Leeds' fury as League bar owner Massimo Cellino
Fallen giants Leeds United reacted angrily after the English Football League ordered owner Massimo Cellino to step down from the running of the club on Monday owing to an unpaid Italian tax bill on a yacht.
London: Fallen giants Leeds United reacted angrily after the English Football League ordered owner Massimo Cellino to step down from the running of the club on Monday owing to an unpaid Italian tax bill on a yacht.
April saw Italian businessman Cellino`s takeover of second-tier Leeds go ahead after he successfully appealed against a move blocking him on the grounds of failing the League`s owners` and directors` test.
However, after receiving the Italian judge`s report on Cellino`s conviction for tax evasion, the League`s board of directors unanimously agreed last week the 58-year-old was "subject to a disqualifying condition under the terms of the Test".
Officials at the Football League, responsible for England`s three professional divisions immediately below the lucrative Premier League, said Cellino must resign as Leeds president immediately, but added he had 14 days in which to appeal.
Should Cellino`s disqualification be upheld, the ban would only apply until March 18 next year when, under English law, his conviction would be deemed to have been spent.
But Leeds said the fact the League were prepared to let Cellino return in a matter of months risked "destabilising" the team.
"We have (on Monday) received a notice from the Football League disqualifying Mr Cellino from being a director of Leeds United Football Club until 18 March 2015," said a Leeds statement.
"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."
Earlier, the Football League justified their decision in a statement which said: "The board considered detailed legal advice and agreed unanimously....that Mr Cellino is subject to a disqualifying condition under the terms of the (Owners` and Directors`) Test."
Cellino responded by saying he had no intention of quitting the club and will appeal against the Football League`s ruling.
"If I can go (to games) as the president, I`ll go as the president. I`m talking about the law, not some lawyers that don`t know what they`re talking about," he told Sky Sports News.
"It`s the law that will allow me to go and if not I will go like a supporter and pay for my ticket. I`m never going to give up Leeds United."
When asked if he would ignore any punishment handed out by the League, Cellino added: "I`m not going to ignore it. I`m not like that.
"I`m going to respect everything. I`m going to appeal. I`m going to show them they are wrong and I`m sure that the lawyers of the League have not done a proper job.
"I`m not dishonest. I`m not guilty yet, that`s it."
The fresh round of boardroom drama is as nothing compared to the chaos Cellino, nicknamed the `manager-eater` while dismissing 36 bosses in 20 years as owner of Italian side Cagliari, has created regarding the question of who coaches Leeds.
November saw Neil Redfearn become the club`s fourth permanent manager in just five months.
The 49-year-old was already in charge as caretaker boss for the second time this season following the sacking of Darko Milanic.