Leeds United: PFA says Cellino appeal ruling imminent

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The Professional Footballers’ Association expects a ruling on Massimo Cellino’s takeover and payment of deferred wages to Leeds United’s squad before the end of this week after more talks with the club.

The PFA has been told that money which United’s players and backroom team agreed to delay last Friday will not be paid until an independent QC delivers a verdict on whether Cellino should be barred from buying a majority stake in Leeds. Playing staff at Thorp Arch accepted a 50 per cent deferral and were told that the remainder of their wages for March would be transferred on Tuesday, 24 hours after Cellino’s case was heard in London.

The second payment failed to arrive on time and United managing director David Haigh spoke with manager Brian McDermott and his squad in the home dressing room before Tuesday night’s defeat to Charlton Athletic, offering reassurances that the bill would be met but failing to specify a date.

The PFA, the players’ union, sought further guarantees yesterday and were informed that the remaining money would be transferred following the outcome of Cellino’s appeal against a Football League decision to disqualify him from becoming an owner or director of Leeds.

United also indicated that a written judgement from Tim Kerr QC would be forthcoming in the next 48 hours.

John Bramhall, the PFA’s deputy chief executive, told the YEP: “My understanding is that a decision on the appeal was expected by the club on Tuesday, which is why they set Tuesday as the date set for payment to the players.

“Clearly that decision didn’t come and payment wasn’t made but we’re assured that wages will be met after the appeal finishes and we’re told that a decision will be made before the end of the week.”

The dispute about wages arose after the Football League’s rejection of Cellino’s takeover sparked bitter arguments over who was responsible for funding wages and operating costs at Elland Road.

Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini bank which has been trying to sell Leeds to Cellino for two months, claims its deal with him included a clause which committed the Italian businessman to running United financially for six months from the end of January.

Cellino has injection a seven-figure sum into Leeds already but he refused to provide additional money last week with the wage bill for March looming and no guarantee about whether his takeover would succeed.

Leeds, who are losing around £1m, paid their general staff using cash from their accounts but were unable to fully fund wages owed to players and coaches.

Bramhall said: “No-one’s ever happy in these circumstances but I think the players understand the situation at Leeds and are mindful of it.”

Ten days ago, the Football League announced that Cellino had failed its Owners and Directors Test 10 days ago after receiving a convicted for tax evasion from a Sardinian judge last month.

The 57-year-old appealed the governing body’s decision rapidly and his legal team put his case to Kerr during a six-hour hearing on Monday.

Cellino is ready to fund the deferred wages owed to United’s players and backroom team provided he wins his appeal but that cost is likely to fall to existing owner GFH if Kerr upholds the Football League’s view.

Leeds have taken repeated loans from third parties this season, some used to pay wages and operating costs, and funding from GFH has dwindled amid its protracted attempt to sell a majority share in the club.

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