Leeds United takeover: Players agree to defer some wages amid uncertainty

Potential owner Massimo Cellino was blocked from buying the club

Leeds players have agreed to defer part of their wages for March after the club failed to pay them on time.

Non-playing staff at Elland Road have received their full salaries as expected, but following a meeting with the club's hierarchy and Professional Footballers' Association officials on Friday morning the players have accepted part payment.

Club owners Gulf Finance House Capital and prospective owner Massimo Cellino are in dispute over who should fund the players' wage bill after the Football League blocked the Italian's £25million takeover bid earlier in the week. Cellino is appealing against that decision.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor told Press Association Sport: "At the moment the plan is that prospective owner Massimo Cellino will contribute towards the wages for this month, with the players agreeing to wait for the rest until the outcome of the appeal."

The appeal will be heard by an independent QC and was expected to take place within the next two weeks, Football League sources told Press Association Sport.

But following the club's failure to pay the players' wages, it is understood that hearing could now take place next week.

"The players are being realistic about the situation," Taylor added.

"It's not ideal. It's obviously better for them to have some certainty, but they are holding together and will wait for the outcome of the appeal, which could be next week.

"We've been involved with (Friday's) meeting between the club and the players and all parties are satisfied with this way forward."

Cellino was disqualified from taking control at Elland Road this week under the league's owners' and directors' test after being convicted of a tax offence by an Italian court.

The offence related to the non-payment of import duties on his boat and resulted in a fine of 600,000 euros (£500,800) by a Sardinian court and the confiscation of the boat.

Cellino, the owner of Serie A side Cagliari, has claimed that because he is appealing against the court's verdict under Italian law, the League should treat him as innocent until proven guilty.

Current Leeds owner GFH Capital meanwhile, are understood to argue that when Cellino exchanged contracts with them to buy 75 per cent of the club's shares in February, he agreed to meet the running costs for the following six months.

"Ideally every club needs to have good, strong ownership and a long-term strategy for continued success, but that cannot be guaranteed in football," Taylor said.

"Leeds have reached the very top of the game and with their history are still considered to be one of our big clubs, with an excellent supporter-base.

"We hope a club with all this tradition has the strength to come through this.

"In an ideal world the situation there at the moment would not happen, but football is not as easy as that."

PA

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