Leeds United chairman Massimo Cellino has tonight been hit with a second Football League ownership ban - just minutes after confirming Steve Evans as the club’s new head coach.
Cellino’s future as majority shareholder at Elland Road is in grave doubt again following a fresh disqualification imposed on him as punishment for his conviction for tax evasion in Italy in June.
The 59-year-old was found guilty by a court in Cagliari of failing to pay 40,000 Euros owed in tax on a Range Rover he imported to Italy from the USA.
A statement from the League said it had “considered detailed legal advice and the court’s reasoned judgment” before finding Cellino in breach of its Owners and Directors Test.
Its statement read: “The (Football League) board determined that the decision of the Italian court constitutes a disqualifying condition under the Owners and Directors test.
“Mr Cellino has until October 28 to appeal against the board’s decision. Any such appeal would be heard by an independent panel.”
The dramatic announcement rounded off another day of chaos following Cellino’s decision to sack former head coach Uwe Rosler after 12 games in charge.
Rosler was fired following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Brighton and ex-Rotherham United manager Evans is poised to put pen to paper on a contract on a contract until the end of the season.
Evans took training at Thorp Arch this morning after holding talks with Cellino over the weekend.
Cellino’s Football League ban, however, will turn attention to his own future and renew pressure on the Italian to sell the majority stake he controls in United.
Cellino bought a 75 per cent shareholding through his firm Eleonora Sport Limited in April 2014 and has already survived one ban imposed on him by the Football League.
He was disqualified in January of this year for a period of three-and-a-half months after being found guilty by an Italian court of evading tax owed on a private yacht, Nelie, in March 2014.
That ban effectively ended on the day when his conviction was classed as spent under UK law, 12 months on from the date of his guilty verdict in Cagliari.
The Football League has confirmed that Cellino’s new ban will run until his latest tax conviction is spent on June 23, 2016.