Massimo Cellino insists he will not consider selling his majority stake in Leeds United, despite the Football League’s announcement on Monday.
The League has disqualified the Italian from running the Championship side due to a breach of its Owners and Directors Test, placing his tenure at Elland Road under significant threat. This is based on the grounds of a March tax conviction imposed on the 58-year-old by a court in his homeland, the written evidence from which the governing body have declared prove his offence could reasonably be considered to be dishonest.
Previously, the League had tried to use this conviction to block Cellino’s 75 percent buyout of the club almost nine months ago, but this failed when an independent QC, Tim Kerr, stated that the absence of a full written verdict from the judge in Italy meant he couldn’t declare the offence to be dishonest. But having now secured this full verdict, the League and its board voted last week when they agreed to impose this ban on Cellino.
League rules give Cellino 28 days to resign as director and sever his ties with the Yorkshire club, although he has 14 days to lodge an appeal against their ban. Whilst he considers whether or not to appeal this ruling, the former Cagliari owner insists Leeds is not for sale, although he may be prepared to step aside until his disqualifying condition runs out on 18 March 2015, when his tax conviction will be declared spent under UK law.
“The club is not for sale,” Cellino said. “We are not selling the club, not because of this. This doesn’t change anything. Massimo Cellino does not own Leeds. My family company owns Leeds. It is my family’s money which bought the club, not my money. I don’t know if I’ll appeal. I need to speak with my lawyers and look through all the papers.
“I need to see what the League has said about me. What is their problem? We pay our bills, we do things right. Nobody was paying anything here when I bought the club. What did the League do about that? If my family company asks me to step back for two or three months then I’ll step back. If that has to happen then I’ll do it. But we won’t be selling the club.”
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