Massimos Blurred Lines - Timeline of Crime

Massimo’s defenders have repeatedly said that his legal issues are nothing more than trivial matters and presumably, would draw parallels with Judas Priest , who once sang “you don't know what it's like, you don't have a clue, if you did you'd find yourselves doing the same thing too” in their song “Breaking the Law”

The difference is that most of us would not find ourselves continually in breach of the law. We would not find ourselves in these situations on a regular occurrence.

I would like to think that most of us would not ignore the criminal laws of the lands in which we conducted our dealings without expecting punishment or ramification.

Yet Massimo Cellino has spent the past twenty years struggling with the concept of law and has been labelled by a judge, in court, as a “man of marked criminal tendencies … capable of using every kind of deception to achieve his ends".

He pleads ignorance to such things as import duty and taxation law, despite studying for a diploma in accountancy for a few years the Faculty of Economics and Commerce before dropping out. The events below would suggest he is also not a man willing to learn from his mistakes.

Ask yourself one simple question; when a man has a past as chequered as this, mostly relating to financial irregularities, would you trust him to run a business where legitimate financial acumen was needed?

Put aside his perceived persona, or any other embarrassing issues surrounding our football club. Put aside broken promises and the blatant lies he’s told to fans.

Put aside all of the nonsense and look purely objectively at his past.

On the basis of the issues below, would you trust such a man to run your football club?

December 1993
An arrest warrant is issued against the managing director of the company "SemMoliniSardi" Massimo Cellino also president of "Cagliari Calcio" . Charges made against MassimoCellino are those of cheating the EEC and embezzlement in connection with storage of grain on behalf of AIMA.

June 1994
Under arrest, in prison, Cellino is questioned over the accusations of fraud, embezzlement and false accounting. He is placed under house arrest whilst judicial investigators continue the investigation of two shippers who work on behalf of "SemMoliniSardi" , as he remains accused of complicity in fraud and embezzlement against the EEC and AIMA.

July 1994
A shipping vessel known as the “Lucina”, owned by “SemMoliniSardi”, of which Massimo Cellino is managing director, docked in the Algerian port of Djendjen on the 11th of June .

Its shipping manifest states it is carry 2600 tonnes of flour.

On the evening of the 7th of July, the seven sailors on board the vessel are brutally murdered. Upon discovery of the bodies, authorities are only able to account for 2000 tonnes of cargo.

Over 600 tonnes of manifested cargo is missing.

The responsibility for the massacre is claimed by Algerian terrorist cell the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) and speculation is made by both Algerian and Italian sources that the missing cargo is likely related to weapons smuggling.

Along with his sister, Lucina (presumably whom his aforementioned ship was named after) Massimo Cellino is found guilty of embezzlement of £7,500,000.00 from the EEC.

Sentence ; Cellino plea bargains his way to a 15 month suspended sentence.

February 1997
Abdaou Jaoufik, a 27 year old Tunisian who has been living illegally in Italy for ten years, is caught by Cellino whilst in the process of stealing items from his garden. Cellino fires his “45 Magnum” into the air and gets into a scuffle with the would be thief. The gun is again discharged and the bullet grazes the head of the Tunisian, before he is hit in the head with the weapon. The illegal immigrant is hospitalized as Cellinos wife Francesca and the Phillipino maid, along with Massimo himself have to give statements to the local Police forces version of “The Flying Squad”.

May 2001
Cellino is arrested, again, with his sister Lucina and charged with false accounting at a football club. Incidents include Cellino ‘doctoring’ the books of Cagliari regarding the transfer of Daniel Fonseca to Napoli and partly using the money on developing his personal property. He is subsequently sued for 250 million lira by Mariano Migliavacca, the director of the firm hired to carry out the renovations on said villa, for none payment of bills.

Sentence; Cellino is found guilty of false accounting. The judge sentences Massimo Cellino to fifteen months, which is suspended, despite Cellino offering no extenuating circumstances for his fraudulent actions.

January 2010
Cellino shows interest in buying then financially beleaguered West Ham United as he lays claim to the biggest bid for the club.

"I thought I would have everything concluded straight away; I've shown that my offer was serious," Cellino was quoted as saying by the Italian website Calciomercato."Now there are some minor delays, they're checking the paperwork. Maybe they didn't think I would come in with the best offer."

For his bid to have been a success, Cellino would have needed to convince the consortium of five banks who were West Ham's principal creditors that he would be a sound long-term partner in the club.

There are rumours that if Cellino's bid is successful, manager Gianfranco Zola would be immediately dismissed (compare this with his sacking of Brian McDermott before he had even finalised buying the club)

It is reported that Cellino is warded off his bid after being informed there is “no way would he be approved by the Premier League as a fit and proper person”when it comes to being approved as a director or owner of a club.

