• Football

Cellino disqualified from taking over Leeds United

ESPN staff
March 24, 2014
Massimo Cellino has already put more than £2 million into Leeds United © Getty Images

Italian businessman Massimo Cellino has been disqualified from taking over Leeds United by the Football League's board.

Eleonora Sports had agreed to buy a 75% stake in Leeds from Gulf Finance House Capital in February but Cellino, who heads the company, was recently found guilty under Italian law of failing to pay import duty on a yacht.

In a statement released via the Football League's official website, the board confirmed the Italian court's decision had constituted a "disqualifying condition under its Owners' and Directors' Test."

The statement read: "The Board considered detailed legal advice with regard to the application of its regulations within the context of a decision made under Italian law.

"Mr Cellino was recently found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a Court in Sardinia of an offence under Italian tax legislation relating to the non-payment of import duties on a boat. This resulted in a fine of €600,000 (£500,994), an order for the payment of trial costs and the confiscation of the boat in question.

"Having fully considered the matter, the Board agreed unanimously that the decision of the Italian Court does constitute a disqualifying condition under its Owners' and Directors' Test. The relevant disqualifying condition being that Massimo Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving acts that would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.

"In line with Football League regulations, Massimo Cellino is entitled to appeal against the Board's decision within 14 days. In such circumstances, the League would seek to expedite the process to deliver certainty to all parties in the shortest possible timeframe."

The decision to ban Cellino from taking over Leeds has cast further doubt on the club's ownership, with the Italian having already paid more than £2 million into the club.

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