Italian businessman disqualified from buying Leeds

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm •  Published: March 24, 2014

LONDON (AP) — Cagliari president Massimo Cellino was blocked from taking over fallen English power Leeds on Monday because of his recent conviction for tax evasion, leaving the second-tier club in a state of limbo over its future ownership.

The Football League, which runs the divisions below the Premier League, said Cellino's conviction in Italy for failing to pay import taxes on a yacht he purchased in the United States constituted "a disqualifying condition under its owners' and directors' test."

Leeds' current owners — GFH Capital, a Bahraini investment bank — released a statement late Monday saying it was still in talks with the Football League and Eleonora Sport, the company run by Cellino, in a bid to "find a solution that is suitable to all parties."

Cellino, who has been awaiting approval to purchase a 75-percent stake in Leeds, has 14 days to appeal the Football League board's decision.

Cellino has already paid more than 2 million pounds ($3.3 million) into the northern club, which won the English top-flight title in 1992 and reached the Champions League semifinals in 2001 before falling into financial difficulties.

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