Leeds United: Forget Cellino, The Football League Needs To Look In The Mirror

We will not be silenced...
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We will not be silenced...

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Leeds: Forget Cellino, The Football League Needs To Look In The Mirror

Let's take a look at a couple of examples of Football League chiefs and their relationships with Leeds. All facts provided by Wikipedia.

During the 1960s and 70s Alan Hardaker, the unctuous, belligerent secretary of the football league had a bitter relationship with Leeds United manager Don Revie, during the club's ten year pursuit of domestic and European honours Revie and his team frequently ran foul of Hardaker's demanding fixture schedules and autocratic rule.

The football world was stunned when the postman who rang thrice on the door of the administrators was appointed as chief executive of the Football League.

Shaun Harvey’s stellar football career is detailed here and smacks of “right man who says yes to those more powerful and gets jobs way above his ability.” it’s a surprise that Sepp Blatter hasn’t been on the phone to offer him a major global role with a CV like this.

An administration job at Farsley Celtic F.C. which led to a chance meeting with Geoffrey Richmond, the then chairman of Scarborough. In February 1992, Harvey took up at job at Scarborough after having been personally invited by Richmond to the club. When Richmond became chairman of Bradford City, Harvey followed him where he eventually became Managing Director and led the club into the Premier League for the first time. The club also experienced two spells in administration.

In June 2004, after ten years at Bradford, Harvey joined Leeds United as chief executive officer. Harvey became part of the new management of Leeds which included Richmond who joined the club as a board advisor. In May 2007, the club went into administration. Harvey, along with former club chairman, Ken Bates and former director, Mark Taylor, quickly formed a new company called Leeds United Football Club Limited and bought the club back. After months of legal and monetary disputes, Harvey, Bates and Taylor won back full control of the club. Harvey's investment in the new company saw him become a club director and the company secretary.

On 1 July 2013 to the relief of all Leeds United fans Harvey stepped down as chief executive officer of Leeds United at the same time Ken Bates disastrous tenure as chairman ended. He was replaced by David Haigh, deputy chief executive of new owners GFH Capital, who took up the role of managing director.

In June 2011 Harvey was some how elected to the Football League Board of Directors by Championship clubs and on 29 July 2013 he was appointed the organisation's Chief Executive.

Now lets put some context around the current situation.

So the fella running the Football League is an ex-Leeds United employee who in his last year of office at the club earned around a quarter of a million pounds in salary plus a £400,000 bonus. There is a strong feeling that Harvey remains under the influence of the odious Ken Bates who elevated him to a position far in excess of his ability and paid him so handsomely.

His football club running record includes three administrations, a questionable buyback of Leeds from the administrator in cahoots with Bates and strong accusations of lying under oath in court regarding the real owners of the club during the Bates era of smoke, mirrors and deception.

He was even accused of harassment via the mouthpiece of the club’s radio.

We know that at the time of the most intense final rounds of negotiation to finalise the takeover the very same Shaun Harvey was in Malaysia allegedly desperately trying to bring in a Far Eastern consortium to buy Leeds from GFH and oust Cellino’s bid, he failed, surprisingly, given his reputation and track record of success. 

We know that Harvey, Bates and Cellino recently met and can only speculate what the agenda was but the smart money is that Harvey is running scared in case any serious shenanigans come to light, now or when David Haigh is eventually released from prison to blow the lid off the Bates sales to GFH and their subsequent mismanagement. Fit and proper, my a***.

Cellino has been a marked man since he entered the race to buy the club.

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After weeks of speculation regarding the purchase of Leeds United, the club announced on 7 February 2014 that they had exchanged contracts for the sale of Leeds to Cellino's family consortium Eleonora Sport Ltd. The deal would see the Cellino family acquire 75% ownership of the club subject to approval from the Football League. The Football League rejected the proposal on 24 March 2014, stating that Cellino failed the owners test.

Cellino exercised his right to appeal the Football Leagues's decision. His appeal was heard on 31 March 2014 by an independent QC. On 5 April 2014 the independent QC overturned the Football League's decision, concluding that Cellino's recent conviction did not involve conduct that would 'reasonably be considered to be dishonest' based on information available to him at the time. GFH retain a 10 per cent stake in the club, with minority shareholders will holding 25 per cent.

Cellino later said that had he known that the takeover would not proceed smoothly he would not have bought the club and described the Football League as "...really tricky, they made trouble at a time when I couldn't walk away and I submitted myself to a trial, a humiliation... I don't want to be here if the Football League don’t want me but who are they anyway? They are acting for what's right, the principles, the ideals. Me, I sort out the f***ing problems at Leeds. I prefer to play by the rules, not to cheat."

Harvey was very recently dismissive of Celino’s actions, his laughable comment at Coventry’s return to the Ricoh Arena “Ultimately all he has done is brought some financial stability to a situation, and signed 15 players” borders on incredible considering Cellino has done more good in a few short months than the previous 12 years of owners.

Harvey’s most recent statement was that new owner Massimo Cellino’s outstanding tax appeal was a cloud over the club.

Shaun Harvey passing comments on the running of Leeds United is akin to Katie Price giving marriage guidance counselling, Kerry Katona lecturing on effective dieting or the organisers of a Magaluf weekender advocating responsible drinking.

This statement garnered a measured response from the club, according to @PhilHayYEP “Leeds aren't responding publicly to Shaun Harvey's comments but senior figures around Cellino think they were 'inappropriate and disruptive'".

It is very likely that Cellino’s reaction was more volatile along the lines of "The postman you say, disrespecting me you say, let me tell you something, he will regret it my friend" with a lot of expletives thrown in.

Is Harvey desperate to avenge his puppet-master Bates and hide the truth of their tenure? 

Massimo Cellino is, in Harvey’s tainted eyes a disgrace for sorting out Leeds United’s finances and buying 15 new players to transform the squad and give the fans hope for a bright, successful future.

His latest outburst prompted an irate fan, Sam Kirby from Lincolshire to start a petition yesterday to oust Harvey from his position. The depth of feeling is shown by the fact that there are already over 3,600 signatures and counting, I urge you to take a moment to sign it here.

Leeds fans won’t be silenced, they believe that the Football League featuring an eclectic mix of ne'er-do-wells and generally dodgy characters in its membership and committees should look in the mirror before coming after Cellino, a football man, unconventional for sure, eccentric but committed to bringing success back to one of this country’s top clubs.

@SporcoLeeds