Leeds United: Massimo Cellino ready to resign from board

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino took over at Leeds United in April

Massimo Cellino is willing to resign from the Leeds United board while he appeals against the Football League's decision to disqualify him as an owner.

The 58-year-old Italian would have to stand down before 28 December.

A club spokesman said: "Massimo says he will not endanger the club in the middle of this issue and is prepared to resign whilst he appeals."

The League ruled he breached its "fit and proper" ownership testexternal-link after being found guilty of tax evasion in Italy.

And Cellino has since said he fears that the Championship club may be damaged while he appeals against the decision.

"He doesn't want the club to be harmed because, along with the fans, it's the most important thing," the spokesman added.

By resigning from the Leeds United board, Cellino would distance himself from direct day-to-day involvement in the club.

However, as his family-owned company Eleonora Sport are the Elland Road club's majority stakeholders, he would be seen to retain a controlling interest.

Cellino could circumvent any possible action against Leeds by giving up his role with Eleonora Sport, following the example of Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung, who retains a controlling shareholding in their parent company despite resigning from his position on boards related to the West Midlands club.

Who's who in the Leeds boardroom
President & director: Massimo CellinoDirector: Daniel Arty
Director: Edoardo CellinoDirector: Salem Patel
Director: Ercole CellinoDirector: Jinesh Patel

He is currently listed as both president and a director of Leeds. His two sons, Eduardo and Ercole, are also on United's board.

Cellino is entitled to return to the club and resume control from 18 March next year because his conviction will be deemed to be spent.

"I'm fighting this and we think we will win so after the appeal I will be back. But I don't want to give the League a reason to punish the club. So if I have to go then I'll go," he told the Yorkshire Post.external-link

He was fined £502,000 (600,000 euros) in March this year after being found guilty of failing to pay import duty on his yacht.

The League subsequently blocked his deal to take over Leeds, but an independent QC overturned the decision on appeal in April, allowing the takeover to go through.

Leeds were losing about £1m a month at the time of Cellino's takeover, but the Italian said in July that he had cleared the club's debts.

Earlier this month, the former owner of Italian club Cagliari announced he was going to invest a further £20m into the club, the same amount he says the club have lost in the past year.

But BBC Radio Leeds report that the capital injection into the club will be suspended until Cellino's appeal is heard.

Leeds are currently 16th in the Championship, having won only six of their 20 games so far this season.