Leeds United takeover: Football League in talks over proposed takeover by Massimo Cellino

The Italian businessman is waiting for approval

The Football League has confirmed it is still in talks with Leeds over the club's proposed £25million takeover by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino.

Cellino's company Eleonora Sport Ltd exchanged contracts with Leeds' owners Gulf Finance House Capital on February 7 for 75 per cent of the club's shares and the Cagliari owner has since been waiting for the League's approval.

A League statement read: "The Football League remains in discussions with both the owners and proposed purchasers of Leeds United, regarding the planned change of ownership.

"To date, a significant amount of the requested information has been supplied by GFH and Eleonora Sport, but there are still a number of outstanding matters that will require further submissions from the two parties.

"The Board of The Football League is next scheduled to meet on March 13 where it will receive an update on the matter from the League's executive, unless all the remaining issues can be resolved satisfactorily in advance of this date."

Miami-based Cellino, 57, has twice been convicted of fraud and is currently contesting a charge of embezzlement, but remains confident of passing the League's "owners and directors' test".

Current owners GFH Capital, a Bahrain-based investment firm, bought the club from Ken Bates in December 2012 and plan to retain a 10 per cent stake in the club.

If Cellino's takeover is approved by the League, Leeds' current chairman Salah Nooruddin will remain in his post and managing director David Haigh will become the club's new chief executive.

International Investment Bank and Nooruddin (3.3 per cent) will still own the remaining 15 per cent of shares.

Cellino, nicknamed the 'King of Corn' after making his fortune in the agricultural industry, received a 15-month suspended prison sentence in 2001 after being convicted of false accounting at Cagliari.

A previous conviction in 1996 for fraudulently claiming EU agricultural subsidies was overturned in 2012, while in February 2013 he spent 16 days in jail after being arrested for embezzlement - a charge he denies - in relation to the redevelopment of Cagliari's Is Arena stadium.

But Cellino's two convictions, nearly 13 and 18 years old, are considered "spent" in English law and it is understood they cannot be taken into consideration under the League's "owners and directors' test".

In relation to his outstanding charge, Cellino is assumed innocent until it can be proved otherwise.

Cellino, long considered one of the most charismatic owners in Italian football, was shown around Leeds' Thorp Arch training ground for the first time in October.

He verbally agreed to a 75 per cent takeover with GFH Capital at the end of January and tried to sack manager Brian McDermott and install friend and former Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa as team boss.

That bid sparked outrage among Leeds fans, who attempted to barricade Cellino at Elland Road on the eve of their home game against Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield on February 1.

McDermott stayed away from the game, which Leeds won 5-1 under the stewardship of assistant Nigel Gibbs, while GFH Capital released a statement before the game had ended overruling Cellino and stating McDermott was still manager.

McDermott returned to work as normal the following Monday and Cellino attempted to distance himself from the controversy, claiming it was the current owners who wanted to sack the manager.

Cellino has since said he is willing to work with McDermott if his takeover gets the go-ahead and the two men have met twice to discuss the way forward.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
Sport
Lewis Hamilton with the Santander trophy after winning last year’s British Grand Prix
F1It's the race organisers who are to blame, apparently
News
peopleFormer Disney CEO isn't going to win any fans with this quote
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test