Festa interference led to McDermott’s Leeds United exit

Brian McDermott was sacked by Leeds United on Friday evening, after he complained about interference in first team affairs from a prospective new owner.

Late last year Sport Capital had reached an agreement with Gulf Finance House to buy a 75 percent controlling stake of the club, but they reduced this offer after conducting due diligence and the deal then collapsed. This has allowed Massimo Cellino, who currently owns Serie A side Cagliari, to make a move to purchase the Championship club.

Although the deal has yet to be confirmed, the Italian, who has twice been convicted of fraud in his homeland, appears to be having an increasing influence on the club. Ahead of the 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on Tuesday, the 57-year-old had wanted compatriot Gianluca Festa, the former Middlesbrough defender, to sit alongside McDermott in the dugout.

The Leeds manager refused this request, and was already said to be upset that Festa had been allowed to visit the training ground on a number of occasions over the past few days. It is thought McDermott had made his discontent at this situation known, and as a result, he was relieved of his duties in a shock move on Friday.

That Leeds’ results have slumped since Christmas hardly helped his cause, but even so, he still had the backing of the Elland Road faithful and, just as importantly, his players. Within minutes of the news breaking, club captain Ross McCormack spoke to Sky Sports and said: “The club have decided to sack him, unfortunately. He called me up earlier and told me he was gone. It’s hard times at the club. I’m absolutely ¬gutted.”

Festa will now be in the dugout as manager, initially on a caretaker basis, for the derby clash at home to Huddersfield Town on Saturday.


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