will emerge from this latest kerfuffle undamaged – much to the ongoing grief and rage of the Football League.

In Mishcon de Reya, Cellino has just about the finest legal team he could wish for – and they will certainly be on top of these arguments.  Here’s hoping, then, that justice and common-sense will shortly prevail over the League’s murky and Machiavellian motivations.

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.