Jump forward a year, and the PR machine died as quickly as it started. To be fair to GFH-C, they did connect to fans and made all of the right noises in the early days, but when things started to go wrong, when rumours of problems started to appear, GFH-C shut up shop quicker than Woolworths in a recession. Their treatment of the fans during the prolonged takeover saga has been nothing short of woeful and it is no surprise their popularity is so low, there was even talk of Bates being a better option in recent weeks.
Enter Massimo Cellino, stage left.
The Italian's first introduction was bad, really bad! Back in January, he sacked Brian McDermott before fully taking control and was chased out of the car park in a taxi by angered fans. The rumours and his reputation led to the vast majority of fans rejecting him without further consideration as a possible owner of Leeds United, willing a Flowers or Farnan consortium to put in a winning bid. Cellino and Leeds United were not a good fit.
Just six weeks later, and he has won over the hearts of the majority of the fans and over the last week, an almost accidental PR campaign has seen is popularity surge. If he's not giving a drunken telephone interview to a fan and his web based radio, he's been giving soundbites to the press with quotes that are keeping T-Shirt manufacturers busy with new product lines daily, and his arrival at Elland Road yesterday was the stuff of genius. Cellino simply walked into the Peacock pub (opposite Elland Road) and shared a drink with fans, posing for photo's and celebrating his arrival.
He wasn't done there either, nipping back to the office to sort out the unpaid tax bill and player wages with more soundbites to waiting press, demonstrating a respect for Brian McDermott (It was the lack of respect that angered fans back in January). More fans met in Leeds last night and the 'King of Corn' truly has arrived in style.
Before Cellino's takeover was completed, he stated within the first week he would re-purchase Elland Road. Whilst the fans are desperate for team investment, with the transfer and loan windows closed, nothing will happen until the summer on that front, but the repurchase of our home is a very close second best. If Cellino follows up on his promise, not only will it demonstrate his commitment to the cause, it may well be the start of a new legend being created at Elland Road.
Cellino will be judged on results in the years ahead, but if you want an example of how to get started in the right way, you need not look much further than LS11!
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