Cellino: Leeds United on stable footing

Massimo Cellino.

Massimo Cellino.

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Massimo Cellino said Leeds United were on a “stable financial footing for the first time in many years” after announcing a 90 per cent drop in annual losses at Elland Road.

In a statement outlining the club’s results for the 2014-15 year, Leeds revealed that a loss of almost £23m in 2013-14 had dropped dramatically to £2m in Cellino’s first 12-month period as owner.

Leeds achieved that reduction despite a slight fall in revenue, helped by cuts to operating costs at Elland Road and money earned through the sale of players, including Ross McCormack’s transfer to Fulham in July 2014.

United said their wage bill for players and coaching staff in that period – a spell in which the club employed three different head coaches – totalled £17.4m, more than 71 per cent of their £24.4m turnover.

Leeds have continued to push for further savings in that area and the current wage bill at Elland Road is believed to stand at around £13m.

Yesterday’s statement said “investment in the first-team playing squad” was £6.1m, up from £2.3m in the 12 months before the end of June 2014. Much of the 2013-14 financial year spanned Gulf Finance House’s time as owner of Leeds.

Cellino bought out the Bahraini bank, which remains a minority shareholder at Elland Road, in April 2014, inheriting a volatile financial situation.

United’s statement said Eleonora Immobiliare SPA – the Italian parent company of the UK firm, Eleonora Sport Ltd, which Cellino used to purchase Leeds – had injected a total of £42.96m into the Championship club.

Leeds have not revealed how much of that money was given in loans, or how much debt was still owed to GFH as of July 2015, but it said Eleonora

Sport had agreed to convert £6.5m of loans into shares during the 2014-15 year.

The club’s full accounts are due to be published by Companies House before the end of next month.

The statement also said that Eleonora Sport had “injected further capital into the club through acquiring additional shares.” According to Companies House, large amounts of cash – including a sum of £19m – were invested in Leeds shortly before the end of the 2014-15 period.

Cellino has endured a difficult relationship with sections of the club’s fans throughout his 22-month tenure, including recent support-led protests against him, but he promised after his buy-out of GFH that he would resolve the financial problems at Elland Road.

He described Leeds as being in a “critical condition” following the completion of his takeover almost two years ago.

The Italian told the YEP last month that big cuts to cash claimed by GFH through “invoices” had contributed to the sizeable fall in annual losses. United’s did not comment on the exact sum raised through McCormack’s sale to Fulham, a deal which is believed to have raised close to £11m.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Cellino said: “I would like to thank the senior management team and all of our employees for their hard work and effort during this difficult period to help achieve these improvements in the business performance of the club.

“The accounts illustrate the commitment that has been made to resolve the financial issues which have surrounded Leeds United. The club is now on a stable financial footing for the first time in many years.

“We are confident that we can continue to make further improvements in the years ahead. We hope that we can now finally begin to focus and invest the club’s income, generated through our supporters and sponsors, into improving the quality of the playing squad and performances on the pitch.We would like to thank the supporters and our sponsors for their continued patience and support.”