‘Football is no place for woman, Cellino told Leeds United official’

Former Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn and his partner Lucy Ward, arriving at Leeds Employment Tribunal.
Former Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn and his partner Lucy Ward, arriving at Leeds Employment Tribunal.
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Controversial Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino allegedly said that football was “no place for women” and that they were better off in the bedroom or the beautician’s.

The revelations came to light during the second day of the tribunal brought by former employee Lucy Ward - who is claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination in a case against the club.

Speaking at the proceedings yesterday, she said: “I was treated like a piece of meat.”

Miss Ward, 41, was the former head of education and welfare at the boys academy for Leeds United.

The tribunal has heard claims that Cellino sacked Miss Ward because of her relationship with the club’s former manager, Neil Redfearn, who he planned to sack as they “came as a pair”.

The court was also told about an alleged meeting between Cellino and the manager of Leeds United women’s team manager Gary Cooper.

Miss Ward was told by Mr Cooper the the owner had said to him: “Why do women want to play football? Football is no place for women. They should be in the bedroom or beauticians.”

Miss Ward said Mr Cooper told her about the comment after he became aware that she was pursuing a claim for sex discrimination.

She had previously told the tribunal that Mr Redfearn was put on “garden leave” just five minutes before she was suspended.

“Neil Redfearn was put on garden leave on July 3 about five minutes before I was suspended,” explained Miss Ward.

The court also heard the former employee had been locked out of her office and the locks had been changed on her doors without her knowledge in May - two months before her suspension.

During evidence by businessman Ismail Ghandour, the tribunal heard that Adam Pearson, Executive Director of Leeds United, had told Mr Ghandour that “Mr Cellino sees them [Miss Ward and Mr Redfearn] as a pair”.

Mr Ghandour said: “I had a meeting with Adam Pearson on, I think, June 23 and I asked him about the rumours that Lucy was going to be next to go. “I told him that I understand managers come and go but why Lucy?

“Adam Pearson said that Mr Cellino sees them as a pair.”

Miss Ward described her suspension and subsequent disciplinary hearing as “bewildering for me having been a committed member of staff”.

The tribunal continues.