In the modern age where the big soap operas such as Beautiful have lost their charm, football has become the first way to fill the need for complicated plots full of surprises. Among the stories that you can read on the tabloids, there’s one which is driving the Italian and the English football fans crazy: The Leeds-Cellino saga.
Let’s try to sum up what happened, in a “Previously on…” style: Massimo Cellino, an Italian agrarian businessman and owner of Cagliari Calcio football club, decided some weeks ago to buy the glorious English club Leeds United, which is currently 11th in the Championship (the English second division). Cellino, after some days of negotiation, has agreed to buy the 75% of the club from GHF Capital, the current owners of the football company. So far, everything is clear.
The plot gets complicated when on Friday 31th, the maverick Cagliari chairman decides to sack Brian McDermott, the manager of the club, who is very popular among the supporters. His aim is to put on the bench of the Peacocks the Italian manager Gianluca Festa. In consequence of that, the supporters surround immediately the training ground to protest against the decision and they force the Cellino’s assistants to go out with the help of the police.
The following day the club releases a statement saying that McDermott will be again the Leeds manager. Essentially, the chaos is reigning (it’s usual for those who know the Cellino style).
However, there’s another fundamental detail that makes the story an authentic soap opera. Even now Cellino has not become officially the Leeds United owner yet! He agreed the money details about the transfer, but he has to face a more difficult step. The Football League has to decide whether the Italian can pass the “fit and proper test”, which means that he is eligible to buy an English football club
In England the press and the supporters are at the same time: 1) doubtful, 2) worried and 3) excited
1) Doubtful, since Cellino had already attempted to buy an English club in the past (West Ham and Crystal Palace), but he had failed in both cases because of his criminal record and problems with the law.
2) Worried, because his character and his problems don’t inspire confidence throughout the Leeds fans and the English public. They don’t want to experience what happened to Cagliari in the last years (like the stadium’s problems) and are scared of the decisions that might come from such a bizarre character.
3) Eventually they’re also excited, because Cellino is a guarantee of surprises which can generate rumour and chats in the pubs and on the tabloids. English people, even if they don’t want to admit it, love this kind of things and can’t wait to find out what Cellino might do (as it happened for another Italian character: Mario Balotelli).
For the moment, the Italian businessman has come back to his residence in Miami, where he’s waiting for the Football League answer. In the meanwhile, some entrepreneurs from Leeds have announced to be ready to level the Cellino’s offer, in order to save their beloved club from the hands of the Cagliari owner.
We’re looking forward to the next episode of the soap opera. Take your pop corns! To be continued…