Football club owners in England have faced the ire of fans for everything from changing club colours to trying to rename them in the past year. But Leeds United has topped the league by sacking its manager and reinstating him 24 hours later.
Brian McDermott was back at the training ground and in front of the media on Monday despite being told he was being dismissed on Friday night.
Bahraini owners GFH Capital said they were “shocked” by Mr McDermott’s dismissal by prospective new owner Massimo Cellino.
“Whoever sacked the manager obviously has to own the football club,” said Mr McDermott. Mr Cellino, owner of Cagliari, the Italian top flight club, clinched an agreement to buy 75 per cent of Leeds on Friday but decided to flex his muscles before the deal had gone through.
That hinges on Mr Cellino being considered a “fit and proper person” by the Football League. The grain baron has two convictions for fraud, one for deceiving the EU and Italian Ministry of Agriculture out of £7.5m and the other for false accounting.
Mr Cellino has now denied wanting inexperienced Cagliari coach Gianluca Festa to take over, although he did ask for Mr Festa be in the dugout at a recent home game. Mr McDermott refused.
A group gathered on Friday and prevented him getting into his minicab until the company that owned it made a public appeal, saying the driver was running out of petrol.
Leeds city council has asked the Football League to investigate the “bizarre events”.
David Haigh, the managing director who led a failed rival bid to buy the club, was also dismissed and reinstated. Andrew Flowers, also part of the consortium and managing director of Enterprise Insurance, has apparently scrapped his company’s shirt sponsorship of the club.
A third bidder, which includes Adam Pearson, former Hull City chairman, Mike Farnan, ex-Sunderland marketing director, and Gary Verity, who runs tourism promotion agency Welcome to Yorkshire, still hopes to snatch Leeds from Mr Cellino.
They are understood to be offering between £25m-£40m in staged payments. GFH bought Leeds in December 2012 for £17m from Ken Bates, the former Chelsea owner. It still attracts more than 20,000 fans to home games.
Assem Allam, the Egyptian-born owner of Hull City, wants to change its name to Hull Tigers to gain more global appeal. Vincent Tan, Malaysian owner of Cardiff City, changed its historic blue kit to “lucky” red and then sacked the Premiership club’s popular manager, Malky Mackay.
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