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Massimo Cellino: Football League should help Leeds United
8:34pm Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in Leeds
Prospective Leeds owner Massimo Cellino believes the Football League is not acting in the best interests of the Yorkshire club by blocking his takeover.
Cellino has ploughed more than £14million into the crisis-hit club but is awaiting the results of an appeal against last week’s decision to prevent him from taking charge.
The Italian businessman was recently found guilty of tax evasion in a Sardinia court, and as a result does not comply with the League’s owners’ and directors’ test.
The uncertainty has started to hit the club hard with the players, and manager Brian McDermott, having deferred 50 per cent of last month’s wages.
Results on the pitch have also taken a hit. Leeds have lost six of their last seven games, while reports have also emerged that the club could again fall back into administration without Cellino’s money.
The 57-year-old has promised to deliver the unpaid wages if his takeover is approved, but in the meantime believes the Football League should take some blame for Leeds’ faltering position.
“The situation is a nightmare, unbelievable,” said Cellino.
“As soon as they (the Football League) accept (his takeover) I can pay (the unpaid wages).
“I cannot pay until after it has been accepted. I cannot throw money away knowing that it will not come back.
“I have to respect the rules, I am just waiting to do it.
“The players know they are going to be paid because of the players they are. They are going to be paid. The big problem is what damage has been done to Leeds.
“(Leeds) are not going to the play-offs and they need another four or six points to keep in the Championship. They are going to be shamed in public, this club, talking about administration and bankruptcy.
“Come on, that’s really bad. What’s the reason?”
Cellino’s legal representatives in London, Mishcon de Reya, lodged the formal appeal against the Football League’s block on his takeover last Thursday on the grounds that the Italian businessman has appealed his conviction and remains innocent in Italian law until the appeals process is completed.
An independent QC heard both sides of the argument in London on Monday and requires more time to consider the case further.
Cellino has vowed not to walk away from Leeds, despite admitting to having some second thoughts.
“I can not walk out because I have done nothing wrong and I’m here to fix all the problems, but I think something strange is happening there,” he said.
“From the beginning I wasn’t sure it was right. I didn’t sleep two nights in the same bed. I’m in America, Italy, England, Leeds, London. A lot of things that really make me think: ‘What am I doing here?”’ Current owner Gulf Finance House Capital and Cellino are in dispute over who is responsible for the players’ wages.
Bahrain-based investment firm GFH Capital claim Cellino is responsible for funding the club’s running costs under the terms of the deal to sell him 75 per cent of the club’s shares.
Contracts between GFH Capital and Cellino’s company, Eleonora Sport, were exchanged on February 7, while the Italian claimed that he had invested £14million.
Cellino and GFH Capital are, perhaps unsurprisingly, united in their bid to overturn the Football League decision.
“I talk lately with the people from the consortium of Leeds,” he said.
“They seem nice. I am a good person and they are happy to fight with me for Leeds.
“The big problem is that Leeds are losing a lot of games. The supporters are hurt.”
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