Massimo Cellino’s UK lawyers confirmed last night that they are preparing an appeal against the Football League’s decision to block his takeover of Leeds United.
Mishcon de Reya, the London firm which has represented Cellino throughout his bid to buy a majority stake in Leeds, will present a legal challenge to the Football League inside the 14-day window given to the Italian to appeal.
Cellino’s £25million buy-out of current United owner Gulf Finance House was formally rejected by the League on Monday after the governing body’s eight-man board met to discuss his proposed takeover the previous day.
The League ruled that a conviction for tax evasion imposed on Cellino a week ago breached its Owners and Directors Test and disqualified him from taking charge of the club.
Cellino, 57, was given two weeks to lodge an appeal and a spokesperson for Mishcon de Reya told the YEP: “Mr Cellino will be appealing the decision. We have no further comment.”
In a statement on Monday, the Football League said: “In line with Football League regulations, Massimo Cellino is entitled to appeal against the board’s decision within 14 days.
“In such circumstances, the League would seek to expedite the process to deliver certainty to all parties in the shortest possible timeframe.”
The League’s board includes six executives from Football League clubs but it is likely that an appeal from Cellino would be heard by an independent lawyer taking representations from both sides.
Cellino was barred from buying United on the basis of a court ruling in Sardinia on March 18 which found him guilty of evading import duty of over £300,000 on a yacht he bought in 2010.
Lawyers for Cellino argued that the Cagliari owner remained innocent under Italian law until all possible challenges against the conviction had been exhausted. In a four-page judgement, the League rejected that claim after taking legal advice.
Cellino insisted on Tuesday evening that he would continue his battle to secure control of Leeds, almost two months after he and GFH finalised the terms of their sale.
“I have to appeal,” Cellino said. “I feel a responsibility to the fans who I am proud to say wanted me.”