McDermott to return to work

03 February 2014 08:46

Leeds manager Brian McDermott will report for duties as normal at the club's training ground on Monday morning despite appearing to have been sacked on Friday.

The club's prospective new owner Massimo Cellino attempted to dismiss McDermott shortly after he had agreed a deal with current owners Gulf Finance House (GFH) Capital to buy 75 per cent of the club's shares last week.

But amid extraordinary confusion, which descended into farce leading up to, during and after Saturday's 5-1 rout of West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield, Cellino was forced into a U-turn. Press Association Sport understands McDermott will now attend training at the club's Thorp Arch base later on Monday.

GFH Capital issued a statement on the club's official website on Saturday saying McDermott had not been sacked and would remain as manager.

Italian businessman Cellino, 57, who has owned Serie A club Cagliari for 20 years, has two previous convictions for fraud and, crucially, has yet to have his Leeds takeover approved by the Football League.

There are doubts that Cellino, who has a further charge of alleged embezzlement - which he denies - hanging over him, will pass the League's strict 'fit and proper person' test.

Cellino wanted to install friend Gianluca Festa, the former Middlesbrough defender, as the club's new head coach.

But after GFH Capital's statement Cellino attempted to distance himself from the treatment of McDermott and later revealed he had tried to telephone the former Reading boss in a bid to 'reinstate' him.

In the meantime, McDermott, 52, sought advice from the League Managers Association and after speaking to the club's current managing director David Haigh on Saturday decided not to attend the derby clash with Huddersfield.

McDermott's assistant Nigel Gibbs took charge at Elland Road, where most in a crowd of over 31,000 chanted in support of their manager and made clear their opposition to a Cellino takeover.

Main club sponsors Enterprise Insurance and academy sponsors Flamingo Land had both already announced they would be reviewing their financial support in protest at Cellino's handling of the situation, while the club's players, officials and fans wondered whether McDermott still wanted the job.

Cellino's company, Eleonora Sport Ltd, became the leading candidate to buy the club after the collapse of a deal GFH Capital had agreed with Sport Capital - headed by Haigh and businessman Andrew Flowers, the owner of Enterprise Insurance - after a two-month period of exclusivity.

GFH Capital, a Bahrain-based investment firm, bought Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012 and favoured Cellino's bid, despite interest from a Yorkshire-based consortium called Together Leeds, which includes former Manchester United director Mike Farnan and former Hull chairman Adam Pearson, who left his position as commercial director at Elland Road in 2001.

Together Leeds claims to have been unable to get to the negotiating table with GFH Capital, but said on Friday it was still willing to enter into talks.

Source: PA