Cellino out to contest League ban on ownership of Leeds

MASSIMO CELLINO will seek to have his disqualification from owning Leeds United overturned at an appeal hearing today.

Massimo Cellino.
Massimo Cellino.

Cellino was barred by the Football League’s board from being owner and a director of Leeds in December after it ruled his conviction for tax evasion was a “dishonest act”.

Cellino’s appeal will be heard by a three-person professional conduct committee, chaired by Tim Kerr QC.

The outcome is likely to be known next week.

If the Football League’s disqualification is upheld by the appeal hearing, it will mean 58-year-old Cellino will have to step down as a director – but only until March, when his conviction becomes spent under UK law.

Cellino was fined 600,000 euros (£465,000) by a court in Sardinia last March after being found guilty of failing to pay import duty on his yacht, the Nelie.

Kerr was also the person who allowed Cellino’s original appeal back in April on the basis that there were no written reasons available from the court case which would determine whether it was a dishonest act or not.

But the QC stated in his decision allowing that appeal: “If the reasoned ruling of the court in Cagliari discloses the conduct of Mr Cellino was such it would reasonably be considered to be dishonest, he would be (disqualified.)”

The Football League then applied to the court in Cagliari for those written reasons, and once it had received them, its board took the view the conviction did constitute a dishonest act and announced he was to be disqualified.

The Football League originally said Cellino had to resign as a director of the Elland Road club by December 29 but then agreed to defer that deadline until two days after the final decision made by the professional conduct committee.