Leeds United: Rival buyer Together Leeds aims to open direct talks with Italians

Mike Farnan
Mike Farnan
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Mike Farnan’s Together Leeds consortium are aiming to hold direct talks with Massimo Cellino today as they look to convince Leeds United’s new owner to bring them on board and form a “local stake” in the club.

Farnan, who fronted a rival bid to take charge of United throughout Cellino’s protracted takeover, said he hoped Cellino would accept the offer of a partnership with Together Leeds after securing control of the club in dramatic circumstances.

Cellino’s 75 per cent buy-out was given the go-ahead on Saturday when an independent QC overturned a decision from the Football League barring him from taking charge at Elland Road.

The 57-year-old, who is travelling to England from Italy today, will formally acquire United this week but his representatives have held talks with Together Leeds in the past seven days and discussions with Cellino could take place later.

Farnan, the former managing director of Manchester United international, is the public face of Together Leeds, a group which also includes Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity and ex-Hull City chairman Adam Pearson.

The group failed with a bid for Leeds in November but now say they have local, private funding behind them. They will pursue the idea of linking up with Cellino in the week ahead.

Farnan told the YEP: “We’ve been in positive dialogue with Cellino’s people and we’re hoping to speak to him as soon as possible, possibly (today).

“In what capacity we’d be involved I’m not sure but from my point of view, Leeds or Yorkshire has to have a stake in the club. It’s in the best interests of Leeds United if there’s a local stake and local understanding in there.

“We’ve got Yorkshire businessmen behind us and executives who know how to run a football club. Italian football and English football – it would help to accommodate both cultures and combine them. It’s the smart and clever thing to do as far as I’m concerned, a logical step. Because I think we and Massimo Cellino have the same interests. This is the time when we can get it right at Leeds once and for all.”

Cellino’s takeover has ended Together Leeds’ long-running and often frustrated attempt to force its way into negotiations with Gulf Finance House, the bank which is selling United to Cellino.

But Farnan said: “It’s a good day for the club. There’s some clarity at last and we’ve needed that for a long time.

“I like Massimo’s passion and I like his attitude. We can help him make it work.”

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