Leeds face January transfer embargo over GFH debts

LEEDS UNITED remain at risk of a transfer embargo in January despite major changes to the rules governing Financial Fair Play in the Championship.

Massimo Cellino at Elland Road, Leeds

The Football League has agreed to introduce more flexible regulations at the start of the 2016-17 season but the governing body will enforce existing rules as planned at the turn of the year.

FFP effectively came into force last season, a campaign in which Championship clubs were permitted to lose a maximum of £8million.

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All 24 teams are due to submit financial accounts for the 2013-14 term to the Football League by December 1 and those found to be in breach of the guidelines will be hit with a transfer embargo when the forthcoming January window opens.

Leeds and their owner, Massimo Cellino, expect to receive an embargo as punishment for debts and losses built up at Elland Road by Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini bank which ran Leeds for 16 months between December 2012 and April of this year.

United were losing around £1m a month when Cellino bought a majority stake in April and having signed 15 new players during the summer transfer window, he believes his hands will be tied in January.

Speaking this week Cellino said: “That’s something I got from other people. It’s not my fault, it’s the balance sheet from last year.

“We took on a bad situation financially and I covered that but we are facing an embargo.”

The Italian is understood to be investigating whether the number of players under the age of 21 in his squad and the tally of senior professionals who have made no first-team appearances this season would give him scope to bring signings in, regardless of a Football League embargo. At a meeting in Derby on Thursday, Championship clubs agreed that the current rules on FFP – rules which limit sides to a loss of just £6m this season – would remain in place until the end of the 2015-16 campaign.

The new regulations for the 2016-17 campaign will permit clubs to lose up to £15m over a three-year period without explaining how that loss is to be funded.

In addition, Championship sides can make further losses up to a maximum of £39m but will be ordered to provide proof of their boards’ ability to cover the shortfall, along with financial information for the following two seasons.

A Football League statement read: “The existing Championship FFP framework will remain in place for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.

Any sanctions for accounts relating to the 2013-14 season will continue to take effect as intended.”