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Dublin: 5°C Monday 30 November 2020

Brian McDermott at centre of Leeds United chaos

The club have performed a remarkable U-turn on Saturday as they revealed their manager has not been sacked.

A Leeds United fan with a 'No to Cellino' banner today.
A Leeds United fan with a 'No to Cellino' banner today.

Updated at 18.12

LEEDS UNITED MADE a remarkable U-turn on Saturday as the troubled Championship club revealed Brian McDermott has not been sacked and remains their manager.

McDermott was fired on Friday by a lawyer working on behalf of prospective owner Massimo Cellino, who is in the process of buying a 75 percent stake in the second tier club.

The 52-year-old was therefore unsurprisingly absent from Saturday’s 5-1 win over Huddersfield at Elland Road, which was watched by former Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa, the man it appeared Italian businessman Cellino had lined up to replace McDermott.

McDermott had banned Festa from sitting with him in the dugout during the midweek draw with Ipswich, and refused to take a number of Italian players given to him by Cellino, who also owns Serie A side Cagliari.

But to add more confusion it emerged McDermott had been invited to the game and declined, before the League Managers Association (LMA) said on Saturday that McDermott had been sacked by someone who had no authority to do so.

Leeds responded to the chaos enveloping the club by saying former Reading manager McDermott is still in charge.

“The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first team manager,” Leeds said in a statement.

“He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds United forwards.”

Current Leeds owners Gulf Finance House Capital (GFH Capital) confirmed the news that Cellino has agreed to buy a majority stake in a statement ahead of the Huddersfield game, but the deal is reportedly still subject to Football League approval.

Despite the farcical situation, Leeds responded impressively on the pitch as captain Ross McCormack hit a hat-trick in the rout of Huddersfield.

Danny Ward gave Huddersfield the lead in the 25th minute.

But McCormack, who had been subject of a transfer bid by Premier League strugglers West Ham in the transfer window, equalised on the stroke of half-time and Jimmy Kebe put Leeds ahead soon after the break.

McCormack struck twice more to complete his hat-trick before Alex Mowatt made it five.

All of Leeds’ goals were celebrated by the fans with songs of support for McDermott.

Nigel Gibbs, McDermott’s long-standing number two, led the team against Huddersfield and admitted it had been a testing few days.

“It’s a difficult period for us all and I’m sorry that it’s not Brian standing here as this is his team,” Gibbs said.

“I just spoke to Brian, he’s delighted with the result and the players. I’m aware of the statement but I haven’t had a chance to read it.”

Elsewhere, second tier leaders Leicester moved 10 points clear at the top of the table after Kevin Phillips’ clinched a controversial 1-0 win at Bournemouth.

Second-half substitute Phillips headed past Lee Camp with 10 minutes remaining but the furious home side were certain the whole of the ball did not cross the line.

Referee Darren Drysdale consulted with his assistant and the goal stood.

Modibo Maiga grabbed a debut goal as second-placed QPR rescued a 3-3 thriller against promotion rivals Burnley at Loftus Road.

Kevin Doyle, another of QPR’s new recruits, put the hosts ahead and Danny Ings equalised before Richard Dunne fired Harry Redknapp’s men ahead before the break.

Sam Vokes then scored twice for Burnley to turn the game around, but West Ham flop Maiga, who had moved to Loftus Road on loan barely 12 hours earlier, came off the bench to net a precious equaliser.

Sixth placed Reading won 3-0 at struggling Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday beat nine-man Barnsley 1-0 and Blackburn beat Blackpool 2-0.

Wigan scored twice in the last two minutes to defeat Charlton 2-1 and Ipswich beat Bolton 1-0,

Birmingham drew 3-3 with Derby and Doncaster shared a goalless draw with Middlesbrough.

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