After weeks of good fortune at Elland Road, Leeds United is back in the papers for all the wrong reasons.
Massimo Cellino has once again found himself front and centre, as on Thursday it was confirmed that the Football Association have banned the Leeds United Owner/Chairman/President for 18 months and fined him £250,000 for breaking the FA’s Football Agent Regulations.
Once again, the club itself is also set to suffer as they have been fined £250,000 as well.
The news broke on Wednesday that Cellino and the club were set to face sanctions in relation to the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham FC for £10.75 million in July 2014. It is alleged that a payment was made to an unlicensed agent within the transaction. McCormack and Fulham face no suggestion of wrongdoing.
Mr. Cellino was quick to react to the allegations and released a statement on the Leeds United website late on Wednesday night, stating:
“I am surprised to read the news regarding the FA’s intentions to ban and fine me, as well as fine the Club. I am not guilty and I will take the right steps to defend myself through the tribunal."
However, on Thursday, that breaking news story was confirmed by the FA, and the ban and fines have indeed been assessed.
Leeds United and owner Massimo Cellino sanctioned for FA rule breachhttps://t.co/Gwg2NsameT— The FA (@FA) December 8, 2016
Cellino’s suspension will commence on the 1st of February 2017 (ironically, just after the transfer window closes).
The suspension states that Cellino is completely banned from any involvement as director of Leeds United or any other football club for the 18-month period (or any company who are involved or have a business interest in the ownership of a football club).
Cellino will also have to attend an FA-run programme that highlights the responsibilities of an owner/director within a British football club.
As I mentioned in the introduction, both Cellino and Leeds United have been fined the substantial sum of £250,000 and, even though I know the club is getting punished because of Mr. Cellino, I do take a little solace in the fact that we weren’t hit with a transfer embargo or a docking of points on top of that.
Ownership of our great club has been a contentious issue for so many years, many of us here at Through It All Together and throughout the Leeds United fanbase have become numb to it.
Let all #lufc fans get together & get behind the team instead of opposing each other. Please hashtag; #TimeWeAmalgamatedTogether or #TWAT— LEEDSUNITED_MAD ⚡️ (@LeedsUnited_MAD) December 8, 2016
Very slapstick that Massimo Cellino is banned for the duration of 2017 or 2016b as he'd call it. #lufc— I'd Radebe Leeds (@Radebe_Leeds) December 8, 2016
We’ve written so many articles on the Italian that we won’t even bother linking to them here. Instead, the Yorkshire Evening Post put together a great timeline of his tumultuous tenure that you should check out when you get a chance. It’s been quite a ride.
Will this be the final nail in Cellino’s coffin? Will it be the last straw for him, speeding up the sale to Radrizzani? Or will he dig in and fight the suspension and fine? After all, we love paying his legal fees with increased costs at Elland Road.
Some will say our focus should be on the team, regardless of what media circus is swirling around Cellino. Let the FA take care of him; we can focus on cheering on the results on the pitch.
I tend to agree with that. The club is finally on the up and, even though I pray that the sale of the club happens quickly with the hopefully-imminent arrival of Andrea Radrizzani, my priority is getting behind my team against Brighton and watching us take the three points back home.
The number 17 might be unlucky for Massimo Cellino. We’ve known that for years, and it looks to be coming true.
However, 2017 can still be great for Leeds United. MOT.