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Leeds United: Cellino and GFH posed fresh questions by Football League

Massimo Cellino.

Massimo Cellino.

  • by Phil Hay
 

The Football League has asked Massimo Cellino and Gulf Finance House to answer a fresh list of questions relating to his Leeds United takeover with a decision on the Italian’s buy-out set to run beyond the end this week.

Lawyers acting for the Football League submitted a request for further information after meeting with Cellino at a hearing in London last Wednesday and receiving documentation from both sides involved in the sale of the Elland Road club.

Cellino and GFH have exchanged contracts for a £25million deal which will see Cellino acquire a 75 per cent stake in United through Eleonora Sport Limited, a company established in England last month.

The 57-year-old has made the first in a series of staged payments to GFH but their agreement is subject to Football League approval and has been in the hands of the governing body since Cellino’s takeover was finalised 10 days ago.

The League granted a request from the Italian businessman for a meeting seven days ago – a hearing at which Cellino, the existing owner of Cagliari, hoped the organisation would sanction his purchase – but the submission of documents by both his legal team and lawyers representing GFH prompted a demand for additional clarification from the League.

The questions posed to Cellino and GFH are still to be answered in full and sources close to the deal do not expect the League to deliver a final decision on Cellino’s buy-out until next week at the earliest.

The Football League was contacted by the YEP last night but made no comment.

Officials at the League are working under intense scrutiny as Cellino and GFH push for a swift end to the approval process.

Cellino and other new directors of Leeds are required to comply with the League’s Owners and Directors Test – an examination which he is likely to pass – but a key part of the League’s inquiries is believed to be focusing on Cellino’s ability to fund both his £25m buy-out of United and the future running of the club.

Football League rules state that “the executive shall have the power to require the person who proposes to acquire or has acquired control to appear before it and to provide evidence of the source and sufficiency of any funds which that person proposes to invest in or otherwise make available to the Championship club.”

It also requires clubs to supply “future financial information” regarding any planned buy-out.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, whose organisation applies near-identical ownership regulations to those put in place by the Football League, told a parliamentary select committee in 2011: “There are stringent tests.

“We require absolute proof of funding, we engage directly with (prospective owners’) banks and their banking organisations, we make sure that they can fund and sustain the club for the short to medium term.”

Cellino is a Sardinian agricultural magnate whose family are said to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

He bought Serie A club Cagliari in 1992 and took up permanent residence in Miami in 2005.

 

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