Leeds United remain 'disappointed' by Massimo Cellino ban despite reduction in length from FA

Leeds United co-owner Massimo Cellino
Leeds United co-owner Massimo Cellino
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Leeds United have reiterated Massimo Cellino's frustration over his ban from all football activity despite the FA reducing it to 12 months on appeal.

The 18-month ban imposed on Cellino over an illegal payment during the sale of striker Ross McCormack from Leeds to Fulham in 2014 has been reduced to a year.

A separate fine of £250,000 imposed on Cellino has been cut to £100,000 on appeal. Leeds, who pleaded guilty to breaching FA agent regulations during the McCormack transfer, have had a £250,000 fine reduced to £200,000.

Cellino's suspension will begin on February 18, two weeks tomorrow.

In a statement, Leeds said they were “disappointed” by the outcome of Monday’s appeal hearing in London.

The club said it was “considering all options with its legal team” and is understood to be considering challenging the verdict in the High Court, despite FA rules stating that the appeal panel’s decision is binding.

The statement said: “Although the appeal has been successful, the club remains disappointed by the outcome and the size of the fine that remains.

“The club are also incredibly disappointed by the fine and ban imposed upon Mr Cellino, despite reductions following the appeal. Mr Cellino is responsible for significantly reducing the club’s debt and wage bill as well as the appointment of (head coach) Garry Monk. Mr Cellino has been the integral leader of the club’s re-emergence this season.”

A statement from the FA confirmed: “Massimo Cellino’s 18-month suspension for breaching the FA’s football agent Regulations has been reduced to 12 months following a successful appeal. The Leeds United owner also had his £250,000 fine reduced to £100,000.

“Cellino also appealed against the original decision of the independent regulatory commission to find the case proven. This part of his appeal was dismissed.

“A £250,000 fine issued to the club has also been reduced to £200,000 after an appeal board hearing.

“With effect from February 18, 2017, Cellino is suspended from all football and football related activity.”

Cellino was majority shareholder of Leeds during his Football League suspension in 2015, at a time when the club’s squad were in a relegation fight.

The latest ban comes less than a month after the Italian sold 50 per cent of United to co-owner Andrea Radrizzani and with Leeds in contention for promotion to the Premier League.

Radrizzani, who attended Wednesday’s league win over Blackburn Rovers without Cellino, said recently that plans were in place for the club to continue operating in Cellino’s absence should as appeal fail to overturn his ban.

Radrizzani’s investment deal included an option which could see him buy 100 per cent of Leeds at the end of the season, before Cellino’s suspension is served.