Opinion

“The rebirth of OUR Leeds United”, by Gary Cooper

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Written by Gary Cooper

So lets be clear, I like Massimo, love his passion, love his character but I do not believe he is good for Leeds United, I do not believe he is capable of succeeding in his personal challenge

Sometimes its right to take a stand, sometimes the situation is such that anything other than clarity simply wont suffice. In that spirit and for no other reason than to satisfy myself that this point in time for me is documented let me make my position regarding my club, LUFC, and its governance very very clear.

When Cellino came to Leeds it was at a time when fans where on their knees, battered by Bates and bruised by GFH this supposed billionaire offered hope and he brought with him words that would soothe the most savage of beasts. What many didn’t see was the actions he brought with him too, I don’t blame them for not seeing. Unlike others i do not hold LUFC fans responsible for what has happened to OUR club, they have been tested beyond the point of acceptability too many times. But Cellino’s actions (mad Friday) were not those of a man who understood Leeds, being Leeds or how Leeds fans really felt beyond his pretty words.

I met Massimo twice formally and after both meetings i said how much i liked him, how I couldn’t believe anyone who spent time with him couldn’t like him, his personality, charisma, passion and excitability are totally infectious. The problem is these are only the surface features of Massimo, these are the things you see, its what you don’t see that is the problem , its his ego, his attitude, his almost manic thinking processes that are at odds with the charismatic and flamboyant personality he displays. He made it clear to me in front of the group present this was to be his challenge, his ambitious project to prove to himself he could do it (make a club like Leeds successful again) but more worryingly in private he made it clear he expected me to see past his facade and that he was willing to defend himself (not Leeds United) if i ( or LUST) challenged him – “DON’T FIGHT ME MY FRIEND” is all i ever revealed about that conversation.

Publicly i said when asked about him that i liked him, that he saw this as his personal challenge and if he was successful Leeds United would be successful but i also warned that it would not be easy being a Leeds United fan under Cellino and I predicted “roller coasters and hurdles”.

Since then I have been accused of being pro-Cellino, anti-Cellino and anything in between. Many believers in Cellino have said I don’t like him because he snubbed me (a strange assertion given he went out of his way to ensure I wasn’t snubbed but instead he got the opportunity to make his feelings very clear to me), many claim he knows what hes doing (has Bates and GFH right where he wants them apparently whilst one gained broadcasting rights and the other continues to control ultimately everything that can happen through the clauses in the farcical SPA Cellino signed when buying the club from them) despite Massimo’s claims he had ‘fixed LUFC forever’ along with GFH when he returned from Bahrain a fortnight before LUFC was broken yet again by his FL ban and the turn around of the deal to repair the club forever.

The football league is corrupt claim others, they have an anti LUFC agenda (maybe they do but their rules existed when Cellino bought the club and he knew them only too well from his experiences of trying to buy West Ham) so lets not pretend our esteemed owner is an innocent victim even if he is ultimately found to be not guilty by the Italian justice system for this case as he knows there are others coming and he knew the FL rules before he bought the club, he could have predicted the possibilities with ease and should have taken that into account before pursuing ‘his personal challenge’ as that challenge impacts on the very hearts of thousands of others whose ability to choose was lost the day they gave their hearts to Leeds United.

So let’s be clear, I like Massimo, love his passion, love his character but I do not believe he is good for Leeds United, I do not believe he is capable of succeeding in his personal challenge, i am in utter dismay at some of his decisions (Hockaday, Milanic, Bates, GFH’s SPA, Umbers and many many others) and I am absolutely disgusted at the ease with which he misleads Leeds fans in what I perceive to be a manner akin to the disregard shown by Ken Bates if not with the malevolent intent.

Massimo Cellino is not the man i think many Leeds fans believe him to be, Massimo Cellino is not the man i believe who can succeed in his personal challenge, Massimo Cellino is not a man I believe is the right man for my club, Leeds United. Many will ask “well who else then, who would have saved us?” I would ask them are we really saved? (think long and hard about that).

I am sure this post will get a fair few responses, it will attract some support, it will attract some opposition, there will be accusations about my personal interests, relationships, influences and there might even be some personal abuse – quite honestly who cares – What matters above all else is not Massimo Cellino or Gary Cooper or anyone else’s personal futures/considerations/opinions or perspectives, what matters most is that Leeds United and its fans can enjoy a future they both deserve and right now its light years away.

This club has always had one thing going for it that cannot be challenged, that will never ever change, that we can all look too in times of trouble – IT’S FANS! Only last week despite a bitter series of disagreements and often very personal arguments about opinions versus facts the fans of this club came together to pay their respects to two of our brothers who lost their lives supporting their club, only the fans themselves will ever truly understand that strength of feeling. We have needed for some time to be that strong, that United in our purpose and the clarity of our thinking if we are to play a part, however small, in the re-birth of our club. This is OUR LEEDS UNITED and no Bates, GFH, Cellino, Umbers or quite frankly Red Bull or Genting will ever truly understand that.

My name is Gary Cooper, I am just a Leeds fan like any other, I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have the magic key or an untold fortune to invest in my club but I have made the same emotional investment as everyone of you who carries OUR CLUB in your hearts and I believe in fan ownership at Leeds United. Even if you disagree with me about Cellino and all the others involved in the governance of our club you can still join me in trying to ensure you and each and every other Leeds fan has a voice http://www.leedsfanscbs.com and Leeds United Supporters Trust give you that opportunity – don’t fight each other (others rely on our doing it that to retain power) fight for what’s in your heart. ‪#‎LEEDSLEEDSLEEDS‬

About the author

Gary Cooper

Gary is a lifelong Leeds United fan, and former Chairman of the Leeds United Supporters Trust ("LUST"). Since stepping down from LUST, Gary has played a pivotal role in the revival of Leeds Ladies FC as Chairman.

  • gordon

    a very good article Gary. like you I have always liked Massimo Cellino ,I have never met him so it is just my perception of his character. It is now though I believe he has done as much as he can financially. If he stays it will only cause the club to keep lurching from one problem to another.