Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Cellino's promises for Leeds fans

This piece was first published in The Sun newspaper on April 5th, the day after Massimo Cellino's takeover of Leeds United went through.

Massimo Cellino has promised Leeds fans: “I will make your club great again.”

The outspoken Italian became the official owner of the Championship giants yesterday.

An independent QC overturned the Football League’s decision to fail him as a ‘fit and proper owner’.

Speaking exclusively to SunSport, the 57-year-old has vowed:

* To return Leeds to the Premier League by 2016

* To buy back their Elland Road ground and Thorp Arch training ground NEXT WEEK

* To pay the players and staff their unpaid wages

* To transform the playing squad

Whether manager Brian McDermott will be there to oversee the revival is in serious doubt though.

Cellino said: “The fans have had to put up with 10 sh***y years and I want to make them proud of this club again.

“I’ve always said that the only assets Leeds have are their fans and their history.Next week I will go to the bank and buy back Elland Road and Thorp Arch. And on Monday I will pay all the wages.

“A lot of work needs to be done on the squad. We need new players.

“I had four signings lined up in January but I couldn’t sign them because of the ownership situation — it was so frustrating.

“In the summer we will buy some players. I want to focus on English and international players.

“I have built up a fantastic scouting network with Cagliari which we will use. I have scouts in Europe, South America and Latin America.”

And Cellino has promised to return the Yorkshire side to the promised land of the Premier League for the first time since 2004.

He added: “I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep — and I admit it will be difficult to get promotion next season.

“But in 2015-16, we will earn our way back to the Premier League, which is where Leeds belong.”

The club’s managing director David Haigh has welcomed Cellino and was due to become his chief executive.

But the Italian has some bad news for Haigh... ‘You’re fired’. He said: “David has to go. I have had too much of him.”

A consortium of local businessmen called Together Leeds have claimed they will work with Cellino, but the Italian seemed to throw cold water on this.

He said: “I promised I will talk to them and that is what I will do.”

Cellino will arrive in England on Monday and plans to hold an immediate Press conference in London.

He will then travel up to Leeds to begin his transformation of the Yorkshire side.

He is still planning to sell Cagliari, although he admits “the situation is not so hot at the moment”.

Cellino said: “There is only place in my heart for one club and that is Leeds. When I get the right offer I will sell Cagliari.”


This piece was first published in The Sun newspaper on February 9th.

Massimo Cellino has exclusively told SunSport how he will return Leeds to their former glories.

The 57-year-old Italian arrives in England tomorrow ahead of an interview with the Football League on Wednesday.

He is confident he will pass their fit and proper persons test before immediately getting to work. Cellino says he will:

* Immediately buy Elland Road * Keep manager Brian McDermott and work closely with him * Transform the club’s Academy * And give key roles to his two sons. * Speaking from his home in Miami, Cellino said he was looking forward to working alongside McDermott — despite having sacked him a week ago.

Cellino said: “I want to get to know the manager and help him.

“I hope he can help me as well. We are going to work together.

“When I am approved by the Football League I will go to the bank the next day and buy Elland Road.

“I am going to get to work straight away.

“I love the history of Leeds and I love the fans.”

Cellino has owned Italian side Cagliari for the last 22 years but is planning to sell them to focus on Leeds.

He had a buyer lined up, but the deal has stalled.

He added: “If I was running a Fiat 500 in Italy, now I have the chance to run a Ferrari.

“I feel like I did 22 years ago, when I first bought Cagliari.

“Or when I was eight-years-old and my father bought me my first bike and I woke up at 4am to ride it.

“I want to forget about Cagliari now, my heart is with Leeds.”

Cellino says he plans to use all the experience he gained from running Cagliari at the Yorkshire club.

He said: “Cagliari was recognised by UEFA as a model of a well-run club.

“We didn’t spend what we didn’t have.

“We had a €45million budget (£37m) but managed to compete with clubs with budgets of hundreds of millions.

“I am most proud of the Academy we had. I spent a lot of time and money on it and even knew the price of the seeds for the grass.

“In the end we had six home-grown players in the first team, all from Sardinia. Is there another team in Europe with a record like that?

“Imagine what we can do at Leeds — it has much more potential. I will set about finding a guy in Leeds who loves Leeds to run the Academy there.”

Cellino says he will buy a home in Yorkshire and spend a lot of time there.

And he will give his two sons roles at the club.

He said: “I am bringing my two sons with me to work there and learn about business. One is 22, the other 24.

“They speak English, Spanish, German and Italian. They have degrees from American universities.

“I am giving the future to my sons and bringing them to a big club with potential.

“One will work in the marketing department, the other will work with the secretary, learning about wages and contracts.

“They are not spoilt. They each drive a Smart car and live in modest apartments.”

Cellino has a big job on his hands to win over the Leeds supporters, who are furious about his treatment of boss McDermott.

The Italian says he is now determined to work hard and keep his head down.

He added: “I am going to a country where I want to be approved.

“I am moving to England from Italy because English football is better than Italian football.

“I have got passion and the fans loved me at Cagliari.”

He says he plans to quickly get in a couple of additions to the squad and then invest more heavily in players in the summer.

Cellino said: “In the last few years not enough money has been spent on investing in players.

“I want to reinforce the club. When you spend little you achieve little.”

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