Massimo Cellino Wins Appeal to Complete Takeover of Leeds United

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2014

Atalanta President Antonio Percassi, right, talks with Cagliari President Massimo Cellino prior to the Serie A soccer match between Cagliari and Atalanta, at the Nereo Rocco Stadium in Trieste, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Paolo Giovannini)
Paolo Giovannini

Updates from Tuesday, April 8

Rob Harris of The Associated Press reports Massimo Cellino's purchase of Leeds has been completed:

Original Text

Flamboyant Italian entrepreneur Massimo Cellino's appeal against The Football League's decision not to let him take control of Leeds United on the grounds of him being subject to a disqualifying condition was proved successful on Saturday, and Cellino is now free to take control of the club, as reported by the BBC's Ben Smith:

The Daily Mail's/Press Association's Mark Walker claimed Cellino was planning on joining forces with a rival consortium in his bid to take over the club as recently as Thursday, as the Italian was forced to wait on a judge's decision to potentially revert the League's decision of disqualifying him as an owner because of a tax-evasion conviction in Sardinia.

Said decision has now reportedly been overturned, according to The Associated Press' Rob Harris:

The Football League released a statement on the judge's decision via its own website, as a spokesman was quoted:

We are disappointed at the outcome of the appeal hearing, however we would like to thank the independent QC for his diligence in reviewing this decision.

This was never about individual personalities, but instead was a matter in which we were obliged to uphold the integrity of our regulations having considered the issue in detail with our advisors. 

It was always an extremely complex matter in which a different interpretation of a judgment made under Italian law could lead to an entirely different outcome in the context of our regulations. Ultimately this has proven to be the case.

The independent QC has concluded that Mr. Cellino's recent conviction in the Sardinian Court did not involve conduct that would 'reasonably be considered to be dishonest' based on information available to him at the current time.

The Football League will now consider the findings of the hearing.

With the outcome of the appeal in his favour, Cellino is free to complete a deal that will see him obtain 75 percent of the club's shares from current club owner Gulf Finance House, according to The Yorkshire Evening Post's Phil Hay.

The deal had originally been proposed in January, but a conviction for tax evasion on Italian soil halted the takeover until now.

Manager Brian McDermott was quoted by Hay on the matter, before he had learned of the successful appeal, saying:

I welcome stability from a man who’s got clout.

I’ve spoken to (Cellino) on a number of occasions and the most important thing here is not the position of the manager or any individual player, it’s the future of the football club.

The controversial Italian couldn't have been happier with the result, and as shared by The Huffington Post UK's Jessica Elgot, his reaction to the final verdict was a very strong one:

The AP's Rob Harris was on point to explain the fallout of the judge's decision:

With Cellino now seemingly free to complete his takeover, Leeds United look ready to begin a new chapter under new ownership. The first question the new owner will be facing is what to do with McDermott, who was fired and reinstated within 24 hours earlier this season, as reported by The Guardian's Richard Gibson.

Regardless what his next move might be, the news of Cellino's takeover marks a monumental day in Leeds' history, and fans can now prepare for their club to head in a new direction.