Leeds United managing director David Haigh was on the verge of the sack last night, despite insisting he would stay at Elland Road and take up the role of chief executive under Massimo Cellino.
Lawyers for Eleonora Sport, the company which Cellino is using to buy Leeds from Gulf Finance House, made moves to unseat Haigh during a meeting of the board of United’s holding company on Monday.
The contract between Cellino and GFH stated that Haigh would become chief executive when the Italian completed his buy-out – a takeover which was officially sealed yesterday – but Haigh looks increasingly unlikely to survive the change of ownership.
Cellino admitted in an interview on Sunday that he planned to sack Haigh once his 75 per cent purchase of Leeds was finalised and he has finally taken control at Elland Road after winning an appeal against a Football League decision to reject his buy-out last weekend.
Haigh’s position is understood to have been discussed during a meeting of the board of LUFC Holdings Limited, the company which owns Leeds on behalf of GFH.
Cellino’s legal representatives indicated his intention to relieve the 35-year-old of his duties at Leeds.
But a spokesman for Haigh said: “As far as David is concerned, he remains managing director of Leeds United and is also aware that under the contract signed between Eleonora and GFH Capital, his position will be that of CEO once the deal takes effect.”
Haigh was one of the men behind GFH’s takeover of Leeds in December 2012 and he became managing director in the summer of 2013 after former chief executive Shaun Harvey left the club.
He mounted his own bid to buy United as part of the Sport Capital consortium before Christmas but that deal with GFH collapsed after months of negotiations, bringing Cellino to the table in January.
Haigh has come in for heavy criticism from United’s supporters in the past few weeks, with chants against him heard during recent defeats to Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic.
Speaking at the weekend, Cellino said: “David has to go. I have had too much of him.”