Dirty Old Town: Leeds United & Rod Stewart Songs Are Inextricably Linked

Never a dull moment...
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Never a dull moment...

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Dirty Old Town: Leeds United & Rod Stewart Songs Are Inextricably Linked

Rod Stewart has sold over 100 million records and knows a thing or two about the honest expression of thoughts and feelings through lyrics.

It dawned on me on Saturday night as I pondered the visit to Brentford that so many of Rod the Mod’s song titles were absolutely and painfully relevant to crazy world of Leeds United right now.

Sailing

Obviously Yachtgate which is currently stuck in the Italian legal system and hopefully will stay there long enough not to bite Massimo on the backside.

Never a Dull Moment

The rich tapestry of our fractious relationship with the Football League took another sinister twist with the weekend revelation that GFH allegedly bought the club in the first place in contravention of international law with 'illegal' Iranian currency. If this proves to be right it not only calls into question the dubious “Fit & Proper” test but hopefully will also ensure that they are banished from any ongoing involvement.

I Was Only Joking

The appointment of Hock & Junior, 'nuff said.

Dirty Old Town

After failing via normal channels using my Gold Membership, more of that later, trying to find tickets for the match on Friday afternoon was problematic, the ground is small and the away allocation is 1600, a kind description would be rustic and there are no onsite corporate facilities.

I called the club around 4pm and spoke the commercial manager who was able to offer me a very special hospitality package. For the bargain price of £100 each I was able to purchase two tickets in the Leeds end, supplemented by a meal in an Italian restaurant who happened to be the match day sponsor, drinks vouchers and a free programme. It was outrageously expensive but the match is my second closest after Fulham so packages were duly bought.

The restaurant featured a dusky, moustachioed waitress with shocking body odour, a set menu that bordered on average and a greeting from a middle aged overweight hostess who tried to sell us raffle tickets every ten minutes. We met the commercial manager who looked like a corpulent comedian from the Wheeltappers & Shunters Social Club, at least Brentford have somebody in charge of commercial, we don’t, again, more of that later.

Griffin Park, despite boasting fancy dugouts cut out of the front two rows of the rickety old stand and featuring Recaro seats from an old Cortina can best be described as “period”, facilities are basic and terracing features at both ends.

The less said about the match the better, we were well beaten and too many players had an off day, in fact we carried more passengers than British Rail. Silvestri was brilliant, the rest weren’t and the referee only needed a mirror for preening and a microphone to capture the centre stage he craved, his decisions fell a long way short of the inflated opinion he had of himself.

Every Picture Tells A Story/Handbags & Gladrags

Why Cellino and our sporting director Salerno were originally seated in a random part of the home area and not ensconced in the director’s box hasn’t been explained, they started off close to the tunnel and presumably simply found empty seats and made themselves comfortable.

Why Cellino celebrated vociferously when Brentford missed their penalty was understandable though ill advised considering where he was.

A fan committing such a misdemeanour is likely to have been unceremoniously ejected from the ground and possibly subject to a banning order. Not our leader and his faithful sidekick who were escorted, suited, booted and man bagged into the away terracing to be subjected to a frenzy of back slapping, handshaking and selfie taking.

The dynamic duo moved to the slightly more salubrious six row upper tier and spent the second half watching the match whilst leaning on the barriers at the back of the seats. Cellini engaged in frantic discussions, joined the chanting and mixed readily, only upset when one scallywag ruffled his hair. Salerno smiled & nodded, his command of the language appears to be more understanding and less speaking.

Cellino is certainly different and this was the latest example of his bizarre behaviour.

Every Beat Of My Heart/Ain’t Love A B****

As all Leeds fans know and Simon Austin confirmed in his blog “Cellino is incredibly competitive and completely absorbed by the club.” He is passionate about our club and totally committed to success, he has done a massive amount of good stuff, sorted the debt, put the business on a firm footing and transformed the squad.

Massimo’s obsession looks to me like it is also a potentially serious achilles heel. An organisation the size of Leeds United cannot be micromanaged, it needs structure and it needs talented specialists.

Out Of Order/A Spanner In The Works

The acrimonious departure of Graham Bean, football consultant, administrator, contract signer and faux company secretary opened a can of vitriolic worms, criticising Cellino and raising concerns in the fans minds about the management structure of the club.

After Mr. Bean got flicked for not consulting on the moving of the Reading game from Tuesday to Wednesday, despite the fact the Football League would probably have insisted, he went into one on Twitter and made a lot of critical points suggesting:

The club is a madhouse with staff morale at an all time low with no pay rises in the last 4 years and a request for one turned down.

Cellino swerved sacking him and had a lackey do the deed.

Cellino bottled sacking Hock, Junior & Carbone and delegated the tasks to Bean.

Accused Cellino of running massive Leeds United like tiny Cagliari.

There is nobody left capable of doing the paperwork to make any more signings.

Bean says he told Cellino in no uncertain terms what he thought of the club organisation and what he and the staff thought of him.

Foolish Behaviour?

The club is undoubtedly in it’s best shape for a decade on the field, the squad is strong and deep, Darko Milanič & Novica Nikčević have a winning track record and will hopefully be able to mould the international mix of players into a powerful, successful unit. Neil Redfearn is an outstanding Academy director and a great club man.

Massimo’s micro-management and the distinct lack of senior executives with English football experience frankly worries the hell out of me.

The board consists of Massimo who is obviously in charge and making decisions, his sons Edoardo & Ercole who are young, inexperienced and unlikely to be seriously involved or pushing the off field operation forward. Daniel Arty is a Miami based accountant who works for Cellino, with no in depth UK knowledge. Sarah Nooruddin & Salem Patel belong to the disgraced GFH who are once again under scrutiny and showed themselves incapable of successfully running the business in their previous incarnation.

The senior management consists of Sporting Director Nicola Salerno who is a brilliant player finder and was also responsible for bringing in the new coach. He is undoubtedly an outstanding football man but from personal experience following a brief conversation on Saturday, he doesn’t really speak English.

The acting company secretary/football administrator slot is vacant and this is a crucial role in the administration of the club.

The Commercial Director position is empty after the recent departure of Paul Bell. I had a Twitter rant a few weeks ago, complaining that the commercial operation was crap, there is massive untapped potential and I had terrible service after my son’s home top arrived badly folded and poorly presented and Gold Memberships bought on 21 August took forever to be sent.

Bell argued strongly that Leeds have the biggest commercial revenue in the Championship by a country mile and bigger than many in the Premiership and that the results are record breaking. It looks like the club’s off field revenue streams are being driven by the massive fan base despite poor selection and appalling service. My point is that there is massive untapped potential, a small example being the phone cases and t-shirts I bought were produced by entrepreneurial fans, not the club. Social media is a crucial part of fan engagement, we are definitely missing a trick there and that is down to lack of focus and investment.

There is a huge amount of non football related improvement to be made to realise the potential and right now there is not the infrastructure in place to achieve it.

A successful team will bring bigger gates, more commercial revenue and even more potential, Cellino would be daft not to address the off-field structure.

@SporcoLeeds