United look to unfreeze club account after players not paid

Elland Road.
Elland Road.
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LEEDS UNITED have stressed they are making strides to unfreeze the club’s main bank account after players were informed they would not receive their wages on time for the second occasion in two months.

United have told players they are likely to receive late payment of their monthly salaries by the middle of next week, while revealing that full-time general staff were paid on time yesterday.

United stated that FA rules preventing the payment of players’ wages from a personal bank account ensured they weren’t able to pay them, with their main account currently frozen after the club were served with a winding-up petition for £950,000 which will be heard in court in London on June 9.

But the club insist their bank account remains ‘healthy’.

Club owner Massimo Cellino remains optimistic that the petition, issued by Sport Capital – a Guernsey-based company with strong links to former Leeds managing director David Haigh – will be successfully challenged.

Haigh has been in custody in Dubai on May 18 after being arrested for alleged financial irregularities, which he claims are false.

A club spokesperson said: “General full-time staff at the club have been paid. FA rules prohibit the payment of players’ wages including scholars, from a personal bank account.

“We are making strides to unfreeze the club’s bank account, before the winding-up petition is heard on June 9.

“We are confident that the winding-up petition against the club will be successfully challenged before June 9.

“Our bank account is in a very healthy position.”

The Professional Footballers’ Association meanwhile has received assurances on behalf of their members that United will pay their players’ monthly wages ‘as soon as possible.’

PFA spokesperson Richard Jobson admits the situation is far from ideal, especially with a number of players having already had to change or cancel holiday plans at short notice to attend a meeting at the club on Monday scheduled for all players and management squad at the behest of Cellino.

A number have had to incur additional costs to do that, coupled by the fact that their monthly wages have now not been paid on time.

He said: “The PFA are aware of the situation. It’s not an ideal situation, especially with the players having to change or in some cases cancel their holiday plans after originally being told they would be off until July.

“But we have been reassured by the club that the wages will be paid as soon as possible.”

One player, former Leeds captain Lee Peltier, tweeted: ‘Shambles’ about the wages situation yesterday morning.

It’s the second time that United’s management staff and players have failed to be paid on time, with the squad agreeing to defer 50 per cent of their wages for March after they did not receive their monthy pay packets on their designated pay day.

Non-playing staff at Elland Road did receive their full salaries on time, with players, following a meeting with with the club’s hierarchy and PFA officials, accepting part payment.

That scenario arose due to a dispute between former club majority owners Gulf Finance House Capital and Cellino over who should fund the players’ wage bill after the Football League blocked the Italian’s £25million takeover bid.

Management staff and players did go onto receive the deferred payments in early April.

Following the completion of his deal to take over Leeds, Cellino is in the process of finalising the sale of Cagliari after agreeing a deal in principle with an American investment group, fronted by Italian businessman Luca Silvestrone.

The main issue to resolve is approval for the redevelopment of Cagliari’s Sant’Elia, although some reports in the Sardinian press suggest Cellino has given an ultimatum to the US group to pay the first tranche of 10m euros by Wednesday, otherwise the deal may collapse.

Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom is under no illusions at the task ahead of him at Elland Road.

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