Cellino barred from Leeds takeover

Massimo Cellino has been disqualified from taking over Championship club Leeds United after failing the Football League’s owners’ and directors’ test, ESPN has reported.

Cellino intented to take a 75% stake in the club through his Eleonora Sports company but Cellino was recently found guilty in Italy of not paying import duty on a yacht. The Football League then confirmed the court’s decision meant Cellino failed the propriety test.

“The Board considered detailed legal advice with regard to the application of its regulations within the context of a decision made under Italian law,” the Football League’s statement said.

“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.”

Cellino is reported to have already invested around £2m in the club. He also owns Serie A side Cagliari, who are currently 15th in the table.

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