Flowers pulls out of Leeds
Massimo Cellino appears to once again be the frontrunner to buy Leeds after Andrew Flowers confirmed he had ended his bid - the second time the club sponsor has done so in a week.
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As chaos continues to reign at Elland Road, Flowers - who on Tuesday it emerged has served a winding-up petition against the club - released a statement in which he confirmed his interest in buying the Championship outfit from Gulf Finance House Capital was over.
Flowers, who runs Leeds' principal sponsor, Enterprise Insurance, claimed the bid from Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino, which has been accepted and he was hoping to topple, represented a "fire sale" and was "superficially attractive".
His statement read: "I entered discussions in good faith to buy this club for the simple reason that I am a lifelong supporter and sincerely believed that I could make a real contribution towards the goal of promotion to the Premier League and at the same time provide the stability and sound financial governance the club desperately needs.
"However, the emergence of Mr Cellino's bid, and the nature of the transaction, seems to have crystallised the attitudes of both GFH and the Leeds United board, enabling them to dispose of the club with no consideration for its ultimate security and wellbeing. In effect, it is a "fire sale" transaction which is not in the interests of Leeds United, its players, staff or loyal supporters."
Flowers served his petition on January 29, believed to be in relation to money he loaned the club in 2012. A day earlier, he had spoken of his unrest at the way his bid, along with club managing director David Haigh under the name Sport Capital, had been treated.
A day later Haigh confirmed the bid was dead and on Friday, Cellino, the 57-year-old agricultural entrepreneur emerged as the lead bidder, triggering a string of farcical and often unbelievable events.
Cellino was barricaded inside Elland Road by fans after he authorised a lawyer to sack manager Brian McDermott, despite not having signed papers for the club. The next day Leeds beat Huddersfield 5-1 and the current owners claimed McDermott was still the manager.
The 52-year-old returned to work on Monday and calm appeared to be approaching the horizon again, especially when it was understood Flowers had pooled resources with another interested group, Together Leeds.
That party includes the former Manchester United director Mike Farnan and Hull FC owner Adam Pearson, with Farnan earlier complaining he had been locked out of discussions. However, after GFH released a statement on Tuesday night which contested Flowers' winding up petition, the lifelong Leeds fan has thrown in the towel.
"Both myself and my company, Enterprise Insurance, have been enormous financial supporters of the club for the last few years and, while we may understand the commercial expediency which leads the owners to accept the superficially attractive Cellino offer, we remain firmly convinced this deal will not give the club the stability or investor commitment it badly needs," he added.
"Despite our serious misgivings, we wish the team, the manager and fans well for the future and I remain a very enthusiastic Leeds supporter. I have no other comment to make at this time about outstanding financial and legal issues between us and the current owners."