Leeds United have been thrown into a state of disarray following the Football League’s decision to block Massimo Cellino’s proposed takeover of the club.
The League has acted following Mr Cellino’s conviction last week in Italian court over unpaid tax.
A statement from the Football League read: “At its meeting yesterday evening, the Board of The Football League considered the eligibility of Massimo Cellino under its Owners’ and Directors’ 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.
“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, 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.”
United’s future is now back up in the air with debts rising and money owed to Cellino after he has believed to have invested more than £5 million since January.
Current owners Gulf Finance House (GFH), a bank in Bahrain, had signed a deal for Cellino, the owner of Serie A club Cagliari, to buy 75% of Leeds.
They have insisted the club will not go into administration again, but declined to comment on today’s decision by the Football League.