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'Sacked' Brian McDermott back at Leeds United

Updated: Monday, 03 Feb 2014 14:17 | Comments

Brian McDermott has returned to Leeds despite apparently being sacked at the weekend
Brian McDermott has returned to Leeds despite apparently being sacked at the weekend

Brian McDermott revealed the Leeds team he had prepared on Friday for the match with Huddersfield was changed overnight following his apparent dismissal.

McDermott, who returned to training today and now appears to have been reinstated as manager, tried to shed some light on a bizarre few days at the club at a lunchtime press conference.

McDermott ran through the timeline of events, which started with him receiving a phone call from a lawyer acting for prospective new owner Massimo Cellino on Friday night saying he was being sacked.

He then followed Saturday's 5-1 win over Huddersfield on television before reading about his reinstatement on his iPad.

He said: "The only thing I was thinking on Friday night was to get a result. I set the team up on Friday, it was changed overnight, (assistant) Nigel Gibbs changed the team back."

It was not immediately clear who made the changes to McDermott's team on Friday night.

Even more mysterious was the new player at training on Monday morning, whom McDermott said arrived on transfer deadline day without his knowledge.

"We have an Italian player," McDermott added. "I'm not sure the deal has been ratified (by the Football League). I don't know the player, he came on transfer deadline day.

"If the player has been ratified he will get the utmost respect and opportunity if we feel he can help us."

On Friday it appeared McDermott had been fired by prospective new owner Cellino, but current owners Gulf Finance House (GFH) Capital were forced to release a statement the following day to insist he remained in situ.

McDermott has been given certain assurances by GFH about his continued role at the Championship club, but plenty more questions remain unanswered as the owners seek to sell a controlling stake in the club to controversial Italian businessman Cellino, who owns Serie A club Cagliari.

Cellino, 57, has owned Cagliari for 20 years and has two previous convictions for fraud and, crucially, has yet to have his Leeds takeover approved by the Football League.

There are doubts that Cellino, who has a further charge of alleged embezzlement - which he denies - hanging over him, will pass the League's strict 'fit and proper person' test.

Cellino wanted to install friend Gianluca Festa, the former Middlesbrough and Watford defender, as the club's new head coach.

But after GFH Capital's statement Cellino attempted to distance himself from what had happened to McDermott and later revealed he had tried to telephone the former Reading boss in a bid to 'reinstate' him.

In the meantime, McDermott, 52, sought advice from the League Managers Association and after speaking to the club's current managing director David Haigh on Saturday decided not to attend the derby clash with Huddersfield.

McDermott's assistant Nigel Gibbs took charge at Elland Road, where most in a crowd of over 31,000 chanted in support of their manager and made clear their opposition to a Cellino takeover.

Main club sponsors Enterprise Insurance and academy sponsors Flamingo Land had both already announced they would be reviewing their financial support in protest at Cellino's handling of the situation, while the club's players, officials and fans wondered whether McDermott still wanted the job.

Cellino's company, Eleonora Sport Ltd, became the leading candidate to buy the club after the collapse of a deal GFH Capital had agreed with Sport Capital - headed by Haigh and businessman Andrew Flowers, the owner of Enterprise Insurance - after a two-month period of exclusivity.

GFH Capital, a Bahrain-based investment firm, bought Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012 and favoured Cellino's bid, despite interest from a Yorkshire-based consortium called Together Leeds. 

That group includes former Manchester United director Mike Farnan and former Hull chairman Adam Pearson, who left his position as commercial director at Elland Road in 2001.

Together Leeds claims to have been unable to get to the negotiating table with GFH Capital, but said on Friday it was still willing to enter into talks.

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