Leeds United: Cellino awaits appeal verdict

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino
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The future of Leeds United stills hangs in the balance today after an independent QC required more time to consider Massimo Cellino’s appeal against a decision to block his takeover.

THE FUTURE of Leeds United stills hangs in the balance today after an independent QC required more time to consider Massimo Cellino’s appeal against a decision to block his takeover.

The crisis-hit club face a further anxious wait before learning whether the Football League board’s decision to block his £25m takeover has been successful – with no time-scale being given on when the outcome will be announced.

With the situation a legally complex one, with aspects of Italian law involved, the QC will take time to consider matters before delivering his verdict.

Both United and Cellino had been hoping for a swift resolution from yesterday’s hearing in London with a judge given representations from the Italian businessman – who is being represented by legal firm Mishcon de Reya – and the Football League, who disqualified Cellino from being an owner or director at United following his recent conviction for tax evasion by an Italian court. In a short statement, Leeds confirmed that they had been hoping for a verdict “sooner rather than later”, with the uncertainty regarding Cellino’s buy-out causing a dispute between him and club owners GFH last week over who is responsible for the players’ wages.

It read: “The Football League has issued a short statement regarding Massimo Cellino’s appeal against the initial outcome of the Owners and Directors Test.

“A League spokesman said: Massimo Cellino’s appeal under The Football League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test has now concluded with the Independent QC reserving his judgement.

“The club is now waiting on the outcome. No timescale has been given, but we are hoping for a verdict sooner rather than later.”

United’s financial situation is looking increasingly perilous, with the club – whose players and backroom staff agreed to defer 50 per cent of their wages last Friday – under serious pressure to find more money to cover their outgoings if Cellino’s appeal is rejected.

Cellino, who has bankrolled United for the past two months and is understood to have put in around £10m into the club, has refused to inject more money in following the rejection of his takeover.

This has prompted fears that the club could be heading towards administration if the league’s decision is upheld.

Meanwhile, the totally chaotic picture at Elland Road was compounded by weekend comments made by Cellino in an inflammatory phone interview with a internet radio station with the caller describing himself as a concerned fan before speaking at length with the Italian, unaware the call was being recorded.

Cellino was highly critical of GFH and manager Brian McDermott in the broadcast.

McDermott, whose side host Charlton Athletic this evening, revealed that he has heard the interval, but insists the call should not have been recorded and was a private conversation.

He said: “If you have got a private conversation, it’s a private conversation that shouldn’t go out - full stop. Private conversations are private.

“It is a conversation on a telephone that shouldn’t have come out. And that’s it.

“There’s rights and wrongs and that was not right.”

On his own future, McDermott said: “If Massimo gets the club, Massimo will have a decision to make where we go, going forward.

“Whatever happens, everyone has got to be together. Simple; that’s the only thing that matters and the only way we are going to be successful.”

The Whites boss went onto dismiss suggestions that managing the club is an impossible one under the present climate, while also revealing his belief United are not destined for administration, despite plenty of speculation among worried fans.

He said: “No I don’t think it’s impossible to manage. You have to keep doing your job, thats the important thing, and get to where we need to get to.

“If we can get through this period, it will make us so much stronger as a club with the ownership is resolved.

On the spectre of administration, he added: “I don’t think that is going to happen. I have no inclination whatsoever that it will happen.”

Leeds head coach Paul Heckingbottom

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