Friday, 7 February 2014

Contracts exchange between GFH and Cellino as Leeds Takeover nears completion.

Leeds United have confirmed they have signed contracts to sell a 75% stake in the club to Massimo Cellino. The deal is subject to Football League approval.Chairman Salah Nooruddin will remain in his post and managing director David Haigh will become chief executive. In a statement, Nooruddin said: “I am delighted to announce that we have exchanged contracts for the sale of 75 per cent of the club to Eleonora Sport Ltd, subject to Football League approval. “GFH Capital and its investors will retain a 25 per cent stake in Leeds United. I will remain the club chairman and David Haigh will be the club CEO. “The board has always had as its principal aim the creation of a long term ownership structure through partnership with sound and strategic investors to build on the foundations we have laid for sustainable success for this great club. “We believe we will have achieved that with this deal. It provides the basis from which Leeds United can move forward to a position which will enable it once again to compete at the highest levels of football. “That is where this great club belongs and it is nothing less than its fans deserve. Throughout the difficult years, as well as the glory years, they have remained second to none in their support of the club and we as a Board have always appreciated their passion. “Following the introduction to GFH to the Cellino family which owns Eleonora Sport Limited it quickly became apparent that the family and the company offered both the long term investment and the footballing knowledge necessary to take their place as majority owners of Leeds United. “Everyone on the Board is looking forward to working with our new partners who we hope will be in place at Elland Road very soon.” Gulf Finance House chief executive Hisham Alrayes said: “It has always been our aim since taking over Leeds United to create an ownership structure through partnership with like-minded strategic investors who would help us take the club forward on a long term and sustainable basis. “It has taken us some time to get the right deal in place with people who truly shared our commitment to, and faith in, the future of Leeds United. “We are delighted to have reached agreement with Massimo Cellino and Eleonora Sport Ltd who share our determination to move the club forward. “Despite media and market speculation, we have refrained from making any official comment on this matter until this point when contracts have been exchanged. “We understand that the speculation has been unsettling for the fans and, even though it was not of our making, we apologise to them for that. We are happy now to inform them of the accurate position with regard to the new ownership which will, we believe, enable the club to achieve promotion in the shortest realistic time possible. “GFH Capital and its investors continue to show its commitment to Leeds United through the minority 25 per cent shareholding we will be retaining.”

Yeovil Town v Leeds United - Match statistics and Team News

Matt Smith will return to the squad to face Yeovil following suspension and Noel Hunt is poised for his first appearance since October. Smith has served a three-game ban following his straight red card in last month's 6-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday, while Hunt has been struggling with a torn hamstring that has restricted him to nine appearances since arriving at the club in July. Manager Brian McDermott has no new injury or suspension problems and is unlikely to make too many changes after last week's 5-1 home win against Huddersfield. Striker Dominic Poleon, plus defenders Lee Peltier and Scott Wootton are among those pushing for recalls to the starting line-up.



MATCH FACTS

Head-to-Head
• Leeds won the earlier meeting this season 2-0 at Elland Road in November.
• Leeds are unbeaten in all seven meetings between the sides, winning six. The only meeting in which Leeds failed to win was 1-1 at Huish Park in League One in August 2008.
• Leeds have won two of the three meetings at Huish Park, drawing one.
Yeovil
• Yeovil have lost six of their last seven games in the Championship.
• Yeovil have won only one of their last nine league games. Their only win in the Championship since early December was 2-0 at Birmingham on 18 January.
• Yeovil have the worst home record in the Championship this season, having taken only eight points from their 12 home games this season.
Leeds
• Leeds' 5-1 home win against Huddersfield last Saturday was their first in nine games in all competitions.
• Leeds had scored only four goals in their previous eight games in all competitions before scoring five against Huddersfield.
• Leeds have lost their last three away games in all competitions. They lost their last away game 6-0 at Sheffield Wednesday on 11 January.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Cellino To Buy Back Elland Road after Leeds Takeover

Massimo Cellino expects to complete his purchase of Leeds United next week.In an interview with The Financial Times he stated that he was confident he would be approved as a suitable owner by the Football League, despite a past conviction for false accounting. Mr Cellino blamed the “jealousy” in Italian football for the 2001 false accounting case. He was also convicted of fraud in 1996 but cleared on appeal. He said he was selling his Serie A club Cagliari because he was “tired and fed up” of Italian football and he did not have the energy to run two clubs. “It is not going to be a problem,” he said of the League test because standards in Italy were high. “I have owned a club for 22 years. I have a lot of experience.”


