Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has been banned for 18 months from being a director of the club, the Football Association announced on Thursday.

The controversial Italian has also been fine £250,000 for breaching the governing body’s football agent regulations, while Leeds have also been slapped with a £250,000 fine for the same amount.

The bombshell news, released on the FA’s website, followed a 12-month investigation into allegations of illegal payments relating to the £12million transfer of McCormack from Leeds to Fulham on 8 July 2014.

The ban to Cellino is due to come into effect from 1 February, 2017, and will bar him from involvement at Elland Road until October 2018.

 The FA have also ordered the Leeds owner to “attend and complete an FA education programme covering the duties and responsibilities of an owner and director of an English football club”.

The sanctions reflect a tougher stance being taken by the FA on transfers after Arsenal were fined £60,000 for a similar breach of agent regulations in October 2015 over the move that took Calum Chambers from Southampton to Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2014.

The FA revealed that the written reasons for its punishment “will be held pending the outcome of any appeal”.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

Leeds and Cellino, who made a public statement after the outcome of the FA’s findings was leaked in a national newspaper on Wednesday, are expected to lodge an appeal now that the ruling body has announced its punishment.

“I am surprised to read the news regarding the FA’s intentions to ban and fine me, as well as fine the club,” Cellino said in a statement on the club’s website on Wednesday.

“I am not guilty and I will take the right steps to defend myself through the tribunal.

“I feel that I am guilty of one thing – protecting Leeds United since I took charge of the club.”

The turmoil behind the scenes at Elland Road comes at a time when the club are flying high in the Championship on the back of a run of five wins in six matches in the competition.

Leeds, who beat in-form Aston Villa 2-0 last Saturday, travel to Brighton on Friday night aiming to narrow the gap on the automatic promotion places to four points.

In other Leeds news, Pontus Jansson has delivered an update on his future and fans will be concerned.