Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has been branded “an utter, total shambles” after a former club employee won a case of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against him.
Cellino had found himself in a bitter dispute with Lucy Ward, the Education and Welfare officer who worked with the club’s Academy.
She told a tribunal that her relationship with former Leeds manager Neil Redfearn was the real reason she had been sacked, as she was seen as “Neil’s baggage”.
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As reported in The Mirror, she also said she was treated “like a piece of meat”, and that she was given “no dignity as a businesswoman in (her) own right”.
Defending the decision to sack Ward, the club claimed she had been dismissed for taking unauthorised holiday so she could work at the Women’s World Cup.
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Her partner, Redfearn, was sacked by Leeds after just eight months in charge. That short spell included a number of disputes with Cellino, due to the owner putting pressure on the manager to select certain players.
After losing his job with the first team, he initially returned to the Academy, before departing Elland Road altogether.
Cellino goes missing
Cellino, who was also accused of sexism, did not attend or give any evidence. The tribunal said it believed the prosecution’s claims that Cellino had criticised the place of women in football, saying they were more suited to the bedroom or the beauticians.
Ward worked for the club for 11 years before being promptly relieved of her duties.
When asked, witnesses speaking on behalf of the club could not produce evidence that she had wrongly taken the holiday.
Questions to be asked
The case raises a further question mark against Cellino’s running of the club, which has come under fire on numerous occasions.
It was also revealed that after he made cleaning staff redundant, some of Leeds’ players became suffered from a bug.
The Football Association may also find themselves under pressure to sanction the Italian boss, but that could have wider implications for Leeds United as a whole.
While the legal decision will come as a blow to the eccentric businessman, it is unlikely to change his chaotic running of football matters, even if he chooses to think twice about his future handling of employees.
Should Massimo Cellino be punished by the FA for his comments? Let us know in the comments below!