Massimo Cellino resigns as Leeds United president following Football League disqualification, but vows to return in April

Cellino's ban relates to a conviction for tax fraud in Italy but is free to return on 10 April once it becomes spent

Martyn Ziegler
Friday 23 January 2015 13:33
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Massimo Cellino has resigned as Leeds president
Massimo Cellino has resigned as Leeds president

Massimo Cellino has announced he has resigned as president of Leeds but says he will return in April.

Cellino has been disqualified as an owner and director of the club by the Football League following a tax evasion conviction in Sardinia last year.

That conviction becomes spent in April which will allow the Italian businessman to return.

Cellino said in a statement: "It is with great sadness and frustration that I have to take this step, however I abide by the Football League's decision to temporarily disqualify me from this great football club and will return in April in good health and good spirits.

Cellino will be able to take charge of Leeds again on 10 April

"I have done my best for a club and fans that I hold close to my heart and it is now financially much stronger than it has been for a long time. It will continue to thrive and I am sincerely looking forward to returning very soon."

Board member Andrew Umbers will take over as Leeds chairman in the absence of Cellino, the club confirmed.

Cellino added: "Following my resignation and in my temporary absence, the board has appointed Andrew Umbers to become chairman of Leeds United.

"Andrew has personally worked tirelessly with me in restructuring the football club from May 2014 and shares the same goals, strategy and insights that I do in bringing Leeds United back from its financial abyss to make it the strong entity that its fans, players and city need it to be and to which these foundations are now in place.

"Andrew is also a Yorkshireman and lifelong Leeds United fan."

Cellino's disqualification was confirmed on Monday following his appeal being dismissed by a Professional Conduct Committee hearing (PCC).

Umbers had told the PCC in a witness statement there was "a real likelihood of insolvency" if Cellino was disqualified. This was disputed by the Football League's lawyer Jonathan Taylor, who said Umbers' claims were "exaggerated, speculative and unsupported by any external evidence or, tellingly, by any evidence from Mr Cellino himself", according to the written judgement.

Umbers previously advised Leeds on the sale of the club from Ken Bates' ownership to the Dubai-based investment firm GFH, before Cellino took over last year.

Cellino and Leeds are still facing a Football League misconduct charge over failing to provide the written reasons of the Italian court, which could lead to more trouble for the club and the businessman. Cellino is also facing further tax evasion charges in Italy.

The Football League said in a statement: "The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) determined that Mr Cellino is disqualified from acting as a 'Relevant Person', as defined under Football League regulations, until 10th April 2015.

"Both Leeds United and Mr Cellino are fully aware of the Football League's requirements emanating from the PCC's decision and we are currently working with the club to ensure that these are achieved.

"In addition, a further misconduct charge against Mr Cellino and the Club for failing to supply the Italian court judgment to the Football League when it first became available will be heard by a Football Disciplinary Commission in due course."

PA

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