By Alex Stevens

Garry Monk has revealed his “respect” for Leeds owner Massimo Cellino as he fights an 18-month suspension from football.

The Football Association threw the book at controversial Italian Cellino last week after finding him guilty of sanctioning an illegal payment during striker Ross McCormack’s move from Leeds to Fulham in July 2014.

The ruling body has ordered Cellino to stand down from his day-to-day role as Elland Road supremo and told him he cannot be a director of the club from 1 February 2017 until August 2018.

Cellino has insisted that he will appeal against the punishment, which comes against the backdrop of his negotiations to sell a major stake in Leeds to Italian sports media mogul Andrea Radrizzani.

The Yorkshire Evening Post on Monday reported that the latest situation with the takeover is that 60-year-old Cellino “is currently in the advanced stages of a deal to sell 50 per cent of Leeds to Radrizzani”.

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Manager Monk has insisted that the takeover talks are of no concern to him as he focuses on guiding the club to a position where they can challenge for promotion.

“I respect the owner and I respect the club,” Monk said, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post. “It’s not really for me to get into. It’s for the club to deal with.”

Monk’s side are sixth in the Championship at the end of a weekend in which their impressive sequence of league results was ended by Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Brighton.

Leeds, who are 11 points behind leaders Newcastle, are now aiming to get on track on Tuesday night, when they host third-placed Reading at Elland Road.

Reading will arrive in Yorkshire in confident mood after beating fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 on Saturday.

In other Leeds news, these are the first two signings that incoming new owner Andrea Radrizzani will make in the January transfer window.