Football League Finally Poised to Kill Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson


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The FL – not fit, not proper

Reports emerging today indicate that Massimo Cellino’s takeover of Leeds United may be on the brink of collapse.  The Football League, which has been busily delving away for any excuse to deny United a seriously minted owner, now appear likely – it is said – to wait for the outcome of a forthcoming court case in Italy, to be heard on March 18th.  Cellino has, by all accounts, pumped millions into Leeds United already, in the form of loans short of his ratification as owner.  If that ratification does not now transpire, the loans could be called in – and the Leeds United financial cupboard is bare.

Meanwhile, Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung has been found guilty of five counts of money laundering by a court in Hong Kong.  This does not appear to be causing any great degree of panic or concern at the Football League, occupied as they are in seeking any excuse to put Leeds United into trouble – a League tradition dating back fifty years or so.

Such apparent double standards are unlikely to go down well with the Leeds United support, the bulk of which – although initially suspicious of Cellino – are now ready to embrace a man whose actions have already spoken louder than any words.  The Leeds support and others with the interests of the club at heart will want answers to several questions, for example:

  • Why are the likes of Yeung, Abramovich, Tan and Allam allowed to do pretty much as they like without official interference, while Cellino seems to have been treated as Public Enemy #1 from the outset?
  • Why is the League’s due process being spun out to include court cases yet to be heard?  What happened to innocent until proven guilty?
  • Why are Leeds United yet again being treated in a way which is demonstrably less favourable as compared to other clubs?
  • What is the League stance on the positive impact of Cellino during his spell as de facto owner?  Wages paid on time when they otherwise might not have been; high profile loan signings; the avoidance of a winding-up order by payment of a debt to Enterprise Insurance.  All the actions of a man fit and proper to be running the club, surely?
  • In the light of all the above – just what the hell does it take to be accepted as fit and proper?  Is Ken Bates the yardstick?

This circus has gone on long enough.  If the Football League get their way, Leeds will be plunged into administration again, with no guarantee of a solid future for one of English football’s great names.  That’s not good enough.

We want answers, and we want them NOW.

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80 responses to “Football League Finally Poised to Kill Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

  1. you cant make it up, hated by all, other then our own MOT,,,

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  2. I hope we have a case in court…because I would sue these jerks. Maybe they could find a lawyer who supports Leeds and would be willing to go against them…hopefully on a contingency basis

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  3. I said yesterday, Rob, that they are twats! This just proves it.

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  4. David Smith

    Well Rob, add clairvoyance to your CV – it’s not looking good.
    Best of luck with the book though.

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  5. The fit and proper rules are a effing joke. How can the fl justify their ratification of Forests takeover now that they’ve posted a loss of over 17m? Liverpool have posted an astronomical loss yet UEFA are perfectly happy for them to play in the champions league should they qualify. It would seem there really is two sets of rules and it all depends on whether your face fits as to which set of rules you have to go by.

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  6. Steven Kerry

    The difference is that all those names you’ve mentioned already own their respective clubs.

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  7. Have to admit that in comparison to the criminal dross that have bought clubs cellino is an angel.. That dont meen i still have 100% trust in the guy but he’s done more in a month thn successive boards in 10 yrs. what bothers me is shaun harvey. he sells our club to a skint bank (how did they get approval btw?) and thn presides over an fa board who seem to want to watch the club fail.. may i suggest a “Bates Out” style gathering outside FA hq…

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  8. Surely if this deal goes belly up, and we really do face financial ruin, GFH will have to accept any offer so as not to incur huge losses on a saleable asset ? Meaning that the previously interested parties may come to the fore yet again ? We can but hope.

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  9. Can’t we all copy and paste your questions and email them to the FL? We might just get some answers, but I won’t be holding my breath.

