Hollywood actor Russell Crowe made a sudden move to kill talk of him fronting a buy-out of Leeds United today, saying he had looked into the possibility of a takeover but could not “steal any more time from my children.”
In a series of tweets from his official Twitter account, the Gladiator star and lifelong Leeds fan described United as a “massive opportunity” which he and his backers believed they could “smash”.
But Crowe went on to rule out a takeover bid, saying: “Without my hands on the wheel in Leeds, I can’t guarantee my investors a return.”
Rumours linking Crowe to a buy-out of current United owner Massimo Cellino surfaced earlier this year while the Australian was in the UK promoting his film, the Water Diviner.
Crowe, who along with billionaire businessman James Packer has brought huge success to rugby league club the South Sydney Rabbitohs, spoke openly about his passion for Leeds and engaged in dialogue with Leeds Fans United, the supporters group which is trying to buy a shareholding in the Championship side.
Speaking in March - at a time when Cellino was banned from running Leeds by the Football League and potentially open to offers for the club - Crowe told the BBC: “I love the club. I want nothing but success for the club. Like many Leeds fans, probably 99.9 per cent, I’m getting a little impatient.
“I own a rugby league team in Australia who, again, are my childhood team. They were a champion team when they were younger and they’d fallen into a state of disarray. They were perennial losers.
“So I know that when it comes to sport it’s not necessarily about money. It’s about culture. I’ve learned a lot.”
It is not known if Crowe or his associates engaged in direct talks with Cellino or representatives of Eleonora Sport Ltd, the firm used by Cellino to buy a 75 per cent stake in Leeds in April 2014.
Writing on Twitter today, Crowe said: “I stand by my belief that LUFC is a massive opportunity. When my trusted associates tested the idea we found multiple potential.
“Economics tell the folks in my organisation we could smash this but I know the personal toll it takes and I know without my actual hands on the wheel in Leeds I can’t guarantee investors a return.
“I’ve loved Leeds all my life. I will always. I will not, though, steal any more time from my children. It’s that simple.”
Dylan Thwaites, the head of Leeds Fans United, said: “We respect his (Crowe’s) decision not to take a primary role and appreciate the professional and confidential manner in which he conducted the investigation.”