Cellino disqualified... here we go again!

01 Dec 2014 01:50pm, by YorkshireSquare

So, here we go again. After the joy of Saturday is back to earth with a bump for Leeds United fans. The Football League has yet again decided that Massimo Cellino is subject to a disqualifying condition under the terms of the Owners and Directors Test. The board of the Football League had previously declared Cellino unsuitable back in March 2014 following his conviction in an Italian court for non-payment of tax of a yacht called Nelie. Cellino successfully appealed the decision, an independent QC Tim Kerr overturned the decision stating;

“Mr Cellino has satisfied me that on the facts before me, what he was convicted of was not conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest. If the reasoned ruling of the court in Cagliari discloses that the conduct of Mr Cellino was such that it would reasonably be considered to be dishonest, he would become subject to a Disqualifying Condition.”

It is the last part of that statement that has now landed Cellino back in hot water. Having applied to the Italian courts for full disclosure of the judgement the Football League have decided that the conduct of Cellino could ‘reasonably be considered to be dishonest’ and as such they judge that he is again subject to a disqualifying condition. Cellino now has to stand down as a director within 28 days, but as with the previous ruling Cellino has 14 days to appeal the decision with the Professional Conduct Committee.

So what happens next? According to the club they are ‘taking legal advice on the reasoning of the decision’ and it is likely that they will appeal the decision. Until there is an outcome from any appeal nothing will change. Cellinos conviction is due to be spent in March next year when he could take up the reigns again regardless but it does raise the question of who would be running the club for that three month period. Could his son Edoardo take over on a temporary basis?

Cellino does have other issues though, two further court cases coming up for similar charges, one for avoiding tax on a boat called Lucky 23 and a similar charge regarding a Range Rover. Even if he avoids being disqualified this time these two future cases could cause issues for his ownership in the long run and who knows what may happen then? Cellino has been frustrated with the Football League in the past, could this be the final straw for him?

With the ownership issues with GFH rumbling on in the background, the next payment of £6 million due to them on 14th December and recent rumours of take-over talks could Cellino be thinking of cutting his losses? Cellino may be a bit dubious but for all his faults he is possibly the best owner we have had for some time. Where were the football league with their owners and directors test when an incompetent Middle Eastern bank was running the club? Or a bearded tax exile who placed the club into administrator and declared he would see us go under if the club was not sold to his associates?

The Football Leagues rules are about ensuring football clubs are secure and in the hands of people who will run them competently but this latest ruling seems to do nothing but put the future and security of the club in doubt. They are still riling from Cellinos appeal victory and this is their payback, sadly it will hurt Leeds United far more than it will hurt Cellino.

League Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey sat out his decision after declaring an interest. Having been at Leeds when they were put into administration and having served at Farsley, Scarborough and Bradford, all clubs which ended up in administration it seems ironic that the Chief Executive of the organisation making this decision would probably fail their own test.

Once again whist the boys in their boardrooms play their power games it is the fans that suffer.