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  10. Have been saying from the start of this debacle,that Cellino would have a major job getting his mitts on Leeds. By the sounds of it now,it seems ‘i told ya so’ is apt!! Ohh,how i wish i was wrong!! Also,does any1 think GFH sould shouder some of the blame??After all,they jumped headfirst into bed with him for a few million,and put the club at risk of the fatefull ‘A’ word! MOT Always…

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  11. White Falcon

    If the FL choose to deny MC ownership of Leeds Utd then surely they should be held accountable for any money he has pumped into Leeds. One can only assume MC didn’t offer a brown envelope on his recent vist to FL headquarters unlike the other cretinous owners you mentioned. Crooked bastards. Mot

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  12. Stephen Neal

    They are out to destroy Leeds United, they are a disgrace and should be taken to court.

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  13. Dave Sales

    We are the damned united. Always have been, always will be but I will never stop being all that is Leeds. UNITED!

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  14. It is exasperating but Cellino is not going to let Leeds get away from him When he structured his offer to purchase, he will have built in enough latitude to to enable him to assume ownership under an entity which qualifies him under FL guidelines. He is not naive. As with all tribunals which, like bureacratic entities, seem to attract individuals who lust for the opportunity to control others, they will either objectively exercise their mandate or manipulate the process and hide behind the appearance of due diligence in order to achieve another agenda. Their decision is reviewable.

    The upcoming case about import tax avoidance is one of thousands worldwide This is not uncommon and very often, there are legitimate defences. This is not a criminal case. Keep in mind also that the municipal government with whom Cellino is engaged in a very contentious and embittered feud over the stadium are the ones who have lodged the complaint with local prosecutors which has led to the embezzlement charge. Something smells rotten in Denmark.

    Even Barcelona FC is presently charged with fraud and Lionel himself is in Court over charges of tax evasion. But Carson Yeung’s money laundering is on a scale of criminal conduct vastly higher than any of these other charges. In a Tax evasion case, the accused must have knowingly and with intent tried to hide income or claim unjustified expenses. Hard to prove especially with accountants doing all of the work. But with money laundering, the accused has essentially hidden illicit income from declaration and tried to legitimize that capital by merging it through fraudulent means back into the system. This involves a consistently criminal mind and system over a long duration.

    Have faith.
    |

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    • Thanks for that – it’s lifted a little of the gloom.

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      • Jonno i thought your were on to something there but the FL does not specify whether its a criminal offence they just list under ‘Disqualifying Condition’ means all or any of the following:

        (i) an offence involving a Dishonest Act;.

        which they define as
        ‘Dishonest Act’ means any act which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest.

        Taken from http://www.football-league.co.uk/regulations/20130704/appendix-3_2293633_2128209

        More of it below>

        (e) having an unspent conviction (or where the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply for any reason, having a conviction within the period that would have rendered that conviction unspent had the provisions of that Act applied) for any offence (including any attempt to commit the same) that can reasonably be considered to fall within the category of:

        (i) an offence involving a Dishonest Act;

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  15. The football league just want Leeds to stay out of the premier division because of the money generated. Nearly every time we play away in whatever division, championship or league 1 we create record home attendances. this in turn gives smaller clubs loads of money thanks to the leeds away faithful who travel in their thousands. Basically a home match to leeds could generate a club like yeovil up to £100,000, plus all of the interest in tv as well. But the old league and FA men back in the 60’s and 70’s always had it in for leeds anyway,just like now. All of the league chairmen would vote for a points deduction to keep us down like they did a few years ago.

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  16. Whiterhino

    And yet our sanctimous press and FA will still continue to wink and slap the backs of Rod Stewart, Peers of the Realm, Starbucks, High street banks, Jimmy Carr, Walmart, The Rolling Stones, Prince Charles, EDF, MPs etc et al !

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  17. Notfamousanymore

    ah well…admin + League 1 was sort of fun last time. And will be even better this time without Bates.

    Playing crap teams and winning is more fun than playing slightly less crap teams like Middlesboro and not winning.

    Bristol Rovers promo game….Beckford…Howson…minus fifteeen…beatthescumonenil….Snoddy and Gradel….Grayson….

    I’m all nostalgic!

    MOT

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  18. Nobody loves us everybody hates us…..especially the grey suits at the FL!

