Leeds United: Football League won’t comment on Cellino fine

Massimo Cellino.
Massimo Cellino.
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the football League will make no comment regarding Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino’s conviction for tax evasion on a Range Rover until they have seen formal documentation from the case.

Cellino was also fined €40,000 at a court hearing in Cagliari yesterday after failing to pay VAT on a Range Rover which had been imported from the United States, according to reports in Sardinia.

The 58-year-old was found guilty of tax evasion, but acquitted of customs offences because estimates of the vehicle’s value fell below the threshold of criminal liability.

The league will now wait to study formal court documents from the case before establishing whether this latest conviction was confirmed by the court judge to be a dishonest act – which could result in a further ban for Cellino under their owners’ and directors test.

The same judge in Cagliari, Dr Sandra Lepore, convicted Cellino of tax evasion in relation to his yacht, Nelie, last year and fined him €600,000.

That conviction led to Cellino being disqualified from having any executive influence at Leeds for four months by the Football League in December.

The League ruled that because the tax offence involving Nelie had been confirmed by the Italian judge to have been a dishonest act, Cellino breached rules regarding owners and directors.

Cellino failed to have his disqualification overturned at a Football League hearing in January.

In early March, the ban was extended until the end of the season as a result of Cellino’s failure to disclose court documents, which confirmed non-payment of tax on Nelie had been a dishonest act.

Cellino returned to office at Elland Road following the expiry of his ban on May 3 and has since had his Leeds ownership status approved by the League.

He is currently appealing against his disqualification through the Football Association’s arbitration process.

Cellino’s legal team claimed the guilty verdict against him in Italy over Nelie should not be classed as a formal conviction until it has passed through three stages of appeal, an argument which was turned down when he challenged his League disqualification earlier this year.

The United owner also faces a separate court hearing in Italy for tax evasion in relation to a second yacht, Lucky 23, in October.

That case was adjourned earlier this month until October 16.

Leeds are making no comment regarding the latest Range Rover case.