Leeds United owner loses appeal against disqualification

Massimo Cellino at Elland Road.

Massimo Cellino at Elland Road.

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Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has lost his appeal against the Football League’s decision to disqualify him from ownership of the club under owners and directors’ test.

Cellino will now be given two days to leave Elland Road and will not be allowed back until April 10 when the tax evasion conviction that led to his ban will be regarded as spent.

A statement from the Football League read: “Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) chaired by Tim Kerr QC has rejected an appeal by Leeds United President Massimo Cellino against the recent decision by the Board of The Football League that he is subject to a disqualifying condition under its Owners’ and Directors’ Test.

“The PCC found that the reasoned judgment of the Italian Court, once it had become available, was for an act involving dishonesty as determined by the Board in its original ruling in March 2014.

“Mr Cellino’s appeal against that original decision had been upheld on the basis that it could not be concluded that the offence necessarily involved a ‘Dishonest Act’ for the purposes of the Test.

“Once the reasoned judgment became available, the Board considered the matter again and concluded that it clearly demonstrated that Mr. Cellino’s offence did indeed involve acts that would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.”

In its judgment, dismissing Cellino’s appeal against the decision, the PCC said: “We consider that the judge’s findings of fact and her description of Mr Cellino’s state of mind based on them, is of conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.

“We therefore conclude that Mr Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving a ‘Dishonest Act’ within the meaning of the rules, and that he is accordingly subject to a ‘Disqualifying Condition’.

“As are result of this decision, Massimo Cellino is disqualified from acting as a ‘Relevant Person’, as defined by Football League regulations until 10th April 2015. The Football League will provide any assistance requested by Leeds United to help it minimise, as far as possible, the effect this decision has on the Club while Mr Cellino serves his period of disqualification.”