GFH took control of Leeds United, and quickly dispensed of the services of President, Ken Bates due to an erroneous private flight contract, but the Bahraini banking giants have done little more in the way of investment since taking control. Rumoured to have cash flow issues, it is now widely believed their purchase of Leeds United was only ever a short-term attempt to flip the business for a quick profit.
GFH are looking for an exit, and quickly and will relinquish 75% of the club in the coming days. Whatever plan they had has obviously failed and whilst the club has introduced a number of measures to reconnect with the fans and act in a far more responsible and respectful way than their predecessor, it is clear that GFH-C and Leeds United do not have a long term future with any weight.
Enter Massimo Cellino stage right. The controversial Italian made his money as the King of Corn, a reference to a successful agricultural business in his native Italy. Cellino has owned Caligari for the past 21 years, but with it, he has hit repeated controversy. Stories of false accounting and fraud would not appear to hinder him passing the Owners and Directors test, but Leeds fans are split on whether he would be good news for Leeds.
Without doubt, Cellino has money, but having money, and spending money are two different things. A single owner, rich enough to make decisions has some great advantages, providing the fans agree with those decisions. Thirty two managers in twenty seasons would indicate the decisions are perhaps not always sensible., and his first move at Leeds, with attempts to sack Brian McDremott and all but instill Gianluca Festa into the training sessions and dug-outs is hardly inspiring. Cellino is a man who likes to be hand on with the team, interfering with selections and signings. In his own words, he needs a coach not a manager.
Cellino comes with a footballing background due to his ownership of Caligari, but again, indications point to under investment, with attendances dropping to under 5,000 and little to show by way of big money signings or a desire to push the top teams for success.
A poor stadium, built and developed incorrectly and declared unsafe by the authorities has seen Cellino at something of a stand-off with officials, and an outstanding embezzlement charge does not make for great reading.
But Massimo does have the money to make Leeds United great once again. Whilst no-one should expect an Abramovich style spending spree, the £10m-£15m required to push Leeds out of the Championship at pace could be forthcoming, and a return to the top flight could be on the cards. It may come at a price, at fans could have to adjust to a different style of management, and maybe other changes imposed by the italian (he's very superstitious and not known for respecting traditions), but would it be worth it.
AS for the newly formed Consortium of Flowers, Farnan and several other linked names including Pearson, Radebe, Haigh and Riley, their intentions, members and financial clout are a complete unknown. Soundbites and occasional quotes suggest the group do have serious financial backing and the reports of the meeting with GFH-C will match the current offer by Cellino, but whether this is just to build support for the bid or not is unclear.
The issue with Consortiums is the requirement to gain agreement with all interested parties, slower decisions and potentially the opportunity for fall out. That said, depending on the parties involved, and depending on their approach (e.g. Leave the manager to get on with it) they can be a resounding success. Most modern and successful businesses are run by a board of directors, providing the funding has been agreed and provided.
There is no guarantee that either of the interested parties, either the newly formed consortium or Cellino will want to spend anything, likewise there is no guarantee that Cellino will spend more than the consortium or vice versa. If the truth be told, only time will tell.
Recent surveys suggest around 80% of Leeds fans want the Consortium to succeed and 20% favour Cellino and his money.