Leeds United: League’s move to disqualify Cellino should worry all Leeds fans – Lorimer

Massimo Cellino.
Massimo Cellino.
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It seems obvious to me that the footballing authorities have it in for Leeds United. There’s always been needle between us, going back many years.

You can claim I’m biased or deluded but how many times have we seen major decisions which impact negatively on this club? I do find it uncanny. And now we’re in a situation where the Football League is trying to force Massimo Cellino out of Elland Road.

No matter what your opinion of Massimo, this move should worry every Leeds supporter. I’m genuinely concerned about what it means for the club’s future. The Football League is looking to ban the man who’s been propping Leeds up for seven or eight months. If he goes, what then? That’s the question I’d ask of the Football League. What then?

If you speak to Massimo, and I have at length several times, you quickly learn about the mess he’s dealing with. I’m not joking when I say there are bills and costs everywhere, most of them being paid with his money. To give him his due, he’s actually trying to tackle them and sort them out. When he bought Leeds in April, no-one seemed to be paying for anything.

The sad truth at the moment is that a lot of his cash is being burned on resolving problems he inherited. That’s one of the major issues with a change of ownership – every time a new buyer comes in, he’s left with all the decks to clear.

Cellino has obviously invested a lot of wealth into United already. So if he goes and someone else replaces him, we’re back at square one. We’re back at the stage where certain commitments have to be met before the club can start moving forward again.

None of that is advantageous for the team on the pitch. None of that helps to improve the team on the pitch. In all my conversations with Cellino, I do get the impression that a quality, successful team is what he wants more than anything. Given the time and if everything goes according to plan, he desperately wants to make a success of the club.

We know for a fact that he’s not here to make money out of Leeds. Considering the state that we were in when he bought out GFH, there was none to be made. So what does the Football League want? Is it really unhappy to have someone here who is funding bills and providing money when eight months ago we had winding-up petitions and all sorts against us?

I’d also give Massimo credit for the players he’s signed. As we saw against Derby County on Saturday, we’ve got the basis of a promising side here – albeit a side which needs to age a bit and grow over time. But once again, a big obstacle’s been thrown in our way. I’d really like someone to explain why this is in the club’s best interests.

I’m well aware of the conviction against Cellino in Italy. Tax evasion is obviously wrong but personally I don’t see it as a severe crime.

Over the years many of us will have discovered that we owed money to the tax man and gone through the process of sorting the situation out. I’m sure that most wealthy individuals and business people have tax issues at some stage. Everyone should pay what they’re due and I’m not suggesting otherwise but it seems to me like the Football League want Massimo out and this is the best way to get him out. I don’t feel like the League genuinely feels that removing Massimo is best for the club. I think it feels that getting rid of him is best for protecting its rules.

Knowing what I do about the man, I expect Massimo to fight this move. I don’t see him walking away – not least because whatever happens, he’s allowed to regain control of the club in March. I think it’s safe to say that he’s finding out that Leeds aren’t the most popular club in the world (away from their own supporters, of course) and he must be pretty bemused by the negative attention we get.

For many years now I’ve refused to buy certain newspapers because in my opinion, they push an anti-Leeds agenda. They seem to take great joy for having a go at us. I’m not naming names but I think they know who they are.

It was like this when I was a player and it never seems to change – when the opportunity to stick the boot in comes, there’s always someone waiting to take it.

This time it’s the Football League’s turn.