March 2010
Cellino again looks at a financially struggling English league club, this time outside of the Premier League, as he sets his sights on the financially struggling Crystal Palace, who had been docked 10 points for entering administration and as a result find themselves just outside of the relegation places in the Football League Championship.

Italian newspaper Corrieredello Sport says Cellino, is 'very close to an agreement' with Palace administrator Brendan Guilfoyle.

News outlets report that under current laws, there is little to no chance that Cellino would be approved as a “fit and proper” person to run a football club in the Football League.

April 2010

Turning his sights to Queens Park Rangers, Cellino is mooted as attempting to purchase the club from the Mittal family. Again, despite press reports suggesting Cellino is “in discussions”, nothing comes of the deal. Again, press outlets add a footnote to reports that Cellino would be in no way classed as a “fit and proper” person under the “Owners and Directors” test were he to attempt a purchase of the club due to his criminal convictions occurring within the last ten years.

February 2013
Cellinois arrested and accused of attempted embezzlement and fraudulent misrepresentation after an investigation into the building of the IS Arenas. He is held in custody at Buoncammino prison for just over two weeks and released pending further investigation.

January 2014
Cellino completes his takeover of Leeds United, having conducted no due diligence on the financial accounts of the club. He illegally terminates the employment of Leeds United manager Brian McDermott, before McDermott is reinstated less than two days later.

January 2014
The club, under Cellinos stewardship, is issued with a winding up petition by shirt sponsors Enterprise Insurance over an unpaid loan.

February 2014
The winding up petition is withdrawn by Enterprise Insurance, but this leads to a dispute between Cellino and the sponsor.

March 2014
Sardinian court finds Cellino guilty of illegally evading import duty. He is ordered to pay a £500,000 fine after being convicted of failing to pay €388,500 in tax on “Nelie”, a yacht impounded by Italian police and customs officials in June 2013. It is during this case that the judge, Sandra Lepore, notes that Cellino is a “man of marked criminal tendencies … capable of using every kind of deception to achieve his ends".

March 2014
As a result of his conviction for failing to pay tax, the board ofFootball League classifies this as a “dishonest act” and votes unanimously (with the exception of Shaun Harvey who does not vote as he declares an interest, being a previous employee of the club) to block Cellino’s takeover. They disqualify him from becoming owner of the club and declare that he has failed the “Owners and Directors Test”.

April 2014
Cellino appeals against his ban to an independent Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) chaired by Tim Kerr QC,protesting against the Football League’s decision. As the review is unable to concur with the Football League whether the offence was classed as a “dishonest act”, due in part to a quirk of Italian law and its subsequent appeal systems, the QC overturns the Football League disqualification, paving the way for his takeover of Leeds United. The statement from the Football League reads

"In the current absence of detailed reasons for the conviction from the Sardinian Court and having taken into account the principles of Italian law, an independent QC reached a different conclusion. On this basis, Massimo Cellino is cleared to be a Director of Leeds United."

However, a caveat is added to the statement by the QC, stating,:

“Mr Cellino has satisfied me that on the facts before me, what he was convicted of was not conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest….if the reasoned ruling of the court in Cagliari discloses that the conduct of Mr Cellino was such that it would reasonably be considered to be dishonest, he would become subject to a Disqualifying Condition.”

May 2014
Leeds United Football club is issued with a winding up petition, filed by “Sports Capital” over an unpaid loan. Under Cellino's stewardship, the club ignore the requests to settle and await a High Court date. Players are unable to be paid during this time as the club has its accounts frozen.

June 2014
The club, under Cellino’s direction, settle the outstanding amount of £950,000.00 and the winding up petition is dismissed. Players can then be paid.

August 2014
Brian McDermotts assistant Nigel Gibbs leaves the club over the way Cellino treated both McDermott and himself. Nigel Gibbs currently has an employment tribunal hearing open against Leeds United for unfair dismissal.

Legal issue currently unresolved at time of publication.

October 2014
Darko Milanic is sacked as “head coach”. He is paid in full by the club as he remains on gardening leave until February 2016 when he takes the role of head coach at Maribor.

He is essentially paid by Leeds United for seventeen months for doing nothing due to Cellinos actions.

October 2014
Cellino’s court trial in Sardinia for tax evasion for allegedly failing to pay import duty of around £75,000 on a second yacht, “Lucky 23”, is delayed after the judge decided to step down due to a conflict of interest.

December 2014
The Football League announce that Cellino has again been disqualified from owning the club after they received detailed evidence from the Italian court that convicted him of tax evasion on his yacht “Nelie” does indeed constitute a “dishonest act”. Cellino appeals against the ruling.

