It was inevitable that it had to happen; despite the 'discussions' between legal teams, Massimo Cellino had to step down. The 'act of dishonesty' that a Sicilian Court convicted him on turned into a 'disqualifying reason', which made him a not 'fit and proper person'.
There were, as is obvious, delaying tactics as Leeds sought out the best possible way to facilitate Cellino's temporary hiatus from the club. However, the hammer has fallen and Cellino has taken the decision to step back from the flames and accepts the imposed 79-day exclusion from running Leeds United in a substantive capacity until April 10th 2015. In today's Yorkshire Post, Cellino offered the following insight to the club and its fans,
"It is with great sadness and frustration that I have to take this step, however I abide by the Football League’s decision to temporarily disqualify me from this great football club and will return in April in good health and good spirits. I have done my best for a club and fans that I hold close to my heart and it is now financially much stronger than it has been for a long time. It will continue to thrive and I am sincerely looking forward to returning very soon."
The decision by the Football League obviously comes with certain caveats attached as regards Massimo Cellino's resignation and what he can and cannot do with regards to transferring ownership on a temporary basis. For instance, Cellino cannot simply 'gift' the club to a relative, associate or other person with the intention of them acting as a 'shell' or 'front' and running it in some form of 'smoke and mirrors' scheme with Cellino himself pulling the strings like a devious puppetmaster.
What has been said is that the following will take effect whilst the club is in this position of temporary transition. The position of club chairman will be taken on by recently-appointed Andrew Umbers, club director and financier who oversaw the sale of Leeds United from Ken Bates to GFH. The day-to-day running of Leeds United will be left in the hands of Chief Operating Officer Matt Child who as appointed to the club on December 12th 2015. In a third separation of power, Eleonora Sports, the parent company of the Cellino family, which owns a 75% stake in Leeds United, will see their interests looked after by Rome-based lawyer Giorgio Altieri. With this triumvirate, it seems that Massimo Cellino's time negotitiating with the Football League has been well spent and was done to avoid any potential problems regarding 'influential positions' further down the line.
What's in it for the fans though, what does it really mean for people like me writing and you reading this?
Speaking for myself, it means that a little bit of normality has returned to the club. Don't take this as a 'knock the man and bite the hand that feeds' but it suddenly means that, overtly anyway, it's more about the football. Cellino said something akin to the fact that it was the Football League's fault that we were losing and chuckles could be heard from certain quarters. In a way, though, he was right as old Massimo insofar as it had become too much about him and not about the football at Elland Road.
Now that one 'distraction' is put to one side, let's focus on the another thing - the football which, alongside recent results, is improving. Let's all get behind the club and the players and show the rest of the footballing world we really are Leeds 'United'!