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  19. The ghost of the disgraceful Alan Hardaker will be having nocturnal emmissions over this. The inadequately-educated halfwit spent the rest of his life being inadequate, hateful and bitter towards us, and it appears that Shaun Harvey is Hardaker reincarnated.
    I’m not convinced Cellino is the very best man for us, but he seems he is the ONLY man available right now, and “needs must” as they say.
    Certainly, his rap sheet compared to some of the crooks you name, is laughable and is an obvious double-standard which would easily be proved in Court by any competent brief.
    ICellino seems to be a bloke who won’t be stuffed around or insulted, and I hope he DOES take the FL on at some stage, and extracts his pound of flesh.

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  20. Why didn’t he just say his son or daughter wer buying us, then we wouldn’t have all this bull#@it from FA saying oh the man is a criminal, just use some1 that don’t have these things hanging over their heads, simples. We all love leeds. P.S, will this pain and torture ever end??

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  21. Great piece rob, spot on. Every1, including FA hates leeds united, can’t stand how big we are even with all our suffering, loud and proud, they can’t stand the fact that wer leeds united, we don’t give a fook

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  22. Every scenario we find ourselves in just imagine the worse possible outcome imaginable. That way you will never be surprised. The disappointment and hurt remain but never the surprise factor.

    Just another day in the life of a true Leeds United fan I am afraid.

    MOT

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  23. With respect Steven,i know that. My point is that even though their owners have passed this ludicrous test,both clubs are still massively in debt. Clearly the fit and proper person test is an absurdity becauseit demands that the owners can run a club on a financially sound footing for at least the first year. Now, the figures i referred to regarding Forest are from 2012-13 which is the first full financial year of their ownership. The whole exercise is meaningless and i sincerely hope someone does take the football league to court or perhaps raises the issue in parliament. It would only take 100k signatures and we could do that easily. It’s us that suffer when these wankers are pursuing their petty agendas.

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  24. Leeds since 1963

    Rob
    GFH bear culpability for gross mismanagement and then trying to sell to a person who was always liable to fail the football league test– remember he tried to buy into West Ham and Palace before us.
    Cellino will make up his fine from the interest he gets on the loans he has put into us unless we go into administration but will be gambling on GFH not letting that happen as they will lose much more.
    I have to say as fans we bear responsibility at being so gullible and being so enthusiastic to endorse a character who was always going to cause us trouble and joy to those who hate Leeds.
    If by any chance he does get to own our club we will forever be one step away from ruin with this guy in charge as his history at Cagliari demonstrates

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  25. good luck with the book rob was so looking forward to closure and the takeover where do we go from here where does mc go he will fight all the way with all leeds fans blessings

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  26. Good idea, why don’t we work through lust and the supporters take the fl, with Harvey named, specifically, to court. We need to start fighting these bastards. Let’s raise some dosh and get some good lawyers. Let’s get into them big style and make their ffing lives a misery! Cellino may even throw in a few grand to get us started?

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  27. Come on Gary, you know it makes sense! You made mincemeat of Bates, now start on the FL!

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    • I like it, Bluesman. In fact Phil hay could be key in this. He has the capacity at YEP to really publicise the fans’ disgust at the current impasse. Questions really should be asked in The House, Leeds area MP’s petitioned and/or lobbied to ask some questions of and demand answers from, the Football League on this.
      Does the FL’s pettifogging amount to a restraint of trade?

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  28. Reality Cheque

    Spot on yet again Rob. However, I would like to offer some kind of hope and re-assurance if at all possible in these uncertain times. I’m pretty sure that if the FL had any concrete reason or evidence to justify rejecting Cellino that they would not have hesitated in pulling the rug in order to publicly humiliate our club to a media fanfare. Such an unprecedented and protracted investigation by the FL ought not to be considered a bad sign but instead a clear indication that it will finally be ‘third time lucky’ for Cellino and his legal team who, following their attempts in respect of West Ham and Palace will no doubt have learnt valuable lessons and identified the legal loopholes in the FL’s screening process. It is a game of patience but rest assured the FL are still scratching around after weeks and weeks of Cellino’s bid and he doesn’t look like a worried man to me. All good things come to he who waits. Let’s be of good courage, pack Elland Road on Saturday and let Cellino hear the roar of his Ferrari’s engine big time!!! MOT

