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SBD Global/February 20, 2014/Franchises

Football League Demands Answers From League Championship Side Leeds

The Football League has asked League Championship side Leeds United prospective owner Massimo Cellino and Gulf Finance House "to answer a fresh list of questions" relating to his club takeover "with a decision on the Italian’s buy-out set to run beyond the end this week," according to the YORKSHIRE POST. Lawyers acting for the Football League "submitted a request for further information" after meeting with Cellino at a hearing in London last Wednesday and "receiving documentation from both sides involved in the sale of the Elland Road club." Cellino "has made the first in a series of staged payments to GFH but their agreement is subject to Football League approval and has been in the hands of the governing body since Cellino’s takeover was finalised 10 days ago." The League "granted a request" from the Italian businessman for a meeting seven days ago -- a hearing at which Cellino, the existing owner of Serie A side Cagliari, "hoped the organisation would sanction his purchase." However, the submission of documents by both his legal team and lawyers representing GFH "prompted a demand for additional clarification from the League." Sources close to the deal "do not expect the League to deliver a final decision on Cellino’s buy-out until next week at the earliest." The Football League "had no comment" (YORKSHIRE POST, 2/19). The YORKSHIRE EVENING POST reported Cellino and Leeds Manager Brian McDermott "are slowly finding common ground." As that situation plays out, Cellino's focus in Leeds "has been fixed in part on establishing a healthy relationship with McDermott and curing the friction caused by the events of transfer deadline day." The pair met last week along with Leeds Managing Dir David Haigh for the first time since Cellino instructed his legal representative, Chris Farnell, to sack McDermott on the final day of January. Cellino told a national newspaper, “Brian has a big heart and gives 100 percent. We get on well. There was a lot of misunderstanding early on and we’ve put that behind us.” He "spoke of their shared love of music and guitars -- Cellino, 57 is in a band called Maurilios -- and said doubts about each other had passed." McDermott is "yet to comment on their meeting," but is "thought to have been satisfied with what was discussed." McDermott, too, is "making the effort to be receptive to Cellino." McDermott said that he "would involve" former Italian footballer Gianluca Festa -- a close friend of Cellino’s -- in his backroom team "if the takeover required it and talking more than once of the need for 'mutual respect' between him and Cellino" (YORKSHIRE EVENING POST, 2/19).
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