NEWS emerged on Friday Massimo Cellino’s desire to sell his majority share in Leeds United to a fan-based shareholder group: Leeds Fans United. The news first broke from the twitter account of the fan group, which has been established since January offering fans the chance to purchase a potential share in Leeds United which proved very popular with supporters of the club.
Events at Leeds United under the ownership of Cellino have been turbulent to say the least, with managers coming and going, a tax trial looming over the owner and threatening suspension from the club, and a general feeling of disillusionment from the fans. The combination of these factors made the announcement a pleasant surprise for those associated with the club – an opportunity for the fans to potentially own and have a say in their football club. It also came on the back of a poor defeat to Blackburn Rovers broadcast live on Sky, which proved to be the latest statistic in the shocking win-less streak they hold at Elland Road.
It is clear that Cellino felt the pressure following this defeat, telling the BBC ‘one hundred percent’ that he will sell to the fans, if they want to buy it and look after the club.’ This development surely signals the owner’s desire to leave the club possibly seeing it as something he would only sink more money into with no return on his investment. He also reportedly told Leeds Fans United that he would sell to them ‘without profit’, yet it is currently unknown whether the supporter group have the necessary backing to take Cellino up on his offer. So far they have raised approximately £500,000 through supporter donations, so would need substantial investment from other parties before they can move forward with the takeover.
A bold move like this for fan ownership of such a big club would be the first of this scale, taking inspiration from other fan-owned clubs such as Portsmouth FC. It would surely only be positive for the club and, handing power over to the fans and listening to the majority rather than having executive decisions taken by just a few at the top. It would also give supporters a reason to fall in love with the club again which seems to have been in decline for many years – possibly even to the point that some would rather be in League One with fan ownership than in the current situation. Leeds Fans United have issued a statement stating to evaluate and consider everything thoroughly before making the next step, but for now this news has brought hope of reawakening the sleeping giant that is Leeds United.
Featured image: The Independent