Cellino went on to say  he had the money necessary to buy and invest in the club and would meet the Football League on Wednesday. “On Thursday I am going to the bank and I will buy our stadium. I have the funds to buy Leeds and to run Leeds.” He pledged to return the club to the Premier League in his first full season in charge and keep it there. “A club like Leeds has big potential. I want to see Leeds United versus Manchester United like it used to be. I want to make the fans happy. I know what it means to be a fan.”

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Flowers Ends Leeds United Takeover Bid

Andrew Flowers has pulled out of talks to buy Leeds United.The managing director of Enterprise Insurance withdrew from the battle after making a last-ditch effort to take charge of the club before Italian businessman Massimo Cellino completed his own takeover. Flowers was part of a failed attempt by the Sport Capital consortium to secure a 75 per cent stake in Leeds last month but he attempted to put a fresh offer together over the weekend.Enterprise Insurance - United’s shirt sponsor since 2011 - withdrew its support of the club on Friday evening and has also issued a winding-up order on the club over a loan paid to Leeds in 2012. In a statement, Flowers said: “I entered discussions in good faith to buy this club for the simple reason that I am a lifelong supporter and sincerely believed that I could make a real contribution towards the goal of promotion to the Premier League and at the same time provide the stability and sound financial governance the club desperately needs. “However, the emergence of Mr Cellino’s bid, and the nature of the transaction, seems to have crystallised the attitudes of both GFH and the Leeds United board, enabling them to dispose of the club with no consideration for its ultimate security and wellbeing. “In effect, it is a ‘fire sale’ transaction which is not in the interests of Leeds United, its players, staff or loyal supporters. “Both myself and my company, Enterprise Insurance, have been enormous financial supporters of the club for the last few years and while we may understand the commercial expediency which leads the owners to accept the superficially attractive Cellino offer, we remain firmly convinced this deal will not give the club the stability or investor commitment it badly needs. “Despite our serious misgivings, we wish the team, the manager and fans well for the future and I remain a very enthusiastic Leeds supporter. “I have no other comment to make at this time about outstanding financial and legal issues between us and the current owners.”

Massimo Cellino set to Pass"Fit and Proper" Test

Leeds United's would-be new owner Massimo Cellino looks set to complete his takeover within 48hrs.The Italian, waiting to exchange contracts with United owners Gulf Finance House (GFH) after agreeing terms late last week over a £25m takeover deal for a 75 per cent stake.Reports that Cellino is unlikely to pass the Football League’s Owners and Directors’ Test, formerly the Fit and Proper Person’s Test appear to be wrong. Cellino, despite two previous convictions for false accounting in Italy and a reported arrest on suspicion of embezzlement in 2013, would still be able to buy Leeds with his first conviction in 1996 expunged on appeal and the second offence in 2001 considered as spent under English law – specifically the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974). That
 means Cellino is under no obligation to disclose the charges and the offences should no longer be held against him in any way. It is understood Cellino’s lawyers have presented a case to the League arguing that he cannot be barred from owning Leeds due to the past offences. The threat of proceedings following Cellino’s arrest last year on suspicion of embezzlement is also not considered a problem to him completing any purchase of Leeds with no measures preventing people taking over a club if they are under investigation or facing charges for an alleged criminal offense of dishonesty. Under League rules, people are regarded as innocent until proven otherwise. The League are still considering the bid from Cellino’s company Eleonora Sport Ltd before deciding whether he passes the test. The Cagliari owner, based in Miami, does not foresee any problems regarding meeting League criteria and is quoted as saying: “I’ve had 22 years as an owner in Italy where regulations are much stricter than in England. I don’t see why this should be an issue.” Besides awaiting approval of his purchase of United from League authorities, his other major hurdle is getting the required signatures from GFH officials to seal the takeover. As far as Cellino is concerned, a deal was struck to purchase 75 per cent of the club last Friday with Leeds chairman and GFH shareholder Salah Nooruddin. But the deal is still waiting to be signed off with Cellino and GFH yet to exchange contracts, prompting the rival group involving members of failed Sport Capital and Together Leeds consortiums to join forces in an attempt to hijack the Italian’s bid and secure a controlling stake in the club. Claiming a deal was struck late last week, Cellino said: “The money was paid on Friday. Me and the Bahraini, we’re serious people. “Between us, there is no problem. But in the middle, there is a problem, there is a lot of s*** going on. “The Bahraini trusts me and I trust him. He could have done other deals, but chose me because I showed I can run a club.” Meanwhile, Cellino has been frantically attempting a charm offensive after what amounted to a public relations calamity in sacking McDermott via a phone call from his lawyer Chris Farnell. The Cagliari owner has told one national newspaper that he plans to return Leeds to their former glories. The agriculture magnate said: “I already love this club and want to do something right for it. “I want to get it back where it belongs, in the Premier League.”

