Neil Redfearn promised business as usual at Ipswich Town tomorrow and gave his backing to “football daft” Massimo Cellino after a week in which the Italian was banned from owning Leeds United.
Redfearn claimed the effects of the Football League’s dramatic move to disqualify Cellino as a Leeds director had not stretched as far as his squad and said he expected a forthcoming legal battle with the League to end in Cellino’s favour.
On Monday, just 48 hours after United’s 2-0 victory over Championship leaders Derby County, the Football League ordered Cellino to cut his ties with Leeds until March, ruling that a conviction for tax evasion imposed on him in Italy earlier this year had breached its Owners and Directors Test.
Cellino, who bought a 75 per cent stake in Leeds in April, has 28 days to resign from the board at Elland Road but was also given 14 days to appeal.
The 58-year-old confirmed to the YEP on Tuesday that he would challenge the decision and also threatened to sue the Football League if his appeal proved unsuccessful.
The unprecedented situation has drawn attention away from a Championship season which has gathered pace since Redfearn’s appointment as Leeds head coach on November 1 but he gave vocal support to Cellino yesterday, saying United were “lucky to have a football man in charge of the club.”
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit to second-placed Ipswich, Redfearn said: “I know Massimo’s here for the long haul. The players are focused and there’s not a lot I can do about what’s happening.
“I’m pretty sure it’ll get sorted out, I’m positive about that, and we’re very fortunate to have an owner who’s football daft, who loves his football and loves this club. He’s trying to take the club forward.
“We’ve got a football man in charge and everything he’s done has been in the best interests of Leeds United. He’s trying to get the club on track and he wants us to do well. That’s all I’ve seen from him.
“I’ve been told it’ll all get resolved and I’m confident it will. I’ve no reason to want to know any more than that. I’m happy enough, the players are happy enough. We
just talk football. I’m buying in to what he wants to do and I’m pleased to be part of the process of turning this club around. If you look at recent times – and I know it’s early – I think we’re getting there.”
Cellino attended yesterday’s training session at Thorp Arch amid on-going preparations for an appeal against his Football League ban.
Redfearn, who admitted that a couple of players were facing late fitness tests ahead of the game at Portman Road, said: “My job is to make sure the players are focused on what we’re doing tomorrow.
“Ipswich are big and physical. They’re quite direct but they play with quality. I don’t mean they’re long-ball. They get it into the front quickly and they get bodies around the ball. They’ve also got people who are capable of scoring goals.
“But we’ve got to try and play our football. If we want to compete in the league then we’ve got to have a standard of performance we can rely on but the football’s taking care of itself now.
“I know from experience that football throws up quirks. Games you expect to win you get beat in. Games you don’t expect to get anything from, you win. But the right way round is to get the performances right. Then you get results.”
Ipswich moved up to second in the Championship after a 1-0 victory at Charlton Athletic last Saturday.
Noel Hunt won the game with an injury-time goal on his debut, two days after joining Ipswich on loan from Leeds, but the striker’s contract prevents him from playing against United this weekend.