Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has vowed to fight on in his bid to stay in charge at Leeds United after the Football League yesterday announced that the Italian had failed its owners and directors test.
Cellino reacted to the league statement by saying he would be likely to appeal against what he branded a “bad ruling” and reiterated his intention to stick with Leeds United with the club not being put up for sale.
The Italian has been disqualified from owning and running the Championship club by the Football League after the governing body finally received a report written by the judge who earlier this year found Cellino guilty of failing to pay tax on a yacht.
After analysing the contents, a meeting of the League’s board of directors unanimously decided to disqualify Cellino until March 18, 2015, when, under UK law, the conviction will be deemed spent.
However, with another court case for tax evasion hanging over Cellino in Sardinia if found guilty of that he could face a further fresh ban for another year.
Leeds issued a statement in response to yesterday’s news, which read: “We have received a notice from the Football League disqualifying Mr Cellino from being a director of Leeds United Football Club until 18 March 2015. The club is in the process of taking legal advice on the reasoning of the decision.
“In the interim, the club notes that nothing has changed since the decision of the Football League’s Professional Conduct Committee in April 2014.
“The steps that the League wishes the club to take – to remove Mr Cellino only to re-appoint him in three months’ time - will be destabilising for the club, its supporters and sponsors and cannot be in the best interests of any party.”
Cellino remains defiant and has no intention of giving up his family’s 75 per cent stake in the club.
He said: “The club is not for sale. We are not selling the club, not because of this. This doesn’t change anything.
“Massimo Cellino does not own Leeds. My family company owns Leeds. It is my family’s money which bought the club, not my money.
“I don’t know if I will appeal. I need to speak with my lawyers and look through all the papers to see what the League has said about me.
“What is their problem? We pay our bills, we do things right. Nobody was paying anything here when I bought the club. What did the League do about that?
“If my family company asks me to step back for two or three months then I will step back. If that has to happen then I’ll do it. But we won’t be selling the club.”
Cellino, who took charge of United in April by winning a High Court appeal after initially failing the league’s directors and owners’ test, is in the process of arranging a £20m investment into United.
He added: “I would not be investing capital if I was about to leave. I’m trying to sort out the problems that were left behind.
“The League wants me gone, I don’t know why. Come and look through the books at Leeds. We are not dishonest people.”