Massimo Cellino has failed The Football League’s Owners’ & Directors’ test, barring him from taking over Leeds United Football Club.

Cellino was convicted of tax avoidance in his native Italy earlier this month for failing to pay import duty on a yacht he’d brought to Cagliari from America.

The Football League have been under intense pressure from the media due to Cellino’s sketchy legal history but they appeared to have no grounds on which to fail him until the recent court case in Italy.

Even then, things weren’t straight-forward. Unlike here in England where a guilty verdict stands until a successful appeal at a higher court overturns the original ruling, Article 27 of the Italian constitution states that defendants wishing to appeal should be presumed innocent until they’ve had their case heard.

This led The Football League to seek advice from an expert in Italian law whose interpretation of the ruling seems to have satisfied FL lawyers, leading them to today’s decision.

Cellino now has 14 days to appeal the decision and may consider legal action against The Football League. However, the Italian has stated previously that if he was to fail the Owners’ & Directors’ test, he would respect the decision and walk away, commenting that he’s “too old” to fight such a battle.

For Leeds United, the situation looks grim. GFH Capital remain owners having added around £10m in debt to the club’s books (money owed to Cellino) while the attempted takeover process has been ongoing.

Assuming a third party hasn’t entered the equation, the only option for GFH Capital would be Together Leeds, the Mike Farnan-led consortium who’ve maintained their interest throughout.

Football League statement;

Having fully considered the matter, the Board agreed unanimously that the decision of the Italian Court does constitute a disqualifying condition under its Owners’ and Directors’ Test. The relevant disqualifying condition being that Massimo Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving acts that would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.

In line with Football League regulations, Massimo Cellino is entitled to appeal against the Board’s decision within 14 days.