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SBD Global/May 15, 2014/Franchises

Massimo Cellino Calls In Lawyers To Look At 'Impossible' Situation At Leeds United

Massimo Cellino seeks outside help to deal with situation at Leeds.
Italian businessman Massimo Cellino "invited lawyers from London" into League Championship side Leeds United as he "intensified the fire-fighting which is slowly defining the early weeks of his reign at Elland Road," according to Phil Hay of the YORKSHIRE EVENING POST. Cellino "has called in outside assistance" to review the club’s operating costs and help bring under control a situation described by Cellino as “unbelievable, impossible.” Staff at Leeds are "waiting for redundancies to begin in earnest with the club a week-and-a-half into the summer and already experiencing the first parts of Cellino’s plan to cut the outgoings of a club" who are losing more than £1M ($1.7M) a month. Cellino is "widely expected to reduce United’s workforce" and he was reported last week to have included club ambassadors Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer and Dominic Matteo "in the list of probable sackings." Cellino said, “We have serious problems but we are fixing them." Asked about plans for widespread redundancies, Cellino said, “I don’t sack staff who want to work with me and who do what they’re paid to do” (YORKSHIRE EVENING POST, 5/14). SKY SPORTS reported Cellino "detailed the debts taken on from previous owner Gulf Finance House Capital at a meeting with fans' group Leeds United Supporters Trust." The club's accounts announced last month for '12-13 showed a loss of £9.5M for the year and Cellino said daily running costs were "well over £100,000." LUST board members met with Cellino on Monday, and said in a statement, "Mr. Cellino pulled no punches when he explained to us that he had taken on huge debts from the GFH era and an operating deficit of alarming proportions" (SKY SPORTS, 5/14).

CLOSURE INVESTIGATED: In London, James Ducker wrote the Football League "is to investigate" Cellino’s closure of club’s training ground after the"controversial owner began the process of shedding up to 70 jobs at Elland Road." Staff were called to a meeting at the stadium Wednesday at which Cellino’s "plans for large-scale redundancies were announced." The league will visit Leeds next week to determine if shutting down the Thorp Arch academy until pre-season training begins in July "breaches any requirements relating to the funds that they receive towards the cost of running the base" (LONDON TIMES, 5/15).
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