Q&A: Where now for rudderless Leeds United?

Massimo Cellino’s long-term future as Leeds owner has been cast into doubt despite the Italian businessman insisting he will accept disqualification by the Football League and then return in April.

Massimo Cellino was shocked his appeal failed but says he will abide by the rules (Picture: Steve Riding).
Massimo Cellino was shocked his appeal failed but says he will abide by the rules (Picture: Steve Riding).

A Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) chaired by Tim Kerr QC rejected Cellino’s appeal against disqualification, deciding a tax evasion conviction in Italy last year was an offence of dishonesty.

Although the disqualification period expires on April 10, Cellino is now facing a misconduct charge over failing to provide the findings of the Italian judge to the league, who believe he was being “deliberately obstructive”.

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He also faces further tax evasion cases in Italy later this year which could also affect his long-term future with Leeds.

Q: So what has happened to Massimo Cellino now?

A: He has lost his appeal against his disqualification from being owner and director of Leeds United.

Q: Why was he disqualified?

A: Under Football League rules he must step down from his club positions after his conviction in Italy of a tax evasion offence. He appealed against the league’s decision but a panel has decided it was a ‘”dishonest” and dismissed his appeal.

Q: Can he take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport?

A: Even those close to the case say it is unclear whether he can do so - it would certainly mean another legal challenge to try to do so.

Q: How long is he disqualified for?

A: Only until April 10, after which his conviction becomes spent under UK law.

Q: What will happen to Leeds in the mean time?

A: Cellino will have to resign as a director and not wield any influence over the running of the club. One board member, Andrew Umbers, has claimed this could lead to “a real likelihood of insolvency”. In truth Cellino has two sons on the board and things will probably continue with little change.

Q: Have any other people at clubs been subjected to similar disqualifications?

A: There have been quite a few cases but not all of them have been made public. Carson Yeung, the former Birmingham owner who is in prison in Hong Kong, is being investigated for possible breach of the disqualifying condition.