The annual award ceremony at Leeds United is held after the final home game of the season and is always well attended by Whites fans. Stories are swapped, friendships extended and promises made that hopefully will grace the following campaign.
This season’s award ceremony was no different in that all that went on, the successful players collected their accolades and made their speeches. Except for one thing – Andrea Radrizzani made a speech, and quite an enlightening one as well.
He began by replying to a question asking whether there was an exciting summer ahead for the club and its fans, a question that he readily replied to. Replying to this [0:40 on video], Radrizzani said: ” There is a big hope that we have started something that could make, bring some more joy in the future.”
He went on to praise the passion of the fans as being integral to the potential that the club has, before turning his sights to other plans and visions. He went on to state [1:13 on video] that: “as a club we need to invest more in our mission, to bring the facilities to modern times. When I arrived here I was a little bit shocked to find the club in the 70s, but I will work very hard from tomorrow to bring more innovation [inaudible]the football academy, equipment, also in general facilities.”
After Chris Wood had spoken on receiving his award, Radrizzani returned to the microphone to close out his thanks, including some directed straight at his co-owner at the club, Massimo Cellino. Starting quite jovially [4:32 on video], Radrizzani joked: “No, I don’t have news about players or manager. Let’s wait one more, two more weeks [for that].”
He then continued to thank Garry Monk for the hard work that he had put in over the season to bring the team to the very brink of success, 7th being their highest placing over the last few seasons. But he reserved his most thanks, controversially some might think, for his co-owner Massimo Cellino.
Radrizzani was quite pointed in singling out fellow Italian and co-owner Massimo Cellino for praise. Cellino’s fellow co-owner said [4:58 on video]: “Also I want to thank you the President, Chairman Mr Cellino because I think he’s the one who picked these players, he picked this coach and so what we did this year [drop in volume]we did also thanks to him.”
Praise indeed, glowing almost. But it has led some to theorise that there is a barbed message, and motive, behind not only the words of praise for Cellino, but also the whole openness of what Radrizzani spoke about. Leeds United fans are more than often used to being treated like ‘mushrooms’ by the club hierarchy on such matters – in that they are kept in the dark and fed a steady stream of s**t.
Yet, here, they have the very man at the top, a 50/50 co-owner of the club speaking quite openly on matters that are usually decided behind closed boardroom doors. Here they are being divulged in the most public of arenas, in front of the fans themselves and ad verbatim. Whilst the majority of fans are taking Radrizzani’s words, including praise for Cellino, at face value – there are others that see it in a different light.
There are already rumblings on social media, mainly on Twitter but also in Facebook groups, that Andrea Radrizzani’s sudden transparency and openness is a sign of something different – a power shift. These fans say that, in a way, Radrizzani’s final thanks to Cellino is almost the final knife in a Leeds United version of Caesar’s demise on the steps of the Roman senate.
For these fans and observers, the glowing words from one co-owner to another is like that final push and stab that Marcus Brutus administered to Caesar that brought about the latter’s downfall. There is much talk that June 1, a mere month away, will bring about a full transfer of power from Cellino to Radrizzani – maybe Radrizzani’s glorious praise of Cellino is the start of his coup d’état.
Only time will tell on that front.