Leeds United co-owner Andrea Radrizzani is to push ahead with plans to buy out Massimo Cellino and take full control at Elland Road after the club’s failure to make the Championship play-offs.
The 42-year-old Italian looks set to exercise an option to increase his existing 50 per cent stake before the end of the month, a deal which could bring Cellino’s three-year association with Leeds to a close.
Cellino, who sold half of United to Radrizzani in January, has held the reins at Elland Road since 2014 but Radrizzani bought into Leeds initially with a view to completing a 100 per cent takeover and is looking to finalise an agreement in the aftermath of the club falling short of the Championship’s top six.
Leeds were on course for the play-offs for much of this season but Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City confirmed that Garry Monk’s squad will finish seventh after their final game away at Wigan Athletic this weekend.
Monk’s future as head coach is now high on the agenda at Leeds with is one-year contract set to expire and Radrizzani’s planned buy-out would clear the way for a decision on the retention of Monk.
Radrizzani secured a key appointment to Leeds’ board last week when Ivan Bravo, a Spaniard who worked as director of strategy for Real Madrid and is now in charge of the Aspire Academy
for Sports Excellence in Qatar, joined the club as a board member and consultant to Radrizzani.
Other high-level changes are likely this summer as Radrizzani attempts to establish his own management team at Elland Road.
Speaking at the club’s annual awards ceremony on Saturday night, Radrizzani said: “From tomorrow it’s time to work to do better than what we’ve done. We’ve (had) an amazing season in terms of emotion and it gives us big hope that we’ve started something that could bring more joy in the future.”
Cellino has endured three controversial and challenging years as owner of Leeds and despite major cost-cutting measures, United’s last accounts showed an overall loss of almost £9m. Leeds, however, emerged from a long streak of mid-table finishes to mount a sustained bid for a play-off position this season.
Radrizzani paid tribute to Cellino on Saturday, saying: “He’s the one who picked these players and the one who picked this coach so what we did this year is also thanks to him.”
Monk has one more game in charge before his existing deal expires, though Leeds continue to hold an option allowing them to extend that contract to the end of next season.
United will contest a dead rubber at the DW Stadium on Sunday after Wigan’s relegation last weekend but Monk insisted he was determined to sign the campaign off with a victory, taking Leeds onto 77 points.
“It’s not as important as I wanted it to be or as the players or the club wanted it to be but we have to make sure we finish with three points,” Monk said.
“Winning has been a big part of what we’ve done this season and it’s important that we finish on a winning note.”