Leeds United: Governing body to discuss response to Cellino’s successful appeal

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The Football League will discuss a response to Massimo Cellino’s successful appeal against it at a board meeting on Thursday.

The governing body is considering its next move after an independent QC ruled on Saturday that it was wrong to disqualify Cellino from buying a majority stake in Leeds United on the basis of a court case in Italy.

Cellino was barred from completing a 75 per cent takeover of Leeds last month after being convicted of tax evasion by a judge in Sardinia.

The 57-year-old fought that decision and won his appeal after Tim Kerr QC, the lawyer responsible for hearing the case, said the conviction should not class as dishonest and Cellino’s takeover should be allowed to proceed.

Cellino is expected to tie up the formalities of his buy-out within the next 48 hours but the League has given no indication over whether it will attempt to contest Kerr’s 35-page judgement.

The League said it was “disappointed by the outcome” and would “now consider the findings of the hearing.”

Its eight-man board – the group responsible for rejecting Cellino’s takeover in the first place – is due to hold a scheduled meeting this Thursday, and the result of the appeal will be part of the agenda.

In a statement, the League said: “We are disappointed at the outcome of the appeal hearing. However, we would like to thank the independent QC for his diligence in reviewing this decision.

“This was never about individual personalities but instead was a matter in which we were obliged to uphold the integrity of our regulations having considered the issue in detail with our advisors. It was always an extremely complex matter in which a different interpretation of a judgment made under Italian law could lead to an entirely different outcome in the context of our regulations. Ultimately this has proven to be the case. The independent QC has concluded that Mr Cellino’s recent conviction in the Sardinian court did not involve conduct that would ‘reasonably be considered to be dishonest’ based on information available to him at the current time.

“The Football League will now consider the findings of the hearing.”

In his ruling, Kerr wrote: “I am satisfied on the evidence that the conviction was not for a “dishonest act”.

“Mr Cellino’s appeal accordingly succeeds. He is not, at present, subject to a disqualifying condition and is not disqualified from holding office or acting as a club director at a club.”

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