Leeds fans are catching their breath today after a manic Monday at Elland Road saw head coach Uwe Rosler sacked, Steve Evans replace him and owner Massimo Cellino disqualified by the Football League for a second time.
Rosler was dispensed with in the morning after a third straight defeat on Saturday against Brighton left the club in 18th place, three points above the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone and without a home win in seven months.
The club confirmed Evans as its sixth manager in 18 months under Cellino’s ownership later on Monday afternoon and just minutes later the League announced the Italian had been banned after failing its Owners’ and Directors’ test again.
A Football League statement read: “At its recent meeting, the board of the Football League considered the position of Leeds United president, Massimo Cellino, under its Owners’ and Directors’ test.
“In June, Mr Cellino was found guilty by a court in Sardinia of an offence under Italian tax legislation relating to the non-payment of VAT on the importation of a Land Rover vehicle. This resulted in a fine of E40,000 and the confiscation of the vehicle in question.
“Having considered detailed legal advice and the court’s reasoned judgement, as supplied by Mr Cellino, the board determined that the decision of the Italian court constitutes a disqualifying condition under the Owners’ and Directors’ test.
“Mr Cellino has until October 28 to appeal against the board’s decision. Any such appeal would be heard by an independent panel.”
The League has yet to confirm the length of Cellino’s ban, but it is understood it will end in June next year - 12 months from the date of his conviction. Cellino is to appeal the decision.
Cellino served his previous Football League ban from December last year until May having been found guilty in the same Italian court of failing to pay VAT on a yacht.
Cellino has three further criminal cases against him still outstanding in Italy. He has been charged with failing to pay tax on another yacht, with embezzlement in relation to the development of Cagliari’s IS Arenas stadium and a tax case relating to former Cagliari players.
Press Association Sport understands Cellino had been notified by the League of his latest disqualification last Wednesday (October 14).
The former Cagliari owner enraged Leeds fans two days later by announcing he was restricting the ticket allocation for the club’s own away fans to 2,000 in protest at the number of televised games featuring them this season.
In the three days that followed Cellino still had time to sack Rosler and complete the controversial appointment of former Rotherham boss Evans.
Rosler departed Leeds after only 12 games in charge. He signed a two-year deal in May to replace the sacked Neil Redfearn, ironically installed earlier this month as Evans’ replacement at Rotherham.
Previous Leeds managers Brian McDermott, David Hockaday and Darko Milanic have all been sacked by Cellino.
Evans said he had to pinch himself when contacted by Leeds and at first thought somebody was playing a joke.
The 52-year-old, who steered Rotherham to back-to-back promotions from League Two, has been handed an initial contract until the end of the season.
“There’s very few times I’m lost for words isn’t there? You guys know me. I’m very humble,” Evans said.
“Where it goes, we’ll see. I need to win some football matches.
“It’s a massive task. There’s some great men there, great managers, with great football knowledge, who have not been able to get this club winning football matches.
“But dare I say it there were some great managers at Rotherham trying to win football matches before my time.
“I’ll work hard and give it everything I’ve got and all I can ask of the Leeds United supporters, and there’s millions worldwide, just give me the opportunity to try and win some matches. I know the consequencies if I don’t.”
On Rosler’s sacking Cellino told the Daily Mirror: “I wanted them to play heavy rock football but instead it was like country music.
“I did my best to help Uwe, but in the end, I could not see even a patch of blue in the sky, just cloud, cloud and cloud.”
And on Evans, Cellino added: “I used to hate him because he is a fighter.
“I didn’t like playing against him because he gives his teams his personality.
“He’s a tough coach and I want that character in our team. He manages with passion and our team has not been playing with passion.”
He later told the Yorkshire Evening Post that Evans was a “motherf*****”, but it is now unclear who Evans - who will be unveiled at a press conference today - will answer to, with almost all Leeds’ middle-management having left the club during Cellino’s reign.