Former Leeds United chief Cellino hit with 12-month ban from English football

Massimo Cellino. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Massimo Cellino. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has been banned from English football for 12 months and fined £100,000 after failing to overturn a disciplinary ruling against him.

The controversial Italian, who no longer has any shares or involvement at Leeds, saw the punishment imposed on him for a breach of agent regulations during his time as United owner upheld after challenging the decision through the Football Association’s Rule K Arbitration process.

Cellino was originally found guilty of making an illegal payment during the sale of Ross McCormack from Leeds to Fulham in July 2014, one of the first transfers completed after his takeover of the Championship club.

The FA accused Cellino of making a six-figure payment to a licensed agent, Derek Day, in the knowledge that the fee would be passed to Barry Hughes, an unlicensed representative of McCormack’s.

FA rule forbid payments to unregistered third parties and the cash was passed to Day through a ‘scouting contract’, something the FA described as “a sham designed to mislead the FA as a cover-up of irregular payments made by LUFC.”

Cellino was initially banned for 18 months and fined £250,000 in December of last year. The punishment was later reduced to 12 months and £100,000 following a challenge to the FA Appeal board.

Leeds also received a fine of £250,000, reduced to £200,000 on appeal, while Day was banned from operating as an agent for 18 months, with 11 of those suspended.

Cellino’s repeated appeals prevented the FA from imposing its ban until after he sold all of his remaining shares in Leeds to Andrea Radrizzani in May. His Rule K arbitration hearing took place two months later, on July 27.

The 60-year-old has since taken charge of Italian Serie B club Brescia. His suspension from all footballing activity, however, will only prevent him from operating in England. The FA has no power to impose a ban outside its jurisdiction.

McCormack, who was sold to Fulham for a fee in the region of £10m, was not cited as part of the FA’s investigation and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of the Scotland international.