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Leeds United face winding up Order

According to a report in the Financial Times Leeds United's shirt sponsors Enterprise Insurance have made a move to wind up the company.Enterprise, whose managing director Andrew Flowers is a failed bidder, has filed a winding-up petition for the Championship club over an alleged unpaid debt. It will be heard in the High Court in March.The Gibraltar-based insurer issued the petition on January 29, a day after talks with Sport Capital, a consortium including Mr Flowers, a life-long Leeds fan, and David Haigh, managing director of Leeds, collapsed.The move appears designed to prevent a sale to Massimo Cellino, owner of Cagliari, the Italian top flight club, who clinched an agreement to buy 75 per cent of Leeds on Friday. Since then, the manager, Brian McDermott, has been sacked and reinstated, and Mr Cellino’s lawyer, Chris Farnell, has been asked to leave Leeds’ Elland Road base. GFH Capital, the Bahraini investor seeking to sell the bulk of its stake in the club, has reiterated that it remains in charge. In debt proceedings, courts potentially have the power to reverse the sale of assets, freeze bank accounts and even order an administration or liquidation. Leeds, which has had a difficult financial history, entered administration in 2007, with £35m in debts. Mr Cellino has applied to the Football League to pass its “fit and proper person” test required of club owners. Leeds city council, which owns the club’s training ground, has also written to the league calling for a “thorough vetting” of Mr Cellino.Enterprise has apparently scrapped its shirt sponsorship of the club. In 2012 it lent Leeds £1.7m at 7 per cent interest for repayment in 2015. Mike Smith, a corporate insolvency expert from Jameson Smith, said the insurers’ move was “risky”, since the debt must be proved in law or costs could be awarded against it. Unless settled, the petition must also be advertised in the London Gazette. “Other creditors can use the same petition to pursue their own debts so I suspect it is solely being used as a bargaining chip to apply pressure to the board of Leeds United,” he said. Mr Flowers has reportedly joined a third bidding consortium, which includes Adam Pearson, former Hull City chairman, Mike Farnan, ex-Sunderland marketing director, and Gary Verity, who runs Welcome to Yorkshire, a tourism promotion agency. They are understood to be offering around £30m in staged payments. GFH bought Leeds in December 2012 for £17m from Ken Bates, the former Chelsea owner.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Match Report: Leeds United 5-1 Huddersfield

