Leeds go public to give emphatic response to Cellino undercover sting
By Will Butcher
Leeds have released a club statement to dismiss the Telegraph’s claims against owner Massimo Cellino as a “non-story”.
Leeds issued the statement on their official website that defends the Italian chairman and said he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
The Italian businessman was filmed by the Telegraph suggesting a bogus firm could buy a 20 per cent stake in Leeds to circumvent third-party ownership rules.
But Leeds insisted the 60-year-old conducted himself in an appropriate manner when confronted by undercover reporters.
“The club (Leeds) has reviewed the supposed ‘evidence’ that the Telegraph have published tonight,” the statement reads. “At no time in this video clip has Mr Cellino suggested getting around the FA’s rules on third-party ownership of players.
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“Mr Cellino has made a perfectly proper suggestion which is entirely consistent with the FA’s regulations. The Club intends to make no further comment on this non-story.”
In a meeting at Leeds’ training ground, between football agent Pino Pagliara and Cellino, the owner proposed a way that the fund could effectively finance the purchase of players and then profit from their sale.
Cellino goes onto explain that due to the rules he could not simply “give an outside firm a percentage of the sale of the player”, but he did propose the firm bought shares amounting to 20 per cent of the club, in return for which it would receive a 20 per cent cut of future sell-on fees from transfers.
The 60-year-old owner is currently the subject of an FA inquiry into allegations that he agreed an illegal payment of £185,000 during a transfer.
Cellino, who owns 100% of Leeds through company Eleonera Sports, was named alongside Barnsley assistant manager Tommy Wright and QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as doing wrong. Wright has since been suspended.
The Telegraph has conducted an undercover investigation into a number of managers and owners across the country using an entrapment technique that has seen Sam Allardyce axed as England manager.
It remains to be seen whether Cellino will survive, as he continues a court case to settle a dispute over the transfer of Ross McCormack to Fulham.
In other Leeds news, fans have reacted on Twitter to Cellino’s reported involvement.