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Leeds takeover on verge of collapse after Cellino court case

Leeds United’s turbulent takeover has hit another huge snag, as potential new owner Massimo Cellino has been found guilty of tax evasion in his homeland Italy.

The current president of Serie A club Cagliari has been given a £502,000 fine by an Italian court after not paying duty on a luxury yacht imported from the USA.

Businessman Cellino, nicknamed ‘king of corn’ (reiterate, ‘corn’ not ‘con’) for his successful agricultural background, agreed to buy a 75 per cent stake in at the Yorkshire club in February from Gulf Finance House Capital. His bid is currently being reviewed by the Football League.

If found guilty, the 57-year-old’s takeover is highly likely to be blocked. The Football League announced on March 13th that they would make a decision “within 10 days”, but it now seems as if that could be brought forward.

Cellino has already put at least a reported £6m into the club over a two-month period, despite not owning it, but recently stated that he would not likely continue until his takeover is confirmed. It remains to be seen if Cellino will demand the money back or not from a club losing over £1m a month.

Leeds are currently in 14th in the Championship and do not want to see more troubles at Elland Road, who have been desperately trying for a return to the top-flight since their relegation, following financial troubles, in 2004.

The sleeping giants are now 13 points off the play-offs – with a game in hand on sixth place Nottingham Forest – after not winning in their last six league matches. United are heavy outsiders for a top six finish at 50/1 and priced at 150/1 for promotion to the promised land.

Cellino has had previous experience in battling with the law, as in 2001 he was convicted for false accounting. He is also currently being investigated over reported public funds misuse to help finance construction work on Cagliari’s Quartu Sant’Elena stadium.