To act in the best interests of Leeds United Football Club regarding Massimo Cellino
This petition had 20,352 supporters
Dear The Football League,
The Owners’ and Directors’ test (previously called Fit & Proper Persons test) was brought into effect in 2005. The purpose of the test is to better protect clubs and the reputation and image of the game, thus to protect Football League member clubs from Owners and Directors who might mismanage or ultimately guide a club into administration. With this in mind, rules and guidelines were written to protect member clubs. The fundamental intention of the test - to protect member clubs and act in their best interests - should not be forgotten.
Since purchasing the club six months ago, Massimo Cellino has turned around Leeds United’s precarious financial position. Under his control, the club’s debt and operating expense have reduced. Leeds United have signed 15 players – many of whom seem to be extremely talented and don’t demand the high salaries that can often force clubs into administration. For the first time since the turn of the century, Leeds United's finances seem to be under control.
The dire financial situation which Cellino inherited was caused by the mismanagement of the two previous owners who both passed your Fit & Proper test – namely Ken Bates and GFH Capital.
Massimo Cellino has invested a lot of money in Leeds United - initially through his purchase and then through subsequent investment. In all probability, if you force him out now, Leeds United would, again, be facing administration. Forcing Cellino out of Leeds United is not in the best interests of one of your member football clubs and would in fact, be very damaging indeed.
The Owner’s & Director’s test is particularly valid prior to an owner taking over a club. However, the same critera should not apply after ownership has begun. In many circumstances, removing the owner could cause harm and instability to a member football club. A new set of guidelines which monitor how the club is actually being run would offer much more insight into determining if the owner or director is fit and proper to run the football club.
Cellino is now a major part of Leeds United. He has owned the club for six months. He has made large contributions, both on and off the field, and many of the fans are in support of the direction he is now attempting to take the club. Cellino would not be prevented from becoming an owner or director of any other business in the UK. Considering Cellino has owned Leeds United for six months already, an examination of the financial statements in the periods before and after his takeover would enable you to better judge his ability to control the football club. Forming an opinion based on his non-payment of import duty on a boat in Italy in 2012 is now inappropriate.
Please remember that your responsibility is to act in the best interests of Leeds United and to protect the club from being controlled by someone who might mismanage it. This needs to be the most important factor in your consideration of this matter. Do you now genuinely believe that Cellino will not manage Leeds United in its best interests? Are you just desperately seeking to find him dishonest so you can block him for some other reason? We sincerely hope that Shaun Harvey’s relationship with Ken Bates along with Ken Bates apparent desire to regain control of the club is not a factor in your decision.
Everyone signing this petition is requesting that you allow common sense to prevail and that you drop your pursuit of Cellino, attempting to force him out of Leeds United. Please also take some responsibility for allowing GFH and Ken Bates to purchase Leeds United and control the club for too many years. The club and its fans have suffered greatly under the control of previous owners and directors.
We would like to bring your attention to your charter which states that “The Football League is committed to providing excellent service to its stakeholders and club supporters. The League is a listening organisation, which aims to be open and fair in its dealings with all persons representing the interests of the game.”
With the above in mind we strongly request that you act in the best interests of Leeds United Football Club and release a statement confirming that you agree that forcing Massimo Cellino out of Leeds United would not be acting in the club's best interests; and that you will continue to monitor the situation with respect to any future foul play, as you would any other member club.
Please also note:
The Chief Executive of the Football League, Shaun Harvey, would fail the Owner’s & Director’s test and would be prohibited from being an owner or director of a Football League or Premier League club. While he was Managing Director of Bradford City, he guided them into two administrations (2002 and 2004). He was then a director of Leeds United Football Club, also leading them into administration (2007). Shaun Harvey guided two football clubs into three administrations in five years. We do not feel that he is fit or proper to influence decisions on who is ‘Fit & Proper’ to be an owner or director of a football club. And we certainly don't feel he is impartial to influencing these decisions with respect to Leeds United Football Club. However, whether Shaun Harvey is fit and proper to influence these decisions is not the basis of this petition.
At the time of writing over 7,500 people have signed another petition, stating they would like Shaun Harvey to be removed from office. That petition can be viewed (and signed) here: http://www.change.org/p/the-football-league-remove-shaun-harvey-from-his-role-as-chief-executive
A similar petition to this one went live at almost the same time as this one. We urge you to sign both http://www.change.org/p/shaun-harvey-the-football-league-do-not-try-to-remove-massimo-cellino-as-owner-director-of-leeds-united
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