Massimo Cellino has officially completed his takeover of Leeds United, the Italian businessman’s lawyers have confirmed.
Cellino’s company Eleonora Sport Limited has completed its purchase of 75 per cent of the club’s shares, and the 57-year-old has taken his place on the board of directors.
“Massimo Cellino has now been appointed a director of LUFC Holdings, and ESL has completed its purchase of 75 per cent of the shares of LUFC Holdings,” Cellino’s legal representatives Mishcon de Reya tweeted.
Cellino is hoping the Football League will ratify his takeover at a board meeting on Thursday after winning his appeal against its decision to block his takeover.
The Italian’s task of transforming the fortunes of Leeds was brought into sharp focus today when the club revealed losses of £9.5m for the 2012-13 financial year.
The 57-year-old has inherited debts of more than £22m, the accounts confirm.
“We’re not in the hospital, we can survive,” said Cellino. “It (the club) is a little bit ill.”
The Football League’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations allow a maximum loss of £8m this season, and a January transfer embargo looms for clubs that fail to comply.
Under the terms of Cellino’s deal to buy 75 per cent of the club’s shares from previous owner Gulf Finance House Capital, those debts will increase to around £24m.
Since Bahrain-based investment bank GFH Capital bought Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012, the club has made considerable losses.
Attendances have fallen by nearly eight per cent, gate receipts are down £2m and turnover has fallen from £31.8m to £28.5m.
The club’s accounts for the previous financial year showed a profit of £317,000 with an operating loss of £3.3m.
The latest figures show an operating loss of £11.6m, softened by incoming transfer fees of £2m.
A rival consortium to Cellino’s company Eleonora Sport - Yorkshire-based Together Leeds - had been hoping to resume talks this week on a joint venture.
That consortium is headed by former Manchester United director Mike Farnan and also includes former Leeds United commercial director Adam Pearson and Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity.
Cellino said he will talk to Together Leeds, but insists for now he does not want to enter into a partnership.
“I’m driving the bus,” Cellino said. “I have no plans for any other investors, I will tell them no now.
“I want the fans close to the club, we don’t need anyone else.
“I think that I am the one. My dream, it is for the fans of Leeds, is to get out of this problem.
“I want the fans to become owners of the club again because who owns the club? It’s the fans.
“We are just temporarily here. I’m here to clean up and let the fans feel as though they own the club.”
Cellino said he needed to learn more about English football and confirmed he will give manager Brian McDermott until the end of the season before deciding further on his position.
“I don’t understand much,” Cellino added. “I don’t know English football as well as I know Italian football.
“They are a lot different and so although it’s still one ball and 22 players on the field, I have to learn.
“Before I tell you something I have to see, to watch more.
“I don’t want to say stupid things. But I think I’ll learn it very fast.
“I can tell you that Leeds’ players’ skills are not better than the other players.
“Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost. There is no big difference to one team to the other in the Championship.”
Cellino, who said he will have failed if Leeds are not in the Premier League in two years, has been reported to have tried to sack managing director David Haigh.
Under the terms of the deal Cellino’s company, Eleonora Sport, agreed with previous owner Gulf Finance house Capital on February 7, Haigh was set to become chief executive.
But Cellino revealed in an interview on Sunday that he planned to sack Haigh, 35, a former employee of the previous owner who became managing director last summer when former chief executive Shaun Harvey left the club.