Massimo Cellino will be forced to step down from the board of Leeds United within the next 48 hours after an appeals hearing upheld The Football League’s ban.

The Italian’s problems began when he first arrived at Elland Road and The Football League rejected his takeover after determining a conviction for failing to pay import tax on a yacht in his native Italy fell within the disqualifying criteria of their Owners’ & Director’s Test.

Cellino launched an appeal against the decision and was allowed to complete his takeover of the club, though the QC inserted a caveat into the ruling, stating that it was impossible to determine whether Cellino had committed a “dishonest act” until a written verdict was filed and the judge’s reasoning was outlined.

The vague Football League rule states that anyone considered to have committed a dishonest act can be disqualified from ownership and while The Football League’s board unanimously agreed that Cellino’s failure to pay import tax could reasonably be considered dishonest, Cellino’s lawyers successfully argued this wasn’t necessarily the case.

This left the club and Cellino with a dark cloud hanging over them as The Football League waited for the written judgement to be provided.

Months later and after The Guardian leaked the report, it became apparent Cellino’s Italian lawyer had been in possession of the written verdict for some time and while Massimo Cellino maintains he hasn’t seen the document himself, The Football League were less than impressed by his failure to produce the document and will seek to impose further punishment on the Italian as a consequence.

With Cellino (and/or his lawyers) uncooperative, The Football League successfully petitioned the Italian courts for the written judgement and quickly concluded that the judge’s verdict had found him guilty of a dishonest act, thus confirming his ban.

Once again, an appeal was launched which Cellino today lost, but if you chase this back to the beginning, Cellino still comes out on top – if you consider being lumbered with a financial catastrophe of an English football club you can’t control an advantage, that is.

While The Football League will be celebrating a win for their Owners’ & Directors’ test, the Italian still managed to take ownership of Leeds United so instead of the disqualifying ban which would have prevented him from purchasing the club in the first place, The Football League can only remove him from power until the conviction is considered spent under UK law. The date for this would have been mid-March but the appeals process pushed that back until the 10th of April which is still a rather minor punishment compared to outright ban The Football League originally sought.

That’s unlikely to be the end of Cellino’s troubles however as The Football League could add a misconduct charge to his punishment for failing to supply the written verdict. There’s also additional and very similar court cases to follow in Italy later this year which would undoubtedly result in further – and lengthier – bans.

Losing the appeal this time around means Cellino would have very little basis to launch an appeal next time and any subsequent ban(s) would almost certainly be upheld. It’s unclear as to whether Cellino can or will take this any further with the Court of Arbitration for Sport a possible next step, but as his ownership becomes evermore complicated, you have to question whether it’s possible to run a football club under such turbulent conditions and what will, if any, Cellino has left to fight against so many obstacles.

Cellino must already be considering his options and if there is an interested buyer out there, I suspect he’d be very receptive to an approach. In the meantime, it’s unclear as to who will run Leeds United in Cellino’s absence and what effect – if any – this will have on the club’s recruitment plans over the next few days.

Just another crisis for the world’s foremost crisis club.

  • Ron

    I am so tired of bad news I am spinning this to myself as good news i.e. Cellino steps away, Salerno signs players on his behalf, we move along. I don’t think anyone expected Cellino to get through this, especially as the League saw this as the high-profile opportunity they’ve been waiting for to show they have teeth. Let’s see what happens before the end of the transfer window before we all jump out windows.

    • marky. b

      If massimos got Peter risdales phone number, race you to the window!

  • Ray

    This is now the time to stand together and support our club with every breath we have. the support we have at Leeds is incomparable and despite this latest kick in the balls we have to show all other clubs you still can’t put us down….we still stand united no matter what is thrown at us. yes it’s unjust and unfair when you compare how other clubs are treated by the FA……but don’t flinch now, stand steady and continue to amaze other clubs fans in how we support our club…..they all fear us and know Leeds will return one day. when that happens we will celebrate like never before….keep your chins up lads. Leeds Leeds Leeds!

    • henrymouni

      Well said Ray!!
      Let’s show our power and passion, and support for Massimo, Redders and the lads!

    • Irving08

      Hear, hear – Let’s make our support for Cellino and all the lads at Elland Road heard loud and clear tomorrow night. The politicians in our ranks can stay away.

  • Chris

    I feel football league should be held totally responsible for all of this as they have been the only ones in control of rules and outcomes resulting from those rules. Leeds precarious position is a result of their incompetence.

    • Dr Zen

      That and Cellino being a crook, yes.

      • Chris

        If he is a crook now he was a crook before. If they had any doubts, which they did, they should have made certain of all the details before allowing ownership, therfore their cock up.
        They have a duty to protect the clubs against this happening. It can’t be difficult (with the funds they have) to put rules in place for this kind of scenario.
        If the rules don’t exist their fault.

