Massimo Cellino

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FA bans Leeds owner Massimo Cellino 18 months

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Leeds United may be making a push to return to the Premier League, but they’ll have to do so without their owner.

Massimo Cellino, who took over Leeds in February of 2014, has been banned for 18 months by the English FA for his involvement in the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham later that summer. He was also fined $315,000 and required to complete a course outlining the duties and restrictions for owners in the English league.

During McCormack’s sale, a significant payment was apparently paid to unlicensed agent Barry Hughes, facilitated by McCormack’s official licensed agent Derek Day, who was also banned for 18 months, although 11 of those are suspended, leaving him sidelined for seven months should no other infractions arise.

This likely will only serve to accelerate the current potential sale of Leeds to Andrea Radrizzani, with both sides having publicly acknowledged discussions are ongoing.

Leeds is currently in fourth in the Championship table, having won five of their last six matches. McCormack, meanwhile, scoring a whopping 42 goals in 100 appearances over two years before making a big-money move to Aston Villa this past summer, where he has slumped at Villa Park, owning just two goals over 13 Championship appearances this season and losing his place in the team. To be fair, he struggled in his early days at Fulham as well, scoring just twice in his first 15 matches before exploding in his second season at Craven Cottage with 21 league goals.

Internal turmoil swirling at Leeds, with transfer lawsuit the latest incident

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Leeds United is well and truly falling apart at the seams.

Things continue to get worse and worse for the embattled club which is tearing itself apart in what appears to be nothing short of a slow and painful struggle with money and lawyers.

The most recent incident involves a former player and transfer target, who has now filed a lawsuit against the club claiming breach of contract.

24-year-old winger Cameron Stewart, currently with Ipswich Town and who played for Leeds on a three-month emergency loan last year, claims his loan deal was set to become permanent, but that a shakeup in the club’s front office caused signatures on his contract to become void, according to a report in the Daily Star. He is going after the team for the wage difference between his current Ipswich deal and what his potential wages at Leeds would have been.

This past weekend, manager Neil Redfearn was forced to build a squad for the club’s visit to Charlton around the last-minute absence of six players. Leeds insists they were all injured, but many have speculated the players boycotted the trip in protest of the team’s off the field troubles.

Mirco Antenucci, Edgar Cani, Giuseppe Bellusci, Marco Silvestri, Dario Del Fabro and Souleymane Doukara all told Redfearn at the last minute they were injured and could not make the short trip south. The club issued a statement following widespread speculation, saying “The club completely stands by the internal medical recommendations it receives. It was declared that the six players were unavailable to travel to London on Friday, the club needs to protect its assets.”

Protecting its assets is not something Leeds has done well of late. With owner Massimo Cellino suspended by the FA for tax trouble, things have spiraled out of control. Redfearn was hired to save the club from relegation, and he’s remarkably done just that, but suddenly the club has lost five in a row and the vultures have returned.

Redfearn’s assistant Steve Thompson was suspended by Cellino’s right-hand man Nicola Salerno in early April for an “internal matter,” after which the manager said “for what I don’t know.” Before the suspension, Leeds had gone unbeaten in five matches. Since, they’ve failed to pick up a point.

That same day, a story came out accusing the Leeds front office of pressuring Redfearn to bench top scorer Mirco Antenucci because of a clause in his contract that would trigger another year on his deal should he reach 12 goals, a rumor which his agent confirmed to be true. Antenucci started the first 24 games of the year, missing just 14 total minutes during that span and scoring eight goals. Since the turn of the new year, he’s started just twice and has just two goals.

It’s a miracle that Redfearn has stayed in the job with so many people seemingly tightening the screws. It’s not the first time Cellino has appeared to try and run a manager out of town. In early 2014, he reportely tried to fire Brian McDermott before he was even confirmed as the club owner, before getting his wish at the end of last season. Things are going from bad to worse under Cellino, and it doesn’t appear like he’ll be leaving anytime soon.

Leeds United owner Cellino banned from owning Leeds United; What now?

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You’re only as good as your last successful appeal, apparently, as Massimo Cellino is no longer the owner of Leeds United.

