Leeds United: Red Bull denies making Leeds United takeover bid

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino
Have your say

Red Bull has denied Massimo Cellino’s claim that it is bidding to buy Leeds United.

The soft drink giant rejected comments made by Cellino in which he said Red Bull had tabled an offer for Leeds with the club’s majority shareholder, Eleonora Sport (ESL).

Cellino, United’s disqualified owner, made the claim to the YEP on Friday after initially denying reports that Red Bull was poised to strike a £60m deal and hoped to secure control of Leeds within the next three weeks.

Red Bull, which already runs professional clubs in Germany, Austria and the USA, has been linked with a takeover at Elland Road for many months, though it previously denied any interest in acquiring Leeds amid intense speculation last November.

And speaking to Suddeutsche Zeitung today, Oliver Mintzlaff, the group’s head of global football marketing, said: “Another involvement in football is not planned.”

Speaking on Friday night, Cellino claimed: “There is an offer. I didn’t know about it but I spoke just now with Giampaolo Caboni, one of the directors of Eleonora Sport.

“He said Red Bull has made an offer for the club. The shareholders will have to think about it. I don’t know what they will do.”

ESL currently owns more than 97 per cent of shares in United, with former owner Gulf Finance House retaining the remaining stake.

Cellino used ESL to completed his takeover of Leeds a year ago and the company has retained majority ownership despite the Football League banning the 58-year-old from running the club due to a tax conviction imposed on him in Italy last March.

That disqualification ends on May 4, the date on which Cellino can retake control of United, but the Italian is in Miami and rumours of potential buy-outs have been rife in his absence.

Red Bull has a stable of football clubs and current owns RB Leipzig in Germany, Red Bull Salzburg in Austria and MLS side New York Red Bulls.

Its style of ownership has been controversial, however, and it followed up its purchase of Salzburg in 2005 by changing the club’s name and shirt.

Disillusioned fans subsequently founded a new club, SV Austria Salzburg.

Doubt, meanwhile, surrounds the future of Nicola Salerno, Leeds’ sporting director and a close confidant of Cellino’s.

Salerno - a man central to United’s transfer strategy and the person who Leeds said was responsible for suspending assistant coach Steve Thompson last week - is believed to be on the verge of leaving the club less than 12 months after joining Cellino at Elland Road.

He did not attend yesterday’s 3-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers and reports in Italy say he is wanted by Palermo.