Leeds United: Cellino is right in thick of it

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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Brian McDermott revealed last night that prospective new owner Massimo Cellino was already in the thick of Leeds United’s operations as two transfer deals raised McDermott’s hopes of a period of calm at Elland Road.

The United manager said Cellino was taking a “very close interest” in the club’s affairs, strengthening the belief that the Italian was behind positive developments seen at Leeds in the past seven days.

United allowed McDermott to strengthen his squad by signing goalkeeper Jack Butland on loan from Stoke City last week and striker Connor Wickham from Sunderland on Wednesday, deals which Cellino appears to have helped to fund.

The Cagliari owner is not officially in charge at Elland Road and is waiting for the Football League to approve his £25m buy-out of Leeds. But United’s financial situation – a deep concern towards the end of January – has improved since he agreed to purchase 75 per cent of shares from Gulf Finance House. Leeds have staved off a winding-up petition served on them by shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance over a £1.5m loan given to the club in 2012, and McDermott was able to sign Wickham, too.

McDermott, who spoke again with Cellino on Tuesday, said: “It’s fair to say that Massimo is taking a very close interest.

“We’ve had conversations and David (Haigh, United’s managing director) is taking a close interest on GFH’s behalf. But it’s fair to say that he (Cellino) is taking an interest – a close interest.

“From Leeds United’s point of view, to sign the players we’ve signed and with the calibre of Jack and Connor, it’s got to be exciting looking forward. I’m really happy with that.”

Asked if the club had received fresh investment, McDermott said: “You’d have to ask the board that rather than ask me but I would say so. It looks that way.”

McDermott said United had regained some sense of order since the chaotic day when Cellino tried to sack him as boss, saying: “It happened, I got through it personally and we got through it as a club.

“Things were said, mistakes have been made on all counts but for me I’m in a good place as far as concentrating on what we have to do goes. We’ve had stuff going on off the pitch which will hopefully calm down but we’ve signed a couple of really good players and we’re moving forward.”

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