AS the Football League last night pledged to resolve the Leeds United ownership saga within 10 days, manager Brian McDermott preached that strong leadership is the only way to steer the club out of their current malaise.
The governing body’s board met yesterday to discuss Massimo Cellino’s attempt to buy a 75 per cent stake in the West Yorkshire club.
Cellino, through his company Eleonora Sport Ltd, exchanged contracts with Gulf Finance House, the Bahrain-based bank that bought United from Ken Bates late in 2012, more than a month ago.
However, until the League give their approval the £25m buyout cannot be ratified – a situation that has left United in limbo.
Now, though, there seems a clear path to a resolution with Eleonora having promised to supply the League with the information they require in the coming days.
The setting of a deadline also means the tax evasion case against Cellino in Italy – which is due to be heard next Tuesday – could be resolved before the League make a decision. Cellino denies the allegations.
For McDermott, the moment cannot come too soon when clarity is restored at the top of the club.
He said: “You need that ownership situation to be strong. We need a leader at this football club. There is no doubt about that, in my opinion.
“I have been here a short time, (but) I have seen it from the outside over a period of 10 years. I am doing the talking, but we need a leader. The most important thing is the club and it is a great, great club, it really is.
“I have had good conversations with Massimo. He understands football and he understands what has gone on at this club. He gets it.
“That is what it feels like to me. The conversations we are having now, that has all gone out the window. Everything is now and I understand that because results are everything.
“But that vision – where is that vision? We talked about a long-term vision. We have either got a vision at this club or we haven’t.”
The next meeting of the League board – who have to make the decision – is not scheduled until the middle of next month.
However, there is provision for members to speak on matters such as the Leeds ownership wrangle over the telephone via a conference call.
A spokesman for the League last night said: “The board discussed the eligibility of the proposed purchasers under the Owners’ and Directors’ Test and examined evidence of both the source and sufficiency of funding. The majority of outstanding issues have now been resolved to the League’s satisfaction and the board anticipates receiving further information on the remaining issues from the representatives of Eleonora in the next week.
“The board recognises the pressing need to resolve the matter and to provide certainty to all parties. It therefore anticipates being able to reach a conclusion in the next 10 days.”
For McDermott, stability would be welcome after an unsettling few weeks for players, staff and fans alike.
He said: “I honestly believe that I am the man to do the job at this football club. It has been proven in the past. I have done it in this league, I have got out of this league.
“My vision is still the same. Absolutely the same. There is a part of me that feels I need to get to the summer, win as many games as we can and then structure things the way we need to structure things under the right ownership – someone with clout.
“The blueprint needs to change here. The culture needs to change. Look at (McDermott’s former club) Reading. That culture has been set up since 2000. Alan Pardew set that up.
“Steve Coppell then carried it on. Brendan Rodgers came and tried to change things. He has done an amazing job at Swansea and Liverpool and is a great manager.
“Then, I came in and carried on the way Steve Coppell was playing. Nigel Adkins tried to change things early on, but look at what they have got now.
“What you saw the other night with Reading is a team where I brought in all the players bar one.
“That team will definitely be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. Look at the pace, the power, the confidence. That is a team that should end up in the top six, and that is the kind of team we are trying to put together.
“I would like to set up a culture of how we play, and you have to play in this league to get out of the league.
“What’s the best way? I know what it is.
“We are in a process. There are a lot of players with contracts that still aren’t up. We need to work with the players we have got and set up a formation. But the blueprint remains the same. The blueprint is to get out of this league.”
A more immediate concern is tomorrow’s trip to Burnley, the surprise package of this season’s Championship.