Leeds United fans are divided over the arrival of new owner to be Massimo Cellini but is there any other choice?
So, it seems like we are in the home straight waiting for Football League approval. I appreciate that this episode has yet again caused divide amongst our supporters but in the words of BMD we all need to be moving in the same direction to take this club forward. With Farnan and his Consortium of Consortiums waiting in the wings a number of fans are still crying out for FL to refuse Massimo Cellino the opportunity of buying the club.
I’ll tell you why I’m in favour of Cellino. The events of late January were awful for Leeds United. I personally blame GFH more than anyone for what happened. The truth is, in my opinion, that it doesn’t really make any difference what happened. It also doesn’t make any difference if he sacks BMD or wants a more ‘hands on’ role with the club. Before you stop reading let me explain why.
Sources suggest we are losing £1m a month and have practically no assets. We also owe a lot of money to a great many creditors and under GFH’s stewardship cannot even afford to pay the wages. Cellino even had to pay the wage bill last month! People say we have to give Farnan a chance. He has been looking at Leeds for a long time. GFH have a responsibility only to their shareholders and they were always going to sell to the highest bidder. Even if Farnan could match his offer,and thats still an if, I simply don’t think Farnan has enough backing to do what is required (i.e. buy back Elland Road, Thorpe Arch, pay off debts and invest in the team). If they did , they wouldn’t have had to join together and they would have closed the deal already. Farnan has had ample opportunity to say he has the money, not just to buy the club but also the above but he has not. So the most likely thing his consortium will do is tread water like GFH and hope that by drip feeding some cash here or there we just luckily go up and they hit the jackpot. Indeed, he has said there were some institutional investors ie more like GFH!
Cellino is the only guy who COULD afford to wipe our debts and buy ER,TA and take us to next level. Maybe he won’t, maybe he’ll interfere too much, maybe he’ll sack BMD, but my point is the others simply don’t have the money – if they did have we wouldn’t be here. If Farnan and his consortium of consortiums had the money they would have closed the deal as quick as Cellino did a long time ago. It’s like Farnans consortium don’t even have any lottery tickets – but Cellino has bought a truck load. He’s our only chance of winning the lottery. Peoples main argument for Farnan is ‘Farnan has not been given a chance as GFH wont speak to him’. Please, this is one of the most ridiculous arguments I have ever heard. In business, money talks, and Farnan and his lot had ample time to get this sorted before Cellino had ever been heard of. Farnan could have very easily said ‘We not only can match the bid but we have the funds available to immediately buy back Elland Road, pay off our debts and invest in the team’ – but he didn’t.
We are no Calgari, he had issues there that he wont get at Leeds – a tiny crowd for example, and Italian Politics to deal with. He has also pledged to take us up in his first full season.
People say ‘Money does not guarantee success’ – of course it doesn’t. However, lets be very clear about something. No money, in this day and age, almost guarantees no success. Money is a pre-requisite for success - necessary but not sufficient. It is a sad reality of todays game. Indeed, even Jose Mourinho could not take up a side as bereft of quality such as our current team. We have been starved of on the pitch investment for years. It is the missing piece to the great jigsaw that is leeds.
Cellino can see that we are a sleeping giant and he put his money where others have failed to do so for years. Of course, I’d rather see an honest billionaire Leeds fan from Leeds investing in the club – but I live in the real world. Not worried about FFP. If we pay off our debts and stop spending money on interest payments our profits will increase and we will have more money to invest in the team. I would also bet Cellino will attract some big money sponsors. More Italians? Some flair? Better football? It can't get much worse than the inconsistent lot we have right now. You can only get consistency from quality players and we have very few. I truly believe we have the greatest fans in the world and more potential than teams like Citeh and Chelski ever had. It seems Cellino sees that too and didn’t need to quibble about a million or two here or there or do vast amounts of due diligence like we’ve seen by GFH before him. He may be in it for ego – but our goals are aligned so I don’t care – I do believe he is our best bet to get back to the Premiership next season.
I hope the FL hurry up and approve him because the club are haemorrhaging money – who will pay this months wages? I don’t want admin and another protracted take over could take us over the edge. Im sick and tired of watching average footballers play average football week in week out. I want the premiership and I want it yesterday. As premiership teams get richer with every season, parachute payments increasing I can only see going up will only get harder and harder.
The arguments against Cellino are as follows – with my response:
1) He’s twice convicted fraudster – My opinion is Id love a squeaky clean Leeds owner – but there are not that many out there. In any case, its not as if he’s killed anyone and the politics in Italy are very different to the politics in this country. As I said before, the critical thing for me is what better option than Cellino is there out there. I don’t see any. (Note – one conviction was later overturned)
2) He has current legal issues – Again, not a big deal, see above.
3) He sacked BM and lied about it - As I said earlier this was a mess from start to finish but I do feel we don’t know the whole story and GFH must take a lot of the blame for that night. He was told he already owned the club – his legal team and GFH have to be at fault there. Also, very few takeovers happen where the man investing millions doesn’t bring his own man in. Don’t get me wrong, what happened was a disgrace and BMD did not deserve to be treated like that. Cellino at least tried to put things right. Remember also, if it wasn’t for Cellino we would surely have accepted a bid of around 6 million that came in for McCormack on the final day. Cellino insisted he stay and he did.
4) He has forced players on BMD - Just don’t see this as a show stopper. He has been always looked to bring players in. I’d rather him leave the managing to the manager but it really doesn’t outweigh the arguments for us needing the investment. Would a bit a flair and passing ability really be so terrible?
5) He is still trying to get Festa into the club – Again, why is this a big deal. By his own admission he does not see Festa as long term manager. He is entitled to have one of his own men around if he puts up his money.
6) He has hired 36 managers in 20 years – Not a great headline. But many wealthy owners hungry for success go through managers if they aren’t happy. My understanding is a number of those managers were only ever going to be short term/ caretakers so the headline is somewhat skewed. In any case – as described before my biggest reason for wanting Cellino is that there are no better options – so this argument simply doesn’t hold any weight for me.
So I support Cellino 100% for the reason that we need someone quick and there are no better answers out there given our dire financial state. He has his faults but they are not that relevant – the only relevant argument is who else is there? Who is more likely to succeed? It may not work out, Its gonna be a bumpy ride so buckle up – BUT he is our only real option.
I have two boys aged 9 and 5. They of course support Leeds, but I would love them to have a chance of seeing some of the football our once great team used to play in the Champions League. I was there at Bournemouth away, Valencia away, Deportivo Away, Barcelona … the list goes on. They deserve some great Leeds moments too… Hopefully in my lifetime!
This really could be it – the end of our 10 years in the wilderness! In any case, it looks like only the FL stand in his way, so all being well this goes through soon and we, as fans, can do what we we do best – get behind the team, support the club and go Marching On Together. (Please see poll below)
I’d like to end on a note I know we will all agree on… #MoyesIn
Follow Ralph on Twitter, @C000K13