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Leeds United Ring Boardroom Changes

Tue 8th Apr 2014 | Clubs Ownership

The board of Leeds United faces a reshuffle after Massimo Cellino was granted approval under the Football League’s Owners and Directors Test to complete his takeover of the club.

Initially turned down following his conviction by an Italian Court for tax evasion on a yacht, an independent QC overturned the decision which allows Eleonora Sport, the group headed by Cellino, to take a 75% stakeholding in the club while former majority shareholders GFH Capital and investors will retain 25%.

Completion of the acquisition will see Massimo Cellino take up the position as President of Leeds United, with managing director David Haigh becoming Chief Executive Officer.

Haigh spoke of his delight at the decision, stating, “This is a significant day in the history of Leeds United. Since GFH Capital took over the club in December 2012, the stated aim has always been to introduce strategic investors to ensure a sustainable future for the club.

“I have met with many potential investors and worked closely with them, and I realised very quickly that Massimo is someone who has the attributes to take this club forward.

“He has a proven track record in Italy, and I believe the introduction of Eleonora Sport, coupled with Massimo’s drive and determination, will be key to a successful and sustainable future for this great football club.

“I’d like to thank the Football League, GFH Capital, and of course, Massimo and Eleonora Sport for all their hard work over the past few weeks in ensuring that this deal was able to progress.”

However, the decision to overturn the original ruling has left the Football League disappointed.

"We are disappointed at the outcome of the appeal hearing, however we would like to thank the independent QC for his diligence in reviewing this decision,” read a statement released by the Football League.

"This was never about individual personalities, but instead was a matter in which we were obliged to uphold the integrity of our regulations having considered the issue in detail with our advisors.

"It was always an extremely complex matter in which a different interpretation of a judgment made under Italian law could lead to an entirely different outcome in the context of our regulations. Ultimately this has proven to be the case.

"The independent QC has concluded that Mr. Cellino's recent conviction in the Sardinian Court did not involve conduct that would 'reasonably be considered to be dishonest' based on information available to him at the current time.

"The Football League will now consider the findings of the hearing."

Please click here to read the written judgment

Image: Action Images

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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