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  29. Belfast White

    What about simply overloading the FL? Instead of a petition, what if thousands of Leeds fans simply wrote to them expressing their frustrations? No insults, abuse or offensive language. Maybe Rob you could suggest a few messages just for variety. If we simply swamped them with letters, they would have to open every one to check the contents. If 20,000 Leeds fans sent one letter a week for a month, now that would raise a smile…though not for Shaun Harvey! 🙂 Let them know how the fans of this great club really feel.

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    • I’m up for anything that might shake them out of their bloody complacency. What do others think?

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      • Belfast White

        Hi Rob. Thoroughly enjoy your thoughts on the world of Leeds. Have just donated £10 towards your blog and the book you are writing. Hope both go really well for you. MOT

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      • Many thanks for the kind words and the donation mate – both help in equal measure towards getting this project nailed. The support of fellow Leeds fans is the best inspiration possible. MOT

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  30. I can only echo reality cheque , cellino looks cool under this so called pressure, he’s sat smiling in the stands at QPR , his kids are taking selfies at elland rd (calm down rob lol ) and also tweeting.. All this would be a major embarassment for him and his family should this take over fall through and as we all know the Italians don’t like losing face , he’s not worried rob so neither am I

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  31. Mark Crawshaw

    As we all know, the FA’s (Leeds born) Chief Executive has a history of taking clubs into administration (including ours) &, with some justification, is not held in the highest regard in these parts.

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  32. Reality Cheque

    I am also in favour of any kind of peaceful demonstration of our frustration but think that 20,000 letters a week from our fans will be the perfect excuse for prolonging the delay in making a decision. Since Cellino is Italian I think a couple of thousand fans should stand outside the FL Headquarters every day watching for white smoke to come out of their chimney. When in Rome…eh Rob?? Our time cometh. MOT

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  33. I don’t think we have anything to worry about despite the conniving football league. Anyway,if the worst comes to the worst we can form a breakaway league with-Bury,Macclesfield and Crewe.

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  34. The Football League have now put themselves between a rock and a hard place now by delaying so long and being pedantic. Greg Mullholland has met with Shaun Harvey to check if the FL are following guidelines, so other are vwatching events closely and if they turn Cellino down I believe it will be administration with all the loan debts as any other would be buyers will be waiting like vultures to pick over the carcass of our club.
    Meanwhile yet again the usual Italian toxic mixture of politics and legalities raises its head in Sardinia all of which must have been known about before. I guess the local government see their chance to blackmail Cellino into paying up in advance to line someone else’s pockets.
    I have a feeling this all may end up in the High Court and good on that if the FL have their process picked over particularly on other dubious cases they have let slip through the net.
    Meanwhile, we have to get on with forcing our way into the play offs and hope for the best. Personally I don’t care about taxation and EEC fraud as everyone in low and high places throughout Europe has been at it for years. I just want an owner who will love and care about Leeds United and invest in the future success of the club. I believe Cellino is that option.
    Show me a millionaire who has not done some dodgy deals and I will show you a pig that flies.

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    • Couldn’t agree more. If a few of the heads-up-their-own-arses League officials had a grip on reality like that, we’d all be far better off.

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      • Silvio Berlusconi comes to mind. Oh and all those expenses rip off parliamentarians to name but a few!

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      • Exactly. The whole thing reeks of double standards. Can’t help but think if it wasn’t Leeds, it’d all have been sorted weeks ago. This has now been dragging on in some form or other since well before Christmas!

