Zumba coach and club owner Massimo Cellino dress in Liverpool shirt

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

International owner Massimo Cellino is previewing Leeds United’s new season after their relegation back to the English second tier last season.

On Saturday the club will make their debut at Elland Road against third-tier Blackpool with a reception for Cellino from Elland Road employees including former Leeds United legends who have since passed away, a club statement said.

Plans are in place for a famous pre-season soiree at Vauxhall, Westminster, with the former Italian soccer ace and entrepreneur flanked by several former managers.

The statement read: “Following the disappointment of last season, Massimo Cellino would like to meet as many people as possible from the whole of the club, in order to thank all the staff and everyone who loves Leeds United.”

Photo by Robert Reiners

During a press conference last month, Cellino expressed relief over the announcement of both the football club’s intention to move into the new Elland Road arena and the firm’s approval to keep its club in England.

‘Precious opportunity’

“I think after a season like last season, it’s very important for the fans, the players and all the people who have contributed,” he said.

“I think I’m very relieved that everything is going to work out in the right way. It’s really a precious opportunity for us, and for Leeds United as a huge club,” said Cellino.

Despite securing the purchase of Elland Road in 2014, Cellino has now become embroiled in a long running dispute with Leeds United’s former board. The saga began when the club declined to renew Cellino’s contract, then took another legal step to block his having direct control of the club.

Photo by Jon Stanley

Despite the dispute, Leeds United secretary John Wilkinson said the move to put Elland Road into a trust structure is complete. The stadium and surrounding area in Leeds is set to be built as part of a £200 million-deal with the club’s supporters trust, remaining the preserve of the players’ association until 2021.

Cellino told the BBC he hopes that partnership with the Leeds United Supporters Trust will “legitimize” the club. “It’s because of the supporters that Leeds United is where it is,” he said.

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