Leeds United: We are happy with wage agreement - Mac

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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Brian McDermott said he, his staff and his playing squad were satisfied with a deal to defer half their wages brought on by a crisis at Leeds United which could reach a tipping point later today.

Brian McDermott said he, his staff and his playing squad were satisfied with a deal to defer half their wages brought on by a crisis at Leeds United which could reach a tipping point later today.

United’s backroom team and their entire group of players agreed to accept part-payment of their salaries for March on Friday after a dispute between club owner Gulf Finance House and would-be owner Massimo Cellino left Leeds without enough money to fund their entire wage bill.

GFH and Cellino refused to provide the necessary cash last week with the Bahraini bank arguing that responsibility for funding lay with the Italian businessman under the terms of the deal to sell United to him. Cellino in turn saw the wages as GFH’s problem.

Cellino’s 75 per cent takeover – a deal worth £25m to GFH – faces a critical and definitive test today as a judge in London decides whether the Football League was justified in rejecting his buy-out on the grounds that his recent conviction for tax evasion in Italy breached the governing body’s Owners and Directors Test.

The wage deferral with McDermott and his players was agreed on the basis that the remaining 50 per cent would be paid after today’s hearing, though the dispute between Cellino and GFH could reignite again if his appeal fails.

Speaking after Saturday’s defeat at home to Doncaster Rovers, McDermott said: “We’ve got the agreement and it’s important that it happens – which it should do come Tuesday. The big picture again is that Massimo’s appeal will be heard today.

“It wasn’t an easy day (on Friday) but I did what I had to do. In the morning I spoke to the players and they were good about it, actually.

“It’s uncertain at the moment, an uncertain time, and obviously I’m concerned and worried, the same as everyone else around here. Let’s see what happens.”

McDermott revealed that he rather than senior officials from the club or GFH had taken it upon himself to outline the situation to his players on Friday as it became clear that the squad had not been paid.

“I did it,” McDermott said. “I’m at the training ground all the time so I did it. It’s one of those things – you do what you have to do. I’ve done what I’ve had to do a lot this season. It’s not been easy.”

The strain on the former Reading manager has been increased by the form of his squad who were beaten for the 17th time this season by Doncaster on Saturday. The 2-1 loss was United’s fifth in six games.

Doncaster punished an abject first-half display from Leeds, scoring twice through David Cotterill and Billy Sharp. Ross McCormack replied on 62 minutes but Rovers withstood late pressure to claim a first away win in 16 attempts.

McDermott said he was “completely and utterly determined” to continue as manager, despite the chaos at Elland Road and the possibility that Cellino might look to replace him if his takeover goes through.

But the 52-year-old was highly critical of United’s display against Doncaster, saying: “I can’t defend that first half. It was no good.

“We had run of form before Christmas when we were top six in the league and it’s frightening what’s happened to us in a short period of time.

“But (Cellino’s appeal) going well would give us direct leadership. Some of the nonsense I’ve had to deal with you wouldn’t believe but I’m completely and utterly determined.

“When we get the ownership sorted, let’s see where we go. That’s out of my hands. Whoever the owner decides to bring in as manager, that’s their decision and their prerogative.”

Doncaster midfielder Paul Keegan – an ex-Leeds player –said Rovers had well aware of United’s worries before kick-off.

“There’s a lot going on,” he said. “It does creep onto the pitch. It’s unsettling.”

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