January 2015
A Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) chaired by Tim Kerr QC rejects an appeal by Cellino against the recent decision by the Board of The Football League that he is subject to a disqualifying condition under its “Owners' and Directors' Test.”

The PCC finds that the reasoned judgment of the Italian Court, once it had become available, was for an act involving dishonesty as determined by the Board in its original ruling in March 2014.

The PCC states: “We consider that the judge’s findings of fact and her description of Mr. Cellino’s state of mind based on them, is of conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest. We therefore conclude that Mr Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving a ‘Dishonest Act’ within the meaning of the rules, and that he is accordingly subject to a ‘Disqualifying Condition’.

As are result of the decision, Massimo Cellino is disqualified from acting as a ‘Relevant Person’, as defined by Football League regulations until 10th April 2015 at which point the one year stature of “spent convictions” under British law is applied.

March 2015
Cellino’s ban from acting as a “relevant person” at Leeds United is extended for failing to supply the Italian Court judgment to The Football League when it first became available from April 10th until May 3rd

April 2015
Winger Cameron Stewart successfully takes the club to court, seeking reparations for Cellino tearing up his three year contract. He wins and the football club, due to Cellino's actions, is told to pay Stewart in the region of £800000.00.

April 2015
Club accounts suggest there is a pending legal dispute between incumbent kit supplier Macron who are claiming £2.15m “allegedly owed” to the company and is also seeking damages of between £2.5m and £3.5m due to Cellino deciding he will terminate their contract, despite there being one year left on it.

May 2015
Reports surface that Cellino and Leeds United are being investigated over using an unlicensed agent in the Ross McCormack transfer to Fulham.

Mirror Sport reports it has seen documents which appear to show that Cellino signed off on behalf of the club a payment of £185,000 to a football agent, Derek Day. And that Day was collecting the payment on behalf of McCormack’s adviser, Barry Hughes, who is not a licensed agent.

Such a move contravenes FA rules.

An email sent by Day to the club supports the belief that he and Hughes were working in tandem.

Graham Bean, the club’s consultant at the time stated in the press “Mr Cellino was the club signatory at all times and he agreed all payments relating to Ross McCormack’s transfer.”

The FA’s football-agent regulations, section J1, states: “A club must not directly or indirectly make any payments to any unauthorised agent in respect of any agency activity.”

Cellino is also accused of breaching third party ownership rules over the Adryan transfer.
Legal issues remain unresolved at time of publication.

June 2015
In Italy,Cellino is again found guilty of tax evasion. He is convicted again by Judge Sandra Lepore for failing to pay VAT on an imported Range Rover. He is fined €40,000 (£28,400) .

July 2015
Under Cellino's watch, the club are accused of not paying the £800000.00 awarded to Cameron Stewart by a tribunal. The PFA seek a transfer embargo

July 2015
The club unveils a new kit after Cellino negotiates a new kit manufacturer for the football club, despite being legally unable to do so, due to the existing contract in place with Macron, which still has one year left to run.

Deciding to ignore this contract, Cellino locks Leeds United into a deal with Kappa. The shirt has no sponsor, not for aesthetic reasons (although it looks very nice), but because of the ongoing legal dispute with Enterprise Insurance.

Macron continue to seek damages of upwards of £5,000,000.00 from the club due to Cellino's actions.

Legal issue remains unresolved at time of publication.

August 2015
Lucy Ward, an employee of the club for 17 years, credited by England internationals Fabian Delph and James Milner, among others, for assisting them through their formative years, is dismissed on Cellinos insistence, due to her being the long-term partner of dismissed first team coach, Neil Redfearn.

The dismissal is noted as being for “gross misconduct” for spending too long working on hosting the BBC’s coverage of the Womens World Cup, despite Ward having the assignment signed off and approved by her line manager.

Despite Ward taking on extra duties at Thorp Arch, due to Cellinos “down-sizing” operation at the academy and being known to Cellino, he denies that he had ever met the long term and ever present employee.

Lucy Ward currently has an employment tribunal hearing open against Leeds United for unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination.

Legal issue currently unresolved at time of publication.

October 2015
The Board of The Football League (with the exception of Chief Executive Shaun Harvey who declared an interest) consider the position of Leeds United President Massimo Cellino under its Owners' and Directors' test.

Considering detailed legal advice and the Court’s reasoned judgment, as supplied by Cellino, the Board determine that the decision of the Italian Court constitutes a disqualifying condition under the “Owners' and Directors' test“ and again Cellino is banned from running Leeds United Football Club.

