Friday, 26 September 2014

Trouble with Mr Bean at Leeds United

Up until today, I thought of Graham Bean as a behind-the-scenes administrator at Leeds United: a solid, suited Yorkshireman who quietly got on with the business of signing off contracts, paying bills and dealing with the Football League.

That image changed dramatically when the 53-year-old came out all guns blazing after a quite spectacular falling out with Leeds United's irascible Italian owner, Massimo Cellino.

Bean, 53, took to Twitter, using his little-known account, @FootballFactors, to publicly lambast Cellino.

He wrote "never seen morale so low anywhere (as Leeds)" and "relieved to be out of the mad house".

I spoke to Bean this evening (more of that later) and his anger was still palpable. I could picture him with his sleeves rolled up and fists clenched as he spoke.

Of course Cellino is not averse to apparent impulse sackings.

We saw that when he fired Brian McDermott before he had even taken over the club; we saw it when Benito Carbone was ditched as a technical consultant; we saw it when Andrew Umbers, who had been brought in to oversee cost-cutting at Elland Road, was ruthlessly dispensed with.

The falling out with Bean was still very unexpected though. After all, this was a man who was performing an awful lot of the administrative tasks at the club and who seemed to be quietly effective.

Bean - the Football Association's first ever compliance officer, and before that a policeman for two decades - had signed off the deals for 15 new players after being brought in on a 12-month contract as a consultant by Cellino.

The reason for his dismissal appears, on the face of it, very trivial.

This is the story. Bean agreed to Reading's request to move their league game against Leeds next week back 24 hours, from Tuesday to Wednesday.

This was because the Royals’ game against Wolves this weekend was moved from Saturday to Sunday so it could be shown live on Sky TV, and the Berkshire side wanted an extra day to recover.

Bean argues the Football League would have insisted the game was moved anyway.

He told me: “It was three months ago, and he (Cellino) was on holiday.

“Reading asked ‘Can we move the game 24 hours, from Tuesday to Wednesday’. It was the middle of transfer window and I had a thousand and one things to do.

"I agreed. The League would have made us do it anyway.

“Yesterday he (Cellino) found out about it. So I get a phone call from a lackey of his (a club employee in the accounts department) to tell me I’d been fired.”

Bean says he’s been told that Cellino was “apoplectic” when he found out about the fixture change, and was “foaming at the mouth”.

When I put Bean’s comments to Cellino, he replied: “I don’t give a fuck. I have to run this club my way. I don’t like to talk about private matters. Ciao.”

It's easy to view the Italian's actions as irrational.

But there are explanations for his actions.

First off, Cellino is incredibly competitive and completely absorbed by the club. He wouldn’t have wanted to give Reading any mercy at all after their Sunday fixture against Wolves.

He's also long harboured a suspicion that the League fixtures are weighted against his side.

When he was in the process of buying Leeds last season, they were in the middle of a long run of consecutive away games in the Championship, which he just couldn’t fathom - and he promised such a thing would never happen on his watch.

It's perhaps fair to say that Cellino should have spoken to Bean to get his reasons for the fixture switch though, rather than summarily axing him.

Bean also says there was a clause in his contract stipulating that if there was a breach, then 14 days would be allowed to remedy it, which has obviously not been adhered to here.

Bean also made a fair point when he pointed at the lack of people to help Cellino run the club when he tweeted: “no more signings – who is there to do the paperwork?”

After being informed of his dismissal, Bean says he called Cellino to confront him about his decision and the way it had been handled.

Now, I for one would have been paid to listen in to this particular conversation.

Bean says he told the Italian exactly what he thought of him, using some choice Yorkshire language, and he admits the C-bomb was dropped at least once.

Cellino was apparently quite taken aback and told Bean to “watch your mouth”.

Bean is still angry and promises this won't be the end of the matter. So, as my dearly departed nan used to say, watch this space.

1 comment:

  1. It's a good thing he was sacked. Who voluntarily gives the other team an advantage? Only an idiot. He knew cellino would get angry that he went over his head to help the other team. It's also a good thing no one cares.