Brian McDermott gave Massimo Cellino’s takeover of Leeds United his strongest show of support yet after a 2-1 defeat to Burnley left him looking ahead to an “important week in our history.”
For the first time, the United manager indicated his unequivocal backing for Cellino’s deal by implying that he wanted the Football League to approve the Italian’s £25m buy-out.
The planned change of ownership at Elland Road has been pending since February 7 and is still subject to Football League approval, but the governing body is set to make a decision on the sale of a majority stake by Gulf Finance House in the next seven days.
Cellino’s hopes of buying Leeds face a key challenge tomorrow when a court in Italy rules on allegations that he deliberately avoided payment of more than £300,000 in tax on a luxury yacht purchased by him in 2010. A conviction for tax evasion could see Cellino fail the Football League’s Owners and Directors Test, and in turn wreck his 75 per cent takeover.
The Italian has already injected a seven-figure sum into Leeds and a rejection of his buy-out would deepen the uncertainty surrounding Elland Road.
McDermott, who Cellino attempted to sack illegally in January but has since moved to support, has been measured in his comments about the Cagliari owner since the deal with GFH was first agreed, but asked if he now wanted Cellino to secure ownership of Leeds, McDermott said: “I have a view. I’ve got to say that he knows his football, Massimo. “He knows what he wants and he’s been nothing but supportive as far as I’m concerned. I’m grateful for that. We’ve had many conversations and he’s been nothing but supportive. As far as I’m concerned, the next week will be an important one in our history. It’s important that we get the right decision.”
United fan Phil Beeton was last night named the Capital One Supporter of the Year at the Football League Awards. Ross McCormack lost out to Burnley’s Danny Ings in the Championship’s Player of the Year award.