Football: Leeds takeover suffers blow as Cellino's fined for avoiding duty

MILAN (AFP) - Massimo Cellino's proposed takeover of English football club Leeds United could be in jeopardy after the Cagliari president was handed a hefty fine on Tuesday for failing to pay duty on a yacht he imported from the United States, according to reports.

The Football League board is due to meet in England early next week to consider Cellino's proposal to buy a 75 per cent stake in Championship side Leeds.

However, Tuesday's decision by a court in Sardinia could scupper the deal.

According to domestic news agency Ansa, Cellino has been ordered by a court in Cagliari to pay a fine of 600,000 euros (S$1.06 million) for failing to declare the imported yacht to the authorities.

The yacht in question has also been confiscated, according to the report.

Cellino avoided paying 400,000 euros in import duty although the fine is far inferior to the figure of 1.165m euros demanded by the public prosecutor Andrea Massidda.

Cellino's proposed takeover of Leeds had been agreed in principle although Tuesday's decision could effectively bar the Italian from having any involvement with the club.

The Football League's rules prohibit people with unspent convictions for dishonesty offences from having any influential role at one of its clubs.

Cellino already has a 2001 conviction for false accounting and is being investigated for alleged misuse of public funds relating to construction work on Cagliari's Quartu Sant'Elena stadium.

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