The Football League announced shortly after the final whistle of the Whites’ 1-0 loss to Wigan that their decision to block prospective Italian owner Cellino’s buy-out had been dismissed.
Last month they had rejected the Cagliari owner’s attempt to claim control under their owners’ and directors’ test after he was convicted of a tax offence by an Italian court. However, an independent QC overturned that decision on Saturday afternoon, meaning the path for Cellino to move in at Elland Road appears to have no obstacles.
The Leeds squad has clearly been disrupted by the murky boardroom situation – with a portion of their March wages being deferred – and this defeat leaves them with just one solitary victory in 11. Now, though, McDermott and his players seemingly have more clarity on the club’s future, something which the manager has welcomed.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders in the fact that I don’t have to front up every press conference and talk about the ownership because that’s all I’ve been doing for three months,” said McDermott, who Cellino attempted to sack when first arriving in Yorkshire.
“I’ve not ducked any interview, I’ve been involved in every single interview and I’ve tried to answer the questions as best as I possibly can. It will be nice just to talk about the next game, try to get three points and see where we are as a football team. That’s my job, not talking about ownerships.”
Despite the previous threat to his position, McDermott insisted he could work under Cellino and welcomed the possibility of both an injection of funds and stability to a club which has lurched from one disaster to another in recent years.
The players, roared on by a partisan away support, showed plenty of fight at the DW Stadium where Wigan emerged victorious thanks to Martyn Waghorn’s solitary strike 12 minutes before half-time.
McDermott praised his players for putting off-field matters to one side, adding: “There was no lack of effort, desire, passion.
“We tried to get back into the game after we went 1-0 down – I didn’t think we deserved to be 1-0 down.
“I look at Wigan and their squad and it’s probably the second best (in the Sky Bet Championship) compared to Leicester. When they get into the play-offs they’ll be a real force to be reckoned with. They’ll be in with a really good chance of going up this season.”
Asked how difficult it was not to focus on the impending decision of Cellino’s appeal hearing, McDermott replied: “We’ve stopped talking about it. It’s all I’ve been talking about for three months.”
The game itself was scrappy throughout with Waghorn ultimately deciding the result on the afternoon after he had agreed to make his loan switch to Latics permanent.
He was one of two changes to Uwe Rosler’s starting line-up from the team which drew 2-2 with leaders Leicester on Tuesday and, as they negotiate their way throughout a hectic fixture schedule, the German rued his decision not to alter more of his XI.
“Against what I usually do, I selected more or less the same players from Tuesday – apart from two changes,” Rosler noted.
“I felt we never really got going like the way we can play, the way we want to play, like we played last Tuesday due to the fact we probably hadn’t recovered 100 per cent.”
Waghorn was ineligible to play against his parent club in midweek and although he has almost certainly abandoned Barclays Premier League football with Leicester next season, Rosler is confident he will be in the top flight anyway with Wigan.
Rosler added: “Martyn Waghorn totally fitted our profile – 24-years-old, young, English, hungry, ambitious. He wants to be going up to the Premier League with Wigan and that is exactly the profile that we’re looking for.”