Leeds United’s captain Ross McCormack bagged a hat-trick in a memorable 5-1 derby victory over Huddersfield Town at Elland Road.Huddersfield were the better side for the first 45 minutes, but paid for missed chances when McCormack’s first goal gave Leeds a lifeline in first half injury-time. It was then a different game after the break with four unanswered goals from Leeds and everything that could go wrong doing so for the visitors who ended with 10 men when Anthony Gerrard went off injured after they had made their three substitutions. United have issued a statement saying that McDermott remains manager, but his assistant, Nigel Gibbs, was described as the “caretaker” before the game and took charge to oversee the ending of an eight-match run without a win that dated back to before Christmas. Leeds started well enough when Cameron Stewart missed a decent fourth minute chance, shooting wide after finding himself in space in the box. But they were soon forced into something of a rearguard action as Huddersfield carved open several chances. Two great blocks by Sam Byram denied the visitors while Oliver Norwood hit the post with a low strike from 20 yards out and Nahki Wells headed a difficult chance into the side netting. It was no surprise when Huddersfield went in front on 25 minutes as Ward’s angled shot beat Paddy Kenny. The Leeds keeper blocked a Murray Wallace header on the line from a corner soon after and made an easier save from Norwood’s weak header following a brief flurry from the Whites when Rudy Austin had shot wide from the edge of the box and McCormack could get no power behind a header from Austin’s fine cross. The big turning point proved to be in the 45th minute as Wells raced onto a long ball forward and got to the ball ahead of the onrushing Kenny only to see his shot go wide. It proved a huge miss as in the third minute of injury-time Huddersfield failed to deal with a long ball forward and after Jimmy Kebe miskicked it fell nicely for McCormack to score from close range. The second half started with a bang for United as well as Alex Mowatt and McCormack combined on the edge of the box to set Kebe clear and the on-loan winger chipped the ball over keeper Alex Smithies to put Leeds ahead. Town looked to hit back with Wells and Ward both shooting wide twice, but they were caught by a sucker punch on 63 minutes when the Whites broke out of defence, Austin carried the ball well and played in Byram on the flank. A perfect low cross was then finished by McCormack to make it 3-1. Suddenly Leeds were playing with confidence and after Kebe had a 20-yard shot tipped wide by Smithies they made it 4-1 when McCormack completed his hat-trick with a shot in off the post following a great run and cross by Stewart. United scored again on 82 minutes when Smithies came flying out of his area to stop McCormack getting on the end of a long ball forward only to collide with his own defender. The ball fell to Mowatt and the young midfielder gleefully produced a perfect lob into the empty goal for his first-ever goal in senior football. It did not get much better for Huddersfield as Adam Clayton’s shot beat Kenny only to bounce back off the crossbar. There were no further goals for Leeds although McCormack came close with a long range strike.

McDermott still Leeds United manager?

Confusion continues to surround Leeds United after a  statement was released by the club claiming Brian McDermott was still manager. The former Reading boss was reportedly sacked on Friday evening and was not present as the Whites chalked up a 5-1 victory over Huddersfield at Elland Road. But, around half-an-hour after the victory, the Yorkshire club released a statement on the offical club website which said the 52-year-old had not been sacked. "The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first team manager," a statement said. "He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds United forwards."

Andrea Tabanelli in loan move to Leeds

Cagliari midfielder Andrea Tabanelli has been loaned to Leeds, according to the Italian club. The Serie A club is owned by Massimo Cellino, Leeds' prospective new owner who sacked manager Brian McDermott on a dramatic deadline day. And in a first sign of a link-up between the two clubs, a statement on the Cagliari website said Tabanelli had been sent to Elland Road. The player moved to Cagliari only last month after spending the first half of the season with Serie B club Cesena.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Festa To take Charge at Leeds

Former Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa is set to take charge of Leeds's Championship fixture tomorrow after Brian McDermott was sacked by the club. Festa, the choice of incoming Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino, called a staff meeting at 5pm on Friday afternoon. The Italian coach explained that Brian McDermott had been sacked as manager and that he would be taking personal control of the first team with immediate effect. Festa is understood to have significantly altered the line-up for the critical home Championship meeting with Huddersfield Town. Several players who McDermott had selected for the game have been asked to stand down, with replacements called up and told to report early tomorrow for a shape-of-play session ahead of the kick-off.

