LEEDS United owner Massimo Cellino had controversially banned Sky Sports cameras from Elland Road ahead of yesterday’s Championship fixture against second place Derby County. Although he ended up doing a U-turn on this decision, the Italian owner believed that being shown on television has a direct negative impact on attendance, not least due to the Whites having been shown nine times on Sky already this season.
The club, recently, have had a lot of Christmas cheer, since they have made improvements on the field, after going on a five match unbeaten run. Indeed, wins against Hull, Wolves and Preston has propelled the club up to 14th place.
Despite this, the off-field incidents seem to be the focus of the media. Regarding the ban for Sky cameras, a spokesperson for the Football league commented, “We have contacted Leeds United to remind the club of its obligations to our broadcast partner and to ask them for their observations”, and went to say that “under Football League regulations, clubs are required to provide access to the League’s broadcasting partners for the purpose of setting up and filming any matches that are selected for transmission…Failure to do so will lead to a club being charged with misconduct.”
However, what this punishment would have been is unknown. Obviously, any club has to make sure attendances are positive, both to encourage fans (and to entice new ones), and to keep up revenue. Yet, it also has a duty to the media, to allow them to cover matches, which additionally encourages new fans and brings in much needed financial income.
Although it is not the same situation, this incident has shades of when Sir Alex Ferguson refused to be interviewed by Match of the Day reporters, after the BBC made allegations about his son Jason, which lasted seven years. However, that was personal, and even the great manager eventually allowed the BBC to interview him since he understood how important relations with the media and TV channels are in the ever-growing market of televised football.
Leeds United have finally picked up some form, are finally getting results, finally getting close to the play-offs which could thus allow a return to the Premier League, something a club of its size potentially deserves. Next season will see a huge TV deal for the biggest league in the world, and all of the clubs will be desperate to have some of this. Leeds United did in fact allow the Sky cameras into the game, a match which finished 2-2, another positive performance and result.
This has extended their unbeaten run to half a dozen games, although they are now, due to other results going against them, a massive nine points behind the play-off positions. Still, the Championship is a hugely unpredictable league and there will be twists and turns for every single side this season.
However, as aforementioned, the focus is yet again on Massimo Cellino, who recently changed his mind about selling the club. Clearly, this is a situation which needs to be resolved, and quickly, because it is shameful for football. It is also sad to see that Leeds United, after achieving positive results are back in the spotlight for something negative. Once again Cellino has proved that, with the way he takes control, he makes a mockery of the football league’s ‘fit and proper’ test.
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