Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has labelled himself “horrified and disgusted” in a statement after denying accusations of sexism against him.
The statement came after the club lost an unfair dismissal and sex discrimination tribunal on Thursday.
A former Elland Road employee, Lucy Ward, claimed she was removed from her post as education and welfare officer because she was the partner of former Whites boss Neil Redfearn.
Leeds’ official reasoning for her dismissal was that she had taken more annual leave than she was entitled to during last year’s women’s World Cup.
Judge Stephen Keevash said the reasons Leeds provided for the dismissal were “a sham” and said the decision to sack her was taken with a sexist view.
Now Leeds have hit back, refuting those claims.
Leeds United statement in full
At an employment tribunal this week regarding a former Leeds United employee, the tribunal chairman wilfully chose to publish to the attending press hearsay evidence of an alleged conversation between Mr Cellino and a third party, in which sexist remarks were alleged to have been made by Mr Cellino. Mr Cellino was not in court, nor was he a party in the case.
However, Mr Cellino categorically denies making the statement, which has since dominated the media coverage of the hearing, and would like to make it clear that such a statement does not represent his views of women in football whatsoever.
This is exemplified by the fact that Mr Cellino, during his time as owner of Italian club Cagliari Calcio, was the owner of two highly successful female football teams in Florida, USA, for over 10 years.
Furthermore, Mr Cellino currently operates an employment policy at Leeds United where females make up the majority of the club’s long-serving senior management staff.
It is also worth noting that Mr Cellino appointed a female barrister to defend Leeds United Football Club at this week’s hearing.
Mr Cellino is horrified and disgusted that the witness statement was made public to portray him in a light entirely detached from the truth.