9:30pm Monday 7th April 2014
By Sports Desk
Prospective Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has hinted he will give manager Brian McDermott the chance to turn the club’s on-field fortunes around - starting at Watford tomorrow night.
Cellino returned to England today to prepare to take control at Elland Road following his successful appeal against the Football League’s decision to block his takeover.
The Italian businessman’s company, Eleonora Sport, exchanged contracts with current owner Gulf Finance House Capital on February 7 to buy 75 per cent of the club’s shares.
The League’s decision to bar Cellino from becoming Leeds owner after the 57-year-old was convicted in a Sardinia court for tax evasion was overturned by independent lawyer Tim Kerr QC on Saturday.
But Cellino could still be disqualified under the League’s owners' and directors' test if the judge in Sardinia, Dr Sandra Lepore, confirms the Italian failed to pay import duty on his yacht dishonestly.
Dr Lepore’s written report is not expected to be submitted until mid-June.
“I think he has to show he’s a good manager,” said Cellino.
“He’s had a lot of problems with the team, with the property, with the market, but now we’ve solved that problem.”
During the legal wrangling, a dispute between Cellino and GFH Capital over who is responsible for the club’s running costs saw McDermott’s coaching staff and players defer 50 per cent of their March wages.
The coaching staff and players received an extra 15 per cent of their wages on Thursday.
“We’re going to pay (the players’) wages no problem,” Cellino said.
“(McDermott’s) got a president, he’s got a chairman, he’s got a property.
“I think now that’s Massimo Cellino and his company, it’s not a ghost bank or ghost company in Saudi Arabia or somewhere else.”
Cellino, who has owned Cagliari for 22 years, sacked the Italian club’s manager Diego Lopez yesterday.
Cagliari’s weekend home defeat to Roma left them seven points clear of the relegation zone in Serie A, and Uruguayan Lopez, 39, is the 36th manager to be dismissed by Cellino during his time in charge.
“The (Leeds) players will be paid,” Cellino added.
“But I heard before every game how we’ve got a problem, there’s no company, we don’t have a chairman, okay, let’s play now.
“Let’s look to tomorrow. I will help the team. Brian has got to do his job good and I’m going to give him everything that is good for the team.”
The League is expected to decide at a board meeting on Thursday whether to ratify Cellino’s takeover.
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