Leeds owner Massimo Cellino says he has no intention of selling the club before stopping press conference to have a cigarette

Cellino has only just returned from a Football League ban and failed to shed any light on whether manager Neil Redfearn would be sacked

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The Independent Online

Massimo Cellino says he has no intention of selling Leeds but refused to say whether he would be keeping Neil Redfearn as head coach.

Cellino returned to office on May 3 after serving a Football League ban on the back of a tax evasion conviction in Italy, and says he has spent the last fortnight reacclimatising himself with the club.

The arrival of Adam Pearson as the club's new executive director has led to speculation that Cellino may be looking to sell the club, but the ex-Cagliari owner insisted that was not the case.

Speaking about his intentions for Leeds, Cellino said: "If in two seasons' time I'm not ready to take the club to the Premier League, I'm going to sell it.

 

 

 

"The club is not for sale, if we are not ready to be in the Premier League, I will sell it.

"To sell the club you need six months to do due diligence. What would we do for six months if I was selling the club?"

Having just returned from one Football League ban, Cellino could be facing another with two further court hearings in Italy scheduled for next month relating to allegations of unpaid taxes on a boat and a car.

"I didn't do anything that I was charged with, especially the boat. I'm not a crook. If I did anything, I'm stupid," he said.

"If I wonder about what is going to happen tomorrow, I would not get anything done."

 

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Leeds owner Massimo Cellino looks on

Cellino embarked on a long explanation of the Italian judicial system, but insisted he was back at Leeds determined to tell the truth.

"This is a sleeping giant, but the giant was already dead," he said.

"But the giant is now awake but we need to keep the club healthy and take it back where it should belong, we have to work hard. Leeds is a big club, a beautifiul club."

He eventually agreed to answer questions on Redfearn, having initially asked for them to be left until the end.

The 49-year-old oversaw a run of eight wins in 13 games to keep United in the Championship before a tumultuous ending to the campaign, which saw the unexplained removal of his assistant, Steve Thompson, and injuries being sustained by six of Cellino's signings on the eve of an away match at Charlton.

"I don't need to justify my decision. I need to choose the best coach for this club," he said of the ongoing confusion about Redfearn's situation.

"Is Neil best for the future? Are you sure that he's good or is it that you're a coward with the fans because you won't change it?"

The Italian continued to skirt around the issue, accusing the media of being "agents" for Redfearn, before Pearson stepped in.

"The owner has invested a lot of money and has the right to make that decision in an orderly manner," he said.

 

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Cellino halted the press conference to go outside for a cigarette

The press conference took a bizarre twist when Cellino decided to leave the room for a cigarette break, leaving Pearson to face the media alone.

"What we are trying to do is put things in place and make sure we don't make mistakes again," Pearson said.

Asked if Redfearn, without contact in 12 days, had been cut adrift, Pearson added: "He hasn't been cut adrift.

"I would encourage Massimo to do things that he sees fit. He does things that he thinks are right for the football club.

"I would ask you to give him more time."

PA

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