The Football League have this morning announced that Leeds United’s flamboyant Italian owner Massimo Cellino has been disqualified from owning the Yorkshire club due to falling short of the expectations set out within the League’s much discussed ‘Owners’ and Directors’ Test’.
The 58-year-old Italian had actually been denied initial permission to take over the club in April only for an appeal to see the block removed. Cellino took over Leeds United as planned and set about his plans to restructure the club in a way he saw fit.
Since that time, there has been rather a lot of unwanted publicity for the club with the Italian continuing his trend of dismissing managers after short periods of time in the job with Cellino having already appointed three different managers already this season.
This in itself had cast widespread doubt on Cellino’s eligibility as a fit and proper owner of a Football League club. However it is the findings of the Italian court that has finally sealed Cellino’s fate.
The court has passed detailed evidence from a trial that convicted Cellino of Tax Evasion onto the Football League with the governing body having been left with no alternative but to rule Cellino unfit to continue running Leeds United.
The Football League’s statement on the matter read as follows,
“The Board considered detailed advice and agreed unanimously that Mr. Cellino is subject to a disqualifying condition under the terms of the Test. Mr. Cellino is entitled to appeal the Board’s decision to PCC within 14 days”
According to a report by Sky News, Cellino’s tax evasion conviction was brought about due to a failure to pay tax on his yacht and thus the Football League now have the regulatory means to disqualify the Italian.
Cellino, who owns a home in Miami, has been informed he must resign from his position immediately although the Italian is not obliged to sell the club. Cellino has 28 days to prove he is no longer a ‘relevant person’ in the running of Leeds United affairs with the ban running until March 18th 2015, by which time Cellino would again be permitted to hold a position of note at the club.
Cellino has been given 14 days to appeal the decision with a verdict upon appeal guaranteed to be given within the period of 28 days allotted for Cellino to prove his official disassociation with a position of power at the club.
Today’s announcement is yet another unwanted scenario in which Leeds United’s dirty laundry has been aired in public for all to see and it is unclear where the club will go next in relation to ownership. It is believed at this time that Cellino will resume his position as soon as the ban is either lifted or served in March 2015.
Furthermore as Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post has pointed out via Twitter, Cellino’s next payment to former Leeds United owners GFH is due in thirteen days. The figure is believed to be around £6million.
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