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Massimo Cellino dismisses Leeds United takeover rumors, says "this club is not for sale"

It is possible we may finally be able to put the Papa-Red-Bull-will-buy-Leeds-United rumor on ice...

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino is once more allowed to run his club, and he delivered a press conference on Thursday (May 14) to explain his current plans for the Championship team (well, officially, it was to introduce new executive director, Adam Pearson).

It was a frustrating event for fans of the LUFC, who perhaps most urgently would like to know if Neil Redfearn will still be responsible for managing the first team next season. Cellino managed to duck that question, despite it being the very first matter raised to him by the media in attendance. (And by ducking it, did nothing to counter the suspicion that Redfearn will not be employed by Leeds for much longer.)

So Leeds fans don't know a great deal more detail about the running of their club than they did before Cellino sat down with the press. But there was at least one issue that was addressed directly: the question of whether Leeds United will be sold in the near future. "This club is not for sale," he said, "it has never been for sale."

Very straightforward and seemingly a compelling rebuttal to the longstanding, recently revived rumor that Papa Red Bull is circling LUFC, keen to add an English cousin to the RB soccer family.

The last iteration of that rumor - a surprising tweet from a German journalist who has not ventured on to Twitter since - was sufficiently significant to provoke a flurry of denials:

Those denials brought forth a flurry of counter-claims from within the Leeds United fan base:

But Cellino used his first official press conference since his ban from involvement in LUFC affairs was lifted to state his intentions clearly: he believes it will take a couple of years to right the ship, and if that estimate proves correct then he intends to continue running the club.

"If [in] the next two seasons, we fix the club and it is ready to face finally it's challenge - I'm going to stay. If in two seasons time, I'm not ready - not to bring the club to the Premier League - to fix this club once and forever, I'm going to sell it."

How does this commitment to the project align with reports earlier this year that Cellino himself had said Red Bull had submitted an offer to buy Leeds United that was being considered by the shareholders? Indeed, with repeated on-again-off-again reports of Red Bull interest in Leeds and discussion with Cellino?

In his own words:

"To be polite, I talked with someone - just to understand if I did a good business project, to see if it's worth something. And that was a mistake."

In essence, a private inquiry he never intended to see made public got out into the press and everyone got a little carried away.

It is not a story that quite seems to account for the fact that, in April, Cellino himself was telling newspapers that there was a Red Bull offer for LUFC on the table. But it is the story that he wanted to tell at his press conference.

And a public statement of commitment to Leeds United by its current owner paired with Red Bull's consistent denial of any interest in buying the club is surely enough to kill the rumor that Papa will be adding an English team to the RB family - isn't it?