That it should come to this. It gives us no pleasure, none at all, to have published the headlines we’ve published over the past three days regarding the tribunal of former Leeds United welfare officer Lucy Ward.
Indeed, this sorry, sorry affair makes dismal reading for any fan of Leeds United.
This once proud club, with its glorious history, its supporters marching on together through generations, being dragged through the mud via a tribunal which, in upholding Ms Ward’s complaint of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination, has delivered a damning indictment of its ethos and culture. Ms Ward, ruled the tribunal judge, was an honest and truthful witness. He said he believed Mr Cellino had, indeed, made those appalling sexist comments to the manager of the United women’s team. Remember them? ‘Football is no place for women. They should be in the bedroom or beauticians.’
That statement alone is enough to question Mr Cellino’s status as a fit and proper person to run our football club. Will he now show his face? Will he apologise? This he should certainly do, for the the fans (and not just the legions of female fans) deserve that at the very least. Surely Mr Cellino’s status as fit and proper in the eyes of the public is more and more flimsy.
But this sorry saga isn’t just about Mr Cellino alone. “We find it extraordinary,” said the tribunal panel, ‘that this respondent (Leeds United) had no awareness of the ACAS code or what it contained and that it failed to comply with what are regarded as basic principles.”
We would echo the words of Ms Ward’s QC Nicholas Randall in his closing submission to the panel: What an “utter, total shambles”.
We would much prefer for our coverage of Leeds United to be on the back pages - as opposed to the front. We await with interest, along with the club’s devout supporters, to see whether the FA now feels the need to step in.