Football League disqualify Leeds United owner Cellino

Massimo Cellino. PIC: Tony Johnson
Massimo Cellino. PIC: Tony Johnson

Leeds United’s future is clouded by uncertainty again after the Football League today ruled that Massimo Cellino was disqualified from owning the club.

The Football League’s board of directors has, once again, considered the position of the Leeds United president under its owners’ and directors’ test and has issued a statement.

Previously (March 2014), the board had ruled that Mr Cellino was subject to a disqualifying condition after he was found guilty of an offence under Italian tax legislation relating to the non-payment of import duties on a boat (which resulted in him being fined €600,000).

In April 2014, this decision was successfully appealed by Mr Cellino at a hearing of the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) chaired by an independent QC (sitting alone).

In reaching his verdict, Tim Kerr QC concluded that: “Mr Cellino has satisfied me that on the facts before me, what he was convicted of was not conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.” Before going on to state that: “if the reasoned ruling of the court in Cagliari discloses that the conduct of Mr Cellino was such that it would reasonably be considered to be dishonest, he would become subject to a Disqualifying Condition.”

At its meeting last week, the board considered the reasoned Judgment of the Italian Court against Mr. Cellino, having successfully applied to the Italian Courts for its full disclosure. The board considered detailed legal advice and agreed unanimously (with the exception of its chief executive, Shaun Harvey, who did not take part in the debate or vote having declared an interest) that Mr Cellino is subject to a disqualifying condition under the terms of the test.

Mr Cellino is entitled to appeal the board’s decision to the PCC within 14 days. As the Judgment of the Italian Court has not been published in Italy, The Football League will not make any of its contents public.