      • henrymouni

        “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” Dr Zen.
        Rightly or wrongly Massimo feels he does not owe the tax.
        He had a chance to pay it but refused.
        The World is full of ‘crooks’ of different shades of grey and black.
        Some stay just inside the law, and others don’t.
        The men running our banks, and our country are far worse than Massimo and they are rewarded for it.
        Shaun Harvey spent many years at the feet of Ken Bates, and was rewarded for the disaster by being made Chief Executive of the FL.
        Hypocrisy makes this World go round, so lets not join the herd, who expect other people to be ‘better’ than them.
        If you sit in judgement on other mortals, look to yourself instead.
        If he pays up he will be a ‘crook no more’.
        His past life is passed.

        • spellz

          Very well said Henri, could not agree more.

        • PMH

          A ridiculous comment! Sorry friend, but I pay my taxes and I expect others to do the same. The biblical quote you that applies here is “Thou Shalt not steal.” If someone cheats on taxes he is stealing from the community. You don’t get a pass on basic morality because you are part of Leeds Utd. May I point out that Cellino is also a repeat offender. He clearly is not just a crook but a fool who cannot be listening to his legal advisers.

          • henrymouni

            I know you pay your taxes PMH, but what about the other 9 Commandments?
            The 10 commandments are impossible to live with most of the time. Even for Saints.
            I am not a religious person, and my comment was tongue in cheek, but you cannot point to one thing that you do ‘right’ and expect to forget everything else.
            Tax avoidance, is something many business men try, using accountant’s schemes.
            Some are successful and some are not.
            I know you cannot beat ‘the system’ too many times, but many try.
            Also you cannot impose your beliefs on other people.
            The war between Islam and ‘the rest’ has been going on for 500 years SO FAR!
            Until we except life as it is, we will always have strife and judgementalism, I’m afraid.
            Anyway we won last night!!!!!
            Great game by all the lads!!

          • henrymouni

            I have to admit PMH, it would be nice to have a ‘Leslie Silver’ as Chairman.
            Lovely man, great Chairman, and no trouble with the tax man or the FL.
            A class act.
            Just a dream!

  • marky. b

    Apparently Carson yeung at Birmingham City is under investigation Now. If they cannot find him he’s in a Hong Kong jail. yet I suppose he will pass their test

  • oldschoolbaby

    Well said, Ray. PL clubs are already smelling weakness and showing their hands in relation to our youngsters. We have to demonstrate some strength and unity somehow. ( bollocks to new arrivals Warnock`s wages need to be divided up between Cook, Mowatt and Byram )
    Lord knows what Cellino will do now. I hope he adopts a “fuck you I won`t be beaten” attitude towards the FL. Plausibly deniable shadow directorship has to be a talent he can master extremely easily.
    Meanwhile can we tie up Massimo`s flotilla on the canalbank at Rodley

  • Mike

    Just another bump in the road for the club we love! We’ll come through this stronger than ever we just need to band together and keep on with the “us against the world” mentality, my hope is the players follow suit as well.

  • Tim

    Why are so many people reacting in such a histerical way on blog sites? We all knew this was going to happen and plans are in place. Nothing changes, we move on and no none of our young players will be sold. It’s just another normal day in the life of
    Leeds United. The big difference now is we have an owner who wants to make a success of the club. After all he has invested millions into it already, and no he won’t be selling to Farnan or any other of the big talkers with empty pockets!
    So, turn up in force tomorrow, get behind the team, get used to it and let’s climb right up that league table!
    Thank you Mike for talking sense.

    • Irving08

      Too much Radio Leeds probably Tim. (Maybe too much Square Ball too.) Anyhow, it doesnt mean they won’t be doing as you recommend.

  • spellz

    The FL are a joke just trying to show they have bite and yet again we are used as an example, they would probably welcome David Hague out of jail to run he club again, thats how methodical thier thinking is (sarcasm overtone) sick of reading bad news though I think this is recentely the least I have ever googled Leeds United news because its so depressing, I agree totally with ray and feel we need to pull together but my its hard atm to feel anything but down, given the situation but we do need to come together to tackle the drop as we are officially in a relegation battle, I hope Cellino stays until then, any thoughts if he will?

    M.O.T AA

  • spellz

    Total off subject I rap, have done for some years now I know this kind of forum is the last place to share that as most of you actually got to see Don Revies golden era first hand and I bet rap is the last genre next to heavy metal you would actually want to hear but there is a mention of our great Leeds United towards the end of the song, with my subject matter its hard to fit Leeds in but as the times are what they are I thought it was only fitting. please share it on any site you can the exposure means alot.

    M.O.T AA

    https://soundcloud.com/odd-tremorz/i-am-composed