Will the Cellino circus overshadow the Leeds game this weekend?

Leeds United

The 'will he/won't he' question surrounding Cellino's attendance at Saturday's game with Rotherham has made the actual game a sideshow.

End-of-season games are often laid-back affairs with little at stake, and while most of Leeds' games have felt like that in recent weeks, Rotherham's 2-1 win over Reading on Tuesday night, which secured their Sky Bet Championship status, has rendered Saturday's lunch-time kick off an inconsequential side salad compared to the main course of the expected return of Massimo Cellino to Leeds United.

The Football League suspension of Cellino in January - for a contravention of the fit and proper ownership requirement following an unpaid tax duty case - has placed the Italian on the sidelines for four months. But the ex-Cagliari owner has been very careful not to directly influence proceedings at Elland Road, although many fans have watched recent events unconvinced that Cellino is not behind the chaos somehow.

Given Cellino's ubiquitous presence prior to his ban, it has come as no surprise to learn that the club made an enquiry to the Football League for the returning president to be allowed to watch the Rotherham game as a spectator. This request was made by interim chairman Andrew Umbers, but presumably at the behest of Cellino. On Tuesday, the Football League granted Cellino permission to attend the game, but somewhat surprisingly, the Italian maverick has expressed doubt that he will indeed attend after all.

There is no doubt that Cellino's popularity has waned in recent weeks and the open issues waiting to be addressed are critical to how fans see the club progressing, if indeed they predict any 'progression' at all. Social media has seen a weight of opinion behind a very vocal protest against Cellino and in support of Neil Refearn at the Rotherham game, with some fans also planning to wear the colour purple, a long-established unlucky colour to Cellino.

It may be that Cellino has got wind of the ill feeling that has grown towards him in his absence and has thought better of making a grand entrance, at least until he can once again act as the direct owner of the club and show influence on the proceedings at Elland Road. This, of course, will be after the last game and when he cannot be subjected to the direct abuse of a vocal home crowd.

Last season, Cellino played guitar on stage with local band the Pigeon Detectives at the club's end-of-season Player of the Year dinner, as a section of the fanbase were immediately wooed by the charismatic Italian after he arrived at the club in triumphant style. This year, it is said that Cellino will attend the event - held on Saturday night after the Rotherham game - but certainly the response will be mixed and should any of the 'injured six' win the Player of the Year award - and Marco Silvestri is a leading contender - then it will be interesting to see the crowd's reaction.

In light of this, Cellino may well be thinking twice about attending this event also, but certainly, the hare-trigger decisions that the Italian makes mean it is very difficult to predict what will happen.

So is Cellino overshadowing a game in which Neil Redfearn could close the season on a high? Or where Leeds fans could see some new or rarely-seen faces? The very fact that the 'will he/won't he' discussion is being had, perhaps gives us the answer already.

Whether Cellino attends the Rotherham game and faces the wrath of a disillusioned fanbase or not, the fact is that, once again, he is all Leeds fans are talking about and a game of football is a mere irrelevance.  

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