Leeds United chairman Massimo Cellino vowed to fight the FA and defend himself after discovering he was facing a £250,000 fine and 18 month suspension over the transfer of Ross McCormack to Fulham.
The FA is poised to hand the Italian the punishment over a breach of FA regulations in regards to the sale of McCormack to the Cottagers in 2014.
An FA commission is also poised to fine Leeds a further £250,000 after spending more than 12 months investigating allegations of an illegal payment authorised by the club during McCormack’s £10.75 million transfer.
But a “surprised” Cellino insisted on Wednesday night that he was not guilty of any wrongdoing, with the 60-year-old vowing to take the “right steps” to defend himself at a tribunal.
Cellino said in a statement released by Leeds United: “I am surprised to read the news regarding the FA’s intentions to ban and fine me, as well as fine the Club.
“I am not guilty and I will take the right steps to defend myself through the tribunal. I feel that I am guilty of one thing, protecting Leeds United since I took charge of the Club.
“I ask the players, manager and my staff to continue to work with loyalty and professionalism and to keep fighting for the Club everyday on and off the pitch.
“I am sure that the public in this country and the free press will take the time to look into this case and find the truth.”
Cellino acquired a majority share of Leeds in February 2014 and his two-and-a-half-year tenure has seen the sacking of six coaches and a number of off-the-field incidents.
The 60-year-old was suspended by the Football League in 2014 after being found guilty of tax evasion in his homeland and this year had another ban overturned.
Cellino’s company Eleonora Sport took full control of Leeds in September but there has been growing speculation over his future at the club in recent months.
Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani last week confirmed his interest in a 50 per cent share of Leeds with a view to buying the Sky Bet Championship club outright next summer.
The co-founder of media rights group MP & Silva claimed he was in “advanced negotiations” with Cellino.
And unlike in previous seasons, Cellino has played a lower-profile role this term with Garry Monk working the oracle as head coach.
Leeds are currently fourth in the Championship table, the highest they have been for six years, and victory at second-placed Brighton on Friday evening would take the Whites third.
Asked what Cellino had said to him about the job he had been doing, Monk said: “Nothing. Our focus remains the same. I speak to him regularly and it’s not always just about football. It’s about a lot of things.
“Of course he can see the job that we are doing and he is very happy with the way that we work and he’s happy with the group and how the team are progressing so that’s important.
“But he also understands we need a lot of improvement as well if we want to sustain what we are doing. But he understands that process is not an overnight thing and it takes time to get everything across and get to the level that you want to be able to compete for things like promotion and the ambitions that you have to get out of this league.”
Yorkshire Post - Football
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