Leeds United crisis blog: McDermott confirms wage payment

Massimo Cellino with Leeds Utd MD David Haigh
Massimo Cellino with Leeds Utd MD David Haigh
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Leeds United manager Brian McDermott has confirmed his coaching staff and players have received another chunk of their deferred wages from owner Gulf Finance House Capital.

Non-playing staff at Elland Road received their March wages in full last week, but McDermott’s backroom staff and playing squad agreed to defer 50 per cent of their monthly salary due to a row between GFH Capital and prospective owner Massimo Cellino over who is responsible for funding the club.

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to the players, but I’ve just been told that we get another percentage of our wages today,” McDermott told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Wigan Athletic.

Cellino is currently awaiting the outcome of his appeal against the Football League’s decision to block his £25million takeover.

The appeal was heard on Monday by an independent judge who is expected to reach his decision by the end of the week.

The League is arguing that Cellino’s conviction for tax evasion in a Sardinia court earlier this month disqualifies him from taking control of Leeds under its ‘owners and directors test’.

Cellino has appealed against that conviction and his legal experts claim the Italian businessman is considered innocent until that appeal process has been concluded.

McDermott added of the wage payment: “It won’t be all of it, but another percentage (has been paid) and that’s just been fed through to me now.

“I think (Leeds managing director) David Haigh will come up and have that conversation with them (the players), probably tomorrow.

“All I can do is put that out there now. David came in the dressing room the other day and explained the situation to the players and I’m sure he’ll come up and do the same thing tomorrow.”

McDermott, 52, also revealed he had received abusive phone calls from fans following Tuesday night’s home defeat to Charlton, while Haigh had also been verbally attacked.

The Whites have lost five of their last six home games and have won only three league matches since December.

GFH Capital exchanged contracts with Cellino’s company, Eleonora Sport, to sell the Cagliari owner 75 per cent of the club’s shares on February 7 and the chaos that has ensued has clearly affected the club’s on-field performances.

“I know David has been attacked and I got some phone calls the other night,” McDermott added.

“They were late at night, very late at night, which is not right, whatever anyone would say it’s just not the right thing.

“I’m digging in. I’ve got a lot of resilience and you need it at a time like this. I’m definitely digging in.

“We all have to. It will change. You sit in that dressing room the other night and think (the players) think this is permanent, but it’s definitely not, it’s temporary.

“It will change and soon we will have some clarity at this football club.”

• THE power to block corrupt or untrustworthy people taking over clubs will be given to the Football Association rather than the leagues under a new private member’s bill presented to the House of Commons today.

Damian Collins, an MP who sits on Parliament’s culture, media and sport committee, has presented a bill which says the FA should have the power to block ownership rather than the Premier League and Football League.

The issue of the owners’ and directors’ test is in the spotlight with Italian businessman Massimo Cellino having appealed against a decision by the Football League to disqualify him from owning Leeds due to a conviction for a tax offence last month.

There has also been controversy over Carson Yeung, who last month was given a six-year prison sentence in Hong Kong for money-laundering, in that he had been convicted of two other criminal offences - in 2004 and 2010 - in the past decade yet was permitted by the Premier League to take over Birmingham in 2009 and remain chairman by the Football League in 2010.

Collins’ bill also seeks to outlaw the ‘football creditors rule’, which gives preferential treatment for clubs and players to be paid first before any other creditors including the taxman when a club goes into administration.

Collins told Press Association Sport: “The bill gives the power to the FA to use their discretion on the owners’ and directors’ test. As the governing body, the FA should have that role to make those judgements.

“I think it is better for the governing body to make those decisions rather than the leagues, as the clubs have commercial relationships with the leagues.”

Collins also believes that there should be some offences, such as criminal convictions relating to fraud, which should permanently bar a person from owning a club. At the moment, if those convictions become ‘spent’ after a number of years, the person would not be disqualified from club ownership.

“That would give football more power to turn away owners they didn’t want,” added Collins.

In relation to the football creditors’ rule, the bill states that “all creditors should be compensated equally if a football club should go into administration”.

“If you look at the cases of Crystal Palace and Plymouth, the non-football creditors got one penny in the pound but the football debts were paid in full,” said Collins.

“It also doesn’t help clubs get back on their feet properly if they have these football debts hanging over them rather than if it was all dealt with cleanly.

“Portsmouth are an example of a club that have staggered from one administration to another because they were held back by the need to settle the football debts.”