Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino says his spell in charge of the Elland Road club has been a "nightmare" as the Italian businessman contemplates life away from the West Yorkshire club. The 59-year-old has appealed against a Football League ban after failing the owners' and directors' test, which if unsuccessful could lead to his departure from the Championship side.
Cellino was disqualified from owning the team for the final five months of the 2014-15 season after the league learned of the details regarding the case that saw the ex-Cagliari owner found guilty of tax evasion for failing to pay VAT on a yacht. That ban has been extended until the conviction becomes spent in June 2016, which could lead to Cellino leaving English football altogether.
The episode is another blotch on Cellino's copybook since he took control of Leeds in April 2014, a spell in charge that has seen five managers sacked, while the club have fail to win a home league game in seven months. Steve Evans has become the sixth manager to operate under Cellino's tutelage but he is yet to win any of his three games in charge.
Cellino faces being barred from running Leeds for the rest of the season if he fails to overturn his ban and he believes such is the job he does at the club, they will be "dead" should the Football League enforce its rules. "I'm losing my balls," he told The Times. "Ten years ago, I had more balls, but since I came here it's been a nightmare. Now I have a low quality of life.
"I feel shame when I walk to the shop to buy cigarettes if we lose a game. I convinced my family to come here and they have run away. It's like being at a party where you're not welcome. It's killing me. Every night I lie awake, asking myself 'Am I good enough?' The holding company cannot keep this club without me running it. To save money I do 20 jobs. If they ban me and someone else comes in who does not fight for the club, it is dead."
Leeds' revolving door
Brian McDermott, Dave Hockaday, Darko Milanic, Neil Redfearn and Uwe Rosler have all been dismissed since Cellino took control of Leeds, with the club continuing to tread water in the second tier and flirt with relegation to League One. Evans, formerly of Boston United, Crawley Town and Rotherham United, has come in until at least the end of the season but how long the Scot will last is deeply uncertain.
"It's bad firing a coach," Cellino added. "It's very bad, the worst thing. You think I get peace from that? You don't think it's easier for me to sell the club and walk away in peace?
"The alternative is to protect myself from admitting I made a mistake. I tried to help Uwe [Rosler] a lot. A beautiful man, but instead of helping I gave him more problems. I don't want to pick the team, b******t, but watching a coach make mistakes when I have experience and want to make him better — I tried to help."