Kinda, sorta.

England’s Football League has banned the mercurial, controversial and disruptive businessman from owning the team due to his tax evasion charges. However, the ban only last three months. Plus, he can appeal it. And he won his last appeal, which was 7 months ago.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A weekend roundup ]

The club has responded by officially appealing the decision, and questioning the ruling, saying it will make it hard for them to do business.

Well, yeah.

From the Associated Press:

Cellino must resign as a director of the club within 28 days, said the Football League, which runs the three divisions below the Premier League.

After initially being blocked from taking over the 1992 English champions because of the conviction in Italy, Cellino was successful with an appeal in April. Now, after obtaining the Italian court’s judgment, the Football League board has decided again that Cellino breaches the terms of its test covering the suitability of owners and directors.

“The league’s view is that the conduct on which Mr. Cellino’s conviction for tax evasion was based would reasonably be considered to be dishonest,” the league statement said.

Cellino’s disqualification, however, only lasts until March 18, 2015, when the former Cagliari president’s conviction will be served.

This feels so astoundingly backwards, but is it? Essentially, the league is saying that they’re cool with Cellino as soon as the justice system is cool with him. But for a member club, even one in as much disarray as Leeds, to have to conduct business with other businesses while it’s owner is in jail. That’s pretty tricky.

Leeds appeal says, “The steps that the League wishes the club to take – to remove Mr Cellino only to re-appoint him in three months’ time –  will be destabilising for the club, its supporters and sponsors and cannot be in the best interests of any party.”

That’s kinda the point, isn’t it? Not say this is a black and white issue, that Cellino should be removed or not punished at all, but surely there’s a better way for this all to go down, right?

Leeds United ax manager Darko Milanic after six games at the helm

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Leeds head coach Darko Milanic had only a month to prove himself in the managerial role at Leeds United prior to being sacked.

Originally, David Hockaday, with a short list of experience as a manager at Forest Green, took the post in June, but after losing four out of six games, heavy-handed owner Massimo Cellino fired the Englishman.

Milanic was hired on Sep. 23, and since then, hasn’t been able to win any matches, drawing three contests and failing to snag any points against Brentford, Rotherham and most recently, the Wolverhampton Wanderers. This run of form has definitely contributed to United’s position at 18th place in the Championship.

Via Sky Sports, the 46-year-old expressed his discontent about the 2-1 defeat at the hands of after the match vs. the Wolves, while setting forth his intention to make the club better down the stretch. His time to do so is up now, however.

“I am disappointed because we deserve some more points.

“This is not a good position for me and the team, but I still see good things that we make. I believe it (he can get it right).

“My job is to do this better, to improve. I am sure this one second half is not the work of one month. I work with my team a lot and it’s a young team without a lot of experience.

“We played a good first half, had chances, we had one goal. Then we began to play backwards.”

Neil Redfearn, the squad’s caretaker since 2012, will take the interim spot beginning on Monday. In between coaches this season, it was Redfearn, despite his lack of coaching experience, that guided the team to a four-game unbeaten stretch.

Appeal won: Cellino takes charge of Leeds United after all

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The process of approving Italian businessman Massimo Cellino as majority owner at Elland Road has been anything but routine, and it took another turn on Tuesday.

The BBC is reporting that Cellino’s takeover of Leeds United is complete, just two weeks after the Football League voted down his bid to run the club.

But Cellino has won his appeal against the Football League vote, and is claiming control of the Whites. His lawyer Tweeted:

The club is in massive debt, but that is not stopping Cellino from taking immediate action in putting himself in good graces with his new charges.

From the Daily Mail:

But after buying his stake, Cellino pledged to settle those bills before leading the club to the Premier League.

He said: ‘The deal is completed. I will go to the game against Watford tonight, then I will go to Leeds and from tomorrow start sorting things out. There is no point waiting to pay people. I will start tomorrow.’

Cellino has a colorful history, and fired his 36th manager in 22 years as a Serie A owner this weekend. We could be in a for a wild time based out of West Yorkshire.