Leeds Sack McDermott

Leeds United have sacked manager Brian McDermott.Massimo Cellino, who hours ago purchased a 75% stake in the club, has fired the former Reading boss.The 52-year-old recently vowed to remain at Elland Road, despite the collapse of Sport Capital's bid to take charge of the club. McDermott replaced Neil Warnock at the Elland Road helm back in April 2013.Leeds are currently 12th in the Sky Bet Championship and are eight points off the play-off places. The former Reading manager was in charge for just 36 games, 15 of which ended in wins, six as draws and 15 as losses.

Leeds turn down £4million offer from Cardiff City for Ross McCormack

Leeds United have turned down a £4million offer from Cardiff City for Ross McCormack,according to Sky Sports. McCormack has been the subject of a bid from West Ham already this month, and they have not returned with a new offer. Cardiff City have now tested Leeds' resolve with a £4million offer - but Leeds have shunned the bid. Sunderland had also been linked with a late move for the Scotland international - but as yet they have not made a bid.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Confirmed Leeds United Takeover has Collapsed

The takeover of Leeds United by Sport Capital has collapsed owing to a lack of "financial backing", leaving the club's future unresolved and uncertain amid speculation that two separate groups remain interested. Leeds managing director and head of the Sport Capital consortium, David Haigh, released a statement on today stating that it was unable to complete a deal despite two months ago agreeing to purchase a 75% stake in the club from the owners Gulf Finance House. Haigh claimed he and Sport Capital had "injected substantial sums into the club to ensure its viability" but earlier in the week fellow consortium member Andrew Flowers, the managing director of Leeds' shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance, stated that GFH had "breached their covenant with us" after inviting a rival bid from Massimo Cellino, the president of the Serie A club Cagliari. Cellino has been strongly linked with a takeover although another consortium are also reportedly interested in securing a majority shareholding in the club.Haigh's statement read: "We signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital at the end of last year. This meant, I believed, that we were in a position to move things forward and complete the transaction in time for the January transfer window. "Unfortunately, however, some of the consortium's backers ultimately didn't feel able to deliver the financial backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward. "I have met many, many potential investors over the past year and, sadly, while many are keen to talk the talk, they have been unable or unwilling to deliver in financial terms."

McDermott:Never would I walk away from the club

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott has promised fans he won't walk away from Elland Road, despite the club's ownership uncertainty.McDermott has been a bystander in recent weeks as the club attempt to thrash out a takeover of ownership before the January transfer window ends. He has only managed to bring in two fresh faces, Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart, but knows that may not be enough to revive his side's poor form, that has seen them slip to 12th in the Championship. When asked whether he would leave the club in its current state of turmoil, McDermott's commitment remained, as he said: "No. Never would I walk away from the club. I'm a long way from home but I'd never do that, I'd never do it to the players or the staff or the supporters. They deserve better. "When I was brought here, I was brought here on a three-year contract to stabilise the club and take them forward. As far as I'm concerned, that hasn't changed. "But I'm desperate to see an end to this. You keep getting light at the end of the tunnel but it doesn't happen. We need (the takeover) resolving at the top and we need the right people in place." The former Reading manager also revealed that, despite fans' calls for fresh faces, he may be unable to bring anyone in before Friday's deadline, due to the takeover situation at the club, adding: "The more important thing for me would be to resolve the ownership situation. "I've got to believe that we can get it sorted. I've got to believe that we've got the right people here with Leeds."

Leeds Midfielder to join Ipswich

Leeds midfielder Paul Green is reported to be in talks with Ipswich regarding a loan move. Republic of Ireland international Green is out of favour at Elland Road and hasn’t played a first team game for the Whites since October. Green, 30, was previously linked with Ipswich during Paul Jewell’s time as boss, the former Town manager having signed him during his spell at Derby. Green started his career with Doncaster Rovers, joined Derby on a free transfer in the summer of 2008 and then moved on to Leeds in June 2012. He has been capped 20 times by Ireland, scoring once. Green has made 42 starts and four sub appearances during his time with Leeds, scoring four goals, one in last season's 2-0 defeat of Ipswich at Elland Road.