Andrea Radrizzani has tonight completed his takeover of Leeds United, ending Massimo Cellino’s association with the Elland Road club.
Radrizzani’s purchase of Cellino’s 50 per cent shareholding was finalised this afternoon, handing him full control of Leeds and calling time on Cellino’s turbulent three-year reign.
Radrizzani, who agreed a 50-50 split of shares with Cellino in January, has been working for the past three weeks to take up an option to buy his fellow Italian out of Elland Road.
Leeds confirmed in a statement tonight that Cellino was leaving the club, more than three years after he first purchased a 75 per cent stake from Gulf Finance House in April 2014.
Cellino’s time in charge was marred by controversy and conflict with the footballing authorities and both staff and supporters at United but he has been increasingly absent from the club this season and was set on selling the club to Radrizzani after the club failed to make the Championship play-offs.
Radrizzani has replaced Cellino as club chairman with immediate effect.
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to become a custodian of this great football club,” Radrizzani said. “The heritage and history of Leeds United attracted me to the club and having spent time at games and at Thorp Arch I can see that we are ready to move forward to the next level.
“This is a long-term commitment with a lot of hard work ahead of us and I am aware of my responsibilities as owner of Leeds United. I can assure all supporters that everyone at this club will be doing all we can to build a successful team at Elland Road.”
The completion of Radrizzani’s takeover will allow him to push on with major changes, including additions to the senior management team at Leeds.
West Ham United managing director Angus Kinnear is set to join the club in the days ahead following the news last week that current chief executive Ben Mansford will leave United on May 31.
Radrizzani is also set to address the contract held by head coach Garry Monk, whose existing deal ends this summer, and move to appoint a technical director to oversee the club’s footballing operations. Detailed discussions over Monk’s future were delayed while Radrizzani worked to finalise his takeover.
Radrizzani paid tribute to Cellino, saying: “Massimo has been incredibly supportive throughout the investment process and I am grateful that he has afforded me the opportunity to purchase Leeds United.
“We have had a positive 12 months and I am inheriting a club with a good squad and talented, hardworking staff. Massimo acquired a club in a difficult financial situation but he has created a sound platform for me to take Leeds United forward into a new era.”
Cellino is now expected to press ahead with plans to invest in Serie B club Brescia after bowing out of Elland Road.
The 60-year-old, who has been fighting a 12-month Football Association suspension since before Christmas, sold Cagliari to help finance the running of Leeds but is now likely to return to the Italian leagues.
Cellino said: “I have been proud to work at Leeds United, with nice people who have worked at the club with me. If you can survive working with me, you can survive anything!
“I have always taught people to work for the club and not for me and in the end the staff have done so in a beautiful way.
“I wish Andrea good luck, I am sure he will continue what I have started and show that people from our country are honest and hard working people.
“Owners come and go but Leeds United will be there forever, for the fans - keep Marching on Together. Goodbye and farewell.”