By Alex Stevens
Controversial Leeds owner Massimo Cellino is in Italy continuing the club’s search for a new manager as Bristol Rovers claim they have refused him permission to speak to Darrell Clarke.
Rovers claimed on Tuesday morning they have turned down an approach from Leeds for Clarke and that they have offered the 38-year-old a new three-year deal.
Cellino, who was snubbed by MK Dons boss Karl Robinson on Monday, revealed on Tuesday afternoon he is back in his homeland meeting another candidate.
“I’ve not decided about the manager,” said the Leeds owner and chairman, as quoted by the Mirror. “I’m in Italy now meeting another before I decide.”
Mirror journalist David Anderson also revealed on his Twitter account after speaking to Cellino that the latest contender is “not Italian” and “speaks good English”.
Cellino says he is in Italy taking to another contender, who is not Italian, but who speaks good English.
— David Anderson (@MirrorAnderson) May 24, 2016
Clarke, 38, has been installed as the odds-on favourite to be the new Leeds manager.
The Bristol Rovers manager became the favourite with Sky Bet on Monday, and his odds on Tuesday evening were 1/5.
However, Cellino’s dash to Italy and Rovers’ claim that Leeds had “failed to meet conditions” set by them to speak to Clarke suggests he is not imminently set to be appointed.
The betting odds changed after it emerged that Robinson had rejected the chance to become the new Leeds manager after holding talks with owner Massimo Cellino.
Clarke has steered the club, who will be in League One next season, to back-to-back promotions since they dropped out of the Football League in 2014.
Meanwhile, Steve Evans is in line to become the sixth manager to be dismissed since Cellino took over the Yorkshire club in 2014.
The Scot has been left hanging by a thread since Leeds’ season ended over two weeks ago and the owner’s comments make it clear he will be sacked.
But Evans is increasingly in demand after steering Leeds away from a relegation fight and has been linked with Nottingham Forest and League One club Peterborough.
Evans achieved promotions with Rotherham and Crawley before being lured to Elland Road last October.