Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Upheaval at Elland Road: Inside track on Child's resignation

Even when things are going well on the pitch at Leeds United - which they invariably have been in 2015 - there seem to be problems off it.

And so it was yesterday, when we heard that chief operating officer Matt Child had resigned. He left a transition letter, handed in his resignation, cleared his desk and went.

Although I certainly wouldn't claim to know Child well, I have spoken to him, am aware of some of his work and have spoken to people who have dealt with him.

He's a Leeds United fan; a normal bloke who is able to get on with a wide array of people (including Massimo Cellino!); and he has a background in commerce and private equity.

So I think he was an asset. He had forged a good relationship with the City Council, the local police, and even, to an extent, with the Football League.

Manager Neil Redfearn trusted him, and he was a good middle man between the boss and Cellino when the Italian was in situ. Cellino is, putting it mildly, a mercurial character.

So Child leaving leaves a void. Some might say it's fortunate the club is moving towards mid-table mediocrity (who wouldn't have taken that a few months ago?) yet there are important matters that need to be dealt with.

Redfearn still hasn't been offered a new contract. Nor have the young guns, Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Sam Byram and Charlie Taylor. All five will be coveted elsewhere.

The lack of progress on the contracts is cause for alarm and could soon be made to look like negligence.

So the million dollar question: why did Child resign? He has Leeds in his heart and had even worked for two months free of charge when first arriving at Elland Road, so eager was he to help out and prove his credentials.

Child didn't want to comment when I contacted him about this and I don't have contact with the club's chairman, Andrew Umbers. But from my understanding, Child was feeling increasingly marginalised over recent weeks.

The final straw came when he was informed, by Umbers, that there would be no room for him in the directors' suite for the matches against Fulham or Blackpool.

You might say that alone did not matter too much. But it was more what it signified - and the message being put across was clear.

So the club is left with Umbers very much in charge of day-to-day affairs now, in the absence of Cellino.

Is he the man to sort out the contracts? It's certainly fair to say he doesn't have the relationship with Redfearn (or with other stakeholders and club employees) that Child did.

He's an investment banker and it's not outlandish to believe he's in situ to broker the sale of the club (and earn a commission). He's done it before of course. And is that why Cellino deems him useful too?

When I last spoke to the Italian (see last post), he was adamant that the club was not for sale. But he added that everything was for sale at the right price.

"Is your car for sale, Simon?"


"Would you sell it to me for fifty thousand?"


"There you go."

And that's why I wonder if Child might even be involved again one day: a Leeds fan, who has forged good contacts locally, who knows the inside workings of the club and has a background in private equity.

Stranger things have happened.


  1. I am getting increasingly worried about Umbers. Seems to have gained a lot of power in a short time and I don't think he gives a f*** about Leeds. Money is his incentive. He helped broker the deal between Bates and GFH (we know how that turned out). If MC really is using Umbers' 'expertise' to find a buyer, Umbers would only be bothered about the sale and, more importantly, his cut. Who the purchasers were makes no odds and what their plans for the club wouldn't matter.
    To say that no contracts need sorting until the summer proves that the future of the club is not a priority, in my opinion. It's naïve at best and that's all I hope it is. Otherwise, it is sending strong signals out to players and management that all is not well, as well as inviting other teams to poach our young talent. I'd rather not dwell on that scenario.

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