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Soccer: Cellino to appeal after Leeds Utd takeover halted

Football League intervenes after tax conviction

25 March, 14:36
Soccer: Cellino to appeal after Leeds Utd takeover halted (ANSA) - Rome, March 25 - Cagliari Chairman Massimo Cellino said Tuesday that he would appeal after the English Football League blocked his takeover of Championship (second-tier) English side Leeds United.

The League said Monday Cellino had failed its test to be a "fit and proper" owner after he was convicted last week for failing to pay value added tax (VAT) in Italy on a yacht he bought in the United States.

"I have to appeal," Cellino told the BBC. "I feel a responsibility to the fans who I am proud to say wanted me. "I am feeling embarrassed, ashamed and down. It's not nice to say. I feel lost. I am not a crook. I didn't come to Leeds to do anything bad.

"I cannot blame the League. The only thing that I can blame is that they have just been taking too much time to give an answer. If they give an answer after one month, two months ago, it would have been better for everyone".

Cellino reached an agreement to buying a 75% stake from the Middle East-based group that is currently in charge of Leeds last month.

He has been supporting the cash-strapped club financial for some time and has reportedly ploughed around seven million euros into them so far.

"I did everything with a good purpose because I think everything would be all right, like the movies with a beautiful ending," he said. "Now it's becoming a nightmare." Some Leeds fans had expressed doubts about Cellino even before the yacht sentence as he also has a 2001 conviction for false accounting.

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 had said he was trying to sell Cagliari after 22 years in charge and has come under fire from fans of the Sardinian team for allegedly abandoning them.

Leeds have won three English league championships and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and reached the 1975 European Cup final, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich.

But their recent history has been troubled and they dropped to the third-tier of English football in 2007 after going into administration.

They returned to the Championship in 2010.