A regional daily has urged a football club owner to apologise for “appalling sexist” comments to the manager of its women’s team.
In a front page editorial, the Yorkshire Evening Post questioned Massimo Cellino’s status as a “fit and proper person” to run Leeds United FC, after a former employee won her claim for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination against the club.
Former United academy welfare officer Lucy Ward – an ex-player herself and the partner of former Leeds head coach Neil Redfearn – left the club last summer after 17 years of service.
The tribunal heard Mr Cellino had told the manager of United’s women’s team that football was “no place for women. They should be in the bedroom or beauticians”.
In the editorial, run yesterday on the above front page, the YEP said: “That it should come to this. It gives us no pleasure, none at all, to have published the headlines we’ve published over the past three days regarding the tribunal of former Leeds United welfare officer Lucy Ward.
“Indeed, this sorry, sorry affair makes dismal reading for any fan of Leeds United.
“This once proud club, with its glorious history, its supporters marching on together through generations, being dragged through the mud via a tribunal which, in upholding Ms Ward’s complaint of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination, has delivered a damning indictment of its ethos and culture.”
The tribunal judge ruled Ms Ward was an honest and truthful witness, adding he believed Mr Cellino had, indeed, made the “appalling sexist” comments.
The editorial continues: “That statement alone is enough to question Mr Cellino’s status as a fit and proper person to run our football club. Will he now show his face? Will he apologise?
“This he should certainly do, for the fans (and not just the legions of female fans) deserve that at the very least. Surely Mr Cellino’s status as fit and proper in the eyes of the public is more and more flimsy.
It concludes: “We would much prefer for our coverage of Leeds United to be on the back pages – as opposed to the front. We await with interest, along with the club’s devout supporters, to see whether the FA now feels the need to step in.”