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Massimo Cellino agrees Leeds United purchase
4:01pm Friday 7th February 2014 in Sport
Controversial Italian Massimo Cellino has agreed a deal to buy a 75 per cent stake in Leeds.
Eleonora Sport, a company owned by the Cellino family, has purchased the stake subject to Football League approval.
Cellino’s relationship with Leeds has already been a stormy one, with representatives of the Italian having dismissed manager Brian McDermott before the club reinstated him.
His credentials will be examined by the Football League’s ‘owners and directors test’ before the deal, which was confirmed on the Leeds website, can be fully ratified.
The 57-year-old agricultural entrepreneur has twice been convicted of fraud and is awaiting trial for allegations of embezzlement – a charge he denies.
Leeds chairman Salah Nooruddin announced that contracts had been exchanged between the club and Eleonora. If the deal goes through, Nooruddin will continue to be the club’s chairman, while David Haigh will be the chief executive.
A statement from Nooruddin on the club’s official website said: “I am delighted to announce that we have exchanged contracts for the sale of 75 per cent of the club to Eleonora Sport Ltd, subject to Football League approval.
“GFH Capital and its investors will retain a 25 per cent stake in Leeds United. I will remain the club chairman and David Haigh will be the club CEO.
“The board has always had as its principal aim the creation of a long-term ownership structure through partnership with sound and strategic investors to build on the foundations we have laid for sustainable success for this great club.
“We believe we will have achieved that with this deal. It provides the basis from which Leeds United can move forward to a position which will enable it once again to compete at the highest levels of football.”
The statement from Leeds continued: “That is where this great club belongs and it is nothing less than its fans deserve. Throughout the difficult years, as well as the glory years, they have remained second to none in their support of the club and we as a board have always appreciated their passion.
“Following the introduction of GFH to the Cellino family which owns Eleonora Sport Limited it quickly became apparent that the family and the company offered both the long-term investment and the footballing knowledge necessary to take their place as majority owners of Leeds United FC.
“Everyone on the board is looking forward to working with our new partners who we hope will be in place at Elland Road very soon.”