Football: Cellino resigns from Leeds, vows return in April after disqualification ends

LONDON (AFP) - Massimo Cellino announced on Friday that he has stepped down as chairman of fallen English giants Leeds United, but said that he would return to the club in April.

The Italian businessman, 58, was disqualified as an owner and director of the club by the English Football League in December due to a tax conviction in Sardinia last year.

But that conviction will be spent under British law in April, which will enable him to return to Elland Road.

"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," Cellino said in a statement.

"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." Leeds said that board member Andrew Umbers would take over as chairman during Cellino's absence.

Three-time English champions Leeds are currently two places above the relegation zone in the second-tier Championship.

They are also under a transfer embargo for breaching the Football League's financial fair play rules and so cannot pay transfer fees for players in the ongoing January window.