The Football League has revealed that Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has had his latest disqualification as an owner or director at Elland Road delayed until the outcome of of an appeal process. The controversial Italian, who completed a takeover of the Championship club in April 2014, was banned for a second time last month for a tax offence owing to the non-payment of VAT on the importation of a Range Rover back in his homeland.
Cellino disputed the suspension before a 28 October deadline and an independent arbitration panel is set to hear his appeal on an as-yet-unspecified date. Under league rules, the 59-year-old was permitted to remain in his current role until 11 November but will now be able to continue indefinitely after having his request for the ban to be stayed granted.
An official statement read: "The Football League can confirm that Leeds United president Massimo Cellino has had his disqualification under the Football League's Owners' and Directors' Test stayed by the League Arbitration Panel appointed to hear his appeal – enabling Mr Cellino to continue in his present capacity at the club until the appeal process has concluded.
"This will not affect the length of any disqualification served by Mr Cellino in the event that the League's decision is upheld, as he would then be required to serve a period equivalent to that which he would have served had he chosen not to appeal the matter. This would equate to 223 days, which is the length of time between his disqualification becoming effective (12 November 2015) and his tax conviction in Italy becoming spent under English law (22 June 2016)."
The ownership of Leeds has been subject to much speculation of late, with supporter-led consortium Leeds Fans Utd believing they had secured an initial agreement to buy Cellino's shares only for the deal to break down when the group claim they attempted to gain a verbal offer of exclusivity in a legally binding agreement.
With many buyers reportedly interested and the current owner willing to sell after receiving a hostile reception from disgruntled fans, The Mirror claimed earlier this week that a £30m ($45.6m) takeover by businessman and boyhood supporter Steve Parkin was imminent. Leeds currently sit 15th in the Championship following victories over Cardiff and Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield, results that ended a six-match winless run. Outspoken former Rotherham boss Steve Evans is now in the dugout, replacing Uwe Rosler and becoming the sixth head coach to take charge of the team since Cellino's arrival.