Cellino Officially Dishonest

19 Jan 2015 01:11pm, by YorkshireSquare

Massimo Cellino today learned that his appeal against the recent decision by the Board of The Football League that he is subject to a disqualifying condition has been rejected. The Professional Conduct Committee chaired by Tim Kerr QC, the same body and individual who last year ruled in Cellinos favour, this time ruled against Cellino following the disclosure of the Italian court papers.

The Football League declared that Cellino was subject to a disqualifying condition back in December following the release to them of the papers relating to the his conviction in March of last year in an Italian court for non-payment of tax on a yacht called Nelie. Cellino has previously convinced Tim Kerr QC that “what he was convicted of was not conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest” but the new evidence has mad the Football League and the PCC decide otherwise. The judgement read;

“We consider that the judge’s findings of fact and her description of Mr. Cellino’s state of mind based on them, is of conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest. We therefore conclude that Mr.Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving a ‘Dishonest Act’ within the meaning of the rules, and that he is accordingly subject to a Disqualifying Condition.”

As a result of the decision Cellino is disqualified from acting as a ‘Relevant Person’ at the club and now has two days to step down from his position. The disqualification applies until the 10th April 2015 when Cellinos Italian conviction is deemed spent. The Football League has stated they will “Provide any assistance requested by Leeds United to help it minimise, as far as possible, the effect this decision has on the club”. In addition to the appeal being rejected there is now also a further charge against Cellino for ‘failing to supply the Italian Court judgment to The Football League when it first became available’, this will be heard by the Football Disciplinary Commission in due course.

Official club statement: “Mr Cellino would like to thank the fans, sponsors and members of the wider footballing community that have given him overwhelming support, not just since the disqualifying order was issued but since he arrived at the club. We are surprised and disappointed by the verdict, however we are continuing to take legal advice.”

The question is what next for Leeds, it raises many questions about both the short term and long term future of the club? It sounds from the club statement that they will take further legal advice on the issue and could appeal the decision through the courts but surely that would be a long winded affair. Cellino was making worrying noises about the “future of the club” after Saturdays game and during the appeal club director Andrew Umbers told the committee there was “a real likelihood of insolvency” if Cellino lost the appeal. The Football League dismissed these claims but it does paint a worrying picture.

More will revealed by the club in the next two days by the club, the announcement of Cellino stepping down and who will fill the void will have to come quickly but the long term leadership of the club may be uncertain with Cellino due to face another case in the Italian courts for tax evasion. It does leave us like a rudderless ship, subject to a transfer embargo and even more unlikely to make signings with Cellino out of the picture. A point against Birmingham on Saturday was much needed but we still hover just above the relegation places and without direction the drop is a real possibility.

Further Reading:
Football League Statement
The Full PCC’s Judgment
Leeds United Official Statement