WOULD-BE Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino is believed to be poised to join a rival group of buyers with a view to forging a deal to take over at Elland Road.
Together Leeds – the consortium fronted by Mike Farnan – and Cellino’s Eleonora Sport Limited could take shared control of United, potentially marginalising current owner Gulf Finance House.
Italian businessman Cellino is waiting to see if he will win an appeal against a Football League ruling which barred him from buying a majority stake in the club last week.
Cellino yesterday said he believes the League is not acting in the best interest of the club by blocking his takeover. He has ploughed more than £14m into the crisis-hit club.
The Italian businessman was recently found guilty of tax evasion in a Sardinia court, and as a result does not comply with the Football League’s Owners’ and Directors’ test.
The uncertainty has started to hit the club hard with the players, and manager Brian McDermott, accepting deferred payment of 50 per cent of last month’s wages.
Leeds have lost six of their last seven games, while reports have emerged that the club could again fall back into administration without Cellino’s money.
The 57-year-old has promised to deliver the unpaid wages if his takeover is approved, but in the meantime believes the League should take some blame for Leeds’s faltering position.
“The situation is a nightmare, unbelievable,” Cellino told Sky Sports News.
“As soon as they (the Football League) accept (the takeover) I can pay (the unpaid wages).
“I cannot pay until after it has been accepted. I cannot throw money away knowing that it will not come back. I have to respect the rules, I am just waiting to do it.
“The players know they are going to be paid because of the players they are. They are going to be paid. The big problem is what damage has been done to Leeds.” He added: “They are going to be shamed in public, this club, talking about administration and bankrupt.
“Come on, that’s really bad. What’s the reason?”
Cellino’s legal representatives in London, Mishcon de Reya, lodged the formal appeal against the League’s block on his takeover last Thursday on the grounds that he has appealed his conviction and remains innocent in Italian law until the appeals process is completed.
An independent QC heard both sides of the argument in London on Monday and requires more time to consider the case further.