Leeds United have released a statement saying that Brian McDermott remains the club’s manager, despite reports to the contrary.
A farcical 24 hours at Elland Road ended with the news that the 52-year-old – who was appointed as Leeds manager in April last year – is still in charge of the Championship outfit.
Widespread reports suggested McDermott had been sacked on Friday by Italian Massimo Cellino, who was announced as the club’s new owner one day later after completing the purchase of a 75 per cent stake.
Former Reading boss McDermott told BBC Radio Leeds on Friday that he had been sacked, adding: “From the bottom of my heart, thanks to each and every Leeds United fan for your support.”
But no official announcement was forthcoming from Leeds, as Cellino edged a rival bid chaired by former Manchester United commercial executive Mike Farnan for the club’s ownership.
The decision to apparently sack McDermott infuriated Leeds fans, who arrived at Elland Road on Friday evening (local time) to protest against Cellino, who had to be escorted from the venue by police after supporters blocked exits and waited at gates.
The protests continued before and during the 5-1 win over local rivals Huddersfield Town on Saturday, with a large-scale demonstration outside the East Stand demonstrating McDermott’s popularity among United fans.
Leeds finally broke their silence in the aftermath of the Huddersfield game, in which Nigel Gibbs and Neil Redfearn were in charge of the team.
An official Leeds statement read: “The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first-team manager.
“He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds United forwards.”
The statement is at odds with reports that Cellino had sacked McDermott on Friday and had former Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa standing by, waiting to take charge.
Gibbs said he was unsure of the club’s future in a post-match interview with Leeds United TV.
“Obviously he (McDermott) is delighted with the result and delighted with the players,” Gibbs said.
“I’ll speak to him a bit more in detail (now). I haven’t had a chance to read it (the club statement) yet.”
Uncertainty remains over McDermott’s future, but one key figure at Elland Road who is staying is club captain Ross McCormack, who scored a hat-trick against Huddersfield.
McCormack, who told Sky Sports News on transfer deadline day that he was “absolutely gutted” about McDermott’s reported departure, and admitted it made him re-think his future at the club.
The Scot is comfortably the Championship’s top scorer with 21 goals this season following his treble against Huddersfield.
Leeds moved up to 11th in the table with the win, the club’s first in nine matches.