Cellino and Leeds United to fight FA over ‘illegal payment’ in McCormack transfer

Ross McCormack
Ross McCormack
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Leeds United and Massimo Cellino are to fight allegations that they made an illegal payment as part of the sale of striker Ross McCormack to Fulham in 2014.

It is understood Leeds and Cellino have pleaded not guilty to charges brought against them by the Football Association following an investigation into McCormack’s move two years ago. Leeds are accused of breaching regulations governing football agents by agreeing to pay an unlicensed advisor of McCormack’s £185,000 after the Scotland international’s £10.75m switch to Fulham went though.

The FA believes that United sanctioned that fee through an agreement with licenced agent Derek Day who was representing McCormack during the deal.

Leeds and Cellino are alleged to have negotiated the payment in the knowledge that Day intended to pass it on to Barry Hughes, a Scottish boxing promoter who acts as an advisor for McCormack but is not licensed by the FA.

The governing body’s rules forbid English clubs from ‘directly or indirectly (making) any payments to any unauthorised agent in respect of any agency activity’.

Cellino has been charged with breaking FA rules while Day, like Leeds, is charged with breaching agents regulations. McCormack is not accused of any wrongdoing. Cellino, who last month fought off a pending 223-day ownership disqualification imposed on him by the Football League, could face a ban from football if an independent disciplinary commission finds him guilty.

Day is also at risk of a suspension while Leeds are likely to be hit with a fine.

The Italian has always denied intentionally breaking any rules during the sale of McCormack – a deal completed two months after his takeover of United – and said last month that he was “confused” about the allegations against him.

Neither Leeds nor the FA have commented on the case since charges were first brought on May 17.