Trust Statement: Leadership At Lufc

Last updated : 09 April 2015 By Leeds United Trust
We stood 16th in the Championship at the time. 7 months later the same Football League initiated a process that lead to Mr Cellino being banned till May 2015 from control of the club, you may recall this Trust communication HERE which appealed for all parties to put the interests of the support first. We were 15th at the time but quickly sunk to 21st before Cellino accepted his fate.
Another 5 months on and instability has again reared its ugly head. Despite on the pitch the team racing away from the threat of relegation to a one off height of 11th, all whilst a temporary peace and stability reigned in Massimo’s absence, we have seen the first anniversary of our last completed takeover fully reflect not just the chaos of the last 12 months, or the 3 before that, or the 12 months before that or the previous 8 years before that but our whole existence in over a decade. The last two weeks have placed Leeds United fully back in the limelight for all the wrong reasons and again, the needs of the support, season ticket holders, regular attenders, occasional attenders, fans from afar, for clarity and calm have been blatantly ignored.
Let’s examine events just from that period:
  • A chief operating officer has departed the club, the implication being he was marginalised.
  • The de-facto Director of Football has resigned, so says Cellino, but not before leaving a festering issue by suspending, with board approval, the Assistant Manager. The Director of Football has failed, as have the club, to clarify the resignation and as we speak it is unconfirmed.
  • The Assistant Manager (or Assistant Head Coach depending on interpretation) has been suspended until the end of his current contract (May 2015), having only been put in place a few months earlier after a protracted extraction from Huddersfield Town.
  • The manager, Neil Redfearn, has indicated that he wasn’t consulted on any of this and as a consequence is considering his position. The Manager also has a contract expiring soon and has yet to be communicated with as to his future.
  • A split in the squad, with camps based on their relationship with Cellino, opening up.
  • The Manager apparently instructed on who he can or can’t pick for contractual reasons, with top scorer Mirco Antenucci the centre of some confusion.
  • Italian press reports have suggested Cellino wishes to sell and has also expressed an interest in buying Parma. Cellino himself has made contradictory noises around his intentions. He also has been dealing with his numerous Italian court issues.
  • The present “Chairman” of the club, Andrew Umbers has also been seen making suggestions that contradict, with hints that the club is still in some financial difficulty (we await official club confirmation of the £25m losses from '13-14 reported to the Football League as part of the Financial Fair Play process).
  • Agents and journalists have lined up to suggest our talented youngsters (Cook, Mowatt, Byram) will be sold this summer whilst others future remains in considerable doubt, particularly the loans in and those whose contracts expire soon.
  • Reports have said Red Bull were in discussions to buy the club, Cellino publicly acknowledged communication and then Red Bull denied it. Meanwhile others have also publicly stated they are in “multiple discussions” with other parties with a view to putting together some kind of consortium, thus adding to the fevered speculation.
  • The club refusing to pay its staff a living wage despite a football wide campaign.
  • Our minority owners seem to be having some sort of corporate rebuilding, our ex Chairman (and their ex-employee) will soon enjoy a year in a prison cell.
  • Elland Road has not been re-purchased and as yet no site for a new training ground has been found (or if found, purchased).
  • Season ticket renewals have not happened. They would normally have started by now.
  • No indication has been given whether the transfer embargo will be lifted.
  • All in all, and we may have missed some things, this is not what constitutes a stable club.
What rankles most for us at the Trust is how all of the above is just another manifestation of the fault lines inherent in a club that finds reaching out to the support impossible. The Trust has made at least 3 different attempts to open positive, meaningful communication with the club, mainly with a view to bringing about the stability and clarity so needed by the support. We have to be honest and say the present regime is no more accessible than the Bates era one was. This is both disappointing and regrettable.
The Leeds United Supporters Trust feels that it is ridiculous to expect the support to suffer another summer of chaos and instability. We are particularly concerned that all parties, whether present owners or future bidders, don’t expend their energies at the expense of the footballing side. For us some things need clarifying immediately, they include:
  • Neil Redfearn being given the contract extension his record this season demands.
  • Neil Redfearn to decide who his coaches are (whether that includes Thompson or not).
  • Massimo Cellino to promise to leave footballing matters to the Manager and his staff, regardless of whether Salerno is replaced or not.
  • Cellino/Eleonora Sport/GFH to make a clear statement on whether they intend to listen to offers over the summer. Cellino also to indicate how he intends to de-couple from the club in the event of further convictions in Italy.
  • A transparent explanation of club finances to be made including an honest appraisal of debts and the prospect of the transfer embargo been lifted.
  • The club, via owners and senior staff, to start to open up meaningful dialogue with supporters groups, including the Trust. This dialogue to be based on honesty and integrity.
  • An unequivocal statement on the future of the young talent, with preferably “not for sale” to mean that.
  • A commitment from the club, to its long suffering fan base, to make the period from today until the end of next season as stress free a period as it is possible to muster.
The Trust is aware that the above is an intense list, but after 14 years of chaos in a variety of forms it is time for the clarity and stability we demanded back in December to come to the fore.
Michael Green, Trust Chairman Paul Keat and The Leeds United Supporters Trust board.