Everybody hates us – we don’t care!
The above is a phrase that resonates with every Leeds United fan; being the insular and parochial supporters that we are. The hatred from outside strengthens us and makes us feel more like a ‘family’: ‘us’ against ‘them’; ‘man’ against ‘the suits etc.
Leeds United fans though were shaken out of their usual ‘transfer window malaise’ by shocking events; Leeds actually bringing in players with terms such as ‘promising youngster’, ’emerging talent’ and ‘starlet’ and also included the loan-to-buy arrival of Brazilian youngster Adryan from Flamengo via Cagliari; see my earlier article for more on him. It buoyed the spirits somewhat to see others like Zan Benedicic coming in from such footballing giants as AC Milan. Leeds fans were not used to such luxuries, it was like going to the Ambassador’s gatherings in the Ferrero Rocher advertisements and being given first choice of the chocolates.
Trouble is, life is never simple up in Beeston, Leeds LS11.
News emerged today, from YEP’s Phil Hay column ‘Leeds United: Cellino buys now, plans for tomorrow’, that the manic transfer activity during the summer transfer window, which closed at 11pm on Monday 1st September, had an ulterior motive. it seems that this 15 player stockpiling was necessary ‘planning aforethought’ due to the financial situation at Elland Road. Cellino took over and restructured the debts that Leeds had in his 75% takeover of the club. This mountainous debt included month-to-month running lossesof over £1 million! Totalled up, these debts were running far beyond the annual £8 million that Championship clubs are permitted to lose; only £5 million of that being direct input from owners or shareholder losses.
Cellino took to bringing in players with wild abandon flailing around in the transfer market like a drowning man clinging to flotsam and jetsam in the ocean; 15 in total being his final list of purchases which brings United’s squad to 34 players. This large total includes 9 forwards and 6 centre backs…come to think of it, a welcome change from signing guys who played like Flotsam and Jetsam. Cellino had to make some hard financial decisions: Thorp Arch was closed, former players were not re-employed in their former match day hospitality duties and players were asked to bring packed lunches in their own ‘snap boxes’. The local Greggs saw a pretty substantial rise in the sale of sausage rolls and sausage, bean and cheese pasties before Paddy Kenny left the club.
In his article, Hay argues that Cellino has basically stockpiled players in advance of an expected transfer embargo from the breaking of Financial Fair Play regulations. He states in his article, “Clubs that fail to comply will be subject to a transfer embargo,” the governing body states. “This embargo will come in to force ahead of the subsequent transfer window beginning on January 1, 2015.”
Expectations are that there will be more than Leeds United punished in this way.
My question would be: what about Premier League teams in debt? What about your Manchester Uniteds? What about your Manchester Citys? It will also be interesting to see what happens to Blackburn Rovers FC; a Championship club reputedly in dire financial straits themselves.