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  35. Another great read

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  36. This is a copy of a letter I am sending to Football League HQ. Preston today –
    Dear Board of Directors of the Football League,
    As a proud fan of, and season ticket holder at Leeds United, I wish to protest your treatment of my club in the ownership saga involving GFH and Massimo Cellino.
    I question the conflict of interest of Shaun Harvey, who 6 months ago worked for the then owner of the club [Ken Bates].
    How is this man allowed to preside over confidential and important decisions, when only last year he had a vested interest?
    Is this a personal vendetta?
    Is Mr Harvey biased, after being sacked by GFH so recently?
    This determination to seemingly make an example of Leeds United, to prolong this take-over, to apparently subject the club to an endless process of ‘ifs and maybe’s’ involving Mr Cellino’s financial dealings is a craven effort to subject the club to scrutiny no other club has ever been subject to.
    Perhaps you’re true intentions, endless delays, sponsored silences, and lack of confirmation are a sign of that you are not ‘fit and proper’ for purpose?
    I am going to propose, to a number of interested parties, that fans of Leeds United organise and agitate to end this restraint of trade, and sideline vested mandarins like yourselves, so this charade can be ended.
    Yours Faithfully

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  37. Yes, no problem. I think we need to act.

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  38. kevin mcgarrigle

    the article in question was hyped up by the guardian and if you read it again it states quite clearly that “they assume” the FA will await the outcome of any court case.
    Basically the case, if any, is purely that of the ownership of a boat, the fact that the boat is registered in the states, flies the stars and stripes, and is owned by a U.S registered company puts paid to the fact that Cellino has done nothing wrong, this is purely some civic councillor that had his feathers ruffled by Cellino some years previously and will not prevent the man from having the purchase rubber stamped.

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    • Yes, I must admit I blogged in the heat of the moment there. I’m deeply suspicious of the Football authorities in this country regarding their dealings with Leeds United – and maybe I’m ever so slightly paranoid too. But is it surprising, with those bastards out to get my club?? Wibble…

      Like

  39. Morning Rob. Top article as always. I left a post about 6 weeks ago saying the FL would drag this out and we probably wouldn’t be any clearer on on goings come the end of the season. And here we are now; and even the most cynical person in the world would be hard pushed to not think that this was all in the name of kicking Leeds United and its supporters down every time. I am going to cut and paste the letter and send it to the FL right now. If they take much longer, the next one might be Anthrax coated.

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    • I love that! Thanks for providing a smile in the FL gloom.

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      • Just a thought on this saga. Would Cellino pump about 5 million into the club without some positive feedback from the FL? If they turn it down at this stage and force the the into administration is that even for the always disgraceful FL just a jump too far with what will follow and would a canny business man do that with his cash with no guarantee I wonder.

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  40. kevin mcgarrigle

    I believe Cellino has enough cash to protect himself in a court of law, lets be honest, this nonsense has been nipping him for 4 years now and is nothing more than a de-criminalised parking ticket.
    I’m curious to understand why has it just come to light, why would the Guardian run a non story? is this the influence of the one & only YEP star reporter Phil Hay as it has his hallmarkings through and through

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  41. Rob , if you remember I posted what I thought the league were up to a few weeks ago, unfortunately my worst nightmare appears to be coming true. Undoubtedly this agenda is being driven by the Farnham consortium (assumedly protecting one of their mates’ cash cows AKA Elland Road rent- owned by a Manchester businessman!?). They can pick the club up for a song after administration and undoubtedly be one of the favoured bidders by Mr Harvey. 15 points is a small price to pay for such a tidy bargain plus the FA get to keep Leeds down where they clearly think we belong and we get to listen to the same spineless vitriol from our new “saviours” while they wring the last drops of blood from the stone. F@@k ’em all !

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  42. les horsman

    peter ridsdale ruin 3 clubs Leeds that team from wales plymouth argyleand adam pearsonon the same bored as peter ridsdale mr pearson should look into them Two f.l .

