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Cellino given green light for Leeds takeover

5 April 2014 16:17

Massimo Cellino looks set to take over Leeds United after successfully appealing against the Football League's decision to block his bid.

Cellino failed the Football League's owners and directors' test after being found guilty of not paying import duties on a boat by an Italian court.

However, an independent QC has now overturned the League's decision, seemingly clearing the way for Cellino to belatedly purchase a majority stake in the Championship club.

In a statement, a Football League spokesman said: "We are disappointed at the outcome of the appeal hearing, however we would like to thank the independent QC for his diligence in reviewing this decision.

"This was never about individual personalities, but instead was a matter in which we were obliged to uphold the integrity of our regulations having considered the issue in detail with our advisors.

"It was always an extremely complex matter in which a different interpretation of a judgment made under Italian law could lead to an entirely different outcome in the context of our regulations. Ultimately this has proven to be the case.

"The independent QC has concluded that Mr Cellino's recent conviction in the Sardinian Court did not involve conduct that would 'reasonably be considered to be dishonest' based on information available to him at the current time.

"The Football League will now consider the findings of the hearing."

Leeds have confirmed that Cellino's Eleonara Sport company is now set to take a 75 per cent stakeholding in the club, with former majority shareholders GFH Capital retaining 25 per cent.

A statement on Leeds' official website added: "Completion of the acquisition will see Massimo Cellino take up the position as president of Leeds United, and he will head up a new-look board.

"The club's managing director David Haigh will become Chief Executive Officer."

Haigh added: "This is a significant day in the history of Leeds United. Since GFH Capital took over the club in December 2012, the stated aim has always been to introduce strategic investors to ensure a sustainable future for the club.

"I have met with many potential investors and worked closely with them, and I realised very quickly that Massimo is someone who has the attributes to take this club forward.

"He has a proven track record in Italy (with Cagliari), and I believe the introduction of Eleonora Sport, coupled with Massimo's drive and determination, will be key to a successful and sustainable future for this great football club.

"I'd like to thank the Football League, GFH Capital, and of course, Massimo and Eleonora Sport for all their hard work over the past few weeks in ensuring that this deal was able to progress."

Leeds had been in a state of financial limbo after Cellino's initial takeover bid was turned down, with the club's playing staff agreeing to defer part of their wages for March.

Saturday's news may spark fresh doubt over the future of manager Brian McDermott, who announced that he had been sacked by Cellino at the end of January, only to then remain in his position.

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