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Soccer: Cellino's Leeds takeover at risk after tax verdict

Cagliari chairman ordered to pay 600,000 euros over yacht

18 March, 15:37
Soccer: Cellino's Leeds takeover at risk after tax verdict (ANSA) - Cagliari, March 18 - Cagliari Chairman Massimo Cellino's takeover of Championship (second-tier) English side Leeds United is in doubt after he was convicted Tuesday for failing to pay value added tax (VAT) in Italy on a yacht he bought in the United States.

A court in this Sardinian city ordered Cellino to pay a fine of 600,000 euros and ruled that the yacht should be confiscated.

Cellino's lawyer said he would appeal.

Last month Leeds announced that Cellino's family holding company was buying a 75% stake from the Middle East-based group that is currently in charge of them.

The proposed takeover is pending approval by the Football League in England, which last week announced that it hoped to make a decision within 10 days.

Leeds fans had already expressed doubts about whether Cellino passed the test of being a "fit and proper" person to take over the club as he has a 2001 conviction for false accounting.

British media reported that the Football League are unlikely to approve his takeover of Leeds in the light of Tuesday's ruling. Cellino has been financially supporting Leeds for around two months, but he has said he was reluctant to keep doing so with the ratification of the deal uncertain. An unorthodox character who sometimes plays guitar in a band, he failed in a bid to buy top-flight English side West Ham United in 2010.

The 57-year-old has a reputation for being a "coach-eating" chairman in Italy for the high turnover of bosses at Serie A side Cagliari.

Cellino is now trying to sell Cagliari after 22 years in charge and has come under fire from fans of the Sardinian team for allegedly abandoning them.

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