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  43. Not as big a hurdle as facing tax evasion charges but Cellino also has to have sold Cagliari, including all shares and have “no interest” in them either before he can own Leeds before FL approval.
    http://www.football-league.co.uk/regulations/20130704/appendix-3_2293633_2128209

    ‘Disqualifying Condition’ means all or any of the following:

    (a) either directly or indirectly being involved in, or having the power to determine or influence, the management or administration of another Club or Premier League Club unless a dispensation in respect of the same has been granted by the Board in accordance with Regulation 91;

    (b) either directly or indirectly holding or acquiring any Significant Interest in a Club while at the same time either directly or indirectly holding any interest in any class of shares or securities of another Club unless a dispensation in respect of the same has been granted by the Board in accordance with Regulation 91;

    (c) being subject to a suspension or ban, whether directly (for example a sanction against the individual in particular) or indirectly (for example a direction to persons subject to the jurisdiction of the Sports Governing Body that they should not employ, contract with or otherwise engage or retain the services of, any individual), from involvement in the administration of a sport by a Sports Governing Body or such other similar forms of disqualification as may operate from time to time;

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  44. darren lufc

    lets club together and pay the tax on the boat ourselves …
    problem solved mot

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  45. I hope after all Cellino has been through before with being rejected to buy Palace WHU etc, that he knows this process inside out and his lawyers all all over everything and that FL approval is only a matter of time, as for the fresh tax fraud evasion charges I really hope kevin mcgarrigle | 06/03/2014 at 12:18 | is right

    Kevin’s point
    Basically the case, if any, is purely that of the ownership of a boat, the fact that the boat is registered in the states, flies the stars and stripes, and is owned by a U.S registered company puts paid to the fact that Cellino has done nothing wrong, this is purely some civic councillor that had his feathers ruffled by Cellino some years previously and will not prevent the man from having the purchase rubber stamped.

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  46. I do think this is partly why no bigbucks Charlie has not shown an interest in our club til now none of them had the fight in them to go against the haters at FL also the cancer that is Bates debt aside what’s not to like massive European if not world fan base 1 city club it’s just a case of getting rid of the baggage FL hatered

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  47. wetherby white

    thing that sticks in my throat is the presence of toad lookalike sean harvey in all this. A lacky of Bates who sat like a nodding dog and went along with the criminal East Stand building project, the sale of all our best players and helped put the blocks on any recent managers being able to spend money on quality new payers.
    Here he is again and now in a position where he can really finish off the club, rather than by stealth as in the past.
    Great….

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    • As has been said elsewhere, it’s surprising that he hasn’t been required to declare an interest.

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      • …it’s also surprising that he hasn’t been investigated for his actions while at Bradford City and Leeds United.
        At least 3 administrations… how unlucky can one man be?
        Not to mention his clubs being deliberately run into the ground while his Chairmen toddle off with many millions! Coincidence?
        Personally I wouldn’t trust Shaun to get his shoes on the right feet in the morning let alone run the Football league, it’s a bizarre appointment.
        Having a bloke with little education and a very chequered history of football club administration, presiding over another man’s fitness for purpose is a joke, and moreso given his own very recent dismissal.

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  48. Derek Mathieson

    I have it on good authority that Sean Harvey has employed Mystic Meg to speak to the spirit of Alan Hardaker.Even from beyond the grave that idiot is still trying to screw us.
    Cellino is the Messiah and he’s been a very naughty boy but is he any more bent than Shinawatra,Abramovich,Yeung and Tan? I think not.
    Am starting to feel a bit uneasy though.In this case I don’t think no news is good news

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  49. the most noticeablbe thing that caught my eye on cellinos yatch was the american flag , and the bit just under the flag , NY??, how can he pay tax on something bought and registered in the usa , the yatch looks more like a tourist , its not as if they found a submarine hiding out there with all cellinos cash in it ,,,,,,,,,,the fl r bias,unethicle ,anti leeds, always have been, what will they do about QPR AND BOLTONS DEBTS, as there over the magical 8m allowed

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  50. The Sardino prosecutor claims Cellino set up an American Yacht Buying Company less than a month prior to buying the boat for the sole purpose of buying the boat and avoiding any import tax, if he buys more boats and makes this a legit business can he really be prosecuted, and was the Yacht imported to Italy, doesn’t Cellino live in Miami, not Italy where is the yacht now? Or does anyone that visits Italy in a Yacht have to pay a luxury tax of 400kEuros?

    Like

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