Has the rumor that Papa Red Bull might be buying Leeds United ever gone away? Sure, it was denied quite recently: at the beginning of April, a trio of Red Bull honchos - global football marketing head, Oliver Mintzlaff; Red Bull Leipzig and Salzburg sporting director, Ralf Rangnick; Papa himself - took a moment to make clear there was nothing happening between the company and a troubled football club in Yorkshire.
But we know there is fire behind this smoke because Dylan Thwaites, chief executive of Leeds Fans LLP - a company formed as a vehicle for a bid to get supporters a stake in the administration of their club - revealed details of communication between his organization and Papa. And there has been persistent chatter about Red Bull getting involved with LUFC since (at least) 2013.
No disrespect, Papa - but we've heard you deny interest in Leeds before, and that hasn't stopped the rumors from popping up again at the next hint of turmoil at Elland Road.
It ought to be noted that turmoil has been a fairly constant feature of Leeds United's season. The latest news to hit the club concerns owner Massimo Cellino, who has returned from his suspension by the Football League. He has returned to a situation that does not please him, as he described to journalist Simon Austin:
"Nothing has been sorted out and instead there is just shit,"
And he has returned to fresh trouble with the Football League. Cellino is the subject of an investigation into possible breaches of regulations governing the transfer of players.
And this apparently was just the spark the rumor mill was waiting for:
Red Bull steht kurz vor der Übernahme von Leeds United— guido sullus (@GSullus) May 9, 2015
"Red Bull is nearing the acquisition of Leeds United" is Google Translate's take on that Tweet.
Who is Guido Sullus and why should we be listening to him? He is a German sports journalist whose last foray onto Twitter was the observation that Wigan Athletic had fired manager Uwe Rosler (in November). A couple of months prior to that, Sullus shared his thoughts about Thailand with his followers:
Thailand is a Real Wonderland pic.twitter.com/REXXEg73WW— guido sullus (@GSullus) September 23, 2014
All of which is to say Mr. Sullus tends to use social media sparingly, and without much appetite for the sensational.
Since offering his opinion on the Leeds/Red Bull saga, he has been drawn into conversations in which, unsurprisingly, he stands by his initial statement:
@raphmeyers hi i know that RB ist in contact with the Leeds Owner and that RB is looking for some Players in UK to lift Leeds into the P L— guido sullus (@GSullus) May 10, 2015
@raphmeyers No everthing goes between Salzburg and Leeds or in London— guido sullus (@GSullus) May 10, 2015
A few Tweets from a journalist whose name has not featured prominently in the reporting of earlier iterations of this rumor does not count for a great deal. Certainly it is not sufficient to counter the fact that, about a month ago, Papa himself suggested there was nothing much happening between Red Bulls and Leeds.
The mood among Leeds fans and close observers is perhaps best described as skeptical:
Red Bull can......... Spotted outside Elland Road. #lufc @redbull pic.twitter.com/RzXngRmiTQ— Kevin Markey Editor (@LeedsUnited_MAD) May 10, 2015
@Spitfire_Chap unfortunately :(— Simon O'Rourke (@simon_orourke) May 10, 2015
But Mr. Sullus has attracted attention.
Many of you are asking me about Red Bull and Leeds. What I can say is: I'm working on it.— Emanuele Giulianelli (@EmaGiulianelli) May 10, 2015
Expect to hear a little more about this in the next few days.