By Matt Farr
Former Leeds owner Ken Bates claimed Massimo Cellino knew nothing about English football when he arrived but is guilty of naivety rather than deliberately bending FA rules.
Cellino, who is Leeds’ current owner, has been banned from all footballing activities for 18 months and fined £250,000 after being found guilty of breaching regulations.
The 60-year-old had been accused of authorising an illegal payment within the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham in 2014,
However, 85-year-old Bates has surprisingly leapt to the support of Cellino, suggesting that the controversial owner’s errors are not deliberate and that all he needs is an experienced advisor at his side to keep him on the straight and narrow.
He told TalkSport: “So many foreign owners come in not knowing anything about football or, in Cellino’s case, not knowing about English football.
“And they make the mistake of not getting a good advisor around them to warn them of the pitfalls and also the rules and regulations.
“We don’t know the details of this case yet – no doubt they will come out in due course – but I suspect it is ignorance on the part of Cellino rather than deliberate misdemeanours.
“Italian ways are so different to British and unfortunately when he came over the scene and took over from the Arabs, who were a bloody disaster for Leeds United, he had nobody around him and foreigners are seen as an easy target for the con-men, get-rich quick artists and talkers.”
Bates operated as the owner at Elland Road between 2005 and 2013 (sole owner from 2011), enduring a rather turbulent spell of his own, taking the club into administration in 2007. He was also responsible for much of the managerial merry-go-round that has seen Leeds appoint 10 different managers in just three years.
The former Chelsea owner was sacked by Leeds in 2013 for entering the club into a contract with a private aeroplane company, without the consent of the board.
He had earlier sold the club to GFH Capital, a private equity group based in the Middle East.
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