Football League extend Massimo Cellino ban

Football League extend Massimo Cellino ban
Massimo Cellino

Massimo Cellino’s period of disqualification as owner of Leeds has been extended to May 3 by the Football League.

The Italian businessman was barred by the Football League’s board from being owner and a director of the Sky Bet Championship club in December after it ruled his conviction for tax evasion was a “dishonest act”.

Cellino and Leeds were also hit by a further misconduct charge for failing to supply the Italian court judgement to the Football League when it first became available. League officials were forced to apply to the court in Cagliari for the written reasons.

Those disciplinary proceedings have now resulted in Cellino’s extended ban.

A Football League statement read: “The Football League, Leeds United and Massimo Cellino have settled the outstanding disciplinary proceedings relating to the club’s non-disclosure of the Italian Court’s judgment regarding Mr Cellino, as required under League regulations.

“The club and Mr Cellino have decided in the interests of the club, its players and supporters not to contest this charge. As a result, Mr Cellino’s period of disqualification as a ’relevant person’, as defined by the regulations, has now been extended from April 10 until May 3, the day after the conclusion of the 2014/15 league season.

“Mr Cellino’s right to challenge the decision of the Professional Conduct Committee under Football Association Rule K is unaffected by this settlement.”

Cellino took the reins at Elland Road last April after he successfully appealed against the League’s initial decision to block his takeover of the club.

But Tim Kerr QC, who chaired a three-person professional conduct committee, warned Cellino he could be banned when the written reasons for his conviction became available.

“If the reasoned ruling of the court in Cagliari discloses the conduct of Mr Cellino was such it would reasonably be considered to be dishonest, he would be [disqualified],” Kerr said at the time.

The Football League took the view that the conviction did constitute a dishonest act after receiving the documentation and announced on December 1 that Cellino would be disqualified.

The 58-year-old was unsuccessful in trying to overturn his ban for a second time and has since decided to independently appeal the decision.

Cellino recently sold his personal stake in Eleonora Sport – the company he set up to buy Leeds a year ago – and said he would not be returning to the club while he tries to clear his name, giving rise to speculation he could be about to sell up.

Andrew Umbers, who stepped in as chairman when Cellino’s ban began, insists Cellino does not want to sell and that there have not been any approaches, despite interest from Hollywood film star Russell Crowe, a long-standing Leeds fan who asked his Twitter followers if taking over the club would be a good idea and got an overwhelmingly positive response.

Leeds’ fortunes on the pitch have certainly not been affected by the ownership uncertainty with the 2-1 win over Ipswich at Elland Road on Wednesday night their sixth in nine games, a run which has lifted them clear of the relegation zone and into 15th place.

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