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SBD Global/April 2, 2014/Franchises

Massimo Cellino Must Wait For Outcome Of Appeal Over Leeds Takeover

Massimo Cellino awaits ruling on appeal of league's block of Leeds United takeover.
Italian businessman Massimo Cellino "will have to wait for the outcome of his appeal against the Football League's decision to block his takeover" of League Championship side Leeds United, according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. Cellino's hearing took place in London on Monday "with the future of the club hanging in the balance." An independent QC "heard both sides of the argument and requires more time to consider the case." Cellino "was disqualified as a potential owner by the League last week" after being found guilty in an Italian court for failing to pay import tax on a yacht. Lawyers for Cellino "challenged the League's ruling." Representatives from the law firm Mishcon de Reya "were expected to argue that Cellino is innocent under Italian law until an appeal against the import tax ruling is finalised" (GUARDIAN, 3/31). In London, Luke Edwards reported Leeds is "teetering on the brink of administration" if Cellino’s takeover is blocked as he had been bankrolling the club since the start of the year. The Football League, though, "believe he fails their fit and proper persons test" as he has been found guilty of a “dishonesty” offense. Gulf Financial House Capital "have denied they will put the club into administration if the takeover collapses, although it is difficult to see how they can avoid it given they have relied so heavily on Cellino’s money for the last three months" (TELEGRAPH, 3/31). SKY SPORTS' Bryan Swanson reported Leeds players "are still waiting to be paid the remaining half of March's wages." Leeds' players had hoped to be paid "on the same day as their Championship game against Charlton at Elland Road." Leeds' players "have received 50 per cent of last month's wages after an agreement was reached last week" (SKY SPORTS, 4/1).

: The INT'L BUSINESS TIMES' Nick Howson reported Cellino "launched a scathing attack" on GFH CEO David Haigh and Manager Brian McDermott "during an interview with a fans radio station." Cellino "was being unknowingly recorded" when he labeled Haigh, deputy CEO of current Leeds owners GFH Capital, as "dangerous" and criticized McDermott's regime "after the club suffered a 17th league defeat of the season to Doncaster Rovers." Though the Italian is confident of clinching an agreement with the Football League, "he warns a ruling against him will plunge the club into liquidation" and leave Leeds in the hands of Haigh while revealing that former Owner Ken Bates "remains behind the current ownership." Speaking unknowingly to fans radio station White Leeds Radio, Cellino said, "I think that unfortunately I am going to win. I am buying a lot of work, a lot of debt and never mind I can engage myself. It is a great club the only thing that works is the fans. The people who are running the club they don't understand, the treasure are the fans." He added, "David is a son of a bitch, he is dangerous, a f**king devil" (IB TIMES, 3/31).
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