Cameron Stewart

Internal turmoil swirling at Leeds, with transfer lawsuit the latest incident

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Leeds United is well and truly falling apart at the seams.

Things continue to get worse and worse for the embattled club which is tearing itself apart in what appears to be nothing short of a slow and painful struggle with money and lawyers.

The most recent incident involves a former player and transfer target, who has now filed a lawsuit against the club claiming breach of contract.

24-year-old winger Cameron Stewart, currently with Ipswich Town and who played for Leeds on a three-month emergency loan last year, claims his loan deal was set to become permanent, but that a shakeup in the club’s front office caused signatures on his contract to become void, according to a report in the Daily Star. He is going after the team for the wage difference between his current Ipswich deal and what his potential wages at Leeds would have been.

This past weekend, manager Neil Redfearn was forced to build a squad for the club’s visit to Charlton around the last-minute absence of six players. Leeds insists they were all injured, but many have speculated the players boycotted the trip in protest of the team’s off the field troubles.

Mirco Antenucci, Edgar Cani, Giuseppe Bellusci, Marco Silvestri, Dario Del Fabro and Souleymane Doukara all told Redfearn at the last minute they were injured and could not make the short trip south. The club issued a statement following widespread speculation, saying “The club completely stands by the internal medical recommendations it receives. It was declared that the six players were unavailable to travel to London on Friday, the club needs to protect its assets.”

Protecting its assets is not something Leeds has done well of late. With owner Massimo Cellino suspended by the FA for tax trouble, things have spiraled out of control. Redfearn was hired to save the club from relegation, and he’s remarkably done just that, but suddenly the club has lost five in a row and the vultures have returned.

Redfearn’s assistant Steve Thompson was suspended by Cellino’s right-hand man Nicola Salerno in early April for an “internal matter,” after which the manager said “for what I don’t know.” Before the suspension, Leeds had gone unbeaten in five matches. Since, they’ve failed to pick up a point.

That same day, a story came out accusing the Leeds front office of pressuring Redfearn to bench top scorer Mirco Antenucci because of a clause in his contract that would trigger another year on his deal should he reach 12 goals, a rumor which his agent confirmed to be true. Antenucci started the first 24 games of the year, missing just 14 total minutes during that span and scoring eight goals. Since the turn of the new year, he’s started just twice and has just two goals.

It’s a miracle that Redfearn has stayed in the job with so many people seemingly tightening the screws. It’s not the first time Cellino has appeared to try and run a manager out of town. In early 2014, he reportely tried to fire Brian McDermott before he was even confirmed as the club owner, before getting his wish at the end of last season. Things are going from bad to worse under Cellino, and it doesn’t appear like he’ll be leaving anytime soon.

Premier League Transfer Grade: Hull City

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Window Shopping: With the distance between his club and the relegation zone shrinking fast lately, Steve Bruce needed more striking power around the KC Stadium. As Hull did surprisingly well through the late summer and fall, they seemed only a few more goals from managing the task of staying up, which was the modest target all along.

So management did well to fetch in Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long from Everton and West Brom, respectively, reaching aggressively into the checking account, spending north of $20 million on the pair — a handsome sum for a smaller club as the Tigers.

Players In: Shane Long (West Brom, $11.4 million), Nikica Jelavic (Everton, $10.6 million), Elliott Kebbie (free)

Players Out: Tom Cairney (Blackburn, undisclosed), Eldin Jakupovic (Leyton Orient, loan), Gedo (Al Ahly, loan terminated), Aaron Mclean (Bradford, undisclosed), Cameron Stewart (Leeds, undisclosed), Conor Townsend (Carlisle, loan), Nick Proschwitz (Barnsley, loan), Danny Graham (Middlesbrough, ), Jake Hobbs (Nottingham Forest).

RECAP: All the deals on deadline day

Grade: A-

Prying Long from The Hawthorns was not easy, as Bruce and the club endured a drawn-out transfer saga.  Hull made a big run at Long last summer and seemed to have an agreement before the deal fell through late. So, half a season later, the Irish international (pictured above) is finally in place on a three-and-a-half year deal.

By then, Jelavic had already been secured – and happily so, it would seem, having found himself down the pecking order of forwards at Goodison Park. Like Long, he was also signed to a three-and-a-half year deal, according to reports.

The pair have already paid dividends, proving to be quite a handful for Tottenham in their weekend debut for Hull (a 1-1 draw). Long (described by Bruce as his “crown jewel”) had the goal. On a feed from Jelavic, no less.

One thing could have helped make the period even more prosperous:  Hull kicked the tires on luring Tom Ince from Blackpool but struggled to ever gain real traction on that one. (That’s the “minus” on the grade, on what could otherwise be called a grand transfer time for Bruce’s boys.)