By Mark Rasdall
I am a lifelong Leeds United supporter and I am feeling good this morning - really good. LUFC was my first love and I love the club as much now as in 1967 when I first met them as a seven-year-old. My journey through life is illustrated by our numerous 'ups and downs' together: winning the League Cup in Primary School and facing down the Arsenal fans; winning the League just before O' Levels started and again just days after our first son was born; proposing to my wife during the second Play-Off game against Charlton, celebrating getting to the Coca-Cola final resulting in the birth of our daughter...
The downs are numerous but merely the dates should suffice:
1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1982, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2007 (and many more) and definitely the first few months of 2014 where we seem to have been on the brink of financial and football disaster once again...
Not since Howard Wilkinson's time when he put a proper ten-year plan in place have we really seen a true and sustainable strategic connection between football club and football team. If convicted rapists have been deemed fit and proper to run clubs in the Football League, then none have raped our club more than GFH allegedly taking out the TV and Season Ticket money and bleeding the club dry until now. Any human being who thinks that Luke Varney is a better prospect than Ashley Barnes must have been on Prozac rather than Prozone. As I write this, there is a hot rumour that David Haigh has left the club and I hope that the Together Leeds consortium might still consider taking some or part of the 25% still held by GFH. I believe involving them in the governance of our club would be a good thing, now that the financial requirement of them is reduced. They are also open to true fan involvement in the running of the club and a far better communication channel would be a great start.
And so to Massimo Cellino. I was reading the written judgement last night of his appeal against the Football League decision to disqualify him (with 'The Football League's corrupt' still ringing in my ears from the Wigan game) and Rob Atkinson also talks about this in his excellent blog post. Like Rob, I am quite appalled at the lengths to which the Football League seemed to be trying to ban someone who has run a football club for 22 years and can provide the finances necessary to save and re-build the League's biggest brand.
As Tim Kerr QC says in point 50 on page 14 "all concerned in this process, including the League, would be expected in general terms to support the attempts of the club, with its illustrious history, to overcome its current financial difficulties, with or without Mr Cellino as a director." I think he was surprised that the League were so disinterested in looking after 'one of their own' that they did not take the specialist legal advice open to them at the outset - presuming PR and public opinion to validate their stance - and then tried to discredit the Italian legal expert they had been relying on when his evidence seemed to undermine rather than support their case. It all smacks of grubby men in grubby rooms with self-interest at heart in the case of the other club chairmen asked to rule on their greatest rival club and an incredibly destructive mentality from those expected to explore all feasible ways of supporting their members rather than seeking to annihilate them...
We've seen it all before on many occasions of course, from dodgy FA Cup decisions against Chelsea in the 1960's, then being forced to play a ridiculous number of games in too short a period in 1970 which was guaranteed to destroy our chances and of course the apparently selfish and nasty campaign led by Brian Mawhinney seven years ago. None of this includes those notorious and blatant acts of corruption on a European scale in 1973 and 1975 and lack of real concern by the authorities after Galatasaray. If you're seriously looking for acts of dishonesty in Europe then there they are. Perhaps Chris and Kevin and their families will draw some crumbs of comfort that yesterday of all days should be a day when the tide may finally have turned for Leeds United...
There is some worry about whether the Football League will still try to make a comeback and try to annul this deal in the summer but surely even they can see beyond their silver cutlery and crystal glasses that legislation on a European and spectacularly expensive scale may not be advisable - and certainly too risky for a body with a responsibility for many football clubs and supposed 'duty of care.'
And so to the team. I think we all know the strengths and weaknesses of both players and manager. I have always hoped it might come right for Brian and part of me still does but I do worry about some of his tactical changes and player selections and am concerned that he might just not be big enough for our club and fans. Watching Uwe Rosler kicking off on the touchline yesterday and Brian wandering around with his notepad didn't and doesn't fill me with confidence. I am quiet, like Brian, and do things quietly but I wonder if we need more gravitas and maybe even a fear factor from players who have to face an angry rather than just disappointed or mystified manager?
I have had a difficult March with first my Mum suffering a stroke and then my Dad dying. The stress has not been helped by lack of communication about what has really been going on at our beloved club. Bill Shankly may have been wrong about football being more important than life and death but it is on the darkest of days that football offers us hope of sunnier times ahead. Go Leeds United; Strength to Leeds United; Forza Leeds United. It makes such a difference to all of our lives and the clue is in our name; the togetherness of Leeds United fans is something the Football League could learn so much from.