October 2015
It is reported that fitness coach Matt Pears is seeking damages after he was sacked from his post for deigning to go to his brother’s wedding on the same day as Leeds played Everton in August, despite having permission to do so.

Legal issue currently unresolved at time of publication.

October 2015
Uwe Rosler is sacked as “head coach” by Cellino.

He is currently paid in full by the club and he remains on gardening leave until his contract expires in August 2017.

He will paid by Leeds United for twenty three months for doing nothing, thanks to Cellinos actions.

October 2015
The Independent newspaper carries a report that there are currently 30 (THIRTY) legal claims against Leeds United under Cellinos stewardship.

These include the High Court suit served by his own lawyers Mischon de Reya, relating to £150,000 of unpaid fees, stemming back from the time Cellino retained them during his appeal against the Football League’s attempt to block him from buying the club.

“He doesn’t pay, then changes firms,” says one source.

December 2015
Cellino announces he is going to appeal against the latest ban and appeals to the Football Association under their “Rule K”, asking for arbitration on the case, according to press reports.

December 2015
From his home in Miami, Cellino decrees that Sky cameras are not allowed into the ground for the home game against Derby, despite Sky having a legally binding contract to be there.

The press reports that Cellino is willing to sack any member of Leeds United staff who relents, ignoring the most rudimentary of employment laws.

Sky are finally allowed into the ground to film the game, with the Football League having to threaten a disrepute charge and possible fine.

Cellino claims his sole purpose is to protect the fans via a club statement, whilst demanding behind the scenes that he be allowed access to the contract between Sky and The Football League as he allegedly seeks to break up the consolidated bargaining agreement between the League, it's 72 member clubs and Sky.

December 2015
Cellino, answering yet another charge of tax evasion, back in Italy, stemming back to 2007 over the sales of Alvarez and Bizera from Cagliari finds he has been acquitted through a small amendment on the criminal punishment in Italian law. The charges are therefore dropped.

Note - he is not found innocent of any crime, nor is he found guilty. The previously criminal charge is simply reclassified.

January 2016
The trial over the "Lucky 23" case is postponed to a later date.

Legal issue remains unresolved at time of publication.

February 2016
The FA says it is bound by confidentiality and unable to make any comment on Rule K arbitration. Its not even willing to confirm that Cellino has started arbitration, let alone provide details or suggest a timescale for a verdict. No timescale is set for conclusion, nor is any notification of how quickly will the Football League stage Cellino’s appeal if the FA refuses to support his argument.

The Football League will not comment on those questions, aside from to say that Cellino continues to face an ownership ban of 223 days.

That would currently prevent him from running Leeds United until November.

He would be unable to ratify any transfers or sanction any investment into the first team squad in the summer. He would be unable to offer new contracts to any of the players.

Legal issue remains unresolved at time of publication.

February 2016
It is widely reported that the match against Middlesbrough at Elland Road is only going ahead because Football League chiefs took out an injunction to force Leeds to play the fixture.

Cellino was set to refuse to honour the fixture as part of his on-going campaign against the current Championship TV deal, claim reports in the Daily Mail.

The fixture had been at the centre of a dramatic behind the scenes legal wrangle.

It is reported in the press that the club, under direction of Cellinohave started legal action against the Football League in a bid to rip up the collective selling of TV rights.

The club deny this in an emphatic statement, which is then proven to be a lie, with the Football League announcing to its members during a meeting where all 72 clubs were represented at a private meeting staged in Milton Keynes.

The League's chief executive, Shaun Harvey, briefed the members on what had hitherto been a completely secret legal dispute with Leeds and Cellino.

The seemingly late movement of the fixture led to a backlash from Leeds fans against the League and Sky, when in fact Leeds United, under Cellinos legal action was the ultimate cause of the delay.

March 2016
The dates for the embezzlement trial and fraudulent representation over the IS Arenas scandal is set for May by a judge. Cellino faces both charges.

Legal issue remains unresolved at time of publication.

March 2016
The accounts for Leeds United up to the end of the 2015 season are published. Page 16 notes that there are “various claims from HM Revenue and Customs outstanding against the company” which are not disclosed in the accounts.

No provision is made for these claims by HMRC in the accounting figures.

It should be noted that the last time Leeds United was in dispute with HMRC, winding up petitions were issued against the club (discharged in April 2014. However, the most miserably remembered dispute with HM Revenue and Customs, being during the “Summer of Ken 2007”, when Ken Bates secured ownership of the club.

Disclaimer; This timeline relates to legal issues involving Massimo Cellino, be it civil or criminal. All sources are in the public domain, easily accessible via public records or the internet. Any opinions expressed in the context of this piece are purely those of the author and no implication of guilt is assumed for unresolved cases.

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