Cagliari fans wary of a Leeds United prioritisation

As Cagliari lost to Roma, prospective Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino watched on to jeers from the crowd and anger from the players.

Following the reversal of the Football League's rejection of potential Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino in the 'fit and proper persons' test, Cagliari fans are wary that their situation mirrors that of Serie A rivals Udinese Calcio.

Cellino - who now has the right to purchase 75% of Leeds United's shares - was at the Stadio Sant'Elia to witness Roma's 3-1 victory over his Cagliari side, courtesy of a Mattia Destro hat-trick.

Not only was he suitably unimpressed by the performance to sack head-coach Deigo Lopez - a worrying 37th manager in 22 years - Cellino was openly jeered by his home crowd. Unhappy at their current position - 15th - the Cagliari fans have expressed unhappiness apropos the way Cellino has spoken about his club since his bid to buy Leeds.

Interviewed during his takeover bid, Cellino admitted, “I want to forget about Cagliari now. My heart is with Leeds,” after comparing his new plaything favourably with his current Italian strugglers: “If I was running a Fiat 500 in Italy, now I have the chance to run a Ferrari."

Although talks are ongoing with American and Qatari investors to buy Cagliari - including Paris Saint-Germain owners Qatar Investment Authority - Cellino still has control, and his words have caused despair amongst the Sardinian capital, with fans using the struggles of Udinese to highlight their fears.

Udinese - who are part of a triumvirate with Spain-based Granada, and Championship team Watford - finished the 2012-13 season in 5th place, whilst Watford - the clear beneficiaries of the joint-ownership - reached the play-off final in truly remarkable fashion.

This season has seen a change in fortune for both teams, with Udinese struggling in 14th - six points ahead of Cagliari - and Watford sitting perfectly mid-table, all but out of the promotion race.

Whilst group owners the Pozzo family focused their intentions upon Udinese last season - and reaped the benefits with Europa League qualification - Watford were the project for this season, with promotion to the Premier League the aim. Unfortunately, that has not worked out, and Udinese have suffered as much as their English counterparts.

Cellino's willingness to forget his Italian club in favour of his English team may cause a similar collapse in fortunes as experienced as Udinese. Although, rather than just falling out of the European qualification places to mid-table nothingness, Cagliari have real fears over potential relegation.

This fear has seeped from the fans and into the team, and anger at Cellino has risen, with captain Daniele Conti acting as spokesperson for the team: "I don’t like someone saying some teams are like a Ferrari and here it’s like driving a Fiat 500. I am proud to have been driving this 500 for many years. This little car has been stable in Serie A for 11 years.

“Some phrases certainly irritated us. There ought to be more respect for the players. These are phrases that hurt football. We do feel offended.”

When asked whether his future lies elsewhere if Cellino leaves, Conti responded, "It’s still early to say, we’ll talk about it later on. Would I go to Leeds? Absolutely not.”

Unlike with the strong bonds which have formed between the Pozzo owned clubs, any potential link between Cagliari and Leeds is likely to be seen as forced rather than familial. And with Cellino alienating the Cagliari fans - and entering English football with a history of convicted embezzlement and fraud - he is likely to own two clubs with a poisonous relationship towards him.

And that is no way to build an advantageous relationship between two football clubs.

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