Leeds in turmoil: Owner disqualified same day new manager appointed
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has been disqualified by the Football League after failing its owners’ and directors’ test on the day he sacked manager Uwe Rosler and replaced him with Steve Evans.
The Italian, who dispensed of his fifth manager of his tumultuous tenure at Elland Road earlier today, has been punished after invoking a disqualifying condition over a tax conviction in his native country.
It is the second time Cellino has faced such sanctions from the governing body after previously being disqualified between December 2014 and the end of last season.
A Football League statement read: "At its recent meeting, the board of the Football League considered the position of Leeds United president, Massimo Cellino, under its Owners’ and Directors’ test.
"In June, Mr Cellino was found guilty by a court in Sardinia of an offense under Italian tax legislation relating to the non-payment of VAT on the importation of a Land Rover vehicle. This resulted in a fine of E40,000 and the confiscation of the vehicle in question.
"Having considered detailed legal advice and the court’s reasoned judgment, as supplied by Mr Cellino, the board determined that the decision of the Italian court constitutes a disqualifying condition under the Owners’ and Directors’ test.
"Mr Cellino has until October 28 to appeal against the board’s decision. Any such appeal would be heard by an independent panel."
The announcement came just minutes after the club formally appointed former Rotherham boss Evans on a rolling contract until June 30.
Evans has been out of work for less than a month following his exit from the Millers where he led them from League Two to Championship safety in three years.
Despite that success, his appointment at Elland Road still comes as a surprise and the Scot is asking the Leeds fans for a chance.
"I’m honoured and proud, but the supporters just want to see what happens on the pitch," Evans said.
"All I can ask the Leeds United supporters to do is to give me the benefit of the doubt.
"Perhaps I wouldn’t be the chosen manager for many Leeds United fans – I had butterflies in my stomach driving into Thorp Arch this morning.
"I can understand why they may think that, but the only thing that matters to me is what happens on the grass.
"As I proved at Rotherham and as I proved at Crawley, if I win football matches then people will embrace me. It’s always about winning football matches."
Evans becomes the sixth manager that Cellino has appointed following his arrival at Elland Road at the beginning of 2014.
During that time Brian McDermott, Dave Hockaday, Darko Milanic, Neil Redfearn and Rosler have all been disposed of, with an average of just 13 games each.
Redfearn was the longest serving, with 33 matches, but he was replaced in the summer by the German, who today paid the price for three successive defeats.
"I watched the game on Saturday and in the second half, we were just trying not to lose. We were not trying to win. That is not good enough," Cellino told the Daily Mirror.
"I did my best to help Uwe, but in the end, I could not see even a patch of blue in the sky, just cloud, cloud and cloud."
Cellino also took issue with Rosler’s announcement last week that his side was not good enough to win promotion this season.
"Why did he say that?" said Cellino. "The fans want to dream, so why did he say that?
"To say that after 11 or 12 games is wrong. That is not right for the fans."
It remains to be seen who Evans will answer to in Cellino’s absence, with nearly all of Leeds’ middle-management having departed during his reign.
Former Leeds director Adam Pearson returned to the club in an executive position in May and appeared a perfect foil for Cellino, especially in the event of another ban, but left last month to concentrate on his commitments with rugby league side Hull FC.