Leeds United: Cellino makes first public appearance as fight for Football League approval continues

Prospective Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino, chats with a Middlesbrough fan Steve Cook, centre and Leeds United fan Jack Millican, on arriving at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Prospective Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino, chats with a Middlesbrough fan Steve Cook, centre and Leeds United fan Jack Millican, on arriving at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough on Saturday.
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Massimo Cellino cast his eye over Leeds United’s 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday – and then turned his attention back to his fight for Football League approval.

The Italian made his first appearance in public since finalising a £25m takeover of Leeds as United and Boro shared the points in a low-key match at The Riverside. The result on Teesside did little to enhance the club’s chances of reaching the Championship play-offs but Cellino has a more pressing priority with the Football League still considering his bid to buy United.

Cellino’s 75 per cent purchase remains subject to approval from the governing body and despite a belief in the 57-year-old’s camp that the Football League might make a ruling today, a decision is unlikely to come in the next 24 hours.

Lawyers acting for Cellino and Gulf Finance House, United’s current owner, have supplied the Football League with documents outlining the terms of their deal and the details of his wealth but the organisation in turn sent back a lengthy list of questions and requests for further information.

Cellino, however, remains confident of securing ownership of Leeds and he was present at Saturday’s match with one of his sons, looking on from the directors’ box in the main stand.

He and manager Brian McDermott met again last Thursday, with Cellino travelling to Thorp Arch to watch United train ahead of the game against Boro, and the Leeds boss admitted that he was no closer to knowing the Football League’s intentions.

“We’re still waiting on the Football League to do what they have to do and tell us what the situation is, to tell us what’s happening” McDermott said. “That’s it really.

“But it’s so important that we talk about football now because we’ve had an awful lot of time where football’s been a bit of a distraction. We need to talk about football with 15 games to go. We really need to focus.

“Everybody at the club from top to bottom appreciates that. I’m sure the board know that.”

United are seven points behind the play-off positions after Saturday’s stalemate.

CHIN UP: Stuart Dallas consoles Pablo Hernandez after missing a late penalty in the 1-0 defeat to Reading at Elland Road on Saturday. Picture: Tony Johnson.

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