Leeds United: League ruling might be correct but not necessarily right for club – Lorimer

Massimo Cellino.
Massimo Cellino.
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I’m disappointed that the Football League has rejected Massimo Cellino’s takeover of Leeds United.

You can see the reasons why that decision was taken and I suppose the League would say that rules are rules, but I do wonder sometimes whether anyone considers what’s actually best for the club.

Leeds United need investment and really, they need a new owner. I’m aware of Mr Cellino’s background like everyone else but I’ve also had the chance to speak to him a few times and get a feel for what he’d be like in charge of our club.

I have to be honest and say my overall feeling was very positive. For one thing, the man has money and a desire to put it into Leeds. He’s put his money where his mouth is and that singles him out from quite a lot of other people who talk about doing the same.

I’ve lost count over the years of the number of groups or individuals who start bids to takeover Leeds but don’t get a deal done. Well, Cellino was ready to pay the cash. He’s already put a load into the club and there was no doubt at all that he would have paid what it took to complete the takeover. You can tell how frustrated he is by all this.

The last time I spoke to him at any great length was away to QPR at the start of the month. The impression you got of him straight away was that he’s a genuine football man – which is hardly surprising when you consider that he’s been running Cagliari in Italy for 20-odd years.

I shared a lot of his opinions about the players here and he realised like everyone else that the squad at Elland Road is far too big. Not good enough but far too big. Championship clubs can’t afford to carry as many as we’re carrying and Cellino would have set about bringing the wage bill in order straight away.

In his view, things needed to change on both the footballing side and the business side. The way he put it, a successful club doesn’t burn money every week. The vision was there and I really felt that he’d make a go of things – that he more than anyone else before him had a chance of getting us back into the Premier League.

This would be my point to the Football League. Yes, he’s been caught up in certain tax cases in Italy but could it not be argued that he’s shown over the past couple of months that he’s committed to owning Leeds and committed to putting his money into Elland Road?

Obviously the League has its regulations and it has to abide by them but I’d like to see a bit of flexibility – maybe a way of managing the situation so that Cellino takes charge but is closely watched by the authorities to make sure everything’s above board.

Because the bottom line here is that the club are not in a great state. David Haigh says there’s no threat of administration and we have to believe that what he’s telling us is true but we also know that Leeds are losing money every month and need a fresh start. Cellino would have given us that, and at the perfect time. At the moment, there’s plenty of time to get things in place before the start of next season.

In many ways it’s the supporters I feel for. They’re putting up with another mid-table season and I’m sure they’d love to think that better times are coming. Unfortunately, none of us can be certain about what will happen next and where the club is going. Approval for Cellino would have allowed us to move on.

In saying that, I get the feeling that this isn’t over.

There’ll be legal people trawling through all the documents and trying to find a way to either come to a compromise or convince the Football League to change their minds. As ever, nothing here is simple. You just sometimes ask yourself why it always seems to be Leeds United at the centre of these things.

Matthew Pennington.

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