Leeds United: New wage bill fear

Crisis continues at Elland Road
Crisis continues at Elland Road
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Gulf Finance House and prospective Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino are today locked in last-minute talks about funding the club’s wage bill for March.

The YEP understands that the two sides are attempting to thrash out a deal to meet salaries due on Friday morning following a suggestion from manager Brian McDermott that staff at Elland Road fear they will not be paid.

McDermott appeared to point to impending and immediate financial problems at Leeds following the Football League’s decision to reject Cellino’s £25m buy-out of the club on Monday.

Talking after a 4-1 defeat at Bournemouth last night, the United boss said: “There’s all the talk of who’s going to be in (as owner), talk of who’s going to be paid. I’m not going to make excuses but it does affect (results).”

Asked if he thought there would be difficulties with paying staff this month, McDermott said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know what the situation is.

“That comes up on Friday or Monday, whenever it turns up. Hopefully it can be resolved.”

GFH, the Bahraini bank which is attempting to sell a 75 per cent stake in Leeds to Cellino, believes the agreement it reached with the Italian businessman in January committed him and his company, Eleonora Sport Ltd, to funding United’s operating costs for a six-month period.

But Cellino, who has already injected substantial amounts of money into Leeds, is understood to be unwilling to provide any more cash while he waits for the Football League to hear an appeal against his failure of the governing body’s Owners and Directors Test.

Cellino’s buy-out was rejected by the League’s board on Monday morning after it ruled that a conviction for tax evasion imposed on the 57-year-old by an Italian court last week disqualified him from buying United.

He told the BBC this week that Leeds needed immediate investment, saying the club required “help, blood and money” in “hours, not days.”

GFH is looking to reach a solution today and ensure that funds are in place tomorrow morning, in time to meet the wage bill on Friday.

GFH was asked by the YEP whether it was in a position to pay the staff at United. A spokesman for the bank declined to comment.

Felix Wiedwald

Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom makes no assurances over Felix Wiedwald